SEO for Art Websites

SEO for Art Websites

Have you applied any SEO for your art website?  You have probably heard the term and have even been contacted by some SEO company promising to get you to the top slot in search engine results – HA!

First off I should tell you what SEO for art websites is, we’ll get back to my “HA!” in a minute.

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, where one optimizes their art website to make it not only search engine friendly but, first and foremost, visitor friendly.

This entails everything from incorporating keywords, (which are actual short phrases), into headings and content, to adding Alt and Title descriptions to links and images.

To have your art website indexed by a search engine, basically, what happens is that the crawler, robot, spider, what ever you want to call it, follows links, gathers info, and adds that info into the search engine database. As you know, Google is a search engine, as in Bing, and Yahoo, etc. In essence, crawlers find web pages, read what’s on them, and index that info into their database.

Search Engines index your art web page with the information you provide. Since the Internet is mostly a word-based medium and art websites consist mostly of images, and robots can not read images, and the only thing on your home page is an image, well, you can see where we are going with this.

A lot of art websites’ home page consist of either a single image or a slide show (they can’t read slide shows either). Robots can see that there is an image because they can read the image tag in the source code, but they have no idea what the image is about. It is true; search engine robots do not know that the single image on your home page is a blue landscape. You have to tell it by filling in the alternative and title attributes for each and every image on your art website. This is the way to have your images properly indexed, the way you want them indexed, by Google or any other search engine, for that matter.

Here is a list of what needs to be done to help index and rank any art website:

#1: SEO Friendly Images

Traffic to your art site can grow substantially with proper search engine indexing of your images. Using the Alt and Title descriptions is the way to do this and have your images indexed how and where you want them to be. Your images should also have your name and the name of the artwork in the title of the jpg. Like so: ©your-name-art-name.jpg

#2: Meta Descriptions:

Meta data tells search engines what your site is about and it shows up in search results, which in turn tells people what your site is about. You can hand craft this 140 character sentence, otherwise the search engine is just going to grab what ever text you have on the page, that is if you have any text on the page.

#3 Keyword Placement

Keywords are not actually single words, but groups of words or phrases. They pertain to the content and subject of the page and are what you think people will enter into search queries to find the information on your website. The higher up on the page the more prominant they become and subsequently more weight is assigned by the search engine.

#4 Using Heading Tags

If you have subheadings inside your post, make sure you actually tag them, and tag them according to a hierarchy. Search engines add value to headings but that doesn’t mean every paragraph gets a heading. On this page, for example, I have applied the H3 heading tag to this list as each item talks about a specific topic.

#5: Linking Strategy

Every time you link to a page, post or other site, you are passing “SEO juice” from every single page or post you are linking from. Having other sites link to your site also increases your relevancy in the eyes of search engines.  “SEO Juice” is internet slang referring to the substance which flows between web pages via their hyperlinks. Pages with lots of links pointing to them acquire much ‘SEO Juice’ and pages which link to highly ‘juicy’ pages acquire some reflected ‘SEO Juice’.

#6 Use a SEO Plugin

A good SEO plugin can help cover your butt for those pages that you do not optimize by simply filling in the master template. There are a number of them out there and if you use WordPress for your art website, I recommend either All in One SEO or WordPress SEO by Yoast, both are free from

The SEO for Art Websites Tutorial at the WordPress for Artists School, covers all the above topics, along with instructions on how to apply the techniques using WordPress.

If you are an Artbiz client this resource is free for you to use. Just contact me for the registration details at the WordPress for Artists School and have at it. Even if you are not an Artbiz client you can still register.

Oh my HA! There are SEO companies that will promise to get your website to the top of page one in Google. Typically they are using an obscure keyword, making it easy for them to increase your ranking for just that one keyword. But what good is it if nobody searches using that particular keyword.

Creating good content and optimizing your images for search engines is a way to provide SEO for Art Websites. Adding text to your images pages and sprinking your content with good keywords is a bit of work, but if you write naturally, with a bit of practice, you’ll provide your site visitors with meaningful content and a memorable experience when they visit your art website.

Make Your Website Content Stronger

A list of ideas to implement and make your website content stronger.

Looking at artists sites I see one thing that strikes me as odd.

Artists are visual people right, image is worth a  thousand words and all that. What I see a lot, are blog posts with out images and portfolio images with out descriptive text.


