Part 7. Getting Found
The last critical feature your website needs to sell art online is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood of any areas a website needs to perform well – not just an artist’s website, but any website, is now subject to some pretty harsh scrutiny when it comes to being ‘ranked’ online. Your website having a good ‘ranking’ is paramount to being found.
And what does ‘ranked’ mean anyway and how does this help me?
Each search engine – Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo etc – has it’s own criteria for assessing the validity of a website and also how well it matches the searches people are typing in looking for information and images.
Now we can’t go through everything here or I’d be suggesting you purchase my latest encyclopedia on the subject of how to get your website found on the internet, however we will discuss some critical points.
By far the largest and most popular search engine is still Google. People compete to ‘be on the first page of Google’ and in the mainstream you can say this is where it’s at when it comes to being found. So – the big question is where does YOUR website appear when people are searching for art?
When The Hiscox On-line Art Trade Report 2017 talks about Artist’s own websites failing to perform, simply failing to be found can be a major contributor to these statistics. A website needs to match the search queries being input on many different levels. They call this SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. This means the website contains adequate text copy with words that potentially match or closely relate to the searches being made. Inadequate text, or text that does not relate or contain these terms can see your website way down the pack when it comes to being shown first or promoted to the first page of any search engine.
While we’re talking about SEO, images are also a highly searched for on the web. While artists are concerned about having their artwork stolen or misused by being online (this is a whole other subject that relates to resolution and size and crafty little tricks to help prevent that occurring, but we’ll discuss that in another article) what people fail to realize is that images themselves are also searchable content. Images contain metadata and keywords that can be altered and edited to help your image be found. Naming your images is also important. If your image is called IMG_69201 then this is hardly something anyone is going to be searching for. However start to name your image files something of relevance eg. ARTIST NAME_OIL ON CANVAS_Subject description and you may just find your images are found online way before your website even populates searches. This can be an enormous asset to giving your website an extra boost.
This next piece of information is a red hot tip and comes directly from Google themselves. While we’ve all related to search engines as almost a public service, they are in fact billion dollar businesses with a strong focus on profitability. When the internet was new, it was a case of our website helped them out by having websites to display however with 70 new domains being purchased and approx. 571 new websites loaded to the internet EVERY MINUTE the tables have now turned.
For some time, advertising on their platforms be a significant way to jump the queue to the first page of their search engines and be found. Over the last year or so, Google has taken a stand to reduce the number of organic (best matches for search queries) listings in favour of more paid advertising dominating their pages. Another critical thing to understand is they believe that a business who is spending money to advertise is ‘more serious’ about their business and therefore may rise in their ‘rankings’ or have increased displayed results than a business who is not advertising. This is really a shift to a distinct ‘user pays’ model. This change has completely shifted the way businesses and websites are being found to the point that even when your own domain (website address) is typed into the search bar, if your website is not ranked well or you are not paying to promote it, Google may not show it and promote other businesses similar to yours, who they’ve deemed through their criteria to be a more suitable result to display to the person Googling.
It’s expected other search engines to follow suit. So where does this leave us as Artists looking to have our own website?
There a few things that you can do. The first being to reach into your back pocket and start paying for advertising your site online. Depending on your category, you may find your CPC (cost per click) ranges from a few cents to many dollars based on the popularity and completion for the Keywords (selected keywords) you choose. Significant research needs to go into what keywords will give you the best results for your type of art then it becomes a bidding war so to speak, with others who compete with you over those keywords. Depending on your budget or lack of, this may be prohibitive, however this will help you to be found.
Google verification is also a very important part of having your website be found. There are 2 things that are important and also simple to do – attach Google Analytics to your site. Of course we’d recommend you then become familiar with this tool to find out how much traffic (people visiting your site and their behavior) your site’s getting, and you can work to improve or optimize your website’s performance – the important part is by attaching Google Analytics, it somewhat forces Google to recognize your site. The other great tool is to register for Google My Business and create a google listing for your business. It’s free and highly worthwhile. To find out how to do this – just Google ‘google my business’ and you can begin to set up your free listing.
The third thing is to consider using third party online promoters like www.BuyArtNow.com.au in addition to your own website. In the case of BuyArtNow.com.au many of these issues are being addressed for you. Collaborative sites become mini search engines themselves, narrowing the playing field into a more likely chance your artwork will be found by that person or people searching for the broader art keywords that a single artist could rarely afford to compete in. Collaborative sites act as a funnel to direct traffic into more specific search results. It’s a great way of keeping your own costs low as the collaborative membership fees create a bigger advertising budget and are used to promote the site on popular platforms like Google and Social media sites with budgets that usually exceed what a single artist can afford.
Additionally the links provided on the site back to your own website give valuable ‘backlinks’ which can help your own sites rankings. The keywords used as well as descriptions, Artist bio, relevant titles and categories as well as shop item listings help your artwork be found across the internet as well as on the site.
Action tip no 7. Review your website content and images for search terms you think may make your site more relevant to the search queries people are using to search for art. Consider renaming all images that are too generic. Connect your site to Google Analytics and become familiar with it – it’s a highly sophisticated tool however can be reasonable simple too to measure just how much traffic you’re getting to your site. You can also measure your results from the things you do to help improve your site being found. Add yourself to Google My Business. If you don’t know how to use any of the Google tools the simplest thing is to just Google it. They have answers and videos for just about everything. Who knew!!
Missed the first articles in this series – you can catch up on them here
Want to find out more about becoming a member of BuyArtNow.com – download your free info kit here!