Confused by SEO? 15 SEO Lessons from Hard Rock & Heavy Metal

SEO is a foreign language to many musicians. While I was speaking in Norway at Webforum 2012 someone presented me with this article and I just loved it. What a great way to try and explain the concepts behind Search Engine Optimization with examples that maybe musicians will better understand.

This article is originally posted on iProspect, written by @kaaregarnes.

SEO Lessons from hard rock & metal

Ever wondered how much longer it will be before your SEO efforts are yielding results?

So was a client of mine, frustrated by seeing only minor improvements three months in. Knowing he’s an avid fan of aussie rockers AC/DC, I ditched the standard explanation of all the variables that affect rankings and how “SEO is a long term strategy” and blah blah – and instead I quoted Bon Scott to him:

It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock’n’roll)

Inspired by his positive reaction I dug deeper into my collection of hard rock and metal to see if there were further teachings to be found and shared.

There was.
(You will find a link to all the music at the bottom of this post.)

1: Hallowed Be Thy Name – Iron Maiden

Maiden‘s classic number points to one of the most important and often overlooked SEO factors: A good name.

Your brand or company name can be a free ride into SEO happiness. Choose a name with your location and keyword in it, like “Oslo SEO” or “Hotel Tupelo” and your natural URLs, title tags and incoming links will automatically give you an advantage.

This requires only a willingness to be a bit boring when choosing a name …

2: Good head – Turbonegro

Turbonegro band photo
Norwegian denim-rockers Turbonegro weren´t talking about title tags and meta descriptions when they wrote this deathpunk anthem, but few bands know know more about importance of image and presentation than these underground favourites.

Remember that SEO is not about getting to the top of the rankings, but to get the users interacting and buying. How you look on the Search Engine Result Page determines how successful you are.

That process starts with what’s inside your head-tag. So put some work into making good titles and meta descriptions.

3: Lovercall – Danko Jones

According to SEOmoz the number 1 and 2 ranking factors are incoming links.

Not only does this song have one of the best basslines in history, it also hints to one of the easiest ways of getting links; Asking your suppliers, customers, partners, employees and other´s whom you already have an established relationship to. Ask and you shall receive.

Pick up the phone or shoot them an email: Learn the lovercall, baby.

4: Don’t stop believing – Journey

Doing white hat SEO takes time, especially if competition is strong. And when you´ve done all you can and rankings don´t seem to move, this absolute legend of a song can provide some consolation.

It´s a long way to the top.

5: You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ – Judas Priest

Juda Priest Rob Halford on a MC
Google Panda, Google +, Google Places, Google This, Google That.

The only thing certain in the world of search engine optimization is that there will be changes and new stuff you have to learn and employ. SEO means staying updated and agile.

Or as singer Rob Halford puts it in this megahit: “it’s a case of do or die”. You got another thing coming.

6: Fear of the dark – Iron Maiden

Should Black hat seo be feared?

Employing it can potentially put you out of business if Google find out (and does something about it), so yes. Be sceptical about black hat techniques.

However, don’t be so afraid that you don’t dare getting to know it. You should know your enemy. There might be techniques there that can also be employed ethically.

7: Take it off – The Donnas

The Donnas band photo
SEO is not about rankings, but about getting searchers to find your content and do what you want them to do, whether it is to buy, download, like or read.

If you have content that is not doing this, listen to these fine female rockers advice: Take it off!

Rule of thumb: Anything that doesn´t contribute to you reaching your goals, ACTIVELY contributes to you NOT reaching them.

8: Speed King – Deep Purple

Speed is an important factor for Google – and for users! Google openly states that their main goal is to get people the info they want as fast as possible.

This means not only making sure your load time is superfast, it also means that you should use rich snippets to allow google to put you right on the SERP. (Disclaimer: If your business is clicks: Think twice before using rich snippets)

9: Hellbelly (Jesus without the suffering) – Therapy?

Therapy? Troublegum cover
Troublegum might be the most underrated album in the history of music and in SEO context it gives a number of valuable lessons.

The first is about linkbuilding. Some think you can do SEO without linkbuilding and if you a unice offer and an abundance of creative resources at hand you might. But a competitor with the same resources and a willingness to suffer through linkbuilding will outrank you.

You cannot be an SEO savior without the suffering.

10: Trigger inside – Therapy?

Troublegum´s second lesson is that SEO is about not about rankings, but conversions, and you will never get any unless you have a “trigger inside”.

You need something that makes people take action. This includes urgency factors, uniqueness and simply being clear about what you want people to do.

Without triggers, people will procratrinate.

11: Green Manalishi – Fleetwood Mac/Judas Priest

This amazing Peter Green classic – done even more amazingly by Priest – has a fantastic line about user experience:

“You come creeping around, making me do things I don´t wanna do”

With Panda the user experience has – thankfully – become an important factor for search rankings, and we need to make sure we don´t mess up the user experience by having flash intro’s, uneccesary form fields and having users jump through hoops to get where they want.

12: Giving the dog a bone – AC/DC

Angus Young og AC/DC
Linkbaiting is a fantastic tactic, but often companies never get around to this as they think it’s about creating “viral” videos.

It´s not. It’s about giving people tools, infographics, videos etc. = content they need in a format they want. Throw them a bone and links will follow.

13: Have a drink on me – AC/DC

Isn’t it amazing how many songs AC/DC have made about SEO? In this 1980 classic they explore the concept of freemium.

The idea that people will like you better if you give them free alcohol is easy to understand, and if you have ever engaged in this activity at your local you might also have noticed that people tend to buy you alcohol back – and throw in a shot.

