What if I don’t rank for my own artist name in Google?

seo for bandsTake a breath. It’s not the end of the world. You typed in your band or artist name into Google or Bing . . . and nothing. Your band’s not there. Or maybe your band did come up, but at the very bottom of the page. Or even worse, you showed up on the 2nd or 3rd page of search results (AKA no man’s land).

Well, don’t panic. We can get through this together. Search rankings are not set in stone. In fact, they are fluid. You may rank in the 20th spot one day, and 7th the next. You’ll probably see varying results on different computers because of personalization settings. You’ll also rank differently in different cities and countries because of localization settings. That’s why it’s important to use a rank checker to confirm that you’re really not ranking for your band’s name. I recommend this one.

So. You’ve checked your rankings in the rank checker, and perhaps you’re still not coming up on the first page of Google for your band name. All is not lost!

Below I’ve provided a search engine optimization checklist. Chances are, if you complete the tasks below, you’ll drastically improve your rankings. In fact, even if you already rank well for your band name, these tips can help grow your web presence and traffic in general.

(Note: If you’ve made the unfortunate choice of naming your band with an extremely common name (bread, dirt, apple, pig, john, cheddar cheese, etc.) you’ve got some serious uphill SEO hurdles ahead of you. In this case, the tips below will help, but my advice would be to change your band name to something less common, or hire an SEO professional.)

SEO Tips for Musicians and Bands

1. Register your domain and launch your website
If you don’t have your own website with your own domain name, do that now. This is the easiest way to get ranked for your artist name. It’s especially helpful if you can secure the “.com” version of your band name. For more tips on choosing a domain name go here. Don’t expect to start ranking #1 for your band name as soon as you launch your new site. It can take some time to start ranking well. On average Google doesn’t rank new websites very well until they’ve been around for at least six months. The more unique your band name is, the quicker you will rank–because there will be less competition.

2. Make sure your band name is in the page title of your homepage
A page title (or title tag) is the headline that Google features in search results. You want to make sure that the page title of your website’s homepage contains your band or artist name. Some web browsers feature the page title at the top (Firefox) or bottom of your browser window–or in a given tab (Chrome). Learn more about writing page titles here.

3. Get listed on social networks
Don’t just wait around for your band website to start ranking well, sign up to every popular social network there is. Social networks rank well in search engines, so use that to your advantage. Be sure to claim your vanity urls too (ex: www.facebook.com/yourBandName). Also make sure to fill out your social media profiles completely. Add detailed bios and lots of pictures. Search engines will favor web pages that have lots of quality information and pictures.

4. Get listed on music related sites
Sign up for local music directories. Create a profile on Reverb Nation. Send in your album to get reviewed on blogs and music sites. The more places your band is listed, the more likely you will be found online.

5. Link to your website from everywhere you can
Links will boost your rankings. So you need to make sure that you get as many quality links as possible. Make sure that all your social media sites link back to your website. Encourage your fans to link to your site by publishing cool blog posts and content. (Note: NEVER buy links. It won’t work. Google will de-rank you).

6. Publish rich content on your website
Google likes quality content. If your website consists of just a few sentences and a picture of your band, chances are Google’s not going to be too impressed. Beef up your homepage with tour dates, social media feeds, descriptions of your band, music samples, videos, quotes from the press, etc.

7. Publish often
Google can tell when you’re not updating your website. Google likes “fresh” content. If you haven’t updated your website with new and up-to-date content. Do it now.

8.Include your band name in your content
I know it seems obvious, but if you don’t use your band name in your website content it’s going to be much harder to rank for that keyword. Note: if you are using an image to display your band name, make sure to add your band name to the alt and/or title tags associated with the image. Google can’t read images, so adding those tags will help. More info.

9. Set up Google Web Master Tools
Google Web Master Tools will give you valuable insights into how your website is ranking and what keywords it is ranking for. This way you can easily see the changes and progress reflected in rankings and traffic. The set up is relatively easy. Sign up here.

10. Have patience
Changes in Google are not instant. It takes time for Google’s spiders to crawl the entire internet and determine the value of any given page. Some changes may take a few weeks and some changes will take longer. If your website is new, it’s not uncommon to see 6 months or longer before you start ranking well. But don’t let this stop you, promotion efforts and content creation can speed up this process.

Have you had trouble getting ranked for your artist name in Google or Bing? Share your stories and tips in the comments below.