Make your site stronger by:

  • If you are writing about a process to create a work of art show us images of the process.
  • If you have an image or group of images on the landing page or anywhere in your portfolio tell us in a few sentences what we are looking at. This can be an excerpt from your artist statement and will go a long way in satisfying lay people. 
  • If you are writing a blog post about a specific body of work provide a direct link to your portfolio page that contains all the images on the blog post where you discuss this work and vs
  • If you are posting announcements to events and ask us to go to the event site for further information please provide a link to that website. Also if you list up coming exhibitions please provide us with a link to the gallery.
  • Redundancy: If you had a “News” page but are now posting your news to your blog you can safely remove the News page and transfer the content over to your blog.
  • Try to be more creative than using “Uncategorized” as a blog category. It is the default WordPress category use to catch those posts that do not have a category assigned. If you don’t want to use categories then consider changing the name of “Uncategorized”.  Some clients have used “In General”, “Studio News”, “The Artists Life”. Just go to Categories and rename it.
  • Have you added descriptions to your gallery images; name, medium, size? What if an interior designer visited your site and saw the ideal painting for a client but there was no size and nor could they contact you and ask the size of the piece because there was no name. Um, third image from the left, two rows down is not good.
  • Forgot how to add images to your gallery and stacking single images on top throwing off the entire layout of the page? Please review “gallery management”
  • Most artist sites will have a page called “Events” or “Exhibits” used to list current or upcoming shows. In WordPress your pages can be removed from the menu if there aren’t any current events. Better not to have it in the menu than have people land on a blank page.  If you don’t want to remove it from the menu stick an image on the page and tell visitors that there aren’t any events at the moment and invite them to check back.
  • Has the same image been on your home page for 3 years? Returning visitors may think you haven’t created any new work and your site has become stale.  Switch out your images from time to time – keep it fresh.
  • Consider using an image of yourself on your Biography page. Yes as an artist you identify with your work but your collectors and potential collectors want to know the real you. It doesn’t have to be a professional portrait, a shot of you in the studio is pretty cool. 
  • Thought that you would really get into blogging or use the blog to post news but haven’t posted anything since December 2008.  Get rid of the blog and just use a page and call it News.
  • Do you have a new and exciting announcement like an instructional video. Use your home page to create a link and say a few words. Rex Beanland does this well.
  • Calendars on your blog are meant to highlight the days that you have created new posts. Consider removing the calendar from your sidebar if your post frequency is rare and there aren’t any highlighted dates on the calendar.
  • Use your home page to promote an upcoming show complete with an image and show details. This is good use of your home page, keep it fresh with new content BUT remember to remove the event when it is over. People coming to your site will see that the exhibit was 6 months ago, that is stale content.
  • Typically I set up your portfolio with generic names if you don’t have proper series names. It will mean more to your visitors if you categorize your work and name your galleries accordingly.
  • If you have exhibition images with people in them post them. It’s great to see people interact with your art. Have a look at Liz Sullivan’s site as an example. Liz uses a page called Recent Exhibitions but you could also do this in a blog post.
  • Do people have at least two ways to contact you? Email and a phone number.
  • Is all your contact information on your contact page? Where are you in the world? It is called the World Wide Web after all and you will get visitors from everywhere would it not be nice to tell them where you live. It doesn’t have to be a full street address but why not something like: “Jane Doe Artist works out of her studio in “city name”.
  • If you use archives which lists the months and years that you have posted to your blog and you only have 2 and they are two years apart consider not using archives in your sidebar.
  • Have you remembered to resize your images for the web? You have 8 seconds before your visitor gives up and leave because your image is taking too long to load.

Your readers will appreciate it and so will search engines. Really!

If you have any questions I’d be happy to help. Email me 

Shameless Self Promotion For Artists

Here are some ideas: self promotion for artists to increase the traffic to your website (If you don’t promote your website who will?)

  • People need to know that you actually have a website. Tell them, publish your website address on everything include adding it to the signature of all your emails.  I know one gallery whose business card has only their website address on it and nothing else. Certainly this may drive traffic to their site if only to retrieve their phone number and address. You may not want to go to that extreme but do put your website address on everything that goes out  including on the back of your paintings.
  • An artist I know keeps prospects and clients informed of new work by creating a postcard that announces new work on her website.  The postcard cover always includes her website address as well as an image of the new work. The message on the postcard back encourages her clients and prospects to visit the site. This sends the message of her continual success to her client/prospect base and brings more visitors to the site. VAAA has a great postcard printing program for their members.
  • Another artist client of mine includes an image of her work in all her emails. Clever girl!
  • Artist websites tend to be heavily weighted with images, as they should be. But search engines (Google and the like) are looking for text and will not extract text from a jpeg (just so you know).  Consider writing a short statement on your gallery page that briefly outlines what that particular body of work is about.
  • Search also engines like new and fresh content. If you have something to say consider writing a blog. If that doesn’t appeal to you create a news page and post your upcoming events or even create links to your favorite art sites and tell us why you like them.
  • Links are also important especially one way links that point to your website. Try listing your site in some art directories like