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SEO For Artists - Claim Your Share Of Google's Love For Artists! (Part 2)

by Daniel Tardent on 10/27/2010 9:57:33 AM

In Part 1 we explained why Search Engines are important for artists and the role they play in the "Attraction phase" of your online art marketing. In this post we'll look more closely at how to be successful with search engines.


Most artist's websites (most websites, in general, in fact) rank poorly in search engine results. If your website doesn't show up on the first page of search results, you're missing opportunities. If it's not on the second page, you're basically wasting your time with search engines.


So, how do you rank highly? Here's what we've learned in our 6 years of designing artist websites:


The Major Search Engine Traffic Success Elements


Here are the three major keys to ranking highly in search engine results:


1. Optimized Website Structure: Your website must be built and structured such that search engine robots can easily find and index the information on the site. Basically it must be easy to read and understand and should, where possible, avoid elements that are invisible to search engines. Simple also works much better for human visitors - the worst artist websites from a human perspective are almost always the ones which are overly complex or clever rather than simple and visual!


2. Optimized Keyword Selection: Your website must include the appropriate words and phrases to describe you and your style of art. These “keywords” and “Keyword phrases” need to be placed in the most powerful sections of your site. In addition, it’s important to ensure that the keywords you use to describe your art are the same as those being used by people searching for your style of art in search engines. There is no point in optimizing your website for terms that no one is searching on - that is like advertising beef in a town of vegetarians!


While we are on this keyword topic, it is relevant and important to mention niches. At the core of SEO and of any serious marketing effort lies the concept of your niche. It is very difficult to be commercially successful as an artist if you simply describe yourself as an "Artist". On the other hand, if you can tightly define exactly what sort of artist you are and the style of work you create, it will help you significantly. It helps because your message stands out to buyers who have an interest in your style of work. The saying, "Get rich in a niche" is just as true for art as it is for any other business and you need to embrace it and use it in all your art marketing activities. Being able to describe your niche is central to success with choosing SEO keywords.


3. Optimized PageRank: Search engines must decide that your website has a high “Relevance” to the search term. To a large extent this is a measure of the quantity and quality of incoming links (from other websites) to your website. Just as in human social situations, our importance is judged by the number of our friends and their degree of social power, so, too, is your website ranked by the company it keeps!


These three factors work together to create a "sweet spot" of maximum search engine rankings. Think of it as a recipe for a cake with 3 ingredients. If you have all three in place and bake at the right temperature for a sufficient time you can be fairly confident of a superb afternoon tea! If, on the other hand, you miss an ingredient, the cake may not rise or maybe it will taste really bad - not so good for business.


What we have noticed with SEO is that various websites will come and go from the page 1 search engine results. The sites that stay there invariably have all three foundations solidly in place so it really is worthwhile to do it properly if you want consistent results.


Sounds simple enough doesn't it? The truth is that it is quite simple, but it does take commitment on the part of the artist to do the research work and get the website optimization done. But then commitment and effort are what separates commercially successful artists from the rest.


If you are one of those seriously committed to success you have some options with how to implement SEO. You can research your own plan and spend thousands of dollars of your valuable studio time and you might be on the right path. You could also consider our Artist SEO Success System, a 21 day program which takes the guess-work out of exactly what to do and can get you solidly on the path to search engine ranking success. At $97 it really is unbelievably good value and we have a bunch of very happy artist customers who say so. Here are just a couple (Editor's Note:  This week only the Artist SEO Success System is 30% off, this offer ends Friday at 6pm PST, so act fast. Use Code SEOSUCCESS when you check out:  Click here to learn more):


Daniel - Thank-you for your Artist SEO guide and workbook. I have spent a small fortune learning SEO from various experts. Your book does an excellent job of distilling the most important parts down to step by step actionable tasks. Wish I had found you first, it would have saved me thousands. Awesome value. Tim ONeill, Nebraska


As an creator of educational materials and online courses (in my day job, I have a Masters in Instructional Design) I am totally impressed with the guide and workbook. It is so well written and thought out and CLEAR! I can tell you guys did a ton of work... Bravo! .... Kristen Hoard, California


Thanks for taking the time to read and absorb this series on SEO. There is never enough great art visible in the world and I hope that you will make use of some of these concepts to improve your marketing and get your art out there where it belongs - seen and sold!


About The Guest Author


Daniel Tardent is the Co-founder of Beautiful Artist Websites and Espresso Artist Websites in Santa Monica, California. Focused primarily on the development of websites and online marketing systems for artists, he also writes regularly for Art Marketing Secrets, and is the author of The Artist SEO Success System.  (Ed note:  And don't forget The Artist SEO Success System is 30% off until Friday at 6pm PST and you MUST use code SEOSUCCESS when you check out to receive the discount).

