However, an artist website that sits in cyberspace and gets visited only after bands mention their web address on stage is a website that is not utilizing the Internet's full potential. A poorly promoted website can be like a tree falling in the forest. It may look stunning, have all the bells and whistles but if nobody can find it then it is a waste of time in my view. I want to tell you how you can get a good steady flow of regular targeted traffic to your artist website without spending a dime. Of course there is some work to do but it will be your time and not your dollars that you will be giving up.
You have no doubt heard about reciprocal link trading. This is something that has existed since the dawn of the Internet. Essentially this is where one website links to another. All very simple. However, most webmasters don't utilize the full benefit of link trading and for the most part the trade is a waste of time. Let's talk about how to do it right. There are two reasons you should trade links with other websites:
1) To get a stream of targeted traffic to your site from external links.
You should only trade links with websites that are relevant to your website. For instance, if your music is categorized in the punk genre then you should of course target websites that are common to that theme. If you are a new age artist there may be many more sites you might target; spiritual bookstores, yoga and so on. Get creative and ask yourself "Who out there in cyberspace would like my music and where do they hang out?". Use keywords in Google or any other search engine to find sites to trade with.
Not all sites will trade, especially corporate commercial sites, ezines etc. Many will however and you should propose a trade via e-mail if a site invites link exchanges. The easiest sites to trade links with will be other band sites, so you should do that first. You must make sure that the websites that you trade links with have a clearly viewable link from their home page to their links page. It should say "links" or "resources" or "sites we like" and so on. You shouldn't link with any site that has a links page that can't be found. After all what good is it to you?
To really get the benefit of this marketing tool you should start a simple link directory. Think of your links directory as a mini-yahoo portal, of course the links will only be relevant to your visitors. Write down a list of categories, and add new categories as you build your directory. For example, let's say your music is "classic rock". Your categories might be:
1) Classic rock bands;
Whatever genre your music is in you can customize your categories to fit. Get creative. OK, Now I want to explain something of huge importance and will make ALL the difference when you trade links with other sites. You must tell webmasters exactly how to display your link. Let me give you an example. Let's now assume you are part of a progressive rock group called "Motormouth". Here is the right way and wrong way to display the link:
Motormouth - the coolest of all progressive rock bands
Example #2 is the preferred way to display your link. Not all websites will allow this (especially directories) but you should push for this where possible. Let me explain why. Search engines are now giving more relevance to websites based on how their link is displayed on external sites, compared to any text residing on their own domain. If for example your band plays progressive rock then you should take advantage of your biggest keyword and include it as part of your link title.
As a surfer, if I was interested in progressive rock I might go to Google and type "Progressive rock bands". Now if you look at example two above the keyword "progressive rock bands" is part of the link title. Keep in mind that it will not help so much to include the singular "progressive rock band" in the link title. The singular keyword "band" is different from "bands" you understand? Web surfers would probably not type "progressive rock band" in Google because they might be looking for more than one. Results will vary so think about your strongest keyword and how surfers might find you - then get that keyword somehow in your link title.
After trading a good amount of links search engines will warm to your site and start returning your results extremely high in its results, depending on keyword competition. This should give you a nice flow of traffic from those websites you have traded links with and many many more from search engines when surfers enter your keyword. Please believe me when I tell you that artists and groups are NOT doing this right now and it is a simple procedure that will take just a little discipline and some time on your part. As I mentioned before, make sure that the website you are trading with displays your link the way you need it displayed. The best way to do this is to give them html code that they can copy and paste. Using example two above your html code might look like this:
Motormouth - the coolest of all progressive rock bands
When requesting a link trade be courteous and professional. Remember that you must target relevant sites only (otherwise search engines will penalize you). If you want to get into this a little deeper you might download the free google toolbar which will display a pagerank (from 1 to 10) every time you visit a web page. When you trade a link with a website that has a high pagerank (IE: 4 or 5 and above) this will serve you better in return. The page that displays your link should in itself be pageranked (not just the site's home page) in a perfect world. However, I do think that user relevance should take precedence over pagerank in this instance.
Lastly, if you want to go even deeper and manage your links directory in a highly effective way I suggest you buy some incredible software called Arelis. I use this and it has tripled my traffic and therefore product sales. I created the A&R Online band directory using this as well as four other website link directories.
It allows you to check on a regular basis whether other sites are still linking back to you, enabling you to remove any broken links or contact those sites to repair etc. etc. It manages your link database brilliantly and will even generate the html web pages at the click of a button. It makes a pretty dull chore actually quite fun. Costs around 100 bucks. Money well spent if you want to really drive targeted traffic to your band site. If you are serious about your music career I can't recommend this software highly enough.
Oh, one more thing. Make sure you capitalize on the traffic that you start receiving! Rather than expect visitors to come sailing through and buy your CD, make sure that on your home page there is an incentive for them to subscribe to your band newsletter. You must get their e-mail address and build your mailing list as you can market direct to them later on. Give them a huge incentive. Again get creative. If they have come to you from a "progressive rock bands" keyword typed in a search engine, give them what they want! Perhaps offer them a free eBook with articles, news and photos of your 10 favorite progressive rock heroes when they subscribe to your list. Of course your band is on the front page of the eBook right? You should be marketing yourself first but if you are unknown you should piggyback off established stars.