How do you find information online? In reputable blogs, or your friend's Facebook wall? Through Google and other search engines? Well, you're not alone. Millions of people look for information via search everyday.
In a world saturated with entertainment options, improving your website so that it receives more traffic from search engines, also known as search engine optimization (SEO), is more important than ever. So let's talk about some ways to get your band website ranking near the top of those results!
Choose your keywords
The first step is to create your "top 5" list of keywords -- words or phrases that you think people might use to find your website. This could be your band name, musical style, or location. For example, if you're an 80s cover band in Idaho, your keywords might be "80s, live, cover band, wedding, Boise Idaho."
Content is Key
Once you have your keyword list, sprinkle them sparingly throughout your website (in your bio, in page headers, in buttons, etc.). A good rule of thumb is to write for humans first, and search engines second. Google knows when you are going overboard on trying to insert keywords into your page, and can penalize you. An extreme case would be removing you from their search database all together (which is more common than you would think!)
Choose a great domain name
When choosing a domain name, try to choose one that contains some of your keywords. Google puts websites with keywords in their domain name in bold, so they stand out in search results.
Set your META tags
META tags are another place that you can add keywords to your site. Think of them as a way to insert hidden keywords into your pages without actually adding them to that page.
The most important one is the Title META tag. It is what appears as the main link to your page in search results. By default, we set the Title tag to be your artist name, followed by the page (for example Bob Smith - Music). You can change this to add even more keywords manually, like "Bob Smith - Country music in Fairfield, Connecticut".
There are two other META tags that are relevant to search engines, called "Keywords" and "Description." They aren't used quite as much anymore, but they are still worth adding some keywords to anyway.
Google ranks sites that are trustworthy, not spammy. One way it measures this is by counting the number of websites that link back to yours. The more external sites linking back to yours, the better. To see who is linking to you now, you can do a Google search for link:www.yoursite.com
The easiest and best thing you can do to get links, is to produce quality content that people will want to link to. Don't forget to add links on your website to other musicians you have played with, respect, or know (why not network in the Bandzoogle community?) - and ask them to return the favour!
Use your networks
Google loves frequently updated content on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Post quality content, and make sure to link back to your website (and yes, Google can read short urls like at http://j.mp or http://bit.ly )
Don't forget YouTube
One often neglected opportunity to improve your search ranking is to post YouTube videos that contain keywords in the title. YouTube is a Google company, and videos will appear in search results, right alongside websites. Make sure to link to your website in the video description field, and tag the video with your keywords.
The power of plain text
Search engines strip away images, and can't read Flash or video, so make sure your keywords appear in good old plain text.
Make it easy for Google to browse
Publishing a "site map" file gives Google access to all of your pages (Bandzoogle automatically does this for you. You can also submit sitemaps manually if you like through your Site Promotion section in Bandzoogle). On top of that, a good practice is to add text links with keywords that link to internal pages in the main content of your home page.
Measure and adjust
You can check out how well your keywords and phrases are doing in your site traffic report. See which keywords people use to get to your site, and add the popular ones more often. You can also type your chosen keywords into Google.com and see where your page comes up in the listings. Based on these results, you may want to change/tweak your keywords.
Remember, Google may only update every few weeks, so changes to your site will not immediately be reflected in their search results.
Search Engine Optimization is important to your band's website success - it can provide publicity, exposure, help build your fan base, get gigs, and hopefully increase revenue as well. So why not try some of these tips on your site today? Good luck, and share any SEO tips and comments below! I'd love to continue an open discussion with you.