FASO: Want Your Art Career to Grow?  Set up an Artist Website with FASO.
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Backstory: About Clint. Email EditorTwitter. Republish. ]

Related Posts:

Artists and SEO - What are the keywords people are using?

Easy SEO Opportunity for Artists

SEO - Structuring URLs

Topics: FineArtViews | SEO for Artist Websites 

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Helen Horn Musser
Thank you Daniel for more tips on search engines. I'm sure they will help all of us.

I learned about the third foundation (optimize page ranking through number of links into my site) as a result of getting requests from perfect strangers begging me to link to them, offering to link to me if I would do so. I was put off by the requests but would have considered doing it for someone I knew. In my Blog and web pages, I do include links that are relevant to my discussions, but would not dream of asking those artists to reciprocate. Am I being too scrupulous? Perhaps there are guidelines?

Helen - thank you :)

Aline - you are right to be careful. There are many genuine ways to build incoming links to your website. Accepting requests from strangers to add reciprocal links is not one of them!

One of the topics we discuss in the SEO success system is that search engines are looking for "natural behavior"in how you accumulate incoming links. Reciprocal linking can be natural in some cases if it is between sites that would have a good reason to link to each other but I would say that in general you should be careful. There are many legit ways to build incoming links so don't risk ending up in the search engine "sand box" by accepting link requests from strangers (at least without some analysis on your part)


Cynthia Wenslow
Another excellent post, Daniel. Thank you.

I especially love "...commitment and effort are what separates commercially successful artists from the rest."


Stede Barber
Hi Daniel,
Would love to be an active part of the successful online commuity and am taking baby steps.

As a near-total beinner to website/html etc., will I be able to implement this 21-day program, or will I need to learn more about website basics first?

Thanks, the course sounds excellent!


Stede Barber
oops...resubmitting this as my email address was incorrect...

Hi Daniel,
Would love to be an active part of the successful online commuity and am taking baby steps.

As a near-total beinner to website/html etc., will I be able to implement this 21-day program, or will I need to learn more about website basics first?

Thanks, the course sounds excellent!


Sharon Weaver
The Keywords is the area that is tough. Too specific and no-one uses them, too broad and there are a million other websites that will beat you out. It is a tricky subject. Do you give specific help with that?

Cynthia - thank you. True don't you think?

Sharon - re Keywords. Yes - you are correct and we focus probably about 60 percent of the effort in finding the right keyword phrases and locating the most powerful places to insert them in your website. The focus here is to find the keywords that (1) accurately describe your work, (2) have a significant search volume, and (3) are the least competitive so that you have the best chance of ranking highly.

Stede - The SEO System is designed to be very easy to understand. We have had a lot of feedback from artists who were not strong technically that it was very easy to follow.

The SEO system will teach you how to be successful with all the 3 areas outlined in todays post. The only area which you may need some help with is placing the keyword phrases and page titles you have researched and selected into your website. With most websites this is very simple to do yourself without a knowledge of html. In the worst case you would have a complete package of keyword information tables to hand to a webmaster (or even someone with moderate web skills) and they could insert for you at minimal cost. But as I said, in most cases this should be easy for you to do yourself.

Clint Watson
Stede - Your FASO site will let you override page titles, H1 tags, meta description, and rel canonical tags for most sections of the site - our team can help you with that if you determine that you need to change some on page elements for SEO reasons. It's in the "advanced SEO" button you might have seen in various parts of the control panel. Of course you have to know what phrases you plan to target first.....

Bonnie Samuel
It seems that one also has to periodically update keywords as trends change on the net. Is that right?

The class looks like it would be hugely helpful too!

Suzi McArdle
Having difficulty just getting round the net at this point, but will hope to make this a wonderful project for my art, and my audience. Hopefully, I can use some pointing devices to gain my links to integrate or something. Anyone have this trouble ?

Joanne Benson
Thanks for the informative post Daniel. I don't have too many links to my blog but have linked to blogs of fellow artists that I admire and that I know personally. I guess I probably have more outbound than inbound links. I hate to admit it, but I'm ok doing minor things to my blog but haven't spent the time or effort to figure out how to do anything complicated or even how to look at my statistics for visits, etc...Do you discuss those things?

Marian Fortunati
A very interesting, post... Thank you Daniel..
I do, however, agree with Sharon about the balance between being specific ENOUGH and not being so specific that you've cut yourself off from traffic.

