SEO For Bands
As a musician, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is probably something you’ve never even thought about. I hope to make you realise that optimising your own band’s website can make a huge difference to you and your fans.
I (Andrew) have recently set up a new Wrexham based SEO Agency Safe Hands Digital. I thought I’d share my views on why creating and optimising your band’s own official website is extremely worthwhile. I of course want to spread the word about my Digital Marketing Agency, so this is a great opportunity for me to kill two birds with one stone.
Having played in several local bands in the Wrexham area previously I could have done with some Back to the Future style advice from my future self. Alas there was no Grays SEO Almanac for me. Or perhaps I just haven’t gone back yet. Anyway…. I digress.
Put simply the aim is to make sure you give your fans the best experience possible. You’ll also gain more control over your own band marketing and fan interactions. You will find you are able to keep a higher percentage of your earnings from merchandise, releases and even ticket sales! You’ll be able to keep any bad reviews below your own positively framed reviews. Still with me? Good!
It is a bit of a long read but hopefully you’ll stick with it. I hope that you find these ideas useful.
As a note right from the outset I realise SEO isn’t the ‘be-all and end-all’ for bands. I’m not going to try to convince you that it is. It can however give you a bit more control over how you sell and market your band. This can be a welcome boost for local and nationally successful bands alike.
See the bigger picture
If the following ideas lead to you making (a modest) 20% more profit from your merch and album sales then it is all ‘money in the kitty’ for a local band. If however by some amazing twist of fate you become huge, that 20% suddenly becomes a lot more important! Don’t neglect acting now and getting a head start. You’ll find things a lot harder down the line if you put off creating or optimising your website.
Don’t think Traditional SEO!
From the outset it is fair to say that people are extremely unlikely to find your band by randomly ‘Googling’ a genre of music.
I’m not for a second advocating optimising your band’s website to target searches for a specific genre of music. This would be a huge waste of time (unless you are a tribute/cover band for example).
If you think someone might search Google for “doom rock” looking for new bands, you have a funny idea of how music lovers find new music!
The natural way for people to discover new acts these days is of course via social media / friends and reviews on websites. Increasingly streaming services like Spotify & itunes provide a great opportunity to be discovered by new fans. You know this already and the point doesn’t need elaborating on.
I’m not concerned here with discussing methods of attracting new fans – as this would probably treble the lengh of this article!
The important point is simply that this then leads people to later search for wider topics around your band name.
OK, so what search terms should we concentrate on ranking then?
The SEO I think you should be focusing on is ranking your own website for all the key terms your band already gets searches for. Not just your band name but all the related searches about your merchandise, gigs, members etc.
This isn’t to attract new fans who have never heard of you, but to make the most of your existing fans. It is also to help make a fan of those people who are already aware of your band. You could even call it conversion optimisation!
The aim is to get closer to your fans, to create marketing opportunities and to control your band’s image.
You want your own band website to appear near the top of the first page of Google (and the other main search engines) for all your main terms. You want people to visit your site rather than a 3rd party site (like a ticket site, merch site or even us).
A badly named example
I’ll use an imaginary band as an example. Take ‘The Wrexperience’, (a shockingly named shoegaze band from Wrexham). When their fans search for “The Wrexperience gigs” or “The Wrexperience tour dates” they should find the official website first. They shouldn’t find a 3rd party gig listing site instead.
This is so the band can present all the information about their gigs in exactly the way they want to. If they have a new release, merchandise to sell, or important piece of information they can market it directly to their fans much more naturally (and easily) via their own site. End of dodgy band name example!
Sell band stuff and get your fan’s names
Another benefit of this idea is that you can also prominently feature a mailing list on your site and collect your fan data for re-marketing afterwards.
If you are playing larger venues you could even apply to join a ticketing affilate program. You could then make a (very small!) amount back on each ticket sold to your visitors who go on to buy a ticket through your link. With a bit of imagination you can easily supplement or maximise your band’s earnings.
Don’t shy away from social sites – just make sure you out rank them!
There will of course be the inevitable listings on Facebook and all the usual band sites you frequent. To keep the closest and most profitable interactions with your fans, you want them visiting and revisiting your own website. If you use these social sites (which are all great for spreading the word) just make sure you out rank them! It goes without saying that you should always link back to your official site.
Wrexhammusic.co.uk are often ranking where your band should be!
You wouldn’t believe the number of times people looking for specific local band’s gig dates or releases end up on wrexhammusic.co.uk. Google Analytics (if you don’t have it on your website get it!) often shows us countless Wrexham bands’ lost marketing opportunities.