In the SEO world this translates into you giving away something of value, like a report, a tool, knowledge – and people will say thank you in form of links, PR, social shares etc.

Free alcohol is the easiest way to a huge following.

14: Diamond in the rough – Airbourne

As stated earlier, SEO is about conversions and the conversions are more likely found in the long tail. Trick is to find keywords with good traffic and low competion. So do propper keyword research and find those diamonds in the rough.

15: Aggressive Perfector – Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer
The first song thrash gods Slayer ever recorded teaches us to always be testing – and to appreciate good guitar work!

Thing is, to really succeed online is to always be looking for that little something that increases conversions. Be an aggresive perfector.

Bonus lesson

Remember: The most important teaching to take away from the distinguished gentlemen and women of hard rock and metal is – of course – to:

Please leave a comment with – or without – your favourite metal song with SEO connotations before you head over to youtube to listen through all the wonderful songs above on my SEO Metal playlist. (play all – opens in new tab)

You should also follow me on twitter @kaaregarnes

The Next Music Biz Weekly Music Marketing Webinar: How to Use WordPress for Your Band’s Website

How to use WordPress for your band's websiteMichael Brandvold & Brian Thompson, hosts of The Music Biz Weekly Podcast are proud to announce the next of their new Live Webinar Sessions where we’ll be teaching music marketing techniques and hands-on instruction for artists to grow their audience and get their music heard.

This Music Biz Weekly Webinar is titled:  “How to Use WordPress for Your Band’s Website” and will happen on December 15, 2011 at 6pm PT.

We’ll be covering the following topics:

  • How to install WordPress on your server.
  • What hosting companies offer the best support for WordPress.
  • What is the difference between and
  • Proper configuration on your WordPress install.
  • How To Install A Theme (and how that process differs between .org and .com).
  • How to enhance your WordPress site with plugins. Which plugins are must have.
  • How to setup WordPress to work with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • How to format and write effective posts.
  • How to do basic, but effective, Search Engine Optimization.
  • How to add a email list and configure it to promote your music.
  • How to run a contest on a WordPress site.
  • How To Create A Music Page for Your Site (tools and widgets such as Topspin, Nimbit, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, CD Baby, etc.)

Additional topics could be added as time permits.

Our goal is to make sure you leave this webinar with hands-on action items which you can put into use immediately. We’ll have also have an open question period at the end of the session.

Some of the great feedback Brian Thompson and I received on the first webinar:

breakopenmgmt – Great webisode on using twitter… stay tuned for their next webisode.

SonicSkillz- It rocked the proverbial house; thank you gentlemen.

sevenyearriot – Just finished the Music Marketing webinar… and can’t wait to put some of this great new info into practice!

otaband  – Thanks for the great Webinar last night! I know it is going to help my band a lot.

howtorunaband – I went into it thinking I would already know everything, but you guys schooled me!

Tickets are $9.99 and can be purchased by clicking the Register link below.


Great SEO at the Right Time Can Bring Results – Example Blink 182 Neighborhoods Presale Article

blink 182 neighborhoods presaleI thought I would give everyone a nice little example of how good SEO, search engine optimization, at the right time works.

Yesterday I found a post on my Facebook wall about the Blink 182 presale for their new album Neighborhoods. I thought their take on the old idea of a presale was really cool and creative so I wrote a quick article to share my thoughts.

My intention was first driven by wanting to share valuable information and not just jumping on a hot topic, but… Blink 182 is hot right now, on a tour, about to release a brand new album (the first since the band regrouped). So I titled the article Blink 182 Neighborhoods Presale is a New Twist on a Old Idea. I also tagged the article with keywords such as blink 182, neighborhoods, presale and I inserted these same keywords into the article where appropriate. You can spend alot of time tweaking your SEO, but if you cover the basics of title, tags and content you will be covering most of your bases.

Remember SEO is all about capturing people who are searching. And you need to ask yourself what would someone type into Google when they are searching.

Well the results were almost immediate. In the first twelve hours the article has rocketed to the top of a number of searches.

Yesterday 8 of the top 10 search terms driving traffic to my site were related to Blink 182.

You might ask, why would you care about Blink 182 fans who are searching? They are not your customer. My response is, this is free traffic, it didn’t cost me a penny and it is exposure. I will always take free traffic. Ultimately, I do not know who is searching and reading the article and if even one person from a search result likes what they read and bookmarks my site, joins my email list, follows me on Twitter it is a win. One more fan for me.

I have been working in the internet since 1995… traffic is what drives everything. You want traffic! You want free traffic! Take just a few moments to look at your SEO when you are writing. Look for those small windows of opportunity around a hot topic and react quickly. I know I won’t be the #1 search result by the end of the week, but for now I am.

Is There Any SEO Value to Using Tags? Should You Stop Using Tags?

Wordcamp San Francisco SEO for WordPressYesterday I spent the day at the 2011 Wordcamp San Francisco. Great convention, well worth the $40 registration and lots of great information. If you use WordPress you should look for a Wordcamp near you and make a trip.

I attended the SEO for WordPress in 2011 presentation, given by Sujan Patel from Single Grain. Lots of good info again, SEO is always changing and you can always pick up little tidbits to help your site improve in its search ranking.

One point that Sujan made during a discussion of SEO Don’ts was…

Don’t use tags, stop using tags. See his slide deck, slide 15.

This came as news to me. He was pretty firm about saying stop using them. I always understood there to be SEO value to tags.

What do think is the SEO value of using tags?