One of my friend's website invariably comes up whenever I do a search and I really haven't figured out how or WHERE the keywords get her to the top. I use similar words, but it doesn't seem to be as effective.

I had a new collector who found my work online. When I asked her how she found me, she told me what she put in to search but when I looked I didn't find myself. (I'm certainly glad SHE did, however.)

I keep thinking that Clint and his gurus are doing a great deal of this for us, but I certainly need to learn MORE to help bring more potential collectors to see my work.

Thanks again...

Stede Barber
Thank you Clint, I look forward to all this making sense as I go!

Clint Watson
Marian - food for thought - RE: "being specific ENOUGH and not being so specific that you've cut yourself off from traffic...."

Be specific as you need to be to get the RIGHT buyers. Who cares if you have traffic if it's the wrong people? (If you just want tons of traffic - go buy a bunch of stumbleupon ads - your traffic will skyrocket and your bank account will plummet :-)

In all fairness, I realize you qualified your statement with the words "specific *enough*", but I just wanted to add that point because too many people get obsessed with "traffic" - which is just a drain if it's not coming from the right people.

Richard Christian Nelson
This is fascinating, and things seem to be changing so quickly. Thanks for providing a forum, relevant info, and tools to try to stay on top of this stuff.

Marian Fortunati
Thanks for your comment on my comment, Clint... but how do you know who the "right" people are???

Seriously... when you had a gallery... did you just target previous collectors... or perhaps only dentists (they have offices)... or people of a certain age. HOW DO you know?

One person who bought one of my paintings this year bought it because he used to live near the area where the painting was painted but now lives overseas.... Another bought because the place reminded her of places she and her husband had traveled when they were younger....

How can you possibly target those kinds of things?

Marian Fortunati
One other question....
Let's say we're talking about a blog:
Is there a "best place" to "put" the most important information or KEYWORD?
Is it the title -or embedded within an image -or in the body of a post -or in the topic -or is there even a best place?????


You figure it out with keyword research. You start by thinking of the phrases that you think describe your art. Then you do the research to see how actively those terms are searched and also if there are other related phrases that perform better. Then you put those phrases in the most powerful places in your website. There is a science to it!

As far as isolated search phrases like place names etc, it is simple - if you have a painting of a specific place then include the actual place name in the title of the work - or at least in the page title in the website. That way, if someone searches on a place name and you have done a generally good job on website SEO you have a great chance of being seen.



Your second question - there is a hierarchy of importance for keyword placement. It is generally acknowledged that the page title is the most powerful and towards the front of the page title is stronger.


But to have the best chance of success you really need a complete on-page strategy as well as the other two key success factors - website structure and incoming links. A complete on-page strategy means page titles, anchor text, headings, text cont. It is all important.

It really isn't difficult once you understand it!

Marian Fortunati
Thanks so much Daniel.... I'm going to do some research and ponder for a while... then I'll give it a go.

Stede Barber
Hi there...I'm about to go on a road trip and went to order this book...but the coupon came up as "Expired" ... it's early Fri am, before the deadline and I may not get online access again until too

Clint Watson
Marian - the "right" people - when I owned the gallery - it was a lot of advertising in the right places (collector art magazines), direct mail, referrals from existing collectors. But here's the important part - I personally (or one of the other salespeople) got to know each person, what type of art they loved, what their interests were etc. Then when the "right" art came along, we usually knew it's "match" - I had prospects on my list sometimes for 3 years before they finally bought. But that list just got bigger and bigger and bigger.

Obviously if someone searches for "Marian Fortunati" - they are a "right" person - they must have some interest in you.

But, depending on your work you may or may not be able to identify other phrases you actively want to target. For artists who paint "tropical Hawaii paintings" day-in-day-out - well yeah that artist would want to try to rank for those terms. But for an artist who visits Hawaii and does one or two tropical paintings - just get the on-page stuff right and move on. Most artists I dealt with were all over the map subject matter wise, and hence my earlier statements that SEO wasn't that useful for most artists - most artists I knew never stayed in a niche long enough to really make it worthwhile (again other than the on-page stuff, which really is pretty easy these days).

My previous comment was addressing one of my personal little peeves - everyone's relentless focus on "traffic", rather than "qualified prospects."

Our gallery could pack an opening night with people by offering free booze, but the people who came for the free booze didn't buy art - they just cost money. That "traffic" was actually a DRAIN and a LOSS for the gallery. There serious buyers came in earlier - from personal phone calls - and usually just a handful were needed. A one-person-show with 40 paintings could easily sell out with 20 or fewer clients (many people bought more than 1).

