“ALL THE COLOURS ARE THE WRONG SHAPE!"
TONY HANCOCK - THE REBEL
LOST SITE OF YOUR ART?
I have had my web site Ryepress for 10 years now, I am not in any way technically minded and still design it using a DTP package! My knowledge of HTML is strictly on a "need to know" basis. I do however, work from home and sell work over the internet. With an average of 2 hours a day to spend promoting my site I have slowly accumulated a considerable amount of "active service" time, and Ryepress is easily found on all the major search engines.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION
There are lots of theories as to what makes Google tick and lots of SEO web sites claiming to have figured it out. They haven't, I haven't and you certainly won't! I am not an SEO expert, or an SEO consultant and I am not trying to sell you SEO services, but let’s face it, you found me - and not the people in the column on the right!
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY
But not to the search engines! I am an artist and as such my prime concern is to get my images seen by as many people as possible. Unfortunately, search engines can’t see pictures! But there are a few tips around this problem that seem to work for me and hopefully these include a few things you won't have come across before. Again, I apologise if I go over old ground, state the obvious, or generally get it wrong!
TITLES - WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Titling a painting is usually the hardest thing for many artists: just calling your latest work “Untitled 47” or even “Sunset” is not going to get you far on the internet. Obviously, a local scene can be broken down into where, when and why, but even if found this will only get you local traffic. Think of ambiguous and well known phrases and puns. As an example this picture of mine:
Under the hood
Title="STICKS AND STONES - Beachscapes limited edition etching by Colin Bailey. Click for details"Alt ="STICKS AND STONES - A row of weather beaten groynes stand silhouetted against the setting sun on the beach at low tide. Fairlight, East Sussex - limited edition etching by Colin Bailey"
STICKS AND STONES
Low tide at Winchelsea beach near Rye, the weatherbeaten groynes stand in silhouette against the headland at Fairlight, East Sussex.
It’s hardly Shakespeare, but it gets the information out there and pulls in people who weren’t even searching for art!
KNOW YOUR PLACE!
Experiment with different keywords to discover how and if people are finding your pictures - try and think like someone you have never met! You can get programs that will run through the search engines for you but these basically cheat the search engines and you will get caught out!
Check your visitors:
I use a free site Statcounter to find out who is finding my site and with what. Google analytics and webmaster tools will let you know what search terms people are using to find you. The Alexa toolbar will also give you loads of information, not just on your site but everyone elses! I use Domain tools to find out how well my site is doing with the search engines. (also free!)
I came across this site after it came up in my referrer stats; It has a frighteningly detailed amount of information and an extremely useful analysis of your site's (or indeed anyone else's!) search engine performance (click on the SEO text browser to the right) This can be checked after each page update and you can actually tweak your score from update to update. One word, its position or density can drastically improve (or otherwise) your page's score. Check your page rank from time to time Pagerank checker and use Alexa for more info. If you are given the option to cue an update of the your site's thumbnail, do so; let them know someone cares!
So you've done all that and you've had 3 visitors in the last decade (two of them you and one a drunk surfing for porn after the pubs closed), What can you do?
Obviously its all down to those pesky meta tag thingies: Title, description and keywords and not forgetting content.:
Use the same words, in the same order in all of them.
Keep the title short and snappy (It will be your big blue line in most search engines) E
Expand this in the description but no more than two lines (it will be what people then read about your site in most search engines).
Pick out no more than TEN phrases or words from the description, in the same order!
Make the HTML file name the same as your most important keyword or phrase.
And then subtly and naturally repeat the whole lot in your page's content text!
Think like a copywriter, concise, accurate and snappy. Think of designing a Google adwords ad for your site - even if you don't use it as an ad, the discipline of choosing the right words will be a big help. Come up with a short punchy tagline that you can put under your logo on links, flyers, stationery etc.
Ryepress - Limited edition fine art prints prints by Colin Bailey
Limited edition prints for sale: original etchings, reproduction fine art giclee prints and oil paintings by UK artist printmaker Colin Bailey
Think of describing your site from the title down to the content as a pyramid; each step an expansion of the one before and yet clear and informative in its own right.
Submit your site to DMOZ and get into the habit of swapping links on a regular basis. Circulate the links on your links page so all get a fair chance of being seen. I arrange them like a Summer Show as a mosaic of colour. One long row of banner links just looks like a banner farm.
Next time you have spare time in a internet cafe or friends computer, go through those links and keep the paths clear! I think of a site as being like an isolated farmhouse, keep the footpaths clear and they will grow into bridal paths and eventually roads!
Update your site regularly - not only will it make the site more interesting to returning visitors but it will give the robots more tasty text to nibble on. I often put little text boxes of "news" into the blank areas of pages - directing visitors to updated areas of the site and acting like "leaving mince pies for Santa" for the robots! I find that the last text added to a page often has a disproportionate weighting to the Search engines.