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Music SEO: Know Your SERPs

This post was written by Wes Walls and originally appeared on the Bandzoogle Blog.

SERPs? It stands for “search engine results pages”.

Simple enough. Got that out of the way.

If you’re a musician, especially one who cares about your SEO, then SERPs matter a lot to you. We’re going to focus on Google in this post because that’s where most people go when they search.

Before you carry on reading, head over to Chapter 1 of this multi-post guide to get familiar with your SEO strategy and the Fan Journey. This will all make a lot more sense if you do.

So let’s get into why SERPs matter to you.

“SEO for musicians is about optimizing your online fan experience.”

When most people think SEO, they’re thinking about getting good rankings for keywords. But the neat thing about SEO for musicians is that there’s much more to it than that.

When your fans search for you in Google, they can do more than just find you. They canexplore your music and content right in search engine results pages, before they even reach your band website or social profiles.

This is thanks to Google’s Knowledge Graph and the cool things they do with it specifically for musicians and fans. We’ll explain that and show you real-life examples in this article.

So doing good music SEO means getting to know what your fans are going to experience in SERPs when they search for you, because it’s a direct reflection of your band.

Let’s drill that point in: SEO for musicians is about optimizing your online fan experience, when they’re searching for your music and content.

In fact, you could consider your band keyword SERPs to be another online profile you need to maintain, just like your band website or Facebook page. But unlike your other online profiles, fans will visit your band keyword SERPs when they search for you, whether or not you pay any attention to it.

So let’s take a look at some of these band name SERPs, which have different possible components that can change depending on the search term.

Your Band Name SERP

The SERP for your band name is going to be the most important one to you. This is because your band name is probably the keyword people will use most often when searching for you.

As an example, let’s see what Google gives us when we search for Zardonic.

So we’ve got:

  • Zardonic’s band website.

  • YouTube, Facebook, SoundCloud, Beatport and iTunes profiles.

  • A Wikipedia entry.

  • Video results embedded in the SERP.

  • A Knowledge Panel which has:

    • Images that link to Google Image searches

    • Artist information that links to Wikipedia

    • A link to Zardonic’s “official” website

    • Other Wiki-style information like hometown, genre, band members, etc.

    • Album list, that links to SERPs for those album names

    • A list of tour dates, that link to SERPs for those events

    • Social profile icons that link to those profile pages

Other things you sometimes see, that you don’t see in the example above, are:

  • Twitter feed

  • A list of songs in the Knowledge Panel

  • Interviews, reviews and news (usually for higher profile artists)

  • Tour dates (i.e. Bandsintown profile page)

  • Various other kinds of artist profile pages (depending on what you have)

  • Google Image results

So, right away here there is a ton of interesting content and information for a fan to look through during the Exploration stage of the Fan Journey.

This is really the ideal scenario for you and your fans, as far as your band name SERP goes.

Before they click on any results, fans can already see what you look like, the names of your albums, your upcoming tour dates and other bits of information.

“ Fans can explore a lot of your content right in the search engine results pages.”

The thing that really sticks out on this page, of course, is the Knowledge Panel. This is information that’s displayed from Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Google decides for itself what to put there, based on the information it has available from around the internet. But you can influence what’s there by doing - you guessed it - good SEO.

In follow-up posts we’ll explain how you can optimize your Knowledge Panel in detail, but the short answer is:

  • Follow normal SEO best practice advice for your band website.

  • Get as much information out there online about your band as possible - social profiles, music distro, reviews, etc.

  • Optimize your structured data, on and off your band website. It’s not as hard as it sounds.

It’s worth pointing out that getting a Knowledge Panel for your band has a lot to do with how well-known or “notable” you are. If you’re still unknown, you might need to be patient as you build your fan base.

For now you might want to start by just Googling your band name to see what your SERP looks like, and compare it to other established artists to get a better sense of what’s possible.

Your Tour Date SERPs

Google can offer a really nice experience for your fans in the SERPs for your tour dates. There are a couple of ways they can reach these SERPs.

