Search engine optimization is important for any business, but it's especially true for artists and art-related businesses. It goes without saying that if you can't be found on Google, then no one will know about your work! This article discusses how to get the most out of SEO for artists so that you can improve your search ranking and drive more traffic to your website.
Getting on the first page of Google is all about good SEO strategies: written content, relevant and unique images, and great backlinks / referring URLs. Find out how to maximize your artist website and online presence on Google and other search engines right here.
Ready to learn more? Let's answer some common questions and get into exactly what will help you optimize your own website.
What is Search Engine Optimization and why should I care about it?
I bet you are an artist, right? You want to sell your art or prints. And I am assuming that you would like people who don't know about your work to find it, maybe via Google search?
Okay cool! Here is my goal for this post: by the end of reading this article on SEO For Artists, you will have a better understanding of what Search Engine Optimization entails and how artists can use it as part of their marketing strategy. You will have a better idea of what it takes for artist websites to rank high in search results, especially in Google search results.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It basically means making sure that when someone searches something related to your artwork online, they see links to YOUR website first-- before other websites with similar information or products.
SEO For Artists Is Organic and Unpaid
If people cannot easily find me through a simple search, then my online art business is dead in the water. I have to be able to get my content to be more relevant than giant marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, as well as print on demand services like Redbubble and TeePublic. Without resorting to "Black hat SEO" methods like keyword stuffing, spammy backlinks, or other methods. What an uphill battle!
SEO is not like Google AdWords, where you can pay for your website to show up higher in the search rankings versus other websites. It's an organic process that takes time and dedication on both your part as a business owner.
The good news about SEO is that it helps ANYONE with a blog or website get more traffic-- whether they are selling art prints or just sharing their thoughts on life! So let's talk about how artists can use SEO to maximize the impact of their website.
How do I rank on Google's first page with my art?
You've created your website, you have searched engine optimization set up... Now what? Now it's time to start creating the content that Google will pick up and rank for. This is a little more complicated than just writing blog posts or articles about SEO tips in general because each keyword has its own unique set of rules on how to write it.
What are SEO keywords and how do I use them?
For example, let us say I wanted my fictional art company, The Artful Rebel, to show up when someone types "custom dog portraits" - a common search term. Free and paid websites can tell us that lots of people search for that term, so, lots of websites will show up in response. If my site is brand new, chances are, it's not going to have a shot at showing up on the first few pages.
But hey - things change. We can fix it. SEO is a set of tools that we can use to improve rankings. For a new website, that keyword is too vague. You'll need to come up with a "long tail keyword" - a longer, more specific search term - to get some success.
Example: Local SEO For Artists
I live in Dayton, OH. So I'll go ahead and try to focus on "Custom dog portraits in Dayton, Ohio" as my keywords. Think about it - how many custom dog portrait artists are really hanging around in a small midwestern city? 10? And how many of us have websites? It's going to be a lot easier for me to rank for this keyword, first.
Ranking on Google is about ranking for long tail keywords with smaller search volumes, first, and then building up your website to point, eventually, to the big search term.
How do I write a good title?
A title is the most important part of any blog post. It should be descriptive about what you're writing about, and it should also include your keywords that describe its content well enough for Google to match up with other pages on their search engine results page (SERP). The more relevant a connection there is between this keyword and another website's link or result, the higher they'll rank together in search results.
A title should also be eye-catching. In this day and age, something has to be pretty compelling for us to click on it. Be confident but don't oversell your topic. If you're writing "The Ultimate Guide to..." then make sure that your content is, indeed, the ultimate guide to something.
And remember: write naturally! Don't stuff words into titles just because they have something to do with your topic - if people can tell you're trying too hard, then Google will catch onto that as well.
If you feel like this is generic advice, just hang in there a second. We're about to apply it to your situation in the art world.
What sort of content should I put on my artist website?
Most artists are visual artists - we paint, we sculpt, we design things that are meant to be taken in visually. This doesn't always translate well to the internet. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but that doesn't mean that we can pull those thousand words out of our heads at will.
But, search engines are a written game, with a little bit of visual mojo thrown in. So, we need to find ways to translate our art into the written word. Here are a few types of articles and content that you can write to enhance your artist website:
About The Artist Content
- Interviews with yourself about the piece. Come up with a standard list of questions for yourself (how long did it take, inspiration, name, how old it is, production process, etc.) and answer those for every piece you have for sale. These can be as blogs or on product pages.
- Deep dives on process. What do you do with your medium that is different than any other artist? Talk about it. At length.
- Videos with summaries and transcripts. Do you like to do speed draw or process videos? Great! Post them on YouTube, then embed the video with 500-1000 words of text on your website. Hint: the text can pretty much follow the video's script or commentary.
- Image galleries. The best way to show up on Google Images is to have a lot of great images with alternative text. Alternative text describes the images to things and people who may not have good vision - like search engines or people with visual impairments.
Freebies and Giveaways
- Paint with me. Make a piece that can be replicated by the average user. This is another great way to use YouTube video embeds with scripts and steps. From an SEO perspective, this is a great way for many artists to grow their business, get their art online, and develop their YouTube videos.
- Free Resources. Provide a Christmas card template, coloring page, or whatever makes sense for your art, for free, on your website. This is also a great way to build an email list,, make a compelling homepage snippet, and create a great article for your readers. Everyone loves free stuff.
Building A Local Or Global Network
- Local news and updates. If you show your art locally, then make sure that you're writing a promotional piece every time you do - even if no one is visiting your website yet. This will start pulling search engines towards realizing that you're an artist in a specific location, so they'll be more likely to show you to local people.
- Issue pieces. If there's a social issue you care about, make a piece and write an article about it. Link to nonprofits, news articles, or other relevant sources as you do - then reach out to those outlets and let them know that you've written about their work. In such a way, you'll avoid feeling spammy, and you might even get a backlink.