So this gets to my little pet peeve, not just with artists, but with a lot of online people...and I, myself, even fall into the trap sometimes - the RELENTLESS FOCUS ON TRAFFIC is insidious - it's a goal people focus on - it takes time away from other projects - it feels like progress - but much of the time people complain about needing more traffic and will go after it at any cost.

So back to your question - who are the "right" people? That's a question every business owner has to figure out. It's not always an easy question to answer. But it's something you'll have to figure out based on your artwork. Your past buyers might be able to give you some insights. But it's that kind of question you have to know to make SEO effective because then you can figure out what type of search the right person is likely to type into google.

For Daniel and I we want to find artists who want to set up a website - hence an artist might type a search for "artist websites" - so we both, I suspect, are targeting that phrase in our SEO - that's probably a clue as to why his domain is (and probably why they always rank above us on that search - since our domain does not contain the exact phrase "artist websites" - I'm at a disadvantage in that respect in that I didn't really start FASO as a company and hence never put any thought into the domain - by the time it got big enough to be a "real" company, I decided it was too late to re-brand it.)

So, similarly, an artist might want to figure out what's the MAIN thing the "right" people will type into google? My answer has always been - the artist's name. Hence register the domain as your own name, so you can likely always rank high for your own name. But our tropical artist might want to be or some such thing (Incidently before you go crazy registering domains - there is talk in SEO circles that google may be changing their exact-match domain algorithm not to boost such domains as much - and it still is only ONE part of SEO - example: the top result for "artist websites" is on the domain - so the exact match is not a panacea).

So I guess the bottom line is that you have to figure out who your work appeals to, and what those people are likely to search for.....

and if you want a lot of traffic - remember to offer them "free booze"....

Sorry - this comment is a ramble and I hope it makes sense because I've got to run and don't have time to go back and proof it - if something's not clear feel free to follow-up.


Stede - Sorry about the coupon code - I just fixed it. Send me an email if you miss out on the deadline and I will take care of you!


Hi Everyone - as Stede discovered that discount coupon had expired - my mistake - I didn't realize that the end-date was not inclusive when I setup the coupon.

I have now taken care of this and the 30 percent discount code will be active through tonight as originally promised!

Technology is wonderful when you know what you are doing!

Also a follow up to Clint's comment above which is totally on the money from my perspective. I have worked with a number of artists on putting together shows and just as Clint said many of the serious buyers had already swooped in before the show commenced.

Also a comment re SEO. I get emails almost every day from people claiming to be SEO experts and the message is invariably the same: Google has changed some aspect of its search engine algorithm and now I need to buy some new guidance about how to retain my rankings.

Don't go for this! The search engines DO change their algorithms periodically but what doesn't change is that they are rewarding high-quality relevant content with good rankings. So, my advice (for artists) is to simply focus on the three foundations mentioned in this article and be consistent. Your search engine rankings will fluctuate from time to time but you will still be up there.

And of course I have to add the disclaimer that I can't guarantee what I just said - but this is the truth about SEO based on our experience with Beautiful Artist Websites and Art Marketing Secrets over the last 6 years.


Robert Sesco
I tried to read through all the posts to see if my question had been asked. Forgive me if I'm duplicating. After reading about the three foundational ideas, the first question that popped into my head regarded the word 'niche'. Clint has pointed out that most artists he's worked with or known are all over the map, rendering SEO useless for some. It seems that a niche MUST necessarily be extremely focused to be of any value, since 'fine artist' or 'watercolorist' or 'landscape painter' or 'portraitist' are all very broad niches (is NICHES a word?) To show up on the first or second page of a search, you'd have to be a 'pygmy artist' or painting 'car batteries' or perhaps you'd have to CREATE your own niche and who would know to google it? So, I would request an expansive article to be written solely about niches, with examples of identified niches from your stable of artists or our posters above so we can plug in the niche that has been identified and see where our artists show up in the google search. I have no clue what the hierarchy of niches looks like. If I create my own, no one will have heard of it. 'Seascape art' or 'boatyard artists' are extremely broad and hold incredible competitors within each one. Like the ACEO paintings found on eBay, someone CREATED a niche, was obviously the best artist doing that because no one else had even heard of it, now there are competitors and a demand for the best ACEO's. I need guidance to navigate the distance between the niches of 'acrylic paintings' and 'paintings of pygmies' (the latter of which appears to be ripe for the taking since I just googled it and couldn't find any)


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