We regularly receive emails from people wanting information about bands, dates, releases etc. These are opportunities for your own website to shine that are being wasted by many Wrexham bands.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t interact with sites like ours. They provide a huge value to local bands and lots of opportunities for new fan discovery. Just make sure you also rank well for your own band’s terms! Then when people are already aware of you, they’ll find your site first.
Analytics: Are you the most popular band member in Wrexham?
As an aside Google Analytics (the popular website visitor tracking tool we use) does also throw up some funny insights into who are the most popular / vain band members and musicians in the area.
Let’s just say some people definitely like searching for themselves! These people will of course remain nameless (because we are good like that!). This part of the article also made for some great share-worthy click-bait – so sorry about that!
OK I think I’m sold on the idea! Tell me more about what to do.
Primarily you need to create useful pages on your website that read well and are optimised. They need to target the phrases and terms people use to find the information about your band.
Without wanting to get into SEO-speak, treat the title and meta data you can add to your web pages as being a big juicy advert for your website. Think along the lines of (using our example) a title like “The Wrexperience – Tickets, Gigs & Tour Dates”.
Your band’s website (if you are active and have lots of links from your social profiles and reviews going back to it) should already rank very highly for your band name. It doesn’t then take much to make well constructed pages that rank highly for your other main terms.
Many (good at least!) Wrexham bands will have picked up links from trusted websites like the BBC, the wondeful Mr Adam Walton and of course us here at wrexhammusic.co.uk!
You’ll have countless social media pages linking to your site and lots of fan involvement via Twitter and Facebook. Building up active pages on sites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Pinterest and Instagram are also all a great idea. Having a strong presence on respected sites like these increases the trust Google (and the other search engines) have in your own website.
These links from trusted and also established ‘authority’ websites will make it easier for you to rise to the top of the search results for wider band name related searches.
Your band is your brand
Fundamentally treat your band as a brand that you are trying to establish and dominate the search engines with.
Why just sell the bulk of your releases through a 3rd party website if you can make several times more profit with your own well optimised website shop?
Why overly rely on sites like Facebook for hosting your fan interactions when you could be drawing fans to your website?
As a bonus you can then (by using a simple opt-in form) collect visitors to your website’s email addresses for future promotional use.
This all sounds great, but it seems like a lot of effort. Give me more reasons to bother optimising our band’s site!
Fair enough! – there are LOADS of reasons you should spend a time optimising your website (or getting someone else to).
Online reputation management and your image
Yes you are right in thinking this is usually something businesses worry about – but isn’t your band ultimately a business?
You probably tell your mates it is “just a bit of a laugh” but I bet it is more to you than that.
Imagine if after all your hard work promoting and touring you finally made a success of it. Would you then throw in the towel and say “no” to making a living from your hobby? Of course not!
Take your band/brand seriously – even if you are having a laugh along the way. Just remember you don’t want to turn into some corporate rock wh*re though!
If people are searching for reviews of your band you want them to find the page on your website that guides them to the VERY BEST reviews. You don’t want people to find reviews of the night you got extremely drunk and vomited over the bassist (unless that is the image you want).
Use SEO to fund your next release!
Ok perhaps this is a bit dramatic but any money you save by selling directly to your fans is all money in the bank towards your next project. If you’ve ranked your own merch store and sell your own clothes or releases and rank above third party sites your margins won’t be squeezed as much.
What are you waiting for?
SEO for bands is relatively straight forward as people are already searching for your band name. Make the most of this and drive them to your website rather than someone else’s so all your main search terms. Dominate the search results when people are looking for information about your gigs, merchandise, releases, reviews etc.
That said feel free to share this article with other band members of course!
If you want to read more there is also a great article over at Moz which provides lots of further reading on the subject. They also go in to a lot more technical detail than I’d dream of doing here.
If you need help, my own local SEO Agency Safe Hands Digital can help you with the onpage optimisation such as improving your webpage tiles, meta tags, content structure etc. We can also create readable & engaging content for your website or blog and informative press releases.
Thanks for reading this rather long guide – I hope you’ve found it useful. If you got this far then give yourself a pat on the back. Well done you!
As a reward for your attention, treat yourself to a watch of local band done-good Seazoo’s ‘Telephone Jones’ video below. It’s not bad you know:
Andrew is an editor and writer for wrexhammusic.co.uk and promotes the wrexhammusic.co.uk nights.