- Collaborations. Art rarely exists in a vacuum. Reach out, collaborate with other artists, then show off what you've done! Make it fun. You'll give them some traffic, and vice-versa. This also applies to any art gallery that you're a part of - give them a shout out!
- Art Critique. Share the artists you love (or hate) and why. Link to their stuff. Interview them and put it on your website. Again - it's a great collaborative opportunity and makes for compelling content. Another great place for YouTube or even TikTok embeds.
What are the components of good ranking web pages?
Ok, I get it. You're an abstract artist and you just want the recipe for success. A checklist, if you please. That's weird coming from a professional artist, but that's fine. I got you, boo. SEO for artists is all about getting your SEO title, image title, and page title optimized so that your stuff begins to show where it's needed.
A well structured web page has:
- Eye catching page titles with keyword(s) inside
- A logo image or professional branding so people know you
- Meta descriptions that are relevant with the keyword(s), too. The meta description doesn't show up ON your page, but it does show up to search results
- Fast loading image file(s) with an alt tag (alternative text) that describes what the image is, and also has your keyword. When you describe images well, they have a better chance of showing up on Google images. This helps people with screen readers, too - there's alternative text to tell them what the image is.
- Internal links to other places on your website so that people hang around
- Links to a YouTube channel, Wikipedia article, or other external resources that give you clout.
What are some good keyword research tools?
Keyword research is exactly what it sounds like: figuring out what keywords to use to have the best artist SEO you can. Luckily, there are a few tools out there that can help you. Yoast SEO plugin is a tool that has integrated keyword research, but the best keyword research is Google, itself.
You should enter what you think people will search for into the search bar. Watch the autocomplete - what other queries does Google think you're asking? After you complete the search, check the "people also ask" box at the bottom of the search page. Feeling inspired yet?
You can also use free tools like Google Search Console for insight into your keywords. You'll need to have it integrated with your website for a few months before it starts working well.
Eventually, as you join the ranks of SEO experts, you'll want to pay for a tool. We like Surfer SEO, which gives us access to the search volume and relevancy (SERP) information for keywords. It also gives us insight into our site structure, informs our alt text choices, and even helps with SEO titles.
SEO For Artists: Backlinks build trust
Without backlinks, artists websites exist in a vacuum. People searching for artists may occasionally find you, but they're not going to be able to read about you anywhere but on your website. Learning SEO to apply to artist websites is only half the battle. The best SEO practices also include building your external network.
A backlink is any external website that links to your website without a "nofollow" link modifier. Social media does not provide backlinks. In other words, search engines do not care about social media likes and shares. The benefit of going "viral" on social media is that other external websites will begin to write about you. You might even get your own Wikipedia page!
You can see any existing backlinks to your website if you have Google Analytics monitoring your page. It's easy and free, and you'll be able to really improve your SEO for artists technique with free analytics tools.
What is a high quality backlink?
High-quality backlinks come from big websites, like a Wikipedia page, news media site, or authoritative websites in the general niche. Getting a backlink from a "Tractor Reviews" website isn't going to carry very much weight if your art is about snakes. It might - if your website is about Tractors. Because your website is about art, then backlinks from other artist websites will carry some weight. That's just how search engines work.
You can use paid tools like Ahrefs to discover "Domain Authority" - how much power a backlink will have. But when you're just starting out, don't lose your mind over backlinks. Just try to get them from relevant, above the board sites, and you'll be fine. This is known as "White hat SEO techniques" - aka, playing by the rules.
Getting backlinks with genuine interaction
The best way to get backlinks is to build collaboration and trust with other artists. This type of SEO for artists strategy will benefit both of you, and result in higher rankings in the search engines like Google. Use a blog post to link to your artist friends' sites with a spotlight on them.
But never *demand* anything in return. Be gentle, explain the benefits, and teach. Many artists don't even know about SEO, so you may be the expert just from reading this article. Teach them a keyword phrase, descriptive keyword, and how to do a bit of keyword research. They'll thank you later.
Also - don't let them forget the alt text! Alt text on images can increase the likelihood of your art showing up on the Google Images search engine - key for visual artists. Alt text and alt tags are also important for screen readers and slow internet connections, so people can understand what your image is without being able to see the image.
What are common mistakes that will ruin my website?
Don't try to cheat your way to the top. Black hat practices can really harm your visibility in search engines. Search engines like Google penalize sites that have links to known spammy websites.
Don't forget about mobile devices. Over half of the traffic that your website will receive may come from mobile devices, so it's essential that you don't only focus on the desktop version of your website. Google monitors mobile responsiveness and layout, so you can't cheat your way around it.
Avoid duplicate content. You can write about similar things, but don't plagiarize yourself or others while you do it. Google will know if large portions of text are copied from one page to the next, and it will ruin your SEO efforts.
Don't try to force a Wikipedia article or other backlink. Google will penalize you if it sees you gain and lose a backlink quickly. This is terrible for SEO, and terrible for your art business.
Does SEO for artists work? Or is it a waste of time?
It's simple: don't waste time and money on a website unless you're ready to invest in SEO. Google will only see you and your website with great SEO, so take the time to do it right. Without optimizing SEO, your site will exist in a tiny bubble on Google, and you will never be seen by the people who want to buy your art.
SEO is an important aspect of any website, but for artists it can be even more crucial. Getting found on Google search engines is key to being able to sell your art online. Follow the tips provided in this article and you should have no problem ranking well with Google, which will allow you to show up when someone searches for artwork similar to yours. If these strategies seem overwhelming or too complicated for you, never fear! We've put together a free content planner just for artists who need help getting their pages set up properly. Download it today and get started right away!