Clint Watson of FineArtStudioOnline.com, who is my guest for the 5/23 teleseminar "How to Become an Online Art Magnet," wrote this wise column and has agreed to let me share it here.
I've become slightly dismayed because of increasing communication from artists who focus too intensely on their Google ranking to the detriment of other, more important, marketing methods. Yes, believe it or not, there are ways to market your work that don't rely on search engines . . . and this is coming from a Web guy!
Consider this: Your site can disappear from Google (or drop in the rankings for a given search term) overnight, for unexplicable reasons and without warning. Why?
Here is what Kevin J. Delaney wrote in the Wall Street Journal on March 12, 2007:
Among the most common reasons for unpredictable changes in rankings are frequent updates to search engines' algorithms. These mathematical formulas analyze billions of Web pages for dozens of factors, such as the most prominent words on the pages and what other sites link to the pages, in order to determine how to rank them for relevance to a query. Search companies change algorithms partly to frustrate people who try to inappropriately boost their sites in the results, but legitimate businesses sometimes feel they're caught in the crossfire.
So what can you do? Diversify your marketing. Don't rely too heavily on Google. Mr. Delaney's article continued by saying:
[Google] also counsels that sites shouldn't become overly reliant on traffic from searches and should find other ways to get visitors, such as by setting up user forums. "We have to keep improving our algorithms and giving the best search results," says Google software engineer Matt Cutts. "We can't promise that if you're No. 1 today, you'll be No. 1 tomorrow." [emphasis added]
Don't get me wrong, having a good search engine ranking is an important thing. But it's not the only important thing. And for most artists it's not even close to being the most important thing. If you market yourself properly, you probably won't suffer at all from a change to your search engine ranking.
Here are my suggestions:
1. Optimize your site for search engines. Being dropped from the index is pretty rare. A result ranking change can be more common, but not as detrimental.
2. Realize that if you are dropped, it is rarely permanent. If it happens, focus on getting more inbound links. You can also post on Google groups and hope a sympathetic Google engineer helps you.
3. Diversify your marketing by engaging in email campaigns, posting on user forums, and garnering inbound links to your site. For most artists, these techniques will pay off more than having a high search engine ranking.
Join Clint and me for "How to Become an Online Art Magnet" next Wednesday, May 23, at 6 p.m. Mountain Time.