About pages in 1st or 3rd person: A compromise

In response to yesterday’s Art Marketing Action on About pages, Web designer and today’s guest author Patricia J. Velte has this to contribute.

The 1st person v. 3rd person discussion for About pages on web sites can be a tough one for me to balance with my web design clients since artists' sites are often light on the amount text they include. Google, an important “target audience” to consider, uses the plain (HTML) text to understand a web site. If an artist's name appears only in a graphic logo it may be highly beneficial to incorporate the full name into the text on several pages within the site or the site may be invisible to people searching for the artist by name.

Nancy Hammer Bradford, Balcony in Giverny. Oil on linen, 20 x 16 inches. ©The Artist
Nancy Hammer Bradford, Balcony in Giverny. Oil on linen, 20 x 16 inches. ©The Artist

The About page is sometimes the only page with a lot of text on an artist's site so it becomes a candidate for including the name and description of the artist's work, making 3rd person a choice, sort of by default. For example, on a graphic-heavy site, including “Mary Jo Miller, a portrait artist in Portland, has received awards for her commissioned paintings of children and families” gives Google a lot to work with and, importantly to connect with Mary Jo Miller.  Google just doesn't understand who “I” in 1st person text is.

Before writing an About in either 1st or 3rd person it might be good to inventory the site to see how many times the name appears in plain (HTML) text. Another good test is to enter the artist's name in Google and see if any sites show up above the artist's site.  If art guild or exhibits the artist is involved with, or personal sites show up first, the artist has done a poor job of including his/her name in the text on the site.

I love 1st person bios so I'm always looking for ways to avoid the dreary “Google matters” lecture with artists.

→Here's a compromise format I've used with success. Start with a headline at the top of the page, such as “About Mary Jo Miller.” Put the text under the headline in 1st person,  but include on the page a brief quote from one or more of collectors that incorporates the artist's name: “Mary Jo Miller's portraits are stunning and original . . . ”  It can make a big difference.

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11 thoughts on “About pages in 1st or 3rd person: A compromise”

  1. My site always come top in Google and reading this I couldn’t work out why then I realised, I put my name under ALL of my photos when I use them in my blog and I use a lot of my own images. As discussed in a recent post of yours, not having my name on the image itself leaves the photos slightly under-protected but apparently my current system helps shove me up Google. So it’s swings and roundabouts, I guess!

  2. If people are blogging on their site (as you and I both firmly believe they should, Alyson!) another solution might be to put a small copyright notice at the bottom of each post so that their name is being read by Google that way.

  3. Kirsty: That’s great to bring up here! Artists really should be putting their names under each photo. Re blog posts, wouldn’t their name show up in “Posted by” ? I guess this has to be enabled.

  4. Pingback: Don’t let your text become outdated — Art Biz Blog

  5. Alyson, thank you for this post. It was quite shocking when I checked my name on google and then checked for my name on my website pages. My name appeared on only one page! And that page is the one that showed up in google. My name is on every page now. THANK YOU SO MUCH! You are the greatest.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Mary: I just talked with a client about this today. The artist’s full name wasn’t anywhere on the site. BIG mistake.

  6. I prefer bios in the first person and, depending on the topic, you may not have an image to attach your name to.

    So the copyright notice is a great idea but here’s another one. At the end of your post, add your name (as well as any other keyword you want to use) and format it as 1 or 2 point text and change its color to the background color. It won’t appear to the human eye but Google will pick it up. Change it to small text so that you don’t have really obvious spacing issues.

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