SEO Band Names: Tips on Choosing a Band Name for Search Engines

SEO Band Names - Unicorn on HillMake it Easy for Your Fans to Find You Online

Choosing a band or artist name that is search engine optimized (also known as SEO) can help your career down the road. Yes, many bands have managed to achieve success in spite of unsearchable band names (the band Girls come to mind), but why not make it easy on your fans and choose a name that is easy to search for and find?

Many musicians have discovered (the hard way) that an unsearchable band name can hurt sales, reduce concert attendance, and frustrate fans.

And it’s not just major search engines like Google and Bing that you should be concerned about. A poorly chosen band name can make it hard for fans to find your music on iTunes, your videos on YouTube, and your band profiles on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Below are some dos and don’ts for choosing an SEO friendly band name. Just remember, these are only suggestions. The key to music success will always be rooted in hard work and great music with mass appeal.

SEO DON’Ts

Don’t Use Everyday Names, Words or Phrases

Unsurprisingly, common names and phrases are searched for online quite often. So it’s difficult to place at the top of search results for these terms. Avoid band names like Blue, Harmony, Hot and Cold, or Ice Cream. These sorts of everyday names and phrases present an uphill battle for good search results.

Don’t Get Too Creative with Spelling

Using creative spelling will actually increase your search engine ranking, but only if your fans spell your name correctly. Take the band Gorillaz. Gorillaz fans know how the band name is spelled and therefore don’t have a problem finding the band online. But if I heard of Gorillaz from a friend, and didn’t know they used an “z” instead of an “s,” I might search for “gorillas” with an “s” and find myself knee-deep in articles about big hairy apes.

Don’t Use Special Symbols %@#!

Do you know how to put an umlaut over a ü when you type it into a search engine? Chances are, a good portion of your fans don’t. Many special characters will be unrecognized or ignored by search engines. Also some special characters can be misinterpreted by computer programs as code and it can cause errors. Keep this in mind before you name your band: <Bl@st%>

Don’t Piggy Back

If you name your band The Katy Perry Experience you may get some traffic from Katy Perry fans who stumble upon your site, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your music. Collateral traffic isn’t always the best quality. Also, popular news about Katy Perry may often supplant your good rankings and there’s always the possibility you get sued or the world gets tired of Katy Perry.

SEO DOs

Use More Than One Word

A single word band name will only be easily searchable if your band name is very unique such as Jamiroquai of Fugazi. But a unique band name can be hard to spell. Why not use a cool juxtaposition of a few common words such as Arcade Fire, Daft Punk or Kings of Leon? This way you can have a unique name that almost anybody can spell and easily find.

Test Your Band Name in Google

Let’s say I’d like to call my band ‘Unicorn Bluff.’ Let’s search for that name in Google. For a more accurate result, I’ll put “Unicorn Bluff” in quotes so that Google only searches for those two words strung together. In this case, there are only 307 results for “Unicorn Bluff.”  The top results are related to a unicorn poster. This looks promising. There are no Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, or music related results on Google’s first page of results.  My only concern with this band name is that “unicorn” has been a popular word in recent years for band names. So I might also do a search for “unicorn band” to see what my competition looks like.

Research Your Domain Name

A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online. If my band name is Unicorn Bluff, my ideal website is www.unicornbluff.com.  Unicornb-forever.net would be less-than-ideal because it does not contain both keywords of my band name and it may be hard for my fans to remember.

If at all possible avoid using a dash in your domain name. It’s easy to forget things like dashes when you are typing in a domain.

If my first choice wasn’t available, I might go with:

www.unicornbluffband.com
www.unicornbluffrocks.com

or
www.unicornbluffmusic.com

You could also go with “www.unicornbluff.org, or .net, but I would try to get a .com if possible. People are so acostomed to .com they will type it in without thinking.

Make sure to check on the availability of domain names while you do your research.  A good domain name will make it much easier for your fans to find you.

Trademark Your Band Name

Once you’ve found the perfect SEO friendly band name, you should trademark it so nobody else can lay claim to it.

