Your Website Traffic Is Being Stolen

Artists: Your Website Traffic Is Being Stolen

Improve your website traffic by understanding Google’s search algorithm and preventing sites from stealing your traffic.

Every artist is known by their name. Your name is your brand.

Every show you do, every gallery you speak to, every business card you hand out, every social media post you make, every time a friend tells another friend about you — all of this spreads your name and your brand further and further.

social media traffic

People rarely remember the name of a piece when referring to a contemporary artist, but they seem to remember the name of the artist and are able to associate it with their style or subject matter.

In other words, when someone sees a painting of marine life with whales, they will generally say something like “that’s a Wyland.”

Your name is the biggest and most powerful marketing tool you have. Click To Tweet

Your Name Is How People Will Search For You Online

name searching on google

If I met you at a show at some point, or if a friend told me about you, and I now was in the market for some art and wanted to look you up, the first thing I would do is head to Google and search your name.

I might use Google’s Image Search or just the default web page search (this will depend on the person and how they prefer to search for art).

In the search results of either, you will notice that any website you are a part of has SEO’d your name.

So, some time a few months or years back you casually set up a profile on Pinterest, Fine Art America, or any other public website that does not require a login to see your images (Facebook and Instagram require a login, so you are safe there).

What you didn’t realize is that by doing so, and by uploading your content, you gave them a direct line to your audience and your traffic.

If someone searches for your name directly, this is likely someone that you generated through all your years of hard work pounding the pavement. This should be your traffic.

stealing traffic

But right next to your website (and sometimes ahead of your website) are these other websites surrounding you, stealing your traffic.

We didn’t want to use the word steal. We honestly don’t know if this is something intentional and so we don’t want to assume that someone is doing something nefarious here.

But whether intentional or not, your traffic is being siphoned away from you.

The worst part is, if there were no other options then 100% of this traffic would come to you. It was the direct intention of the searcher to find you.

click away

But when they reach these other websites, they are easily able to click on other topics or categories or subject matter in the navigation menu.

They will likely be asked to join that website’s email list. So you started with someone specifically looking for you and your art, and you are left with someone who is now a click away from seeing art from dozens of other artists who cover the same subject matter as you.

When it comes to Google’s Image Search, they will rank ahead of you if Google found your image on their website first.

This is the most dangerous part of it all, and in order to understand it you need to first understand how Google’s search algorithm works.

Google’s Search Algorithm Explained

google search algorithm

The short explanation is that Google does not display duplicate content. They do this because their entire business is dependent on providing quality search results to a searcher.

They need it to be the best search engine possible because it’s how they make money (showing ads within those results). They also can’t allow plagiarism.

Just think, if Google didn’t do this, somebody could effectively copy your entire website, pretend they were you, and rank ahead of you.

Instead, when it comes to duplicate content, Google will prioritize the first website who posted the content.

website traffic stolen

Meaning, if the Google spider found a specific image or article on your website first, then you will be the official owner of that content and anyone else who tries to post the same image or article will not display in the search results.

This is where many artists and photographers have hurt themselves. By uploading their images to third-party websites first rather than their own, Google considers the third-party website to be the official owner of those images.

Which means, if someone searches for these images in the Google Image Search, they will only find your images that link directly to the third-party websites rather than to your own. You lose all the traffic.

How Can You See If You Are Being Affected By This?

google images website traffic

There are two things you need to do:

First, go to Google and click on “Images.” Then, perform a search for your brand name, something like “John Doe Art.”

Look for your images in the search results, and then click on them to see which website they go to.

google traffic

A faster trick is to hover over the image and you can easily see the web page that your image is leading to. If you are being affected, our suggestion is to go to that website where that image exists and remove it.

Now, look at all the websites that surround yours.

color key

google search name

google search website traffic

Do you see any of the online art galleries using your name to compete for your traffic? You have to decide whether it is worth it to participate on each of these websites anymore.

If they aren’t earning you enough sales to make it worthwhile, you are probably better off deleting your content and profile.

In this day and age, when it is so easy to launch and run your own art gallery business online, there is no reason that any other company should have a way to siphon business away that is 100% rightfully yours and that they did not do any work for.

Which Websites and Online Galleries Are Safe?

uploading photos to website

By default, you are safe to upload your images and create a profile on any website that requires a visitor to login BEFORE they can see any content.

For example, if you try to visit Facebook, they will not allow you to see any content until you create an account and login. This “authentication” requirement prevents the search engines from indexing their content.

Nonetheless, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn do expose certain pages to the search engines, like a profile page.

It’s why you can find your Facebook profile in a search, but you won’t see any image or text posts in the search results.

How Do You Prevent This In The Future?

waiting

There is only one way to do this: You must always and only upload to your own online art gallery FIRST. Then, wait a few weeks and make sure you see these images in the Google image search results and that they lead to your website.

If you plan to upload this image to any third-party website, think long and hard about it before you do. Make sure the pros outweigh the cons.

To be safe, wait at least 30 days after your image appears in the search results before you upload it to another website just to make sure Google really knows that your website was the originating source.

Even after all of this, audit your image search results regularly. If you find that Google prioritized one of your images on any of these third-party websites over your own (this has happened and so you must keep a watchful eye on it), then immediately remove the image from that website and start the process over.

Wait longer before you upload it next time.

So, Now What?

traffic is precious

Traffic is precious and so is your name.

Selling art is already hard enough. Building and spreading your brand name is even harder.

You’ve probably been doing it for years or you will be doing it for years to come. Your name is yours to profit from.

This is why it is so important to have your own art gallery business online FIRST so your images have a permanent home base, all under your name, where you are in the first position to profit from them.