SEO for Artists
SEO is great – it helps you attract the right people to your site without having to pay for ads. After 5 years of content creation, our website ranks position 1 for over 100 keywords in art.
Probably, you came to this article because of our SEO work. However, SEO is not for everyone. How do you know if this is the right strategy for you as an artist? If one or more of the following describe you, you might want to reconsider using SEO as a marketing strategy.
How do I get my artwork on Google search engine?
This is the main question artists will have in mind about SEO.
Rather than having tips as most vulgarisation articles are writing. You need to get the philosophy of Search Engine Optimisation: Google and other Search Engines are indexing content. It isn’t just about the competition, but about being relevant, bringing the right value to the person who is looking for it.
There are 3 ways to approach SEO:
#1: Technical SEO:
This is about programming, and thanks to WordPress or other Content Management Systems (CMS) you will only need basics for that.
#2: Content SEO:
That’s where the artists shine, well if they can write well too! Images and text (but now video and sound) are the website’s flesh
#3: Network SEO:
“The Internet is a table for two!”
You will need to be in contact with others. The best way to have a link to your website is to know the person behind the other websites. They are actually human and we are social animals (we tend to forget)
Is SEO worth it for artists in 2021
Yes totally, and for 3 main reasons
The easiness of Social Media
Social media is seductive in so many ways to all of us, especially to artists. It’s fun, social and easy to use. It gives instant gratification, with a promise to help you grow your business. After spending hundreds of hours working on social media, do you really own the content you’ve posted? Technically yes.
But in reality, not really:
When the companies decide what to change their terms and conditions, you could only click ‘accept’ and continue. When a social media company goes down, your content and influence could also be at risk.
Organic (Not paid) search drives 1,000% more traffic than organic social media.
Social media posts have a very low shelf life because their goal is for you to constantly post.
That’s why owning your own content is vital. Besides social media, you need to own your own little piece of the Internet by having a domain name and a website. It costs you less than the price of a coffee every month to keep it running. It’s a privilege for you to have this option because not every country in the world allows individuals to run their own websites.
But for that content to be seen, it has to be reaching a certain kind of quality. Of course, you can pay for it to be seen, but it is like sprinting: it doesn’t last.
That’s when we come to SEO, for Search Engine Optimisation. And it suddenly becomes way less seducing than social media…
Reasons why SEO is not for you as an artist
#1: You don’t have a website
… and do not plan to build one anytime soon
SEO is initially designed for websites to deliver the right webpage in front of the right people on search engines. If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a place to apply SEO tools and tactics. It is possible to rank with your social media pages, but only in specific areas. For example, recently the Alt Text can be added on Instagram and Pinterest. It gives better visibility on Image Search.
Don’t expect to make any SEO from your mobile. Although some web builders claim to support this feature, likely you will be frustrated by the limitations they have.
#2: You don’t plan to write about your art
… or to hire someone to write
Even today algorithms can recognize images and voice, text is still the main SEO indicator. Now the algorithms are able to recognize your personal writing style and recognise who is the author. If you are writing, work on improving your writing. If you look for a writer, find a good writer and plan on long-term collaborations.
#3: Too many projects at once
… and can’t choose to focus on one
As a creative person, there is a good chance that you are experimenting with several projects in different directions. To make SEO work for you, you need to prioritize one project. Once you rank on search engines for one set of keywords, you can expand to other areas. SEO algorithms reward websites that are consistent and long-lasting. Do not change direction whenever an opportunity shows up. Stay on your current main project until you see results.
#4: Not willing to study the data from SEO tools
In recent years, search engines have made some of their data available. Based on the data, many SEO tools emerge. Instead of shooting blindly, now you can have an estimation of how your audience will react to your content.
Luckily, some good SEO tools are free (Moz, Ubersuggest…) most are paid and expensive. Like any algorithm, this is just a prediction, not a reality. But without them, you are looking for a needle in a haystack.
#5: Not willing to talk about other artists
Since 2010, Search Engines have been indexing content per subject. Let’s say, you are an urban artist in Boston. You fall into this category of urban artists in this region. To rank high, you need to have some kind of credibility or expertise in it. How to gain credibility? You can write about other artists in your region and put yourself among them, or make a collaboration or a community of like-minded artists. It is a bit counter-intuitive for an artist. That’s why top-ranked search results are from platforms, not artists’ websites. Unlike social media, SEO is not just about you.
#6: Only wish to work with institutions
Let’s be honest, institutions in the art world don’t care whether you rank top on Google. This is especially true in continental Europe where branding and marketing in art are seen negatively. As a part of your marketing, SEO does not bring you a headstart in the world of institutional art. Many institutions like museums and foundations in art still follow this moral value:
“Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. John 2:13–16
#7: Exclusive contract with an art gallery
Although nowadays fewer and fewer art galleries would demand exclusivity, it is possible that you are offered one. Once you sign an exclusive representation contract, you are likely not allowed to run your own artist website. Your growing influence is often considered a potential threat to the partnership. Our advice is to avoid exclusive contracts if the conditions are not attractive.
#8: Can’t wait for months to see results
Unlike the likes and shares on social media, you will not receive instant gratification on search engines. After applying SEO strategies on your website for the first time, it takes at least 6 months to see the results of your hard work. It takes a month to see some major improvements after each upload or update (trafficwise). SEO is a game for patience players.
#9: You can’t commit to the SEO work over a long period
As we just mentioned, SEO results won’t happen overnight. You need to be prepared to work even if you don’t see any results, ignore the random tidbits and resist the urge to run off to some new promising platforms (e.g. a new social media site, or a new sell art online site). Instead, you need to put one foot in front of another and stick to your plan.
#10: Not very technical
… and not willing to learn IT skills
If you are not tech-savvy at all, you should opt for a drag-and-drop builder (e.g. Squarespace, Wix) instead of a content management system, or CMS, (e.g. WordPress, Joomla). However, drag-and-drop builders are not that great with SEO due to the limited tools and features. You will likely struggle to get results. In this case, just don’t have big ambitions with ranking on top. You can find other strategies that are a better fit for you – for example, starting an art channel on YouTube.