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Is your band name SEO friendly? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Register a unique domain name and build an awesome band website with HostBaby

Further Reading

Behind the music: What’s in a band name? -The Guardian

Downdload free guide: 10 website optimization tips

27 comments to SEO Band Names: Tips on Choosing a Band Name for Search Engines

  • [...] Our friend Chris Bolton from HostBaby wrote a great article on how to choose the best band name according to the DOs and DON’Ts of search engine optimization. Check it out HERE. [...]

  • what about when an act is someone’s actual name? can i trademark the name Nate Davenport?

  • Very. Bad. Advice. I am a huge stickler for standards, and I advise clients to follow very specific rules in order to help SE placements.

    That being said, one of the things I make VERY clear is that you should NEVER sacrifice content of any kind in the name of standards or SEO. Who cares if search engines love your content when humans hate it.

    Just my $0.02

  • Chris Bolton

    Hi Jason,

    The purpose of this article is to instruct on how to create a band name that is easily found online based on SEO. It’s not meant to be an edict on how all band names should be created.

    It is very possible to do this without compromising your artistic vision (Unless obscurity is part of your artistic vision).

    It is also not necessary that people use optimized band names if they feel it limiting.

    As I mentioned, there are many exceptions to the rule.

    Chris B

  • Chris Bolton

    If Nate Davenport has not been trademarked for a musician already–then you should be able to.

  • I absolutely agree, SEO is quite important nowadays and this article gives a good insight into this subject from a musician’s perspective. What Jason said is also important, so if a band or a musician can find the golden middle than that would be the best possible case.

  • Hey Chris

    This is such an important point and so easy to mess up at the start of your career.

    I actually wrote a post on the same topic myself.

    It’s key to choose a band name and stick with. That way you can build a brand in your fans mind, and own a page of google with your website and social media properties.

    Just tweeted this…

  • Chris Bolton

    Thanks Cris! Much Appreciated.

    Chris B

  • Fantastic read, especially the point about researching a domain name and at least taking the info into account before pulling the trigger on the final decision for a band name. About 24% of a brand’s online authority comes from the domain, according to SEOmoz. The domain is an important part of ranking in the search engines so its good to optimize a unique band name to get found online.

  • Well, how about one I came up with myself for one of my bands: The Dogs and The Pussycats? Isn`t that awesome??Some more of my bands names: CoxHawker vs McDickhead, BoodyLoo and Dickaroo, Peniston vs Bolshevic…. Guys – these are real band names my students came up with to grab attention!:)))But collectively, Stars Of Colin, nonetheless!. I`m not being funny guys! You need names that would make people even stop their regular conversation and say WHAT???! :)) Eyecatching etc etc!

  • Come up with attention-grabbing artist names!

  • Great article. Just googled as you advised and found that I “owned” most of the first page of results. Finally, I’ve done something right! Even if I didn’t really know it at the time. (smile)

    I would only add two things:

    1. If at all possible, I would keep the URL exactly the same as the band name. I would also use .com if at all possible, as many people simply forget .net, .co, etc., and will automatically put .com after your name.

    2. If at all possible, make your channel/stream/page names (FB, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) the same as your URL. That way, no matter where a person searches for you, they only have to remember ONE name.

    Both of these come under “if at all possible.” They are not set in stone. But they have worked well for me.

    Again, good article. Keep the great advice coming…

    Lane on Bass

  • We called ourselves ‘Whiskey Rodeo’ because that’s exactly what our shows are… Technically our name violates the sensibilities of this article.

    That said; try a google search for Whiskey Rodeo… Also on google.co.uk or any other nation’s google (you DO know that there are separate results for every international google, right?)

    After 2 years of focusing on actually building our fanbase, playing the most memorable shows and recording some damn good music, the name dominates the results page of any engine you care to search with.

    Just focus on the damn experience, guys, and don’t be distracted by the idea of expanding because your name pops up high on search results.

    If you do what really matters, it WILL.

    A toast to all of you!!

