A key part of being able to learn how to sell your artwork online is getting a flow of traffic to your art website.
SEO about creating authentic content and organizing it clearly and thoughtfully.
If you look at all the recent updates to the algorithms search engines use, it's about creating a better human experience on your site.
How do you do SEO for artist websites?
Short answer: Google and other search engines can't see images – they can only read words. So as artist, with an image focused website, you need to incorporate text in key places throughout our website to generate organic traffic. Key places to put text is in the ALT and TITLE tags of images, in blog posts where you document your art process, and the other pages of your website.
Bottom line, you have to write if you want to tap into the magic of organic search traffic with SEO.
In this article, I'm going to share with you some quick insights on how to apply SEO for artist websites.
NOTE: I'm always updating this article on SEO for artist websites as things are always changing with SEO.
The basics of SEO for artist websites
A key part of selling your art online is owning your platform.
Yes, you need a website for your art.
Your platform should be a domain name you own and a WordPress website you host.
While there are other artist website builders out there.
WordPress is by far the most customizable.
Once you have your platform up, you should treat your blog like your own social media platform.
It should be your priority to post there rather than on Instagram.
It should be where you are constantly sharing sketchbook pages, photos, and other parts of your creative process on your blog.
Think about your artist website as a place you document your process in an unedited, free-flowing way.
Your blog is where SEO for artist websites starts to matter.
Basic SEO for artist websites is no different than putting the lid back on the peanut butter before you put it away or washing your hands before you eat – it’s just good practice.
Over time, you’ll see benefits in the form of higher-quality traffic to your art website.
Just know, SEO for artist websites is not a quick win to increase traffic right away.
It's a long-term game.
But since you're going to be sharing your art process on your blog, the least you can do is make it “findable”.
This is where keyword research comes in.
Steps to getting started with SEO for artist websites
First and most importantly, you need to have words on your site to support your images.
As visual artists, we're good at making images.
It's just the words part that slows us down.
Search engines only know what your website is about based on the words on your site.
Yes, you need to write about your art, and your process and share your ongoing journey, and growth as an artist.
The only goal of search engines is to serve up the most relevant content to people searching.
1. Keyword research
I'm not going to get into the technical details of SEO in this article.
If you have a website, you probably want the right people to find it.
Apart from generating traffic to your site with things like features, interviews, and mentions – SEO for artist websites can offer up a grip of traffic for you without too much effort.
The bottom line, a site following basic SEO practices will generate free traffic to your site in the long run.
Search engines want to share your site with people looking for relevant topics related to you and your art.
The only way a search engine knows what your site is about is with the words on your site.
Search engines can’t see what images look like or what videos are about.
Which is a problem for most art websites.
They're image-heavy without many words.
2. Websites don’t rank, pages rank
A common misconception about SEO for artist websites is that entire websites rank in search results.
When in fact, individual pages are what rank.
It’s your blog posts that rank for specific keywords.
Not the entire website or even your home page.
For example, you can't rank your entire website for the term “wildlife artist”, just a single page.
Instead, you have to do keyword research for keywords related to the term “wildlife artist”.
This could be anything from “wildlife art prints” to “tiger sketchbook drawings”, and dozens of other keywords like this.
To search for keywords you can use a tool like UberSuggest.
While there are more technical requirements to look for as you search for keywords to target.
I generally ignore most of that advice and simply target long-tail keywords with low competition.
A longtail keyword is a keyword with three or more words in it.
They're usually easier to rank for as single and two-word keywords have a lot of competition.
3. Making your blog post SEO friendly
Once you've rounded up a selection of keywords you aligned with your art and creative process you can start making blog posts.
Each blog post should target a keyword phrase.
For example, let's continue to use the keyword, “tiger sketchbook drawings”.
As you make a blog post you'll want to, at a minimum, have your keyword phrase in your title, and the URL of the blog post (separated by dashes), in the first paragraph of your blog post.
In the image of your blog post, you'll want to also have the keyword in the ALT tag of the image.
