Last week Clint Watson posted some interesting thoughts and data on Search Engine Optimization for Artists. While I agree with Clint that an intensive focus on SEO is probably not the way to go, I think he’s under-selling it just a bit.
Last year I did an interview with Christy Klug, a handmade metal jewelry artist. That interview ranks on the first page of Google for the search term “handmade metal jewelry.” Unfortunately for Christy, her site does not rank there.
That search is one of my top terms for search traffic. If I actually sold jewelry, I would probably be doing pretty well.
Clint looks at several artists’ top 10 keyword data on Alexa. Looking at your top search terms is all well and good, but with most Web sites, most of their traffic doesn’t come from their top 10 search terms.
I had a client in Florida who wanted to overhaul an Adwords campaign. Looking at his data, I noticed that two-thirds of the traffic to his site came from keywords that were not in his top 10. They were variations on his core product. What’s more, they were search queries that focused on buying signals. Keywords like ‘Buy product X’ and ‘product x in city x.’ Each individual query didn’t generate much traffic, but there were so many unique queries that the scope of traffic was tremendous.
In the professional SEO world, this long list of unique queries is called the Long Tail. Websites like Amazon and other major retailers benefit from the Long Tail in a major way. They have a huge amount of inventory, so they benefit from people looking for really obscure things. The Long Tail makes up a very large percentage of Internet transactions. That’s why companies like Imagekind and Fine Art America are doing so well.
This is new territory for most artists.
You can benefit from the long tail as well. Note: This is not a tip for beginning artists. If you are just barely getting started in your career, you need to focus on other things (improving your technique, networking, and social media will probably all come before this). For artists that have been around for a while, however, the Long Tail of search can be really helpful. Here’s how:
You have a large inventory
You’ve been creating art for years and you have a huge catalog of work. Post your images on your site and give them titles that are descriptive with relevant keywords. If you are an established artist with a site that already ranks for a few things, these images can start showing up in lots of places.
You aren’t afraid to sell prints.
Of course, ranking for obscure search terms doesn’t do you any good if you can’t convert people into buyers, and you can only do that if you have something to sell. You should be able to reproduce and sell your old work. Not only will the people arriving at your site from search traffic be interested in your old work, but so will new collectors.
You have a mailing list.
I do agree with Alyson Stanfield: Your most important asset is your mailing list. You should have an opt-in form for your artist newsletter on your site. Some of that search traffic is going to be converted to your list and then you can market to those people in perpetuity.
What about you? What obscure terms are you ranking for? Do you know if any of it is bringing you any business?