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Friday
Mar112011

SEO Band Names: How To Choose A Band Name So You Will Be Found Online

SEO Band NamesMake it easy for your fans to find you online.

Choosing a band or artist name that is search engine optimized (also known as SEO) can help your career down the road.

Yes, many bands have managed to achieve success in spite of unsearchable band names (the band Girls come to mind), but why not make it easy on your fans and choose a name that is easy to search for and find?

Many musicians have discovered (the hard way) that an unsearchable band name can hurt sales, reduce concert attendance, and frustrate fans.

And it’s not just major search engines like Google and Bing that you should be concerned about. A poorly chosen band name can make it hard for fans to find your music on iTunes, your videos on YouTube, and your band profiles on social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

Below are some dos and don’ts for choosing an SEO friendly band name. Just remember, these are only suggestions. The real keys to musical success will always be rooted in hard work and great music with mass appeal.

SEO DON’Ts

Don’t use common names, words or phrases

Common names and phrases are often searched for. So it’s difficult to place at the top of search results for these terms. Avoid band names like Blue, Harmony, Hot and Cold, or El Nino. These sorts of everyday names and phrases present an uphill battle for good search results.

Don’t get too creative with spelling

Using creative spelling will actually increase your search engine ranking, but only if your fans spell your name correctly. Take the band Gorillaz. Gorillaz fans know how the band name is spelled and therefore don’t have a problem finding the band online. But if I heard of Gorillaz from a friend, and didn’t know they used an “z” instead of an “s,” I might search for “gorillas” with an “s” and find myself knee deep in articles about big hairy monkeys.

Don’t use special symbols %@#!

Do you know how to put an umlaut over a ü when you type it into a search engine? Chances are, a good portion of your fans don’t. Many special characters will be unrecognized or ignored by search engines. Also some special characters can be misinterpreted by computer programs as code and it can cause errors. Keep this in mind before you name your band: <Bl@st%>

Don’t piggy back

If you name your band The Katy Perry Experience you may get some traffic from Katy Perry fans who stumble upon your site, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your music. Collateral traffic isn’t always the best quality. Also, popular news about Katy Perry may often supplant your good rankings and there’s always the possibility you get sued or the world gets tired of Katy Perry.

SEO DOs

Use more than one word

A single word band name will only be easily searchable if your band name is very unique such as Jamiroquai of Fugazi. But a unique band name can be hard to spell. Why not use a cool juxtaposition of a few common words such as Arcade Fire, Daft Punk or Kings of Leon. This way you can have a unique name that almost anybody can spell and easily find.

Test your band name in Google

Let’s say I’d like to call my band Unicorn Bluff. Let’s search for that name in Google. For a more accurate result, I’ll put “Unicorn Bluff” in quotes so that Google only searches for those two words strung together. In this case, there are only 307 results for “Unicorn Bluff.” The top results are related to a unicorn poster. This looks promising. There are no Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, or music related results on Google’s first page of results. My only concern with this band name is that “unicorn” has been a popular word in recent years for band names. So I might also do a search for “unicorn band” to see what my competition looks like.

Research Your Domain Name

A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online. If my band name is Unicorn Bluff, my ideal website is www.unicornbluff.com. Unicornb-forever.net would be less than ideal because it does not contain both keywords of my band name and it may be hard for my fans to remember.

If my first choice wasn’t available, I might go with:

www.unicornbluff.net

www.unicornbluff.co

or

www.unicornbluffmusic.com

Make sure to check on the availability of domain names while you do your research. A good domain name will make it much easier for your fans to find you.

Trademark Your Band Name

Once you’ve found the perfect SEO friendly band name, you should trademark it so nobody else can lay claim to it.

**********

Is your band name SEO friendly? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Register a unique domain name and build an awesome band website with HostBaby

Further Reading Behind the music: What’s in a band name? -The Guardian

Reader Comments (20)

Haha, well said. One of my favorite banks !!! had to stark billing themselves as chk chk chk because typing the exclamation points into a search engine would return an error.

March 9 | Registered CommenterDerek Miller

While it took us a little time and a decent amount of online press and visits to our website, our band The British Columbians has managed to now hold 7 of the top 10 Google search results when you search the name. Not so, to begin with, but it came with time.

March 11 | Unregistered CommenterDave Moran

It's definitely not impossible to get good rankings with a common name. It just takes time, good traffic and quality link backs. Choosing a good SEO friendly band name will save you some time and effort. But it's not the only way to go.

March 11 | Unregistered CommenterChris Bolton

This is complete and utter bullsh*t. Leaving creativity to the robots.

March 11 | Unregistered CommenterRory Lake

Good points! As someone who builds websites for musicians I think you're pretty much nailed it. One small detail - if you were just starting a band named 'Fugazi' then you would have to compete with the original Italian word before you started to come out ahead in the rankings. But as you said, check google and see what you're competing against.

@Rory It's not bullshit. Dealing with limitations is part of creativity. In fact, because of the 'robots' you'll have to be MORE creative.

March 12 | Unregistered CommenterScott James

C'mon guys, there's nothing rock 'n' roll about SEO... Call your band SEO Speedwagon!