If there’s a list of tour dates in the band Knowledge Panel on your band name SERP, like in the image below, fans can click on it and land on a tour date SERP.

They could also reach it by just typing in a search term like “zardonic tour dates”.

Let’s take a look at a tour date SERP.

So this is really awesome.

We’ve got:

  • A scrolling event carousel that shows all tour dates. Each one links to another tour date SERP.

  • If the search is for a specific event, you get an Event Card that has:

    • Event date and time

    • Venue address with map

    • Link to your band website

    • There may also be a link to a 3rd party ticket vendor depending on the event

  • The same Knowledge Panel that appears on your band name SERP.

  • The “Shows” page from Zardonic’s official website.

  • Bandsintown, Allevents and Eventful event information pages.

Some other things you might see for other events, depending on the circumstances of the show, are:

  • Paid Google ads, which may appear for major shows when ticket sellers are willing to compete to pay for traffic

  • Results for ticket resellers

  • Results from the venue website

  • Opening act artist website

For a fan who wants to go to a show, there’s tons of great information here to explorebefore they even carry on to another website.

“ Google has made it possible for bands to create a rich fan experience in search engines.”

We’ll explain in detail how to optimize your tour information in future posts, but in short you need to:

  • Follow normal SEO best practices for your band website.

  • Optimize your structured data.

  • Have your tour date information on YOUR official band website, optimized for SEO, so that you can direct fans to your preferred ticket seller.

  • If you use third party tour calendar and ticketing platforms, like Bandsintown, make sure the tour date information is consistent and up-to-date everywhere (on all websites).

Google has gone to the trouble of making it possible for bands to create a rich fan experience on these pages, but it’s up to you to take advantage of it by feeding Google with the right information.

Bandzoogle, by the way, makes this really easy for you when you use our Events feature, because we automatically add the structured data to your website when you add events.Bandzoogle is the only website builder that is recognized by Google for event markup.

If you have some tour dates coming up, take some time to Google your event names and dates to see how easy it is for fans to find your show information and tickets in the SERPs. Compare what you find to the tour date SERPs of established artists, to see what’s possible.

Your Album Name SERPs

Google can provide a rich experience for your fans in SERPs when they search for youralbum names.

If you’ve discovered, from doing your keyword research, that your fans are already searching for your album names, this is going to be particularly useful to you. But even if they don’t, you can still optimize this assuming you have at least one album released.

“The album name SERPS are today’s version of what Tower Records used to be.”

There are a couple of ways fans can come across your album name SERPs.

If your albums are listed in the Knowledge Panel for your band, fans can click on them and land on your album SERP.

They could also get to the album SERP by just searching for something to do with your albums. Like this, for the keyword “mudhoney albums”.

In this case we searched for Mudhoney’s albums in general, so we get their whole discography.

Mudhoney - being musical legends - have an extensive discography. Fans can explore their albums and tracks, watch music videos from the album on YouTube, and easily find links to buy the music.

That’s what you want, so that fans can more easily discover, peruse, and maybe even buyyour music. In a way, you could say that the album name SERPS are today’s version of whatTower Records used to be.

So to summarize what we find in this general album SERP:

  • An album carousel card

  • The band’s Knowledge Panel to the right

  • The band’s official website

  • Several Wikipedia entries (most bands would probably have just one)

  • Places to buy the album (Discogs)

  • Press (in this case a chart listing)

If your band isn’t as legendary as Mudhoney, instead of an album carousel you’ll probably get a navigation card instead, like this. Same thing, different look.

There are some other variations of this too, depending on what your discography looks like. If you don’t have any albums at all, then of course you won’t see anything special showing up.

Now, what if we want to see the SERP for a specific album?

If we (or a fan) click on one of the albums in the album list navigation card at the top of the general album SERP, we get a specific album SERP.

Try it at home (it’s safe, we promise) and notice how the search term has been entered for the actual album name itself, in the search bar at the top.

