Monday, May 18, 2009

5 positive ways to help your art website rank well in Google

Creating a website or blog is only the beginning. Many artists then want to know how to help people find the art on their website or blog.

How to help a website or blog rank well in search engine pages is a challenge - but it's also rather interesting. Everybody has an opinion on how this can be done well while ranking art in Google adds to the usual complexity of the issues involved.

Victoria - a work in progress
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

There's also a fair few myths around and about in relation to "what works" in terms of optimising your website for Google searches.

That said, the number 1 priority should always be about creating content for the people who you'd like to visit your site. (Which is why you're getting an image of a work in progress as well as words about ranking factors!) Nothing which SEO suggests should get in the way of that. All that SEO does is make sure that the right sort of people arrive at your website - whether they stay or not is entirely due to the content you've created. If it's good they'll probably stay and take a long look round.

The SEOMoz Search Ranking Factors v2

There's some consensus that there's one study which provides a lot of the answers. The SEOmoz’s Search Ranking Factors V2 was devised in 2007 and continues to rank top! 35 well-informed contributors ranked different SEO factors according to how important they were - in either a positive or negative way. The survey also measured the extent of agreement about the impact on a factor - one where there was a lot of disagreement being termed ' controversial'.

The analysis divides the factors into:
  • the top 10 positive factors
  • the controversial factors
  • the top 10 negative factors
I'm going to start looking at how these factors apply to art websites and blogs. To do this I'm going to consider them in a series and look at a small number in each post to help keep this digestible (probably five at a time)!

Below I've highlighted the top 5 positive factors for how I think they might apply to an artist's website or blog and artwork generally. I'm studied a number of these recommendations in the past - but I'm no sort of expert on this. Consequently I welcome anybody who can see where I've said anything wrong or misleading to correct what I've said.

All quotations are the definitions for that factor as stated on the SEOMoz site.

The top five factors to aid ranking in search engine pages

Keyword Use in Title Tag

Placing the targeted search term or phrase in the title tag of the web page's HTML header
Virtually everybody agreed that this is a top rated recommendation. It's your best chance of getting a visitor to both arrive and stay - if you describe your content well.

The notion here is that you should include the keyword which is closely associated with your content in the title or domain name or URL of your website or blog.

Starting your title with the word you want to be associated with works best. Clever blog/website titles will never beat those which 'do what it says on the tin'. This is where generating a name for yourself and then using it for the title of your website really pays off. Brand names work in the same way if you build them over time. No daily painter is ever going to beat Duane Keiser's blog for they keyword phrase "A Painting A Day"!

People who remove the html title code from their blog and substitute with a really nice banner which includes the title of their blog embedded in the image are missing a very big trick! Check your blog template and/or the banner image to see whether your title code is still in tact.

On Blogger, each individual blog post has an individual URL. If you include relevant words in the title of your blog post you are helping people to find that post. I find that some of my very boring blog titles continue to get consistently good traffic (even when they're 2-3 years old) because they say exactly what people are interested in and are trying to find. This is the reason why all the reviews on MAMReviews have very boring blog post titles which say very precisely what they are about!

The same applies to art. Really interesting and clever titles for artwork might look good as a blog post or as the title under a painting - but might do nothing to help your art rank in Google. You therefore need to think about how you can work round this in other ways.

Anchor Text of Inbound Link

This is where you tell people precisely what the link is about - and there's consensus that this is exceptionally important. Google apparently likes people who say exactly what they mean. This is why it's not a good idea to use phrases like "click here".

I tend to be very literal on this blog in terms of anchor text for links although I can only speculate as to whether or not it has helped this blog.

If you're going to send people to another site to purchase your artwork why not make sure you describe it accurately? Example Visit my Etsy store to purchase this (whatever)

Global Link Popularity of Site
The overall link weight/authority as measured by links from any and all sites across the web (both link quality and quantity)
A very high proportion of commentators agreed this was very important.

However, it's not the quantity of links which count so much as whether the links you get are credible and good quality. In fact having lots of links from sites which are low ranking and/or irrelevant sites can work against you and you may well incur penalties from the search engines.

What counts in terms of credibility and popularity is whether or not the people linking to your website have:
  • 'clout' in terms of how their sites is measured in terms of quality and popularity
  • relevance in terms of similarity of content to your site.
You can influence this yourself to some extent. For example, if you participate in an art forum or social network and then link from there to your own website and/or blog and/or sale sites via your forum signature makes a lot of sense!

Never ever make the mistake of paying for a link! It'll rebound........