March 13 | Unregistered CommenterRory Lake

Well, it's true that there's nothing sexy about SEO to your fans. That's why you deal with it behind the scenes ahead of time so they don't have to think about it. My definition of what rock'n'roll is isn't mutually exclusive with being smart. My definition of rock'n'roll is about delivering the goods. It's about kicking ass. Making smart decisions behind the scenes, when nobody's watching will help you do that - not hurt you.

March 14 | Unregistered CommenterScott James

Any and every advantage needs to be taken by an artist these days to get your brand out there and above the sea of faceless bands. SEO is dramatically important. Direct traffic and search engines are usually the main source of traffic to any page. Check your analytics. Agreed that it is not sexy or RnR in the traditional sense, but vitally important.

March 14 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Gorillas are apes, not monkeys!

March 14 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Hey @Scott and @Matt, I hear ya, dudes. But lemme ask you this: How can a fan search for my band in the first place if they haven't even heard of it? What are you searching for? If you have fans, they know what to look for, they don't need the assistance of SEO. Sure, do some research on your new band name. Make sure no one else has it. That's a no brainer. Thing is, you have to make fans in the real world first. Maybe having a band name that ain't cool with SEO is exactly the reason why fans like you? And chances are, people are gonna hear about that great new band from their friends ONLINE. So if my band is the SHIT HOWDEEZ they'll probably see it. And look what a fun band name SHIT HOWDEEZ is? It ain't SEO friendly. Even if I spelled it correctly, Shit Howdy's, that ain't gonna fly either. Name your band whatever the hell you want, is all I'm sayin', regardless of SEO. If that's important to you and it's giving you the peace of mind that you're doin' the right thing, then by all means, SEO it up.

Plug it and play, right here child!
Rory

March 15 | Unregistered CommenterRory Lake

SEO practices are like grammar rules. It's totally fine to break them in the name of your art. But you should know what the best practices are. If you break the rules out of ignorance, then you may get frustrated later on when your search traffic suffers.

Chris B

March 15 | Unregistered CommenterChris Bolton

I love this point of view!
May i translate your article in to chinese.
And put it onto our website?
I will Indicate the source website and the author's name.
This is our blog: www.musicianguide.cn
We write some articles about the music industry.
And analyze why some musicians can be success.

March 16 | Unregistered CommenterJane Nic

Fugazi! What a great article.

March 19 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Translate away, Nic!

Chris B

March 21 | Unregistered CommenterChris Bolton

Trademarking a band name is the expensive option. Okay if you have bedded down your crew and are willing to throw money at the lawyers etc. The other option you can choose is to use a free service like www.bandnamr.com to register your band name. In that way you can show what's called 'prior use'. Basically Bandnamr acts as a third party witness for you. Great stuff. And, as I said, best of all it's free.

Oh, and one other thing, as it's all online your band name gets some SEO juice also.

Rock on.

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterTravis jones

Great post, lots of true statements made here :)

An SEO'd brand name (band name, in this case!) is very important in these days of internet frenzy!

I provide SEO services in Chester UK, my surname is also 'Chester', so my business name (that has done very well for me over the last 5 years) is SEO Chester (my service/product in my locality) you just can't get better than that!

In a very competative marketplace of SEO I was lucky to get the UK TLD before anyone else, others have now registered all other available TLD's but as I am an SEO and my site now has good age authority in Google I do and always will rank number 1 for my prime target keyword of 'SEO Chester' :D

Regards,

Stuart @ www.seochester.co.uk

August 19 | Registered CommenterStuart Chester

I use a quite complicated name as an artist (it's on my site) and it ranks high but it's hard to pronounce and understand as it's in Spanish. The last drop was last week when I was on the radio and the Dj's just couldn't get it right. My solution will be to derive a new name from the old one, a common one with a alternate spelling and make new music under that alias so most of the people can find it.

December 19 | Unregistered CommenterBarthol

wanna know why nothing comes up for Unicorn Bluff anywhere? Because it's a shitty band name. Think of any phrase that sounds cool, "metal" like "hard rock." Anything. Someone has already laid claim to it in some form or another. It's very difficult to come up with a completely unique combo of words that someone else hasn't already thought of somewhere in the world.

Trust me if "unicorn bluff" was actually cool and not a steaming pile of horse shit as a name, it would be taken already.

June 6 | Unregistered Commentercray rail

I think this post is pretty dumb. First of all, an SEO band name is worthless unless people are looking for you! Being the only person with "Unicorn Bluff" as a band name means nothing if only 1 person is looking for your band.

SEO is supposed to bring new fans to your website, not just make sure fans find your website. FANS SHOULD ALREADY KNOW WHERE TO LOOK!

October 10 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Not dumb at all. SEO is not gonna bring new fans to your website - that's not how people discover new music.

As Chris's piece makes clear, band name SEO is mainly just about helping existing fans and people looking for you to find you.

Don't worry too much if your name contains special characters like Sunn O))). Google will have no problem if you type in 'sunn o' - or even 'sun o'. Same with 'amon duul ii' for Amon Düül II.

I've written my own post about band name SEO here, inspired by your article:
It's Not Only Rock 'N' Roll... The SEO of Band Names

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Lindley

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