Today, I want to talk about an important SEO (search engine optimization) technique that may not immediately be apparent to online artists.
As you probably already know, SEO is all about using words correctly on your art blog or website, getting links from other websites, and slowly moving up in the search engine rankings for key terms that you WANT people to find you for.
Well, in many cases, the terms you may really want to rank for are just too competitive. Trying to rank on the first page in Google for "oil painter" (for example) will be a tough, tough thing to do, especially if you're just starting out. There are just too many other oil painters around the world trying to do the same thing.
So my advice, especially for artists new to the internet, is to focus on being "local" instead of global. Yes, the internet can reach around the world.. but it may work better, initially, to use the internet to first reach your community, then your city, state, and so on.
How do you do this? By using local keywords and phrases throughout your site, in addition to your key terms (like "oil painter" or "wood sculptures").
Here are some ways to do that..
1. Include local areas in your page titles and blog posts
Let's say you've just finished painting a landscape en plein air, just outside your city limits- make use of that! Add a new page to your website, or create a blog post about the painting, and use the name of your city in the title.
Or, use the county or state that the painting took place in. Anything local works.
If you can see any local landmarks in the painting (a bridge, the city itself, a river, etc.) you should definitely include those local names in your page title too.
By creating locally-targeted blog posts or webpages on the internet, you'll get searchers who are looking for local things. Usually these searches are WAY less competitive- they're what we call "long tail" searches, and they're a great way to get traffic when you're just starting out online.
Not only that, but the people who find you will probably be local too.. making shipping costs a lot more bearable.
2. Use "local" artwork descriptions
If you have your artwork listed in a big online gallery (or if you have your own online gallery/website from a service like foliotwist), you probably have the option of posting a description when you upload your artwork. This is a great place to add local keywords!
You might even consider actually naming your artwork after the location that it was created in. As you put more of this type of artwork online, you'll slowly build up a portfolio of local art that art collectors in your area will start to find.
Sure, you might not be able to get on the first page of Google for "oil paintings" since it's such a competitive keyphrase.. but the phrase "(your city) oil painting" is another thing entirely.
3. Brand yourself as a "local artist"
If you really want to go all-out, you may even want to use your location as your brand. To do this, you need to think ahead, and be consistent.
First off, you should always have your location in your domain name. (And it doesn't have to be a city or state.) For example, you could be known as "The Rocky Mountain Artist." Anything that sets you apart because of your location will work- but it needs to be included in your domain.
Second, be consistent. You have to use this brand everwhere. Put it on your business cards, and mailers, as well as on your website.
Third (and maybe this should have been point number one) it's always a good idea to do an internet search beforehand to make sure that it TRULY is a unique brand. If there's another artist who is already using a similar brand, then try something else.
Being a "local" artist is often a great marketing choice.. but it's not for everyone. Think about the pros and cons for you, and then decide.
So today or tomorrow, why not take a good look at your art website or blog. Are you missing that very important local component? Well guess what.. it may only take a few minutes to fix it!
Go back into your old blog posts or page titles and update them with local information where appropriate. Then, add a few links from your homepage to those "local" pages using the same local keywords.
In a few weeks, you will most likely see some very targeted, local traffic. (I suggest using Google Analytics to track your results). If you don't see results, tweak your keywords a bit, or try variations of local place names.