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How to get more traffic to your music website

No traffic here...

No traffic here...

If you’re in a band, the chances are you’ve got a website. You either designed it yourself, convinced a gullible friend to build it, or got ripped off by a cowboy web designer, but regardless of how your website came into being, you’ve got a problem with it. Nobody’s looking at it.

This is because the supply of music websites far outstrips the demand for them. There are hundreds of thousands of musicians, all over the world, with music sites. But only a tiny proportion of the owners of these sites are popular musicians that people have actually heard of (and are therefore in a position to search for). So the vast majority of music sites languish on a server somewhere, with online tumbleweed (whatever that looks like) slowly passing by them. By virtue of the fact that you are reading this, you probably own one of them.

So how do you generate more traffic to that music site that you lovingly created? Well, as ever, we’ve got a few suggestions.

1. Forget about the music

Yes, you run a music site. But if you’re an unknown musician, making your site exclusively about your music isn’t going to drive traffic; nobody has heard of you, and consequently nobody is searching for you or your music. However, if you feature content on your site that is searched for, then you stand a much better chance of getting a significant number of visits.

Think of it this way: nobody is that interested in reading about how that gig of yours in the Rat and Parrot went; but they might be interested in what you made of the most recent U2 album. There might be one person entering ‘Sexy Susie’s gig in Rat and Parrot’ into Google (your mum) compared to hundreds of thousands whacking ‘No line on the Horizon U2 review’ into the search box. Consequently, if you’ve blogged about the U2 record, you’ve got a significantly better chance of coming up in search results than if you have written and posted a glowing review of your last album on your site. Ergo more visitors to your site, even if they are aficionados of tax-avoiding Irish bands.

Ah yes, you say, but then my site just becomes a U2 reviews site. Well, no, not really. Your site can become a place where you and your bandmates share your views on a range of topics that are of genuine interest to you - and more importantly, other people. You can share your views on sex; religion; politics; photography – whatever. So long as the content you post on your site is engaging, and you are passionate about the topics you write about, you can start to attract decent visitor numbers, simply because the internet is a huge place filled with content-hungry searchers. And obviously, you can feature the content you’re really trying to put in front of people – you and your music – alongside any of your posts about sexy religious politicians who dig photography. All of a sudden, through intelligent blogging, you have a captive audience.

2. Remember the tagging

Any time you post new content on your site, always tag it well. Assuming your site is built on a relatively modern platform (such as Wordpress or Squarespace), or you are integrating a blogging tool like Blogger into your site, you should be able to easily add labels to your content which will help it crop up in search – and drive traffic. If, for example, you write a blog post about your favourite Star Wars film, you shouldn’t just leave it there – you should add a series of tags which accurately describe the content – “Jar Jar Binks”, “George Lucas”, “daft Ewoks”, “camp robots” and so on.

Whilst on the subject of tagging, you should ensure that your site in general (i.e., not just the page where you post articles) is optimised for search. There are countless articles you can read online about SEO (search engine optimisation) but in a nutshell, you need to ensure that your site title, meta data, headers and copy all contain information that people are likely to be searching for. Again, because nobody is really going to be searching for you, you should use descriptions which involve well-known artists that you are influenced by. For example, instead of having a site title like “Official website of Sexy Susie”, you should have one that includes the main artists that you are influenced by – for example, “Official site of Sexy Susie – an artist influenced by David Bowie, James Blunt, Kiss and Cliff Richard” (an unfortunate combination perhaps, but there you go).

3. Share your content, and get others to share it too

When you do create your hugely engaging article about Bono’s leather pants, make sure you share it. Post a link to it on your Facebook page; whack it up on Twitter. Submit it to content sharing services like Stumbleupon or Digg; and encourage readers to do so too by adding a ‘sharing’ call to action at the bottom of each article – “Like this article? Please share it on…” etc. Using a free content-sharing tool like Addthis can help in this regard. Even one share – whether by you or another person - can actually result in an article going viral, so make the most of all the copious sharing opportunities that the Web 2.0 gives you.

4. Allow users to subscribe to receive more content

At the end of each Bono article, explain to users how they can get more of your content. Usually this involves asking them to subscribe to your blog posts via email, subscribing to an RSS feed or following you on Twitter / Facebook. If you have a blog, you can use Feedburner to allow people to sign up to email or RSS updates – it’s a free tool from Google which makes all that sort of thing a doddle. The more people subscribe to your updates - using any of the above methods - the more return visits you'll get to your site, meaning you'll have more eyeballs encountering your latest gig listings, online store and whatnot.

