For artists, SEO isn’t too complex.
SEO for artists usually means populating Google and Google Images when people search your artist name or the type of artwork you make. This means optimizing your website, YouTube channel, and social media profiles to rank high for keywords around your work. For galleries, they usually want to rank for “art gallery” in their city as well as their represented artist names.
I will show you how to do all these (and how to get into Wikipedia if you have enough sources). We’ll use René Romero Schuler as an example, an artist I’ve been working with for 5+ years. I spent over 2 days on this tutorial. It’s a bit lengthy, but follow these steps and you should get very good results (and if for some reason you don’t, leave me a comment and I will help you).
How Google Populates Their Results – Google pulls content from different parts of the web. Your website is one, social profiles are another, YouTube videos and thumbnails, Wikipedia, and so forth. Put it all together and that’s what you see in Google. This just means we need to create content in the right places, label images before uploading them, and tweak a few things. This will help you populate Google with YOUR content. That’s what SEO for artists is all about.
If You’re Using WordPress – I recommend installing the Yoast SEO Plugin which I reference throughout this tutorial. To do this, log into your WordPress dashboard, go to your Plugins menu (on the left), then search for Yoast SEO. Install and activate it – we’ll get into it later. It won’t affect your design, and you can always delete the plugin and revert back if you choose.
My Background – I’m the #1 ranked WordPress SEO Consultant in Google, have 3,000 visitors/day, started my career designing WordPress sites for artists, and am Google Analytics certified. Not trying to sell you anything, just assuring you this guide is actually going to work.
Table Of Contents
1. Dissecting Google
In this article I will use René Romero Schuler as an example.
René was the first artist I did work for, is still a client, and a great friend.
Search her name in Google and this is what you’ll see…
Search her name in Google Images and she also dominates…
2. Ranking Your Website #1
Use Your Name In The Domain – using an exact match domain (www.yourname.com) is the easiest way to rank #1 for your name. As long as you build out your website with your portfolio, bio, statement, events, and other important pages – you should eventually rank in the top result. If you just created your website it will take some time, but don’t wait around. You’ll want to give Google other “signals” by following additional steps listed in this tutorial.
Use Your Name In The Homepage Snippet – each page on your website has a snippet that appears in search results (see below). This consists of your SEO title (the link) and your meta description (the longer summary). Instead of using the default snippet generated by WordPress (or whatever website builder you’re using) you should write these yourself.
Here’s what the snippet looks like…
To edit these in WordPress, make sure you have the Yoast Plugin installed (Plugins → Add New → Yoast). Then in your WordPress dashboard, go to SEO → Search Appearance → General.
Now go to the “General” tab and you will see fields where you can edit these…
Or (in my case), you will see a link to your homepage. Click it to go to your homepage, then scroll down to the Yoast section and click on the “snippet preview” (see below). Here’s where you write them. When you’re done, update the page, then give Google 1-5 days to crawl your site and show these. Other website builders will have a similar process of writing snippets.
No Text / Unreadable Text – if there’s no text on the page, all Google sees are your images (which I’ll cover in step 3). However even without text, you SHOULD still be able to rank #1 for your name. But art galleries wanting to rank for “art gallery chicago” (a more competitive keyword) should probably have some text on the page. If you do use it, avoid embedding text into images or using flash as these are unreadable to Google. If you open your website and try to copy some text, but can’t, this means it’s unreadable to Google and won’t benefit your SEO.
3. Google Image Optimization
If you go to René’s Google Images you can see she dominates the results (a project I did for her). But it’s actually very easy since the majority of images only come from a few sources.
Before uploading your images ANYWHERE online, always label the file name with the title of your artwork. An example would be: Alpana – 5×5 Oil On Canvas by René Romero Schuler. If your main goal is to populate Google Images when people search your name, include this in the file name. If you goal is to populate Google with a keyword related to your art, leave it out. This goes for images on your website, social media profiles, Wikipedia, and basically everywhere.
Main Social Media Profile Photo + Cover Photo Are The Ones That Rank
Your main profile picture is the one most likely to appear in Google Images, so make sure you include your name in the file name before uploading your main photo AND any covers photos.
Create A Pinboard
Rene’s pinboard is around 20% of her Google Image results . Pinterest is a high authority website so images you upload here are likely to rank high. Create an awesome pinboard with your art and maybe a few photos of you, and you’ll be dominating Google Images in no time.
