So you’re in a band. You’re probably young, internet savvy and have a profile on every social networking site going. You have mates that run various websites and your housemate knows a bloke that runs a porn site. Getting links to your site is easy right? Not as easy as you make think. Let’s examine.
In my last article I talked about the mythical, mystical term pagerank. Broadly speaking, this increases as you get links to your site, and will improve how high up in search listings your pages appear. Getting links is good. However, from a search perspective, not all links are created equal.
Now, I preface this by saying that links are generally a good thing regardless of the effect they have on search. Links increase traffic on your site, and if their source is a page that is created by someone people respect the opinion of, then the link is like gold dust – imaging if Lee Dorian posted a link to your Doom band, or Terroriser magazine linked to you from an article about Emperor. This is precisely the real world situation that the search engines use to try and decide whether your page is important or not. The logic is, if PageA is important, and it links to PageB, then PageB must have some level of importance too. Also, if PageA is about Industrial Acoustic Punk, then there’s a fair bet that PageB is too.
So your mates all have Myspace pages, just get them to link to your site and hey presto pagerank! Right? Wrong. Some sites, most notably social networking sites, apply properties to links on their pages that explicitly prevent those links from carry through pagerank. This is so that people don’t use their pages for the sole purpose of driving up pagerank. Those links may well be valuable in the real world, indeed they may be the most valuable links you get, but they will not help you at all from a pagerank perspective. Some sites that apply this restriction are:
- Twitter (notice this is a link? FOLLOW ME!)
This also often goes for links placed in comments on blogs or posts in forums. Another thing to note is, that if a link is too easy to get (for example comments on blogs) then the search engines are likely to view them as lower value, and carry less importance to them – so spamming every metal blog you know with links probably won’t help much (this, however, not a bad way to drive general awareness of your band, but more on that later).
One more gotcha, before I start to get to things that actually will help. That mate with a porn site? Steer well clear of any links that he offers. If the search engines start to associate you with the, shall we say, less wholesome areas of the web, then you could end up getting excluded from the mainstream search results and only appear in searches like “hard metal insertion” along with some less healthy websites.
This sucks, you’re thinking, why bother? Well, a few good quality links can go a long way.
The easiest and best technique for gather good quality links is link swaps. When you meet new bands of a similar ilk, then offer to put a link to their band’s site on your website of they do the same. The more of these, the better. You’ll only build up a little bit of link juice that way, but it all adds up.
Secondly, if you can get a mention (even if it’s a bad one!) on a metal site or blog (Metalsucks, Invisible Oranges, Metal Injection and, of course, The Inevitable Nose are all good metal sites that feature small and unsigned bands) then this will help a LOT. It’s a good idea to read these sites regularly and make decent contextual comments (eg. “I love this video, but really, Mastodon are not of their best form at the moment” rather than “Mastodn suxxx LOLLLLLFAIL”) to build a bit of rapport with the writers. Then, send across your music, once you have decent recording, as they usually have email addresses listed. If you know they’re local to you, then invite them to your gig. Don’t spam though – use considered and informative correspondence and be personable!
Finally, be linkable. If your page looks good, contains useful information, then people will want to link to it.
2 more points to make and then we’ll move on, because this is getting pretty long! Links all have at least 2 properties: the link itself and the anchor text. I’m going to talk about both these.
The anchor text is the text that actually displays in the browser to be clicked on (“click here”, “visit the band’s myspace here”). Google uses this text as a strong indicator as to the content of the page to which it’s linking, so if you have any influence over what this text is then you can use this. Most links will simple be your band’s name – this is a good thing, this will allow you to build up a pagerank against your band name as a search term. But if you can get a few links that also mention your band’s genre (eg. “listen to this amazing acoustic death metal band”) then this will also really help you get a foothold against that genre for search.
With regards to the link, remember that I made a point of saying that pagerank is generated against single pages? This is important. If some sites are using your Myspace, and others your band’s website, then your link juice for each page is less overall, making it harder for any one of your pages to rank. It’s a good idea to decide which page best represents your band and will best convert folks stumbling across your band into fans (more on this later) then promote that link alone. That way, sites are most likely to link there.
OK, that’s it for this lesson kiddies. I’ve really only scratched the surface, but don’t get daunted; if you only apply the rules I’ve thus far mentioned, it will help you a lot.