Monetise?

Finally, if you are really good at writing content, and you start to get thousands of hits to your site as a result, you could consider a) giving up music and becoming a writer or b) monetising your blogging talents through selling advertising space alongside your blog. The easiest way to do the latter is to use Google’s Adsense service – you just sign up for an account, copy and paste some code into your site, and you have sold your soul to Google in two easy steps. But it might pay for some recording time for that next album of yours that nobody’s going to buy.

Related articles

There’s a couple of other articles from us about websites / content which you may find useful:

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Using Google’s services and apps to further your music career

Google

Google and its all-seeing algorithms may be watching you and controlling your thoughts, but in addition to being the latest Big Brother on the block, the company are also the provider of a host of free and very powerful tools, many of which have really useful applications for musicians. As musicians are a heartless bunch who would happily lay down their grannies' lives in exchange for success, in this article we’re going to willfully ignore Google's dark side and show you how its products can help you be an efficient rock and roller.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are the chagrin of music PR companies – because they let bands keep an eye on what journalists, bloggers and the public at large are saying about them. So if you’ve hired a PR firm and Google Alerts isn’t, er, alerting you to anything, this probably means they aren’t doing the business for you and you should hire us.

Setting up alerts is simple – you just go to http://www.google.com/alerts and enter the phrase you want Google to keep an eye on, along with your email address. So, for example, if happen to be a U2 tribute band called The Achtung Babies (God bless you), you’d just enter ‘The Achtung Babies’ into the relevant field, select some communication preferences and every time somebody mentions your lovely tribute band online – whether they’re a journalist, blogger or fan – you’ll get updated.

Google Analytics

If your band has a website (and if not, why the hell not - it's 2011) then you’ve got to get Google Analytics installed on it. It provides you with incredibly detailed stats – you can find out what keywords brought people to your band's website, where your visitors are located, what your most popular content is and a truckload more info. In short, it lets you snoop on your fans. But in a good way. We think. Well, we've got it installed on our site and now we know where you live. 

Installing Google Analytics is really easy - you just sign up for an account and give Google your web address. You are provided with a snippet of code that you cut and paste into any web page on your site you want to track and Bob's your uncle.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is useful for bands in two main ways. First, for organising rehearsals and gigs. This may sound mundane but diary management is actually surprisingly important to most bands, because trying to co-ordinate several people’s diaries can be a real headache, and bad diary management means that turning up to a gig without a drummer is a real possibility (or a fantastic achievement, if you're into drummer jokes). By sharing a Google calendar all the band members can highlight the times they’re not free in the same calendar, meaning that identifying  the next free slot for a rehearsal becomes much easier. Yes, it's around Christmas 2016.

Google Calendar cam also be used to create a diary of gigs for your fans to access. You can embed Google calendars easily on your website, meaning visitors can see a list of when and where you’re playing next (and you can update these dates very easily - this is particularly handy if your website doesn't have a content management system). Your site visitors can also subscribe to your calendar via XML or any progamme that reads the iCal format (Outlook, Apple iCal etc.), meaning that your fans will know exactly when you're playing next, and not turn up.

You can read more about sharing your Google calendar here.

Google Feedburner

Google Feedburner is an incredibly useful tool – and possibly our favourite Google product. First, it lets you tart up your RSS feed (for, say, your news page or blog) into a much more readable format and allows people to subscribe to it easily in a reader of their choice; but perhaps more importantly, it lets you create a very effective, free mailing list for your band using your RSS feed.

The latter aspect works as follows: every time you write a new blog post, Feedburner uses your blog's RSS feed to convert the post into a HTML email - and anyone who has subscribed via Feedburner's email subscription service will get a copy of that post delivered straight to their inbox. Additionally, Feedburner provides you with in depth subscriber stats and a suite of tools to help your RSS feed travel further (and potentially make money for you too). Incidentally, we use Feedburner ourselves to allow people to subscribe to The Prescription via email and RSS. If you're reading this in an email, it's thanks to Feedburner.

NB: For full instructions on how to use Feedburner to create a mailing list please see our previous post about creating an e-newsletter for your band.

