SEO tips for musicians, huh? Working with SEO and digital marketing for years, I thought it would be fairly straight-forward to transfer my skills from the corporate realm to the music realm. It couldn’t really be further from the truth, and I had to struggle with trial and error for quite a while to get a hold of successful SEO strategies.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, a marketing tactic to gain free deserved traffic from Google through digital content. Success is often acheived by creating in-depth content about topics related to what you are promoting.
Coming from a field where many people are actively searching for a solution, it was mostly a game of finding popular topics to rank high for. In the music field, it’s completely different. Relatively few people are searching for music genres on Google, something that would be straight-forward to write an article about, and your website will find itself competing against massive sites like Wikipedia, Last.fm and Rateyourmusic. So, what can we do to be a little bit smarter and steal some website traffic anyway?
Branded organic search
My insight so far has been to aim for branded searches, which in my underground music world has been about bands that influenced my band. I haven’t taken this to the extreme yet, but the articles I have posted with this strategy has worked better than the ones aiming for full music genres.
Long-tail SEO for musicians
The solution that has worked out for me is to cater to the overall development of Google SEO; the long-tail searching. I could probably never steal a high spot for a brand name search such as “Katatonia”, but an in-depth article about my favorite Katatonia songs could get there for “best katatonia songs” or “which katatonia songs should i check out?”. Don’t forget to specify a good meta description (which I didn’t do in this case) if you want to increase your clickthrough and get better chances to rank higher for your terms.
Even if you’re aiming for long-tail traffic, keyword research is extremely important to uncover what your potential fans are actually searching for. Using a tool like KWFinder could give inspiration for several articles, or maybe a whole section on your site.
Facebook, Twitter and Reddit for musicians
An additional traffic driver beyond the Google SEO for musicians is social media. Facebook is a solid way to drive traffic to your homepage. It’s often a balancing act between having the flashy headline that gets the click, and not being clickbait. Make sure to provide valueable website content that delivers on the promise that the posts headline on social media had. Posting my content in niché groups for bands and genres is something that has worked well for me, and I have received minimal or no slack for performing my content marketing there.
YouTube and Spotify playlists
YouTube playlist SEO can be an interesting way to promote music for several ways. You could actively place your own songs in playlists (if they fit in, of course) or make popular music playlists that drive subscribers to your YouTube channel, giving your band exposure when you, for instance, post a new song. The same principle applies to Spotify, though I’m yet to try it out myself as an SEO strategy for my music.
Make sure to tag the crap out of your YouTube videos for maximum SEO effect. Add an appropriate genre tag (see death/doom metal in the video above) in the video title, as well as genre and similar bands in the video description and other tags. This will allow your music to show up for listeners who might be interested in search and similar suggestions.
Bandcamp and Soundcloud tags
The tags on Bandcamp are extremely important. Make sure to put accurate genre tags as well as country of origin, influencers and other possible visitor drivers. They can also drive more traffic to your Bandcamp page directly from Google. The same applies for SoundCloud, even though the platform seems to be declining in popularity these days. Image Below: tags for Soliloquium on Bandcamp.
Don’t forget the conversions
For me, being a musician has never been about making money, but a vital part of the SEO process is converting your visitors. So don’t forget to link to your Bandcamp and/or Facebook in your content in a natural way. It could be also be a way to drive subscribers to your newsletter. Don’t overdo it, but make sure the option is there when you have someone reading about your top 10 songs by a similar band. It’s also important to measure the conversion success regularly, and tweak it based on the statistics.