Chapter 25:Search marketing and music PR

We live in a digital age, the record shops are closing down and physical record sales are dwindling. The online outlets continue to grow and prosper with sites like YouTube getting over a billion visits per month and iTunes clocking a whooping average of 15,000 song sales per minute.

Some chapters in this guide cover subjects such as Online Presence, Social Media and the importance of your own website. In this chapter we will focus on Search Engine Optimisation, an art of improving the visibility of your website and content on search engines like Google and Bing.

Yes, getting your website found is the name of the game here. There will be little good in having a beautiful website with your mixtape, videos and upcoming gig details, if nobody can find you.

However, the aim of Search Marketing isn’t simply 'getting found' there is still more work to do.

With so many businesses and individuals setting up their websites, the Internet has become a very cluttered place and it can be very difficult to cut through the noise and get your website seen. Let's say you have just released a new mixtape and it sits on your website waiting for people to download it, but what if people can't find it on Google ?

You don't want all your hard work go to waste just because your website is not search engine friendly and properly optimised. If you make sure your website can be found you will increase traffic to your site, meaning you will get more subscribers and your work will be downloaded more.

Search Marketing consists of two main channels, organic - SEO (search engine optimisation) and paid often called PPC (pay per click).

The two work best when used together as they compliment each other well, and can help you achieve both, long and short term goals.

Let's start with the organic. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the art of improving your website visibility in the search engines, and it can make the difference between your website being seen by only your little sister and mom OR millions of people around the globe.

To start with, let's make it clear that just like Music PR, SEO is a very complex subject that is best left in the hands of qualified and experienced professionals. It is not something you can master by reading a guide or two. Most artists and labels will work with dedicated Search Marketing Agencies to make sure their work is seen.

But what if you are working on a budget and can’t afford their fees?

Do not despair, we will guide you through a number of steps to cover some of the basic principles of SEO.

1) Accessibility

Make sure your website is accessible to both, human beings and search engines. Keep in mind the the web doesn’t necessarily look same to you as it looks to the search engines. Some types of content/web technologies are difficult for search engines to understand. Flash and images are a good example, building your entire website in flash may could make it rather difficult to understand by search engines , therefore it could adversely affect your sites effectiveness. Similarly with images, if not optimised properly, search engines will struggle to understand them.

For more information you can check Google's SEO starter guide

DIY Tip: Try using a CMS system that is easy to optimise and build with SEO in mind, a WordPress is good platform, it comes SEO friendly pretty much out of the box. It can save you a lot of time.

2) Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important processes in SEO. In order to attract the “right” type of visitors (the type that will convert) your website must rank for relevant keywords. The results of your keyword research will also shape the structure of your website and its content.

There is a number of tools that will help you with that task, one of the most popular is Google Keyword Planner.

3) Content

Content is key. In order to perform, engage and convert visitors, your site will need content. Make sure your content is quality, unique and fresh.

Try to produce things that are useful and entertaining to your audience, things they want to read and share.

4) Popularity & Links

Links are a crucial element of Internet and SEO optimisation , search engines use links to crawl and understand the web. You can think of them as of highways. It is often difficult to reach places if there are no roads leading to it, similarly with a website, a site or page that is not linked to or from anywhere else on the Internet may be difficult to find for the search engines and as a result, it may be not indexed and will not appear in the search results.

The second, and just as important role, of the links is their use by the search engines as votes of trust and popularity. If many other websites talk about you and link to you, it may suggest to the search engines that your site is important and popular and therefore deserves a high position in the search results. Building link popularity will go hand-in-hand with some of the activities described in other chapters of this guide: Social Media and reaching out to journalists and music bloggers can all help you with getting these important mentions and links to your site.

One of the most important things to remember is that it’s not quantity but quality that matters. Not all links are created equal and some links can do more harm than good. Ideally you want your links to be natural and relevant to your website.

5) Paid Search - PPC (pay per click)

PPC is a type of advertising aimed at driving traffic to the website in which advertisers pay publishers for sending this traffic. Unlike organic SEO you will have to pay for this traffic, often on “per click” basis hence PPC. A good example will be Facebook image ads that you see on the side of your news feed, or the Google Ads that appear on top and right hand side of the organic search results. Each time a person clicks on one of these ads an advertiser is charged a certain amount of money for directing that visitor to advertiser’s website.

Again, just like with SEO, PPC is a complex subject and can be very costly if you don’t know what your are doing. Some of the main platforms include Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and YouTube advertising.

DIY Tip: You can create dedicated pages for your PPC campaigns that will be focused on a conversion ie. download of your latest mixtape.