Learn basic SEO: What is Search Engine Opimization, how it works, and how you can leverage SEO as a creative?
SEO is only for big companies.
If you are in the creative industry and you think this way, think again.
You have probably encountered this acronym a few times, especially if you dabbled with digital and online marketing campaigns. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is considered a digital strategy to increase the visibility, position and ranking in online search results.
Data tells us that more than 80% of people today use search engines to look up products, photos, brands and other interesting inquiries. So, that’s already more than a hint that business owners who market online need to shape up their SEO.
What’s essential is discovering how to increase traffic to your web page and learning how to strategize to optimize your content so that your site can rank higher in searches.
Aside from intentionally delivering quality content and streamlining brand consistency strategies, big businesses or even start-ups consider SEO a major factor in refining their roadmaps to ensure online visibility. But in this age where a digital evolution and transition is coming into play—with the Metaverse coming in and the rise of NFTs, SEO is already a weapon in the hands of artists.
Yet, even before these new platforms, digital artists and graphic designers are already starting to acknowledge the huge contribution of actually utilizing SEO to make sure their art is discovered and recognized online by collectors and curators alike. Creatives can surely take advantage of this process and bring their art further.
How does SEO work, then?
What usually happens is that these search engines send out what “crawlers” or “bots” to your website for information and content. A crawler would get into a familiar site and then follow deep into other internal links. Whatever’s the content on that page, including external links, crawlers would go for that, given there is a connection for all the other sites within its database, which is commonly called an “index.”
And in this process called indexing, these crawlers find content and add it to their library of information or database. Then, after these uniform resource locators (URLs) are in, these bots begin to retrieve the information to align with whatever the user is researching or inquiring on. The results found would be organized according to their relevance.
So how will this process or strategy be helpful to the creatives in the digital arena? And why do they need to learn how to utilize SEO?
Creatives constantly create something and deliver creative expressions of their passions, and of course, there is that drive to put that art out there and eventually earn from it. In this digital age, almost everyone flocks online and checks out stuff they need and creatives at least need to have the basics of SEO to propel their creativity in the digital arena.
Why Creatives Should Consider SEO
Here are the top three reasons we can think of why creatives need basic SEO knowledge:
1. You need it to add value to your branding efforts.
It is a known fact that when you’re marketing anything online, there has to be some kind of affinity to who you are; you need to have an online presence. And you need to have a name that people can easily remember or that which stands out. Your brand or the name that you will market needs to encapsulate the totality of your overall core message.
You need to consider how your brand name or alias needs to jive with your SEO value. So make sure you don’t think of a complicated name so that when someone searches you online, results are easy to come in—and avoid special characters and cryptic aliases.
When you're starting to build your brand or name, utilizing a brand guide or having brand guidelines is most effective. Consider these as rules that can help you deliver your main message to your audience and let them understand the things you wish to maintain in terms of giving whatever involves your branding as a creative.
So what are the things that pretty much sum up these brand guides?
Brand guide examples include the elemental designs that you incorporate in your outputs, like your logo and banner usage, your business card, posters, typography you utilize, color palette, etc. This also includes your brand details, like your VMVs (Vision, Mission, Values) how you developed your brand or brand history.
Brand guides are mainly for your brand to have its core message relayed to the audience concisely and consistently. You need to rally for brand consistency as a creative; this should not be compromised. It’s crucial that when you put out your brand guidelines, it will be easy to read and understood by your team, people you work with and work for, and of course, they will appreciate the value of maintaining the brand and uplifting the standard of consistency in all these.
Where does SEO come in?
If you already have an established brand, you need to get noticed.
If you are an artist and you have a web page, you need SEO to increase your online presence, whether in the local or international scene. If you use Youtube as a platform, you also need basic SEO knowledge to get views. Simply having a channel is not enough. That means if you are in the online space and you want to boost brand awareness, search engine optimization is inevitable.
2. SEO goes hand in hand with social media marketing.
This is pretty much key, especially in today’s digital age. Most creatives that you probably know have started to grind and hustle on different social media platforms. As mentioned, consider brand consistency in all this, as it also ties to how you’ll play out your SEO.
Start with something simple if you are optimizing your social media accounts. Your account names in the different social media platforms you’ve signed up to must be consistent. This is considered basic SEO; you need to have the same handle on both Twitter and Instagram so that your followers can easily remember you. This level of consistency would add value to your overall branding.
Simply put, SEO and social media marketing can complement each other. If you have been using social media platforms to direct traffic to your website, but you need to increase your monthly organic visitors, SEO is the way to go.
3. SEO makes sure the search engines display your best and most updated output when people are looking for your brand.
You need to take on an excellent mindset about delivering your outputs online as a creative. Even with a mere post or tweet, it should still be traceable or relatable to your branding theme or the core message you want to communicate as a brand.
There is a need to update the content you have online because there are times when your followers would search up your work, and what pops up are your old and archived creative expressions. With SEO, you can learn to utilize keywords and tags relevant to your current work. If you successfully optimize your website for the search engines, you ensure that users will see the exact pages you want them to see.
Now the problem is, if you are a struggling artist, chances are, you will not have that extra budget to hire an SEO consultant. A full SEO team can cost you thousands of dollars.
So what’s the alternative?
Well, you can learn the SEO basics yourself.
