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by Chris Singleton

So, despite the weather, spring is technically with us. It’s a time for daffodils; bunnies; hot cross buns; the first appearance this year of your rusty old barbeque…or maybe a long overdue glance at your music website, and a realisation that it looks like it a 1983 bulletin board. Don’t panic. Here are some tips for giving your website a bit of a spring clean and adding some features that will help you promote your music more effectively.

1. Ensure your website is talking to Google

It’s all very well having a slick website, but if it’s not showing up in search, nobody will be able to find it. So make sure Google knows about it, by…

  • ensuring that your band name and influences are present in each page title
  • ensuring every page’s ‘meta description’ includes your band name
  • registering your website with Google’s Webmaster Tools
  • connecting your site with Google+ (i.e., using Google Authorship)
  • creating some back links (links to your site) from as many sites as possible.

You can read more about SEO for bands here.

2. Ensure your site is capturing data effectively

Your website is not simply a place for punters to go and check your band out, it’s the place where they should be able to start a lasting relationship with your band (a relationship that involves not wining and dining but easily notifying fans when you are doing a gig, releasing material and so on). The best way to make this beautiful relationship happen is to ensure that your site is capturing email addresses effectively. There should ideally be a form on each page of your site where visitors can subscribe to your mailing list (ideally in exchange for some free content). This form should be hooked up to a service like Getresponse or Mad Mimi (our two favourites, although there are many to choose from) so that you can spam the living daylight out of - sorry, politely email - your fans easily. Another advantage of having a good mailing list is that you can import it into Twitter, Facebook and other social networks; this leads to your subscribers automatically being invited / encouraged to follow you on those networks.

3. Make it easy for people to follow you on social media

Obviously a huge number of people follow artists on social networks these days; even the most technically-challenged musicians tend to be aware of this and put social media icons on their website accordingly. However, they don’t always put them in the best place, or use them in the best way. To get the most out of social media on your site,

  • ensure you are putting the social media icons in a very prominent spot  - in other words, ‘above the fold’, so users don’t have to scroll a lot or nose around the site to find the social links
  • use buttons that allow ‘one-click’ follows, rather than icons which direct you to a social media profile containing another follow button. For example, use an embedded Twitter follow button or Facebook ‘like’ button wherever possible; with these, once they are clicked, the user will automatically be following your band without ever leaving your site.
  • consider using Addthis as a way of encouraging follows and content sharing – it allows you to add follow / sharing icons to your site very easily, plus gives you some very interesting stats.

4. Blog!

Unless you are getting a truckload of Radio 1 airplay, it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to get a truckload of visitors spontaneously rocking up at your website. However, if you’re writing interesting blog articles regularly (interesting = not necessarily about your band) these are very likely to get picked up by search engines, resulting in organic traffic to your site and, if you’ve followed steps 2 and 3 above correctly, a good opportunity to capture data and gain new social media followers. When done well, blogging can be a strong component of an inbound marketing strategy (you can find out about inbound marketing here).

5. Compare your website against others

Compare your site to those belonging to seriously huge artists: the U2s, Bowies, Red Hot Chilli Peppers of this world. How does yours stack up? Is the photography and use of typefaces as strong? Is your site as clever or comprehensive when it comes to data capture and social media? Actually, the answer might be yes – some big acts have surprisingly awful websites. But it’s important to take a look at what the ‘pros’ do anyway, in case there are any tricks you are missing. Typically I tend to find that where a lot of unsigned bands’ websites fall down is in their use of photography – the images use just aren’t professional enough (instead of stylish photos in an interesting location, you often see bands plastering an amateurish ‘four guys looking grumpy against a wall’ photo all over their website). My advice to any band is always to sort out the photos before going anywhere near a website designer.

6. Check your website on a variety of devices

Given how many people are accessing content on smartphones these days, it’s worth checking how your site appears on a variety of devices – not just your fancypants 27 inch iMac. The main thing you need to do is ensure that your site displays correctly on any device, and not just a desktop computer – and if you want to take things a step further, you could consider creating bespoke mobile version of your site or a ‘responsive’ website which automatically resizes itself depending on what device it is being viewed on – you’ll find more tips on building a mobile site here.

7. Use analytics

There is little point having a website if you are unsure whether or not anyone is visiting it. So,

  • ensure you have a Google Analytics account for your website, and are checking it regularly
  • register your site with Google’s Webmaster Tools
  • use Addthis to measure how many people are following you or sharing content, and which bits of content they are sharing.

Act on the information you receive: if your blog articles are particularly popular, write more of them; if your videos page is heavily visited, make more of them and so on.

Right, so I hope these spring-cleaning tips leave your website looking spankingly fresh and your fanbase growing exponentially before the British summer [sic] gets here. Of course, if you can’t be bothered doing all that hard spring cleaning work yourself, here comes the obligatory plug: you can find out more about Prescription PR’s music web design services here.

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