Establishing an online presence is crucial these days. Every artist is expected to have their portfolio out in the open for the world to see, but how does anyone even find anything with so much being posted online? Well, last week, I thought it was time to learn about what SEO is and what I should be doing. As it turns it, it's all important stuff.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. That's a very technical term for how you get Google to like you. Google is programmed to determine whether your content is good or bad. A good SEO score means that anyone who is searching for you or for what you do is going to find your website quickly and easily.
Making your website SEO-friendly just means that more visitors will find your website. Imagine your website as a your shop and SEO as your shop front. Your shop might sell the best things in town but if your shop front needs a makeover, you're not going to get many visitors. Instead, you want a clean shop front which is easy to find, one that looks trustworthy and attractive to potential customers. If you keep polishing your sign and you put some pretty lights in the window, then Google will move your shop to a busier, better street in the city. That's what you want.
How do I make my website SEO-friendly?
Just like with hashtags on social media, it's really simple. Your content should include buzzwords and short phrases that are really relevant to what you do. These are called keywords. Unlike with hashtags, less is more.
See the image above? The Google preview should look familiar. Since this is what appears in the search results, it's crucial to get it right. The blue link is called a title tag, the green link is your website URL and the black text is your meta description. For your title tag and meta description, you need to use keywords to summarise everything you do in a few words. My green ticks mean that Google approves.
Keywords state who are you are, e.g. "illustrator". "portrait artist", where you are based, e.g. "North East", "Sunderland", and what you do, e.g. "private and commercial commissions". Your call-to-action is important too because it gives visitors a focus on what to do, e.g. "contact for a free quote". That's it. Just be clear, there's no need to dive into your CV just yet.
If you're like me and you're not into coding, and you've used a website builder to create your own website, then you're able to make every page and blog post SEO-friendly. I use Weebly but there's also Wix, WordPress and Squarespace to name a few and apparently they're all quite similar. With Weebly, you can make your pages SEO-friendly by going through your Blog Editor, into each page and into SEO Settings.
See the image above? Up until last week, everything on the left was blank. I didn't understand what information was supposed to go where and how much of it. But by following the pattern of the Google preview in the last image, you can edit your blue title tag link, your green page URL link and your black text meta description here. You also have meta keywords which are essentially just your hashtags. Whereas, last time I was writing for my website as a whole, this page is for a specific project in my portfolio. So, your descriptions change each and every time to suit the page or blog post.
Tips and Tricks:
Improving your SEO score further can be tricky. Some website builders are better programmed than others for certain aspects of SEO-friendliness. Some things you can't just re-code yourself if you haven't got a clue what you're doing. But here are some easy things you can do to start improving your online presence.
A short custom domain name
If you're ready to buy your own domain name, that's great. Google approves. Google also thinks that the longer you have your domain name registered and renewed, the more trustworthy you are. Keep your online address short and sweet so people can remember how to find you.
Alt text on images
All of your images should have alt text descriptions for two reasons. Number one, computers can't see and they rely on text to decide what is good and bad. Missing descriptions mean that your images might as well be invisible to Google. That's bad, especially if you are an artist or your work is mostly visual. Number two, visually impaired visitors to your website rely on alt text for the context of images. Keep your descriptions to 150 characters maximum, including spaces.
Font size legibility
Make sure that your website's text is big enough to read on all devices. That's pretty self-explanatory. Your headers and titles should be bigger than your body text. Large text is trendy at the moment at about 16px but as long as it's comfortable to read, Google approves.
Use a contact form on your website. Don't type out your business email address and certainly don't publish your personal one. This encourages spam and Google is not a fan. I didn't know this, so I had an angry red cross for sharing my business email before switching to a contact form.
Link up the holy trinity of social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to your website. If you don't have accounts on these platforms, consider signing up. Google and potential customers alike want businesses to brand themselves and engaging in social media marketing.
It's good to give credit where credit is due. Google wants to see you linking your website to other websites and vice versa. So, if anyone was to read this blog post and then link my website to their own, we would both be better off. The more links you build up over time, the more your online reach grows and the more your SEO score improves.
So, there you have it. I'm brand new to all of this too but I'm already seeing a rise in visitors to my website. If you're interested in finding out how I discovered out my SEO score for free, please leave a comment below. Let me know if you want me to share how I monitor my web traffic or if you'd like to see another post about SEO in the future. Be sure to hit like down below if you found this helpful and follow me on social media for regular art updates.