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Search Engine Optimization for Indie Bands
By James Moore - 09/13/2010 - 09:20 PM EDT

Search engine optimization

People typically arrive at websites in three ways: through the use of search engines, clicking links from other websites, or simply by typing in the website address. Even though search engines alone will not complete your promotional arsenal, they will be important.

One thing to make sure of is that in the title tag of your webpage is the name of your band or the keyword you would like to be found with. The title tag is similar to the title of a book. It has to say who you are and get people interested as well. The title tag is used by almost every search engine that uses spiders to crawl your website. It's also the most effective Meta Tag and is used for conveying the theme of your website to the search engines.

For example title The Anarchist Cowboys - American punk rock
Here you've listed the name of your band clearly (The Anarchist Cowboys), and you've specified the style or description so people searching the term "American punk" or "punk rock" are more likely to find you. Your influences or an original phrase can also be added to the description. Just keep it concise. A full html example is below (the " and < tags are removed for this example):

head title Title of Your Webpage Here /title >
meta content= Brief description of the contents of the page >
meta content= keyword phrases that describe your webpage >
/head

The main search engines you will need to be listed on are:
1)  Google (www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl)
2)  Yahoo (http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html)
3)  MSN (http://search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx?FORM=WSDD2)

These sites generate the results for all the primary search engines. Dmoz (www.dmoz.org/add.html) feeds thousands of smaller search engines so be sure to sign up there too.

Don't waste your money on services promising to provide submissions to thousands of search engines. They don't help much and can have a reverse effect, ruining your search engine ranking.

Things that will attract search engine traffic include a site index, footers, and XML feeds. Frames repel them. This is another reason to go with a service like HostBaby (www.hostbaby.com) or Bandzoogle (www.bandzoogle.com) if you are not familiar with html. They will help you create a simple, search engine friendly website.

If you hire a webmaster, all the better. Like we said before though, just tell them you don't need all the bells and whistles (flash is not necessary! It will hurt you more than it will help you). You want a website that's simple and will attract people. The last thing you want is your new potential fan being bombarded with unasked for music and digital chaos when clicking on your site link.

Choose effective and clear keywords. (Free music, metal band, heavy metal music, etc) Be sure to mention these terms on your site to strengthen them. Don't go crazy with irrelevant choices either (Kim Kardashian photos, Disney movie clips, Paris Hilton, etc). There are many books dedicated solely to the topic of search engine optimization. "Search Engine Optimization for Dummies" by Peter Kent is a good one. Information found online or via these books can be a big help, but for now, as long as we choose the proper keywords, label our site correctly, and submit to the proper search engines we should be off to a good start.

To find out how to improve your Google page ranking, go to www.google.com/support.

Update your website frequently!

Blog, blog, blog. Maintain a relevant blog and you'd be surprised at the results. Outside blogs can also feed into your main website for extra traffic. Wordpress is an excellent way to go. Google picks up on their keywords. Hint: the magic number of posts on Wordpress is 10. Once you hit this number of posts, Google will start picking up your blog and you can sit and watch the traffic pour in. Of course, it's highly advisable to keep writing now that you have a growing audience! You should also be using your social network accounts to feed into your main website, and vice versa.

Be sure to promote your band (and website) to popular music blogs, podcasts, websites, and zines that cater to your style. The more your website and band name get posted, the more you become known, the more your name gets searched, the bigger you get and the more places there are for people to find you. Many bands feel that if they have a good product and a professional image, people will find them. Nothing could be further from the truth. You must reach out. It's as simple as that. Provide free copies of your album (digital or physical) to anyone who can help you spread your music to more people virally.

These are all starting points, but I hope they give you some ideas and get you on the right track.


James Moore
www.yourbandisavirus.com



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