Promoting Your Artistic Website on the Internet
A Simple Introduction to SEO

January 10, 2006 (Updated June 10, 2008)

By Matthew Bates

Part 1 / Part 2

I like to surf around the internet looking for interesting sites by fellow artists. One of the things that I have noticed is that even if a website is well made, in many cases it is right off the map in a no-man’s land that is paramount to internet death. If your site is getting little or no visitors, you have two choices, one is to forget about having a website, and the other is to read this article and learn what it takes to get thousands of visitors to your site.

The Internet is like a TV, with several billion channels. Every web page is a different station and every page is competing for your attention. One of the best things about having an artistic website is that you have art to show, which in internet is absolute gold. Most websites have very little actual content to show, and without content there is little to talk about. Your artwork is content, and very good content at that. Given that you are starting at an advantage, let’s talk about what you should do to get your website on the map.

1) Get indexed by Google. This is a very simple procedure all you have to do is click on this link and fill out all of the necessary forms. It is free and without strings attached.

2) Add your site to DMOZ. This is also free, and is a listing that will add credibility to your site. This directory is put together by people, and not by random internet spiders that happen upon your site. This means that someone will actually look at your site and approve of it for insertion into their directory. This may take a few weeks as there is always a line, but it is also without strings attached, so it is worth the wait.

3) Join a large arts organization, such as Absolute Arts. They have a free inclusion and a premium inclusion, both offer you the chance to show your art in another place other than your personal website. They give you the chance to link back to your website from theirs which is a great thing because it shows that you have important links coming in to your site. All of the major search engines look for incoming links to your website and the more links you have the better it is for you.

4) Create a reciprocal links page. This is a part of your site where you put links to other artistic website's. Make sure that the links you put are reciprocal, in other words that the outgoing links have a incoming link to your website from the other website. The best way to go about getting reciprocal links is to surf the web looking for sites that are similar to yours. Then add a link to their site in your links page and send a very brief email to the webmaster of the other site saying: “Hi! I love your site and would be honored to exchange links with you. I have already placed a link back to your site at this page and will keep it there for two weeks. If you will add a reciprocal link to my site, your link will become permanent. If your would like to change the link description please let me know. Thanks again for your time. Best regards,". By doing this you will create a network of artists that will link to your site adding much needed incoming links for your site.

5) Here is a tricky part which most people overlook completely. I want you to go back over your site and rename everything. Most people don’t realize what a goldmine they have just sitting in their web site. With the advent of the image search on all major search engines the artist has been given a free "get exposure card" by the search engines. The reason for this is that at least half of your website is made up of images. I have been getting so much traffic from the image search that it is really worth a good hard look at how this works. Every image has an alt tag which names it. Many people forget to use this when making their websites. Sure, you may have named the artwork below it on the page, but for the search engines that means very little compared to the alt tag. In Dreamweaver, open your page and click on the image of your artwork, in the properties box you will find a section marked alt. Write in the name of the artwork, and here is the kicker, name the artwork something that someone will actually write into a search engine. I can guarantee you that no one will ever search for “Yellow chrome #115”. It is much better to name your artwork “Still Life with Sunset in California” These are words that will be typed by someone who will by total chance see your art and be happy. Another very important factor is the title of your page. Every page should have the title of the artwork in the title tag and your name, and a short description of your work. Here is a good title tag: Still Life with Sunset in California by Yourname who paints in Oils. It is a good title because it fits nicely on the top of the browser and includes some juicy keywords for the search engines to find. I think that the title tag is the most important factor in making your website visible, so be smart about using it. Never add too many keywords to the title tag, as this will spell death to your website. Too many people have tried to trick the search engines with these ridiculous attempts to get exposure, when after all, the best way is to show that you have content and to make it known what this content is. The rest will come with time.

Part 1 / Part 2

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