Have you heard the term SEO? Are you confused on what it means and how can it help you get more traffic? Do you want to know how to optimize your artist blog for search engines? In this article, I am going to talk about WordPress SEO and how to optimize your site so you can start to rank higher in search results.
WordPress SEO: Optimize Your Artist Website for Search Engines
Changes happen around us every day. As humans, we adapt and move forward. The changes soon become part of the norm.
Do you remember before cell phones first came out?
You had to have a pocket full of change available when you left the house in case of an emergency. Knowing where all the pay phones were in town was normal.
Today the norm is shopping on your smartphone.
Times have changed and we have adapted to all the changes.
Why am I talking about payphones and changes when you were interested in learning about WordPress SEO?
Because just like payphones, radio, television or the internet, the way we communicate with each other is constantly evolving. What we know today will be different fifteen, ten or even as little as five years from now.
Just like you adapt and learn the current ways, Google changes and learns as well.
Everyday content is published online and Google crawls the content to understand what it is about. If the content is properly formatted and written in Google’s “language”, Google will be able to rank the content accordingly.
Not too long ago text was the main form of content online and is easy for Google to understand. In the background, the text is written in Google’s language, “HTML.”
Today more videos, images, and audio are being uploaded on the internet. Google doesn’t understand images, video or audio. Google understands the text.
If you want to rank higher in search you must help Google understand what your images are with alt tags. I will go into that further later in this article.
So, the bottom line is, if you do not make it easy for Google to understand what your content is about, you will not rank in the search engines and you will never be found.
WordPress SEO – Does it Matter
Search engines are the number one source of traffic. In fact, there is not even a close second.
If you have your website and blog linked to Google Analytics you already know where your traffic is coming from.
Log into your Google Analytics.
Go to Acquisition.
Here you find where your traffic is coming from.
The traffic is broken down into four sections:
- Organic Search
Direct traffic is when someone types in the URL of your site or blog into search and is directed directly to your homepage.
Social traffic is when someone clicks on a link from a social media post and is directed to your site.
Referral Traffic Is when another site links to your site and refers you to a page or post you published.
Organic Search is when someone types in a query into the search field and they click on your link from the result page.
If your site is new, you might find that most of your traffic is coming from direct and social traffic.
This is normal. In time, you will start to notice most of your traffic will be generated by a search.
Why does this happen?
It takes time for recent content to rank in Google’s Search. Until people can start finding you on the first page of search engines, most of the traffic will come from other sources.
You will notice posts you have published years ago are still generating traffic today. The more content you produce with your blog, the more opportunities you will have for generating traffic.
Social media, on the other hand, is a one-time deal. If people do not see your post within the first couple of days after publishing, your content will never be seen.
Another problem with social media is they have total control of how many people will see your post. They even have control of who they will deliver the content to. That is a lot of control.
I am not saying you should not use social media to promote your work.
You should use every tool available.
Your main goal should be to make an online presence. You want to make people aware of your artwork. Use everything that is available to make your presence.
The more people become familiar with your name and artwork, the higher the chance of you landing a sale becomes.
However, you do want to be aware of what is providing the best results so you can spend more energy on those areas.
According to Statista:
“As of February 2017, the distribution of traffic sources for top news stories in the United States is direct 48%, search 31%, referral 11% and social only 10%.”
Image courtesy of Statista
You can see by this study SEO is still important. Maybe more important than ever with all the social media algorithm changes.
These numbers make it clear to us, that producing content will drive traffic to your website.
What is the Best Search Engine?
If you have been following me for some time, you already know that I say Google when I talk about search engines.
There is a good reason I do.
Google is the top search engine in the world.
If you can optimize your site for Google’s search, you win.
Image courtesy of Statista
You can see from this image by Statista, Google is by far the most use search engine in the world. It only makes sense to optimize your site for Google.
You will begin to build authority the longer you have your blog up and the more high-quality content you produce.
Not only will Google start to see you as an authority and rank your site accordingly, but other people will start to see you as an authority in your niche.
I will use this site as an example. When I started this site to help artists learn how to sell art online, I was lucky to have 200 people visit a month. Within 6 months I started having over 8,000 people visit a month and the number continues to rise rapidly every month.
This is because Google is starting to see this site as an authority. Google has learned that this site provides valuable content to help artists like you build an online art business.
I do want to make it perfectly clear that I spent many hours building this site to where it is.
Building an authority takes time and is demanding work. You might not see tangible results for up to twenty-four months and this is the norm.
Your site must have enough content before Google can start to see you as an authority.
Sharing all your posts on social media and sending them to your email list will help you to get people to your WordPress site in the beginning.
The good news is that all the content you write will continue to generate traffic for years to come.
Best WordPress SEO Tool
The easiest way for you to start optimizing your WordPress blog is by installing the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
This is, by far the best WordPress SEO plugin available.
Yoast has a free version and a paid version.
The free version will have everything you need. You can always upgrade to the premium plugin later if you decide you want the extra features.
Here is a great Yoast SEO Tutorial to help you get started.
Keyword research should be a part of your WordPress SEO strategy.
Your post will never be found if you do not focus on writing content that contains the keywords that people are using in the search. You need to learn your audience’s voice and what words they use when they are searching for content.
Even switching the words around or making them plural instead of singular will make a significant difference on how much traffic your posts will receive.
Here is an example of some steps I take before I start writing a post.
The first step is to decide what topic I would like to cover.
Once I know what I would like to write about I go to Google Planner.