You can also benefit from being 'found' by relevant sites - particularly those with domain authority. This explains why I get so many emails from people wanting me to feature their new product on my blog! (You see a very tiny proportion of what I get mail about!) Making A Mark has grown in popularity in the last three and half years and now boasts a fair few in-bound links. Getting a link from this blog to another art blog now 'counts' in a major way. However that means that I also need to keep my blogroll links under review and ensure that they remain relevant.

Age of Site
Not the date of original registration of the domain, but rather the launch of indexable content seen by the search engines (note that this can change if a domain switches ownership)
Google likes fresh content but it also likes old and reputable websites and older domains get a slight edge in site rankings. Basically this means that the older your site is and the more reputable it is the more likely it is to be in search engine results pages (SERPs).

What this also means for all artists is that if you get your domain name for your website or blog right first time and and then stick with it you will derive a benefit over time.

Making changes as to the domain names of your website will not help you in the short term as you need to start building up your credibility and popularity again from scratch.

Link Popularity within the Site's Internal link Structure
Refers to the number and importance of internal links pointing to the target page
This relates to how many relevant internal links point to this page on your website or blog. It speaks to the overall consistency of your site. The view is that this is only slightly less important than the quality and popularity of external links - and yet this is an aspect which many people ignore.

There are two key points here. First this is an important factor and second you can control your own internal link juice. Internal links are within your own control. If your artwork is part of a series or you've written about previous related posts then linking to them will create a body of content which carries more weight. That in turn might have implications for titling blog posts or artwork.

You can read the comments from SEOMoz contributors to see what they recommend.

I'm afraid my brain always wants to see things in terms of connections and consequently I've been developing internal links on all my websites for years! I didn't even know it was doing me any good. It just seemed sensible in terms of providing jumping off points for people interested in artwork or a topic. So - for example:
  • if you go to Pastels and Pencils - my portfolio website my website, the gallery pages are all set up in groups and include links to all the other relevant internal links.
  • On my squidoo sites I've created logical groups and have also included links to other related sites on each information that I've produced.
  • On this blog, if I start a project I link to all related posts for that project in each post.
  • I think (but am not sure that) intelligent use of labels for categories also helps to create internal linkages of value.
I'm convinced it's probably a way of thinking and an attitude of mine which probably comes a lot eaiser to those who tend to think in terms of structures.

The next post in this series will consider the next five positive ways which can aid how your art website/blog ranks in search engine pages.

Note: The work in progress is a coloured pencil drawing of a young lady called Victoria. I'm trying out some new hot press paper in a block, made by Sennelier. There'll be a review on MAMReviews in due course.

Making a Mark reviews......


  1. I've had what looked like dramatic results from putting search words in the alt text of images on my website. I notice this isn't mentioned in the top 10, and it may have just been coincidence...? I haven't used alt text on my blog -- just because I haven't tried html edits there, just do straight-up WYSIWYG posts

  2. Charlene - I'm coming on to the alt tags trick... :)

    The approach I'm taking is to use the order of the items in the analysis and to work through them in small groups of factors.

    To be honest, there isn't any evidence about which approach matter most to artists so I'd only be guessing if I suggested there was. To be honest, it's very likely that it's always going to be a combination of factors.

    Have you tried using your image editor to add in tag text?

  3. What an excellent resource, Katherine. Thank you! You rock!

  4. .... and I forgot to mention what a beautiful portrait you have started. I love the looseness of it, very breezy!

  5. Fantastic tips! It's also important to remember to do some keyword research before you start optimizing your website. is the first place that I start. There's no use optimizing your website for a certain keyword if no one is really searching for it.

    If you have Google Analytics installed on your website or blog, you'll see what keywords that people are using already to come to your website. You'll be surprised at what people will type that you've never even thought of.

    Plus, remember to think of "keyword phrases" as well as individual keywords. Keyword phrases in the form of questions are also good because people often type their searches in as a form of a question. I've found that I get a lot of people to my jewelry website because they type "how do i get rid of tarnish" in the search engines and I've optimized an article about silver tarnish just for that phrase.

  6. excellent information

    thanks Katherine :>)

  7. All the information you have posted here is worth further investigation and I will follow the links you have included. Some of it is still new to me, but I am learning as I go along.
    Your portrait of Victoria is lovely. You describe it as a work in progress, and that gave me the thought that she is " a work in progress" as are we all.

  8. I am loving the progress on Victoria's portrait. You've caught her character so well!!

  9. Thanks Maggie

    Victoria is so delightful to draw that it's a real pleasure - except when I can't get the eeys right!


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