The only way a search engine knows what these images are about is by what you write in your ALT tag.
When you look at the HTML of your images in a blog post, it usually looks like this:
<img src=”tiger-sketchbook-drawings.jpg” alt=”tiger sketchbook drawings 01″>
Search engines like Google can't see images, they can only read what they're about.
This is why it's important to have your keyword phrase in the ALT of the image.
The length of your blog post should be longer and better than the current content ranking on the first page of search results.
So if you see search results on the first page of Google that is only 200 words max, shoot for 300-400 words in your blog post for that keyword.
A lot of the time you'll find that the posts currently ranking aren't even optimized for the keyword phrase you're targeting.
So intentionally making a blog post for that phrase will make you more competitive.
I did this on purpose to show you how this looks.
H1 is usually the top main title of the blog post or page (default by WordPress), H2 is the subheadings of each idea on your page, and H3 is the sub subheadings beneath each H2 header.
For example, a blog post headers may be organized like this:
H2: Idea #1
H3: sub idea 1
H3: sub idea 1
H2: Idea #2
H3: sub idea 2
H3: sub idea 2
(Just scroll up and down this article to see this in action.)
Of course, the longer the content the easier this is.
If your blog post is shorter, it's totally fine to only have H1 and H2 headers.
So include your keywords in these headers when it feels natural.
4. What to do before you hit publish
You've researched keywords and made your blog post.
Before you hit the publish button, you have to do a few more things to make please the SEO gods.
Search engines like it when all your blog posts are linked together like a spiderweb.
This simply means you need to have a link from your new blog post to another blog post on your website.
You also need to make sure one of your older blog posts is linking to your new blog post.
Search engines also like it when you link out and away from your site relevantly.
For example, if I had a blog post targeting “tiger sketchbook drawings” and I was sharing my sketchbook from Ranthambore National Park in India, I could link to the park's website or a news article about the park.
Tools to help with SEO for artist websites
UberSuggest – A tool to help you find keywords.
There are dozens of tools to help you with keyword research. I've found UberSuggest to be intuitive and simple to use.
RankMath – SEO plugin for WordPress websites
This WordPress plugin keeps track of everything I mentioned above. It'll let you know if your content needs to be longer, or if you're missing an internal or external link.
Fathom Analytics – Privacy-focused analytics
How important is SEO for artists?
There's no simple answer to this question. It depends on your goals as an artist, and how you want to use your website. If you're relying on your website to generate art sales, then SEO is extremely important. But if you're using your website primarily as a portfolio to showcase your work, then SEO may not be as crucial.
What are the best ways to improve SEO for artist websites?
Some of the best ways to improve SEO for artist websites include: Optimizing your website content for relevant keywords. Creating internal and external links. Using descriptive titles and tags. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
What are some common mistakes artists make with SEO?
Some common mistakes artists make with SEO include: Not doing any keyword research. Targeting the wrong keywords. Stuffing keywords into their content. Not creating internal or external links. Ignoring mobile optimization.
Is it worth hiring an SEO specialist to help with my website?
Again, this depends on your goals and how you want to use your website. If you're serious about generating art sales through your website, then it may be worth hiring an SEO specialist to help you. But if you're primarily using your website as a portfolio, then you may be able to get by without hiring someone.
Can I do SEO myself or do I need help?
You can do SEO yourself if you're willing to put in the time and effort. But if you're not confident in your abilities, or you don't have the time to do it yourself, then you may want to consider hiring an SEO specialist.
Does SEO work for artists?
Some artists have found success with SEO, while others have not. Ultimately, whether or not SEO works for you depends on several factors, including the quality of your content and website, as well as how competitive your keywords are.
How do artists rank on Google?
Some common strategies that artists use to rank on Google include optimizing their content for relevant keywords, creating internal and external links, using descriptive titles and tags, and ensuring that their websites are mobile-friendly. SEO is writing. You have to publish a lot and correctly to optimize your site. You need to research the keywords that people are using and then use those keywords strategically throughout your content. It's also important to create high-quality backlinks and attract organic traffic.