Last week, I glossed over SEO with just a simple video of Marketer, Neil Patel explaining the basics. But, really, though, what is it? Why do artists need to be familiar with it? And, not just be familiar with it, but actually do it?
Think about it like this: Google and other search engines are like one gigantic library. Except that , unlike actual libraries, there is no knowledgeable librarian to help users find what they're looking for. Google plays the role of library and librarian.
And, just like physical libraries, Google needs a card cataloging system, as well as a way to determine credible sources. That's the purpose of onpage SEO. In order for the Google Librarian to pull your website into relevant search results, you have to provide all of the necessary cataloging on all of your pages.
So, what does this cataloging look like? What do you have to provide for Google to pull your content, deeming it both relevant and of high quality?
1. High Quality Content
This seems like a no brainer, right? But, the true question here is, "how can I indicate to Google that my content is high quality?" When we're talking blogs, long-form content is key these days. Think 1200-1700 words per post. When we're talking about webpages, think 300-500 words.
Of course the actual content on the page needs to be well-written and knowledgeable. And, in addition, the page needs to be laid out in a way that includes the appropriate on-page signals.
Keywords were all that mattered ten years ago. But, this led to issues such as keyword stuffing. Writers stuffing their content so full of keywords that it was illegible and nonsensical and of no use to anyone at all.
And, here's the thing, search engines are only getting smarter, so not only will they recognize this technique for what it is, they will penalize you for it, burying your content so deep in the no-mans land of the interwebs that no one will ever be able to find it.
You can and should use keywords responsibly, however. For example, this blog is about on-page SEO, so I could use the following keywords: "on-page SEO," "on-page SEO tips," "on-page SEO for artists." All of these are relevant and used at a 1% density (1200 word blog, use it 12 times), could help me improve this blog's ranking when someone goes to Google and enters one of the keywords above into the search bar.
To find your keywords for your piece:
1) Identify what your piece is about. Is it your homepage? Your online gallery? Digital portfolio? A blog post about wood cutting techniques?
2) Perform some searches in Google to see what other/similar pages about that topic are pulling. Look at the bottom of the search results for more ideas.
For example, I quickly searched "on-page SEO for artists" and Google suggested these search terms as well.
None of these are particularly useful for the purposes of this blog, but terms like "art search terms," and "seo for art prints" might be useful for yours.
3) Determine the keyword relevance. Enter your chosen search terms into the search bar to see what sort of results they pull up. If they're similar to yours, you've got a winner. If they're not, back to the drawing board.
3) SEO Title
Your SEO title consists of three parts, Topic | Keyword | Site Title. In some cases, the topic contains the keyword so both parts aren't necessary. For example, "6 On-Page SEO Tips for Artists | Art by MSRMcGaughey" vs. "Watercolor| Illustration | Art by MSRMcGaughey." The first is the SEO title to the blog post, the second is the SEO title for my online watercolor gallery. Some of this is trial and error. Figure out what works for your site and run with it.
4) H1 Tags
H1 tags are similar to your title. It is a header tag included in the html at the top of your page. That sounds scary, but if you're building and editing your site in Wordpress or Wix, these platforms make it very easy to implement in their drag and drop editors.
The two most important things to remember about H1 tags are you only need one and it should include your primary keyword.
5) Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are the little descriptions that you find displayed under the list of search results in Google.
These are provided to give more context to the search user (as well as to Google), so they can better decide if your content is the content that will answer their question. Just like with an H1 tag, website editors such as Wix and Wordpress have easy to use SEO fields where you can drop in your meta description. Meta descriptions are typically about 160 words and include your keyword.
6) Alt Tags
Every image on your site should include an alt tag. Alt tags provide even more context to Google about the content on your page. What's more, they are used by screen readers, browsers used by blind and visually impaired people to tell them what is on the page.
Get started implementing these six basic, yet crucial on-page SEO signals on every page of your website.
As always, I'm available to answer any questions you may have about art-making techniques or SEO for artists on Instagram by direct message @msrmcgaughey.