Google Mail

An obvious point this, but your band needs an email address – and probably one with the band name in it – i.e., info@yourbandwebsite.com. Google Mail (or 'Gmail' as we ahead-of-the-curve-hipsters call it) is better than a lot of its webmail competitors, because it provides free IMAP accounts that (a) come with large storage and (b) allow you to whack your domain name in the email address. IMAP accounts are great because they always stay in sync, even if you are accessing your email account on a variety of devices. For example, if you are using your Gmail account on an iPhone and delete an email, the same email will be automatically deleted on your webmail, or in Outlook, Apple Mail etc. No matter what you do with your email account and no matter what device you do it on, you'll always see the same messages in your inbox and sent items. Try using the alternative, POP3, and you'll soon discover how useful IMAP is.

To configure your Gmail account so that it has a domain name in it, you’ll need to register for Google Apps. This comes in a free or paid version - the free version is available at http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html. The process of creating email addresses with containing your domain name is a little bit fiddly, and you might require the help of a web-savvy friend, but once you’ve set it up it all works great.

Google Trends

Perhaps one for more-established artists this, but if you are lucky enough to fall into this category, then you will be able to use Google Trends to chart peaks and troughs in the number of Google searches for your band, and identify pieces of coverage that drove people to look for your act. Just enter your band’s name or your album title into the ‘search trends’ box at http://www.google.com/trends to see a pretty little graph highlighting how popular you are (or aren’t) or were (or weren’t), and any news stories that caused a spike in interest.

Google Videos / Youtube

In case you didn't know, Google also own Youtube. And unless you've been living under a rock since the 1980s (not the worst idea, particularly during the 80s themselves) we're sure you'll know how useful pop videos can be for bands, so we're going to gloss over this one for now. However, you might want to check out two recent Prescription articles on how to use Youtube effectively:

And what about Google+?

Finally, a note regarding the latest Google product, Google+. No, we haven't forgotten it. You might be interested in exploring what this new social network can do for bands, but the latest we can ascertain about it seems to imply that it's not really much use for them (yet). This is because its terms and conditions currently specify that you can only use it as an individual, not an organisation (yes, a band counts as an organisation). This means that singer-songwriters who are using it under their own name - the ever-so-talented [sic] James Blunt, for example - are probably alright, but most of the stuff we've been reading about Google+ leads us to believe that if you set up a band account, it'll get deleted. For more information about this issue, you might want to check out this article on Google+ by the Music Think Tank.

Right, we're off to the pub. Hope these tips are of use. You might even be reading them in a Google product, who knows. Now for our plug: don't forget that like Google, Prescription PR offer a wide range of digital services (not to mention good old-fashioned print PR) to promote your band - feel free to contact us if you're interested in working with us. We won't control your thoughts - but we will help you get noticed (and if we don't, no doubt that Google Alert you set up as a result of reading this article will no doubt tell you so...oops).

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E-newsletters for bands on a budget

We often get approached by bands and artists wanting to know how to sort themselves out with e-newsletters. They usually ask for a data capture form that allows people to sign up to news, and a means of sending news updates to their mailing list.

We generally set them up with a dedicated e-communications system like Getresponse, which allows bands to do a lot of snazzy things - create custom data capture forms, program automated follow-ups, view detailed stats, design fancy HTML email templates and the like.

A system like that is still our preferred option for clients, because users are provided with the means to create highly targeted, professional e-communications, and to monitor open and click-through rates effectively.

However, if you're looking for something very simple, or you don't have any cash, there is another option: using your blog and a service called Feedburner to generate newsletters.

Here's how it works:

1. Register with Feedburner and 'burn' a feed using your blog's RSS feed (it's all very simple, the Feedburner site takes you through the process in an easy-to-follow set of steps).
2. Go to their 'Publicise' tab.
3. Click 'Email subscriptions' and activate the service.

(If you don't have a blog, there are a host of free blogging services you can use - Blogger being perhaps the most obvious example).

Once you've followed the above three steps, you are then provided with simple bit of HTML code which you can embed on your site. This gives you a form which captures email addresses. From then on, whenever you post a new blog entry, the content will automatically be emailed to the people who have used the form to sign up for updates. The email that gets sent is a simple affair, but it is in HTML format and you can tweak things slightly (add logos, change fonts etc.). And it's an entirely free service.

The only thing to remember is that once you've set Feedburner up to work in this way, whenever you post a blog entry, it always goes out to your entire mailing list. So you may need to think carefully about what you post and how often. If people are receiving frivolous items in their inbox every five minutes, they may quickly unsubscribe from the list.

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