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SEO for Artists Blogs and Websites

Artists selling, or simply showing their art online are in the same boat as the mom selling her homemade jams, or the owner of a moving company seeking customers. No matter who is using the web as a showplace or a market place, they need the same thing, visitors to their website or blog.

To get traffic to a website, any website, requires that people know it exists. There are an estimated 300 billion websites currently active, so the competition to be found online is massive. There are only two ways to do so, one is to purchase traffic using advertising or having traffic redirected to your website. The other is to bring your website to the attention of search engines that will, in turn, bring it to the attention of people searching for content similar to what you have on your website.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process by which websites are made to be indexed by a search engines, and indexed so that they're most probably going to appear high in search results, ideally high on the first page. To have an art website or blog indexed, an SE bot (robot script) follows links to the artist's site, and later follows those leaving it. While on the website it gathers information from the meta tags, textual content, image title and alt tags, and so on. The bot adds the information it finds into the search engine's database.

Art websites have a unique challenge when it comes to search engine indexing. Search engine bots require textual content to be able to understand what a web page topic refers too. Depending on the artist, their websites tend to be mostly photos, slideshows, videos or audio feeds, none of which a SE bot can read. Therefore an artist with an art website needs to be creative when it comes to optimization of content.

Art website home pages tend to consist of single images, slide shows or other media bots can't read. These robots can see that there is a media file because they can read the image tag in the source code, but they have no idea what the image is about unless they are told. For example, a search engine bot doesn't know that the image on an artist's homepage is a photo of a sculpture. SE bots have to be told what a photo, video or audio file is about. This is done by filling in the alternative and title attributes tags for each image, video, or audio file.

First off, photos should be given descriptive file names. Often cameras save photos with names like IMG096735, which does nothing to help a search engine bot index an image in Google Images, nor Google's search engine. However, a filename like "twilight_landscape_in_oil_painted_by_john_smith.jpg" will be indexed in Google images, searchable using keywords "oil painting by john smith", "twilight landscape by john smith", and so on.

By using the alt and title description tags, a photo can be described at length. This will help bots index images correctly. Both the alt and title tags can be variations of something like, "Twilight Landscape, an oil painting by John Smith".

Meta tag data tells search engines what your site is about, especially the description tag which actually shows up in search results to tell people searching what the website content is. The ideal number of characters is 140, at most 160. If you do not use description meta tags the search engine bot is going to grab what ever text you have on the page, that is if you have any text on the page at all.

Meta keyword tags used to be important, but now are all but ignored in the header tags because of so many abuses. It doesn't hurt to drop a few very relevant keywords into the meta keyword tag, but your main use of keywords needs to be where and how often they appear in the text.

Write a description of the art work in a photo, splitting the content so that some appears above and below the picture, or wrapped around it. And use keyword phrases. Keywords aren't necessarily a single words, but are usually groups of words or a phrase.

Keywords need to relate to the content subject and be what people will likely enter as a search query. However, the amount of times a keyword appears must be kept below 5%, closer to be 4% is better. The number of times a keyword phrase appears is call keyword density, and too high a density will have a page flagged as being spammy.

Headings and subheadings within the textual content of pages should be denoted using highlight tags. Search engine bots add value to headings, but that doesn't mean every paragraph should get a heading. Likewise, bold and italic text is given special value and should be used to denote keywords, but not overdone. Too many highlighted, bold or italic text will be seen to be black hat SEO and cause the page or entire website to be penalized.

Back links are also an important element of search engine optimization. Every time a link to a page, post or site is created it is adding what's called "SEO juice". However, not just any link back to an art site will work. It has to be a link inbound from a website that is related to art. In fact, to have a link pointing to a website that is off topic can actually result in a website being penalized rather than helped by the backlink.

Careful search engine optimization of an art website can earn it a high page rank and a prominent place among search results. To do nothing to enhance the indexing of an art website will result in few, if anyone ever finding it using a search engine.

Len is a SEO copywriter at [oirs.ca parked domain] writing for Artbiz Rx. Naomi Novella is an artist and blogger at Artbiz Rx: Creative Business Ideas

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