A lot of my friends have been asking me lately if I'd share something about how musicians can further their SEO efforts, so this post is dedicated to them. In this article I will detail step by step how a musician can leverage the Internet as a marketing tool without ever having to hire a professional. Most musicians are on a tight budget, and until they make it big, spend the majority of their free time marketing their band on their own. The best part about a musician doing their own SEO is that minus the technical skills, they're usually really effective social media strategists and with a little help, can throw together a decent and creative website.
Develop Your Website
If you haven't done so already, focus your creativity into your website-either as an individual musician or on behalf of your band. You can create a beautiful, SEO optimized website using the following steps:
1. Choose your domain name, then purchase it through a provider**
(Please see below sub point for optimization tips)
2. Set up simple hosting through the likes of GoDaddy
3. Get your DNS information from your hosting provider and input it to the registrar of your domain name (for this reason, it is sometimes easier to register both with the same provider)
4. Go to a website such as themeforest.com and pick out a responsive and simple theme. Download it to your desktop
5. Once your purchase the theme you like, login to WordPress and from the dashboard, go to Appearance-Themes-Install Theme
6. Locate the zip file from within the theme files that you saved on your desktop. This is what you want to install
7. Familiarize yourself with WordPress and start playing/building out your pages and content. Most of the information you need to customize your website can be found in the Theme Options section under appearance, as well as the Widgets section under Settings
8. If you run into trouble, visit the themes support site. Most of the time you'll find in depth videos, forums and a highly responsive support team with available email addresses
**Depending on your niche, this domain may be easily optimized through using the keyword you are trying to target as your domain name, rather than your band name. For instance, if you are a folk band in North Carolina, check to see if folkbandnorthcarolina.com is available. This step will help you rank better in search engines for what you want to be found for.
Making use of the following plugins will help you optimize your website to its fullest potential. They are user friendly, and also have support sites in case you get stuck.
WP Under Construction
This plugin helps you create a customized Under Construction page so that your visitors wont be able to access you website until it's just the way you want it. It allows you to put up a contact form in case visitors want to get in touch with you via email or phone in the meantime.
This plugin gives you a detailed view of the aspects missing from each page in order to be completely optimized for the internet. Some aspects of this plugin are advanced, but its a good place to start and also offers a fully supported website in case you need additional help.
Assuming you're already on your social media game, this plugin will help you to seamlessly add share and like icons to your pages/blog posts so that you don't have to custom program anything. It's easy to use, and designed well as to compliment your website.
Scroll Triggered Boxes
This plugin adds a floating newsletter subscription box-again without having to custom program anything- so that you can capture emails to add to your mailing list. This enables you to widen your reach when it comes to promoting shows, sending out special announcements etc.
This plugin integrates with Google Maps and allows you to upload your upcoming performances as well as display maps to venues, event info and more
This plugin allows you to manage and display live performance footage. It uses short codes and it more advanced than some of the aforementioned plugins, but it's not too complicated to learn by utilizing the support page.
SoundCloud Ultimate Plugin
If you have a SoundCloud account for your original music, this plugin allows you to display, preview and manage your account from you website. It's a great plugin if you want to put a creative and dedicated page strictly for SoundCloud promotion.
WordPress Social Stream
This is a great plugin for musicians who are active on social. It's $16 and displays live rotating feeds from all of your social accounts. Its also super easy to set up and looks professionally developed (because it was).
These plugins will give you a good start to making the most of your marketing efforts, as well as an edge when it comes to learning more about WordPress and experimenting with a wide range of plugin options.
Setting up Google Analytics
Now were getting to the fun stuff. Once your site is ready to go, you'll definitely want to track its success by setting up a Google analytics account. To do this, follow these simple steps.
1. Go to google.com/analytics and set up your account
2. Install the tracking code onto your WordPress website**
3. Watch some tutorials so you dont feel overwhelmed
**There are two simple ways to do this- You can download a Google Analytics Tracking code plugin (in WordPress go to plugins-search-Google Analytics Tracking Code) or use the meta tag option under alternative methods then in WordPress go to Editor-header.php and place the tag between the <head> and </head> sections of your website.
