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