    ROCK \o/

  • One thing you really, really should have said more blaantly – and in fact should consider adding to the end of the article right now before a bunch of people screwed – is that you should
    NEVER
    NEVER
    NEVER
    type your planned domain name into the address bar to find out if it’s available. Use a hosting service search or the who is link in the article. People buy up domains that fail when you type them in – and you only have to do it once or twice to lose the ideal website.

    Of course, it’s fun to tell people that you’re an “organism” (because you ended up with a .org), but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t better to have a .com in the first place. . .

  • I use my own name on stage and on my records. For the professional side of the music business it’s alright, people who need to get a hold of me know who I am and are able to find me, but for fans it’s become a problem: I share my name with a very famous football player.

    People have trouble finding me on google even if they add ‘music’ to the search query, because you get sports club anthems and the like first. Any tips on how to beat this totally unrelated household name?

  • DW

    My last name being Watson, I had the great idea of naming my band “The Dr. Watson Band”. At first when I would google it I would get pages of Sherlock Holmes sites. After posting some videos on youtube it started coming up at the top of the list. The problem is that there are lots of bands or artists calling themselves “Dr. Watson”. I’ve only found one other Dr. Watson Band, in Russia, but I’ve often thought of changing the name to something less common. But after seven years gigging under this name, it’s hard to change. As long as we stay fairly local there’s no problem, but what if we get a gig in one of those towns where there’s another Dr. Watson? I guess my advice is to find something uncommon, and whatever you call your band, don’t call it Dr. Watson!

  • I remember Kim Thayil once saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to judge a band by it’s name. I’m paraphrasing, but he basically said, “If you can’t say what you’re about in 1 to 4 words, why should I listen to you.” I think this is true. You can optimize all you want but “Unicorn Bluff” needs to somehow also say what you’re music is about.

  • Chris Bolton

    Whiskey Rodeo seems like it would be a perfectly fine band name for SEO. It doesn’t seem like a common term to me.

    I am aware that Google is different by country and language. If you play a lot in Spain or Brazil, you can check those results too.

    Again, these are just guidelines to be aware of. Not hard and fast rules.

  • Jordan

    Wow – such a great subject but I have some feedback:

    First you get an A on the DONTs – your points are all valid.

    Second – While most of your DOs apply it’s the wealth of info you didn’t say concerning The DOs that qualifies you a C.

    More to say later!

  • Great advice! I think many of these rules of thumb also apply in other aspects besides SEO. For example, as you said, a strange spelling of a name could cause confusion when hearing about a band through word of mouth.

    It’s funny, when my group CANYON ANIMALS named ourselves, we definitely didn’t have SEO in mind, at all. But we thought it was a good name for other reasons, and it turns out it’s pretty damn good for SEO. So maybe choosing a name based on all considerations together will yield the best choice.

  • Jordan

    DO LIST IDEA that gets a lot of attention:

    ADD THE GENRE INTO YOUR ARTIST NAME

    ____

    Example – If you record Hoilday Music Try This:

    OLD WAY:

    BAND NAME: John Boyle
    ALBUM NAME: Holiday Wishes

    Try This Instead:

    BAND NAME: John Boyle Christmas
    ALBUM NAME: Christmas Holiday Wishes

    ______________________

    OLD WAY

    BAND NAME: KINGS OF LEON
    ALBUM NAME: BLUES

    TRY INSTEAD:

    BAND NAME: KINGS OF LEON BLUES
    ALBUM NAME: GUITAR BLUES

    Amazing Results!

  • Chris Bolton

    Good observation. I’d say Unicorn Bluff conveys something mystical and kitsch. I think that describes my imaginary band pretty well. Fantasy themes are pretty common in hard rock bands ala Led Zeppelin. So maybe that would be the genre.

  • Cool. Thanks for the tip.

  • [...] 3. SEO Band Names: How to Choose a Band Name So You Will Be Found Online [...]

  • [...] 1) “A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online.” (HostBaby) [...]

  • [...] 1) “A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online.” (HostBaby) [...]

  • [...] 1) “A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online.” (HostBaby) [...]

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