Optimize Images On Your Website
The images on your homepage, bio, and the FIRST image you see when you open up a portfolio page are the ones most likely to appear in Google Images. Each of these images can be “optimized” by using your artist name in the image file name and alternative text…
Image File Name. This is what the image is labeled on your computer before you upload it. Anytime you upload an image to the web, the file name will be associated with that image. To help search engines associate an image with your artist name, I recommend this format:
Artwork Description – Your Name
Alternative Text. Alternative text is also used to describe images to search engines. WordPress does not do this automatically, so you will need to use a plugin like Automatic Alt Attributes (however, this only adds alt text to new images in the visual editor, so you will need to add it to all other images manually). If not using WordPress, look for a field to fill out an image’s alt text, or you will have to edit the HTML to do this (send this guide to your developer if need be):
<img alt=”alternative text” src=”https://onlinemediamasters.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/image-file-name.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ />
Image Speed. There are over 20 ways to optimize images to load faster, many of which you can find in GTmetrix. Many artists don’t like to resize or compress images, but you can still cache images, remove EXIF data, lazy load images, specify the widget/height of each image, use a CDN (content delivery network) like Cloudflare/StackPath, and make sure images are served from the correct URL version (www vs. non-www and http vs. https). Images are usually the heaviest element of an artist’s website! Give my tutorial a try – it should make your site faster.
Upload Images To Wikimedia Commons
About 30% of Rene’s Google Images are from Wikimedia. Just sign up for Wikimedia and upload photos to Wikimedia Commons (here are full instructions). When you get to the uploading process, include your keyword (eg. your name) in each photo’s description. There is a catch; people who click the photo in Google Images will be view this image (not an actual Wikipedia page). If you have enough sources, I’ll show you how to get an actual page in step 6.
If you want to rank higher in Google Images for a keyword other than your name, go to images.google.com. Now start typing in your keyword using the underline character _ to find a specific type of flower in the dropdown menu. Generally, the more specific the keyword, the easier it will be to rank. Once you find your keyword, upload your image to the sources above (social profiles, pinboard, website…). Give it some time and ideally it will rank high. Images that are uploaded to a high authority website (like Pinterest) have a better chance of ranking high.
If you are having trouble and an image doesn’t rank high, try selecting an even more specific keyword. Generally the more specific the keyword is, the less competitive it will be. And if a keyword shows up in Google’s dropdown menu, that means people are indeed searching for it.
4. Social Media Profile Optimization
Why social media is important for artist SEO:
- Social media profiles rank high in Google
- Profile photos are usually shown in Google Images
The most important social networks are…
Use Your Social Media Profiles Makes Them Rank Higher
Make sure all media profiles are 100% complete and include your artwork (which can usually be categorized into albums, pinboards, etcs). Adding connections and posting ongoing updates send good signals to Google that you’re a legit person/business. If you want to populate Google with your content, using social media profiles is probably the easiest way to do that.
5. YouTube Video SEO
YouTube videos can also appear in Google. This is called video seo and looks like this:
- Create your video
- Label your video file as the keyword, then upload to Youtube
- Design a custom thumbnail, label it with your keyword, then upload it
- Write a nice title which should also include your keyword
- Write a long (preferably 400+ word) description using your keyword 2-3 times
- Don’t overdo it on the tags, but add a few
- Get more likes, views, comments by promoting it
- Embed it on your website (# of embeds is a ranking factor)
- ALWAYS respond to comments as these will help it rank higher
FYI here’s an updated video of René if you want to hear her story…
6. Get An Artist Wikipedia Page
I’ve done quite a few of these, unfortunately Wikipedia doesn’t want the writer to have any connection to the artist, so I probably shouldn’t publicize them. But here’s how to get one.
Step 1: Gather Sources – gather links from ALL online articles you’re mentioned in. These should not be published by you (eg. your website) since that would be considered biased and against their guidelines, which I recommend skimming through. There is no perfect number of sources, but ideally it should be over 15. To find these, Google your name, scroll through the results, then start building your list. You can setup a Google Alert for when someone publishes something about you in the future. Once you have a list of sources, it’s time to write a draft.
Step 2: Write A Factual, Non-Biased Draft – look at the format of René, Laura, and other artist Wikipedia pages. Follow a similar format: early life and background, works of art, exhibitions, collections, references, etc. It should be similar. Also notice nearly EVERY sentence is cited. You don’t have to copy/paste exact sentences from your sources, but the article should be derived from them, NOT your own words. So just do the best you can to write the article while citing your sources. Also leave out any promotional or exaggerating tone.
Step 3: Hire A Wikipedia Article Writer – it is against Wikipedia’s guidelines to publish an article about yourself (since it’s biased). You will need someone to review your draft, make sure it follows Wikipedia guidelines, and write the first draft in Wikipedia code. You can hire a Wikipedia article writer by signing up for a freelancer account then posting a job for a “Wikipedia Article Writer” (there are plenty out there). Either wait for people to apply, or search for a writer and ask high-rated people if they’re interested. Most of them are overseas, but all the ones I hired worked well for me. Just make sure they have very good reviews.
Step 4: Work With Your Wikipedia Writer To Get It Published – they will tell you if anything needs to be fixed. Just send them your draft, list of sources, and a few images if you’re including a “works” section. Thy will also need your main picture and information that shows on the right side of the page. From here, it’s just a matter of working with your writer. I am not a writer so I can’t answer too many questions about this, but your writer should be able to.
There are plenty of Wikipedia article writers out there:
7. SEO For Art Galleries
If you run an art gallery I assume you want to rank high in Google for your represented artist names as well as “Art Gallery Chicago” or whatever city you’re in. Here’s how to do that…
Create A Page For Each Artist – if you search “René Schuler” do you think Google will serve a page showing 20 different artists? No, you need a separate page on your site for each artist.
