Friday, April 01, 2016

It's all in the domain name

This is about:
  1. How to make a website domain name work for you as an artist and 
  2. One reason why your artist's website is NOT found on the first page of Google when people look for it.
An artist wrote to me today to say I'd not included her website in a list of selected artists. The reason why I hadn't was linked to the nature of the domain name of her website.

BELOW: I explain:
  • why her website domain name was a problem and why I couldn't find it;
  • some tips on how to choose a domain name which gets found fast by people who don't know you - but may have heard of you.

The selected artists post - matching names to websites

I find and match artists' websites to the names of selected artists and publish a post about this quite often.

Names of artists are often meaningless while a list with embedded links means that those aspiring to be selected can check out the websites to see the standard of work selected. This is enormously helpful to:
  • up and coming artists 
  • the peers of those selected who have not yet realised that in fact they are actually good enough to submit work via the open entry.
and that's why I do it!

A query

So here's the letter (minus all names)

I found your site for the first time today as I was seeking a list of AWS Exhibition artists for 2016. I cam across your list of the 2013 accepted artists where you provide links to the artists' web sites. Mine was not linked, but I have had a site for many years. If you can, at your convenience, please link my name to my site.

I enjoyed your site and will bookmark it for future reading.


and here's my response

I've updated the post with your website which I'm always pleased to do for any artist whose website is incorrect or missing.

However please note the following:

  • Latterly it's been my practice to put "the name of the artist" + the word 'art' or 'artist' into Google to find the websites for 'selected artists' posts. This is to speed up the search process
  • the artist then has 15 seconds to deliver a result - i.e. enough time for me to scan a page to locate the right website. That means that the website MUST turn up on the first page of search results on Google - and preferably in the top half of the page
  • if the website doesn't get much traffic and/or there is another artist of the same name then it's quite likely I can't find the website that fast - and it is left
If you wonder why I do this, take a look at the number of artists listed in that (art society acronym) post and then multiply out that number by (say) a minute and you can see very quickly why to do otherwise would waste an awful lot of my time. I used to find that if I just put the name of the artist into Google it could take ages to find the website. It's my habit to "max out" at a minute of searching.

My job is to find the website. It's the artist's job to make sure I can find it fast. Unfortunately I think the addition of the letter "K" in the middle of your domain name really does not help.

Unfortunately if I just put the name "name of the artist" into Google I don't find you. You may say you always use the letter "K" with your name but I don't know that and that is not how your name was listed by the 
(art society acronym). Invariably it's the names of artists with extra initials which present problems with finding websites.

In my experience, the artists who are competing with others of the same name do much better being found if they add on 'art' or 'artist' after their name. Initials rarely do anything unless the person looking already knows the artist and knows that's how she styles him or herself. Semantically they add nothing.

You may have had a website forever - but the key thing is whether or not people can actually find it.

If you want to test it for yourself you need to do it on somebody else's computer (eg one in a library) which has no record of entering your name or searching for your name - or eliminate all the stored cookies and search history from your computer.

I hope you find this useful

More on the topic of domain names

examples of domain names for artists

In general I recommend:
  • Test out whether anybody else with the same name as you owns a website domain name - this is your competition and the domain name you need to differentiate from. 
  • ALWAYS use .com for the suffix. It 's the most popular and most easily found by a very long way. It outranks everything else and reigns supreme.  
  • ALWAYS use your own name for your artist's website.
  • Differentiate yourself and add value in an informative way if you can't get the .com for your name
    • Use a country domain name (eg if you can't come up with a .com domain name
    • use an extra word in your .com domain name which adds value eg. art, artist, painter, watercolours etc
If you want to make life difficult for yourself use an extra letter in the domain name. NOBODY ever uses letters when referencing you by name - unless you are only ever known by your initials (eg "JR Ewing").

and finally.......

The next time the domain name registrar tells you all about the new whizzbang domain names which exist, do remember that they are in business to make money and sell you things whether or not you need them.

Try and always stick to a .com website if at all possible.


  1. I've found out the hard way that what you're saying here is absolutely true - unfortunately, the designer of my web page and I simply failed to register these points at the time, and having got a domain name, which isn't my own name, AND which has a .net suffix, I don't know what I can do to change it. I have thought of opening a Wordpress account, which I could use as a portal to my site: it does seem a very long-winded way of going about it,though.

    I'm having to think about this now because having made these fundamental errors some time ago, I'm not getting the traffic I need. Others, take note.

  2. Right on Katherine! Well said. To Robert James: you can have multiple domain names for the same website. Buy one and name it using Katherine's wise advice and point it to your website as the primary domain (your web person will know how). Then start using the new domain name. No need to build a whole new site! Mine has 3:, and You can get there with any of them.


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