Basic SEO Tips For Creatives
Here are some things you can learn if you are a creative and you want to use SEO to your advantage without breaking the bank:
1. Improve your website loading speed.
According to Google’s core web vitals report, website performance matters.
Your website loading speed affects user experience. According to Google, the longer your page load time, the higher your website bounce rate.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who go to your site and then leave instead of viewing other pages on your site.
If page load time is at least 3 seconds, your site bounce rate rises by 32%.
If page load time is at least 6 seconds, your site bounce rate increases by 106%.
What does a high bounce rate tell you?
It means the page you are directing your visitors does not meet their expectations.
How do you know your website is not driving visitors away? You can check your speed at PageSpeed Insights. Just enter your website, and it will measure your website performance for both mobile and desktop. Green results mean your website is performing well. Red results indicate your website is probably a nightmare to your visitors.
Remember, the speed of your site or web page must not be disappointing. Suppose it’s slow in loading the photos out, or it lags so much when your audience tries to view a video. In that case, it devalues your branding and decreases future possibilities of letting them revisit your page, thus contributing to the decrease in traffic.
If you’re a digital artist or a photographer, a simple remedy is to reduce the resolution of your images. Sometimes high-resolution images can take a while to load up, but ensure that you’re only uploading what is necessary and relevant. Scaling your visuals down to what your site only needs is something you should highly consider.
2. Register for Google Analytics and Search Console.
Even if you’re not a high roller in the creative world, brand building comes into play and constant testing and monitoring of your metrics.
In terms of understanding how your reach has come to be or how many users have visited your site, using your Google Analytics account is crucial. Checking and evaluating your site at a certain timeline would allow you to improve and see what you need to change to keep engaging and open doors for lead generation.
To get started collecting data from your website, go to google.com/analytics and create an account. Just click Start for Free to do this. You can view the full instructions on adding a property in Google Analytics here. Add your website as a property and copy and paste the Global Site Tag tracking code to your website builder or your CMS-hosted websites like Shopify or WordPress.
Then, there’s also Google Search Console. This tool helps you to maintain your website’s visibility in Google Search.
To get started with Google Search Console, use your Google Account to sign in. Enter your website domain to add a property and then verify your website. You can view the full instructions on adding and verifying a property in Google Search Console here.
Explore how to maximize Google Analytics and Google Search Console, and it will help streamline things if you want to start your SEO journey on the right foot.
3. Know the right keywords.
Keywords search helps you discover and look into what your users are searching for. And through this process, you’d know how much traffic those keywords can drive back to your website; by this, you can also determine how hard or how easy it will be to put those words in ranking.
This is entirely important in SEO. That’s why you need to make sure you use uniformed tags for your creative name or for your artworks or outputs that users can search online.
How do you find the right keywords?
When researching for search terms that you can optimize, avoid short-tail keywords or those which are highly competitive.
A short tail keyword has three words or less. For example, “illustration” is a short-tail keyword since it is only one word. On the other hand, the phrase “free online illustration tool in Canada” is considered a long-tail keyword since it comprises more than three words. In this case, six.
Short-tail keywords are usually more difficult to rank because of high competition. The higher the competition, the lower your chances to land on the first page of search engine results pages. So try to refine your keywords to cover long-tail search terms.
To guide you, you can use tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, Ubersuggest, or Moz Free Trial. These tools will help you check the keyword difficulty, search volume, competition level, and keyword value. Lean towards search terms with high search volume but low competition. These tools also generate keyword ideas to easily find related search terms for easy comparison.
4. Add those keywords to your heading, title tags, images, and web content.
If you have already done keyword research, start optimizing for the search engines by putting those keywords in strategic places on your website.
For example, you want to rank for the search term “paintings for sale in Florida.” Add this keyword to your page title, meta description, images, and web content to optimize your website. So that means, instead of an image title that says “IMG2983334.PNG”, you need to change it to “paintings-for-sale-in-Florida.”
5. Maintain quality content.
As someone who aims to build a brand or a creative name, you must remember that delivering quality content on all your platforms must stand out and engage. Keeping your followers updated with the latest work you have or simply posting something that can initiate engagement with them boosts traffic as well.
Remember to input your keywords as organically as you can. These kinds of natural interactions between you and your target audience affect the searches they have when SEO comes into play. Longer content usually has a higher possibility of ranking better than output that is shorter than usual.
You also need to be mindful of how you layout your postings. Split them into separate concise paragraphs, and use tags and your keywords. Putting your keywords in your daily social media postings or even in your tweets can help you establish an online presence.
Don’t forget that maintaining your brand consistency is vital in all these. There has to be a certain affinity to the name you represent in your outputs. Never lose sight of your branding identity. Once you keep in mind to maintain consistency, you’ll go a long way in the industry.
Additional Resource: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2022
It’s your turn…
Search Engine Optimization is an essential tool for business owners and creatives alike. Whether you’re onto big platforms or building your start-up brand from the ground up, taking into consideration how to maximize SEO should be part of your marketing strategy list.
SEO will continue to evolve as the internet, and online searching evolves. As you grow your creative brand, you realize how using SEO to your advantage can increase traffic to your site or web page. With an increase in traffic, you will also increase your brand visibility.
There’s so much more yet to learn, and SEO is a tactic at your disposal. You have to discover how you can make it work for you effectively. And by this, we mean that you’ll be able to see results eventually as you are learning to utilize SEO—resulting in rising website traffic, increased lead generation, noticeable online presence and increased social media following.