Optimize Your Artist Pages
- Use the artist name as the page title
- Ideally their portfolio should include a lot of their work
- Label images before uploading them (as the title of the artwork)
- Use as much unique content as possible, duplicate content isn’t good
- Use some text on the page if possible, otherwise all Google has are images
- Write your snippet to sound nice and include their name (as described in step 1)
- Include unique information, why should Google show your page and not other galleries? This is a huge factor since ‘valuable’ content usually outranks the competition. Google measures how much time people spend on a page and uses it to determine a page’s rankings, so investing time in content is the #1 thing you can do.
Spruce Up Your Google My Business Page
*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.
- Create a GMB Page (no duplicates – check Moz Local)
- Agencies can register here
- Verify ownership
- Fill out everything
- Fill out all attributes
- List your menu/services
- Set hours and special hours
- Get a 360 tour if it makes sense
- Enter your address or service area
- List all relevant categories, primary listed first
- Use local business URLs (eg. appointments, reservations, bookings)
- If using local business URL using third-party services, fill out this form
- Add reservations/bookings with Google’s approved third-party vendors
- The previous steps can get you showing up in reservations by Google
- Add photos + videos (logo, cover image, storefront, team, inside store, etc)
- Write a description (do not stuff keywords/links as it’s not part of algorithm)
- Get a custom URL
- Answer questions
- Start using Google Posts
- Respond to reviews, good and bad
- Make it easy for customers to leave reviews (with a custom link)
- Allow customers to message you – keep that response rate up!
- Flag inappropriate reviews if you legitimate reason (see policies)
- Get your products seen using the product editor + product catalog
- Hotels can add class ratings and amenities
- Move reviews to different listings if necessary
- Follow Google My Business guidelines
Get Reviews (Especially On Google My Business) – all you need is 1 review to get the stars.
Enhance Online Profiles With Moz Local – run your website through Moz Local which helps you fix incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Get your score up as much as you can… these profiles (called citations) are an important part of Google’s local search ranking factors.
Outsource Less Important Profiles To Whitespark – since these profiles are so important, you need more of them. You can either outsource this to Whitespark’s citation service for $4-5 per profile, or use their list of top citations by city. But you should at LEAST have 50 other profiles other than the ones in Moz Local. If you do this yourself, be sure to keep track of your logins.
Follow Google’s Local Search Ranking Factors – I covered the majority of it, but if you’re ever in doubt of how to rank higher in Google Maps and local search results, check Google’ local search ranking factors. This is reported every 2 years by Moz and is the most accurate study.
8. Make Your Website Load Faster
You don’t need a developer to do this.
- Run your website through GTmetrix to see if it’s slow.
- If yes, fast hosting is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide.
- View Facebook polls of the top rated hosts to see if yours is at the bottom (see below)
- I use Cloudways (Vultr High Frequency plan) who is very popular in Facebook Groups.
- When done, retest your site in GTmetrix and click through pages to see the difference.
- It gets technical, but my WordPress speed guide has many other recommendations.
26 people who moved to Cloudways, including me, and posted results (click thumbnails to enlarge):
Recent Facebook polls on “the best hosting” (click thumbnails to enlarge):
Frequently Asked Questions
🎨 How do I get my art in Google Images?
Label your image file names before uploading them to your website (or anywhere else online). They should accurately describe the image and include a descriptive keyword. Each image should have a description unique to that image. Also try using Wikimedia.
🎨 How do I rank #1 for my name?
Make sure your website and social media profiles are built to establish credibility to Google. Using the Yoast SEO plugin to customize how your homepage snippet appears in Google. Getting links to your website (eg. from press releases) helps. It can take several months for new websites to rank #1 for your name, but keep creating signals for Google.
🎨 How how I get an artist Wikipedia page?
You need sources, whether they are online sources or print. Next, you need a Wikipedia article writer (not you or anyone connected with you) to write the article. That writer should be knowledgable with Wikipedia's guidelines and code. Wikipedia will flag the page if you or someone you know writes it.
🎨 How do social media profiles come into play?
Social media profiles are very important to your SEO since Google pulls images, descriptions, and other information from your social media profiles and displays them in their search results. Make sure you have a Facebook Page, Twitter, YouTube Channel, Instagram, and any other social networks you plan to post on. Even if you don't post much, just a few posts can improve your search engine branding when people Google your name.
🎨 What about SEO for art galleries?
Google has it's own set of ranking factors for Google Maps and Local SEO. To rank high for artist names, create a page for each artist with a unique description and portfolio. Use the artist name in the page title, URL, Yoast snippet, and content body. Make sure you create online profiles on Google My Business and other online directories and social profiles.
If you found my article helpful and have a friend who would also benefit from reading it, please consider sharing it with him or her. I’m glad to answer any questions you have about artist SEO, Wikipedia, and SEO in general. Just drop me a line in the comments below. Good luck!