Once your website is verified, you'll be able to collect valuable information such as how many website visitors you have, what websites they came from, what search terms they used to find you, and what part of the country the visited from. All of this data can help you determine which shows you gained the most traction from and what venues behooved you the most.
Setting Up Google Webmaster Tools
Now that you've put this much effort into developing a website for your band, you not only want to track the visitors you receive, you also want to be sure to track the health of your website. Familiarizing yourself with Google Webmaster Tools will help you maintain your website and ensure that the work you done is never lost or damaged. Aside from monitoring the health of your website, Webmaster Tools also offers suggestions as to how to optimize your website better. To set up your Webmaster Tools account, follow these directions:
1. Go to google.com/webmasters
2. Sign in using the same email that you used to set up your Google Analytics account
3. Add your site
4. Click on "alternative methods" and verify using Google Analytics
Add Your Sitemap and Index Your Site
Once your website is verified go into the Yoast plugin that you hopefully installed on your website and navigate to Sitemaps. Click on "generate sitemap" then copy and paste the link that is generated. Next, go into Webmaster Tools and navigate to Crawl-Sitemaps-Add/Test Sitemap. Test the sitemap first to make sure the link is correct, then submit it. This allows Google to find and index all of your website pages effectively.
To get your website indexed by Google, navigate to Crawl-Fetch as Google-Fetch-Submit to Index. Additionally, every time you update your website with new content, links, concert information, videos, etc, repeat this step so that Google always has the latest updated version of your website indexed.
Setting Up Google Authorship and Publisher Markup
If you plan on blogging regularly from the road or about your shows, you need to set up Google authorship as a way of connecting your personal brand to your website. Doing this is not only important for SEO, it create more credibility for you personally on the web. In order to set up authorship on your website follow these instructions.
1. If you don't already have a Google plus profile, set one up
2. In WordPress, go to Users, and add yourself as a user with a link to your Google+ profile
3. In WordPress, go to Editor- header.php and place the following code in between the <head> and </head> tags:
<link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/yourgoogle+url"/>
4. On your G+ profile, under Links-Contributor To, add the URL of your website
<link rel="publisher" href="https://plus.google.com/yourbandgoogle+url"/>
This enables Google to correlate your website to your G+ page.
5. Make sure that when you post on your blog, you change the author from admin the user that you set up on your WordPress site.
Add a Wikipedia Entry
If you band isn't already on Wikipedia, it should be. Bands are easily accepted into Wikipedia because they can often site a long history with references and album information. In order to set up your bands Wikipedia page, be unbiased, write from a third person perspective and do not promote yourself in anyway. For a full breakdown of band listing requirements of Wikipedia, check out their summary here:
The All Important Mailing List
I think the only mailing list I am ever excited to see I'm a part of is a musician or bands. That being said, creating a mailing list to inform your fan base of shows and events is perhaps one of the most important steps you can take in order to help your marketing efforts. If you don't already have a dedicated email list, start putting out clipboards at your shows and make sure that you capture as many of your fans emails as possible.
If you feel like really going pro, you can monitor analytics and open rates of your email efforts by using a program like Mailchimp. They offer a free plan for up to 12,000 emails a month and 2,000 subscribers.
The Overall Cost?
So, what does this all cost? You're a musician trying to make ends meet, and don't have a budget for these types of advanced marketing techniques. Great news. Everything mentioned here can be with $50 (or less). The most expensive part of this process is probably going to be buying the theme, which I highly suggest you do, although there are plenty of free themes you can use also. Themes start anywhere from $10 and you can get an awesome theme for around $35. Your domain and hosting combined are going to run you about $10-$15 for the first year (or more if you get a good deal). Everything that you need to set up beyond that is absolutely free- all it takes is time and effort.
The advantages of taking these actions as a musician are worth the time it will take to implement the processes. As an avid music lover, I can't tell you how many times I've searched for a musician I saw live, and came up with nothing. Being that musicians are at their core creative beings, undertaking a project like this is less of a task and more of a fun challenge. If you have any questions about the techniques mentioned here, please feel free to reach out for further assistance or just to give your input, and happy musical marketing.
Karen Neicy works at a boutique digital marketing agency in Wynwood, Miami called Pacific54. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and is passionate about writing, philosophy and the Internet. She is easily bribed with puppies, old records and ice cream.