I start my keyword strategy by typing in some keywords that I think people will use to find the article I am writing.
Google Planner will provide you with a list of relevant keywords when you type in a word or phrase into the search bar of Google Planner.
The list will tell you how much traffic the word or phrase will receive in a month as well as the competition for the phase, or how hard it will be to rank for the phrase.
The image shows you an example of what you will see.
In this example, I typed in the phrase “Painting of a Horse.”
This phrase “Painting of a Horse” will generate between 100 – 1K people per month and the competition is low.
The numbers are based on Google AdSense so they will not be 100% accurate, but they will give you an excellent idea of what you can expect.
Now if you targeted the keywords “horse paintings.” You can potentially reach between 10K – 100K people a month, but the competition is high. This means it will be difficult to rank high in Google’s search for content focusing on the keyword phrase “horse paintings.”
If you are just starting your WordPress site, you might do better targeting lower competition with lower traffic.
You will have a better chance of ranking in the top three of Google’s search for lower competitive phrases.
Once Google sees you as an authority you can start to focus on words with higher competition.
How to Optimize WordPress
Now I would like to talk about specific tasks you should do to optimize your WordPress site.
Before you post anything, you will want to set up your permalinks for search.
The permalink is the URL for your posts or pages.
Before you do anything, you will want to change the WordPress permalink default setting. If you leave it the way it is set up, your URL will contain a random string of characters.
That does not give Google any information about the content of the post.
You want the URL to have your post title in it.
So, go into your permalinks section and change that so Google will have an idea of what your content is about.
How to change your permalink settings in WordPress.
It is important to have a theme from a trusted developer. There are many sites that provide great themes such as Elegant Themes and Thrive Themes, but I have found Genesis Themes to be the best.
They provide quality themes that are secure, SEO optimized, mobile optimized and fast.
Speed is becoming more relevant for SEO. Google will not rank a site that takes forever to load because it does not provide a good user experience.
If two sites provide the same level of content, Google would rank the site that loads faster, higher in the search.
You can check the speed of your site at PageSpeed Insights.
Now that you have your site optimized for search, you will want to track the progress. Have a clear picture of what is working and if there are any issues that need to be addressed.
You will be optimizing your site for as long as you have it running. Remember everything changes. So, does Google’s algorithm.
It is important to keep up to date with Google’s changes and make any necessary adjustments to your site.
The last thing you will want I have is your site to lose rank after all the hard work you put into it.
How do you track your results?
Use Google Analytics and Google Console.
These are free tools provided by google that will help you to track what is going on with your site.
Google Analytics will provide information about your traffic while Google console will let you know if your site has any issues that need to be resolved.
I have an SEO checklist I use every week. It is easier to fix any problems as the occur instead of waiting for them to all build up. You might want to consider using an SEO checklist as well.
How to Install Google Analytics.
How to Install Google Console.
How to Optimize Posts
Google makes it very clear, that writing quality content will help sites rank higher.
What does quality content mean?
Producing quality content means that you are providing value for your audience. You are solving a problem, educating, motivating or inspiring people.
Google wants you to write for your audience, not for Google.
Many people start to stuff their content with keywords just for the hopes of ranking higher.
Like I said earlier, Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving to provide a better reading experience for its audience.
Google knows when people are abusing keywords, and those people will be penalized.
Deliver What You Promise
Make sure every post delivers what you promise. The content should be detailed information about the title of the post.
If your title is, “How to Clean Your Artist Paint Brushes.” and the content is all about your latest paintings and how to purchase them, you will lose your readers.
Google is smart and will notice if your readers are happy or if they going to a different site for the information they are searching for.
When someone lands on your post, do not disappoint them. Make your content so good that they will want to see more.
Be Consistent with Post Structure
Writing blog posts is entirely different than writing a book. You want to make your content to be easy to read and scannable.
- Keep the sentences and paragraphs short.
- Use bullet points to highlight key points you are trying to make.
- Use easy to understand words.
- Have your post flow.
- Break up the content into sections.
- Write Titles that make sense to the searchers.
- Include relevant images that complement the content.
- Create list posts.
Like I said earlier, Google does not see images. You will need to tell Google what your images are about. You can do this by providing an alt tag for each image.
When you upload an image to WordPress, you will have an option to include an alt tag for the image you are uploading. In the field provided include text that describes what the image is.
- Include a video.
- Link to relevant content.
Linking to other content that supports your topic will provide value to your post.
This shows Google that you are trying to provide the best content you can provide.
It is also an excellent idea to include links to your posts as well.
Do you remember when I said Google like fast sites? Google has learned that more people are searching online using their mobile devices and will not wait for slow loading sites.
To solve this problem Google collaborated with different companies and produce AMP.
How to Install an AMP plugin.
You have worked very hard to get to where you are today. For your business to blossom online, you will want to focus on WordPress SEO.
Keep on top of any changes that might affect your rankings.
I will post any news I learn about, so if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.
SEO Fitness Workbook: 2017 Edition: The Seven Steps to Search Engine Optimization Success on Google by Jason McDonald Ph.D. (Amazon Affiliate Link)
You might also be interested in:
- Why Storytelling Marketing is Crucial for Artists
- 11 Ways to Build Trust on Social Media for Artists
- How Artists Get Found Online?
- What do I do After Installing WordPress – Art Marketing Plan
- 10 Easy Selling Art Online Tips to Boost Sales
Are you ready to take your art blog to the next level?
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28 Day Blogging Challenge for Visual Artists by Dave Nevue available on Amazon.
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