We (or a fan) might also reach this page by simply searching “mudhoney vanishing point” in Google.

This SERP now shows results specific to that particular album, and the Knowledge Panel on the right side also now shows information for the album specifically (instead of information about the band).

“ For a fan this is kind of a perfect experience for exploring your music.”

So, for a fan this kind of a perfect experience for exploring your music, with a really helpful diversity of content and information.

Again we’ll get into the details in future posts on optimizing your music for SEO, but in short you need to:

  • Follow normal SEO best practices for your band website.

  • Provide Google with good structured data to create the album list card.

  • Properly tag your music videos in YouTube, and following normal YouTube video optimization best practices.

  • Get good digital distro, so fans can easily find you on their store or streaming service of choice.

  • Get album reviews on blogs (easier said than done, we know).

Bandzoogle, by the way, helps take care of some of the structured data needs when you use our Music feature. When you add your albums, structured data is automatically added to your website to help you with your SEO.

An optimized album SERP can help your fans to move through the Exploration and Purchase phases of the Fan Journey. Good for them, and good for you.

Like before, a good place to start here would be to Google your album names, and see how your SERPs compare to established artists.

Your Song Name SERPs

Google provides rich SERPs when fans search for your specific song titles.

Like before, there are two ways fans might reach these SERPs.

They can click on a track name from the album or band name SERP. Or, they can search for a specific song in Google.

For a fan there’s all kinds of great stuff here, even beyond just the track itself. It’s kind of awesome.

We get:

  • A song list navigation card with other singles from Mudhoney. Sometimes you see the other tracks from the same album.

  • A Knowledge Panel for the song that includes:

    • A video still with a link to the video on YouTube

    • Wiki-style links about the song, such as the artist, album, release date, etc. They all point to other SERPs.

    • Because this song has legendary status and has been covered a lot, we also see a list of other recordings of it, with links to other SERPs.

  • A variety of other website results including lyrics and Wikipedia entries.

Sometimes you might also see Google Image results showing cover art and band shots.

If a fan has searched for your song name, chances are they heard it somewhere and wanted to hear it again. So this is this kind of content-rich page you want to provide to these fans, so that they can explore your music.

Some bands are smart about this and publish a video on YouTube for every one of their songs, even if some just show a cover art still as the video.

I like what Travis did for a lot of their videos. They took that same idea and stepped it up a little.

We’ll share more detail in later posts on how to optimize your tracks, but in short you need to:

  • Follow normal SEO best practices for your band website.

  • Provide Google with good structured data for the Knowledge Graph.

  • Create videos for every one of your songs and add it to YouTube, properly tagged following normal YouTube video optimization best practices.

  • Get song reviews on blogs (yup that’s hard, we know).

  • You might even want to try adding all of your song lyrics, and their meanings, to the major lyrics websites such as Genius.

The Takeaway: Get To Know Your SERPs

Google SERPs can be a really powerful tool for you to expose your music and content to fans during the Exploration and Purchase phases of the Fan Journey.

By optimizing your band’s SEO to enhance your band keyword SERPs, you can offer a rich online fan experience that can encourage fans to listen to more of your music and get to know your band - and maybe buy a concert ticket or download an album.

In followup posts, we’ll dig deeper into the technical details for optimizing your structured data to get all of those fancy Knowledge Panel results. We’ll also explain how to optimize your band website, videos, and other SEO best practice odds and ends.

In the meantime, start by Googling your band name, tour date names, album and song names, and anything else you can think of. As you go, try to see things from the perspective of a fan. Do the same for established artists, and make some notes about what you can improve on.

Hopefully you’ll come out of this with a strong understanding of where you need to go with your band’s SEO, and next time we’ll get into the nitty gritty on how to do it.

Read other articles in this series:

Wes Walls is the Head of Growth Marketing at musician website & marketing platform Bandzoogle

Music SEO: Know Your SERPs

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