SEO for artists is a complex issue -how does one optimize an art site from an SEO point of view? I use the Yoast SEO plugin on my WordPress sites and I absolutely love how easy Yoast makes it to get your basic SEO in place for us visual artists.

Here is my top five key things to think about or optimize as you get started using Yoast.

Top five SEO and Yoast questions for visual artists:

1. Should you care about SEO ? There are several reasons to care about SEO when you build your WordPress art site:

  • You want to drive more free traffic to the site
  • You want to drive better traffic to the site
  • You want to direct that traffic to the relevant pieces of art and sections of your web site
  • You want to understand which pieces of art get seen and why
  • You want to understand if people spend time exploring your art on your site and how they do it
  • You want to present your art and site in the best way possible to viewers and potential buyers

While none of this will get to make better art, it might get you to make more of it and connect with your audience and fan base sooner.

2. Do you need a plugin? Yes. Artists write posts to show off their latest creation and SEO rarely comes to mind when we do so. The end result is an incomprehensible display and ranking of your post by Google as the search engine struggles with your image and the lack of indexable content associated with it.

3. Alternatives to Yoast. There are many alternatives to Yoast on WordPress, with several very good options such as All in One SEO. I have tried many and ended up settling on Yoast mostly because I find the interface and how it inserts itself into the workflow of creating and publishing a new post easier for me. I have no affiliation with Yoast whatsoever so this is my unbiased opinion -but you will have to test a few alternatives to see if it workd best for you too. In the end, the best SEO plugin is the one you actually use.

4. Setting up Yoast is trivial as long as you know how to navigate Google analytics and webmaster tools. After installing the plugin you can take a tour of the different functions and setup steps right into the plugin’s dashboard. If that is not enough, there is a very complete Guide to Yoast regularly updated by its author.

5. Using Yoast boils down to two things:

  • Populating correctly the alt attribute of your images (key to guarantee the appropriate indexing and ranking by Google)
  • Defining your focus keyword for the post, running the SEO check before publishing the post and following the improvements recommended by Yoast through their in-post dashboard:

SEO for artists with Yoast

So –Is Yoast perfect ? No. I have found that Yoast, like all other SEO plugins I have used, gets in trouble when it comes to dealing with images and specifically with image galleries. The plugin will miss some of the alt tags, especially if you add them after uploading the images. In the example below, my gallery of Skateboard art has alt attributes for all images, but Yoast disagrees. I also wish the plugin would tell me a bit more a bout how to optimize my photo heavy content without adding 300 words…

SEO for artists

Ultimately, the plugin appears to be designed for the standard, 300 word SEO optimized blog post and not for the “98% images and 2% content” post format artists use. If you know of an SEO tool that better integrates the image attributes with content SEO, let me know!