How do I get higher up in the search engine listings?
It's the question pretty much everyone with a website wants to know the answer too!
However it's not really a big secret - it's about having good quality incoming links and interaction with visitors, a technically functional and fast loading website and of course some good quality content. So in this email is a 3 step guide with some simple steps you can take to acheive better search engine results, read on...
What are Incoming Links?
Incoming links are when a website has a link on it that goes to your website. In terms of search engine rankings, more incomming links are better, but a few links from important websites are worth much more than many links from minor websites. For example if the BBC do an article about water colours and feature a link to your website, this would probably hundreds of times more valuable than a link from a friend's personal websites.
We'll come back to links later on, but first let's look at the things you can do on your own website that can make a difference.
So what can I do on my website?
Your artweb website <<Domain>>
comes out of the box "search engine friendly" and optimised for fast loading, that means most of the technical side is taken care of, but there's still some points that you should tweak and make the most of. Here's step by step instructions:
Step 1) What is your subject? What Keywords?
Think about the actual words are that describe what you do, and more importantly what people would use to search for your website, or a website like yours. You can probably write down these words just off the top of your head, but in addition you should do some some research as to what people are actually searching for.
For researching I'd recommend google's own "keyword tool":
This gives you real statistics as to what people search for, try it out now.
There are other "keyword tools" available online aswell - by all means try some alternatives too.
Once you have done this exercise, you should note down a list of relavent keywords that you feel are right for your work and your audience, for instance: "water colour, seascapes, sea, coast, england, south coast"
Your work might cover a broad range of subjects, so it's okay to have more keywords, but make sure you have a short list that describes your overall style
(or you might consider running two or more websites for your different areas - TIP: in search engine terms, usually two websites are greater than the sum of their parts)
Step 2) Putting the Keywords into action
So next you should review your website and edit the copy to ensure it includes these keywords where appropriate - it's important that you use keywords naturally, don't do "keyword stuffing", or pad your website with useless sentences.
There are parts of your website where the keywords have usually have greater influence (this is when having a short list is important so you can decide which words to leave out), so here in rough order of importance are the places where you should update your website:
1) Home Page Meta Title
This is the HTML "Page Title" which is usually visible at the very top of the browser window, but not on your website itself. This is often the underlined text in google results:
We'd suggest you use your name and some keywords, for example, we could improve the above with:
"Karen Ible - Coastal Paintings"
TO EDIT: Login -> Pages -> click on your home page -> Under Advanced at the bottom, Edit the "Meta Page Title"
2) Other Page Titles
The same goes for the rest of your pages, make sure you have a good Meta Page title.
For example if you have a gallery of paintings of the Devon coast: "Devon Coastal Paintings"
be sure to use your keyword research to help you choose the most "searched for" keywords - should you use "Devon Beach paintings", "Devon coastal paintings", "Devon Coast Painting" or something else?
TO EDIT: same as above
3) Page Urls
Each page has a 'url' i.e. the address - yourwebsite.com/this-is-the-url/
Make sure this uses keywords relavent to the page/gallery and not just "unititled-gallery" or some other non-descriptive url. So for example, if you have a gallery of devon coastal paintings, you could set the url to "devon-coastal-paintings" so the full url would look like:
you only need to put the end or the url - don't include your domain name, i.e. just enter "devon-coastal-paintings".
TO EDIT: Login -> Pages -> click on a page -> Under Advanced at the bottom, Edit the "URL Segment"
use dashes '-' instead of spaces in the URL e.g. use-dashes-like-this
4 Menu Title
The wording of the items in your menu is also quite important - as a quick aside, the text in links gives an indicator as to what the page being linked to is about (more on this later).
Of course you have limited space for your menu, so you proabably can't make these titles too long, so maybe "Devon Coast" or "Coastal Devon"
TO EDIT: Login -> Pages -> click on a page -> Under Advanced at the bottom, Edit the "Menu Title"
5) Page Title
This is the normal page title that you see on the page.
TO EDIT: Login -> Pages -> click on a page -> Edit the title in the box at the top
6) Meta Keywords and Meta description
Like the Meta Page Title in 1, these are parts of the page that are not normally visible. Sometimes the Meta Description is used in search engine results listings, so this is what people will read - make sure it sounds good!
TO EDIT: Login -> Pages -> click on a page -> Under Advanced at the bottom, Edit the "Meta Description" and "Meta Keywords"
7) Tags on images
Another area of importance is the tags on your images - these are also used in your artweb.com listing, make sure they are relevant otherwise it could have a negative impact e.g. don't add "animal portrait, dog, cat, sheep, penguin" to all of your images, just use "animal, portrait, dog" for dog paintings etc.
TO EDIT: Login -> Images -> click on 'quick edit' for an image, Edit the "Tags" and save changes
8) Image Notes, Page Text
And of course do add text descriptions to your galleries and the individual images - your pictures look great, but the poor search engines need some text to understand what they are about!
TO EDIT: Login -> Images -> click on 'quick edit' for an image, Edit the "Notes" and save changes
Step 3) Further tips
Bookmarks and Social media buttons
Make sure at least have the Social media buttons enabled on your site - likes, tweets and plus ones, have a similar effect to your website getting more links - also encourage your friends and contacts to click on them! Go to Settings -> Under 'Promote Your Website', click on 'Sharing and Bookmarks
Search engines tend to like websites that have fresh information on them - websites that don't change can be a sign of neglect. So it's always a good idea to keep your website updated with new work and any news - also another great reason for keeping a blog - more on blogs here
Social Media Accounts
It may seem obvious, but make sure all your social media accounts, forum accounts and various identities all have a link to your website. These will increase the number of links to your website especially if you are active in any of these areas. Keep in the back of your mind your keywords from step one here - since you are linking your social accounts etc. to your website, it would certainly not do any harm to have your target keywords associated with those links.
Also making comments on other websites gives an opportunity to have a link back to your own website - why not browse through other artweb members - artweb.com/artists/ and comment on some people's websites who you like (and include your website address)?
More on social media here.
Links from Friends and Contacts
Probably the easiest source of incoming links is asking friends and contacts, either directly or more subtly
Follow google's webmaster guidelines
Email people directly with a nice email, bribes of freshly baked cakes etc.
Announce your website on facebook etc - with a cheeky comment saying, please help and give me a link from your website if you like my art!
And always make sure your website is mentioned in print - on your cards, at shows, in publicity materials etc.
Google is very clear about what kind of technical features, standards and practices that it considers important. Whilst we take care of a lot of the technical requirements of your website, we still recommend you read up on google's webmaster guidelines as many of them you can still take action on - read them here.
Finally it's very important that you don't try to 'cheat' - the search engines are very smart and try very hard to deliver people to the most useful and relevant websites, so they have a policy of banning, or penalising websites that they deem to be 'cheating'.
Well, I hope you find this useful and can improve your website's search engine listings!
Chris Kirkland and all at artweb.com