Search is going social in a variety of ways as search engines look to social proof to make search results more relevant and users turn to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for more of their information needs. Google’s dominant role in search and web video, through YouTube, allows them to shape this process by pushing Google+ to the center of the Googlesphere to the degree that Google+ is now an inescapable tool for music marketing.
Google+ has been a growing factor in Google search results since 2011 with mostly confirming studies since though conflicting studies are starting to emerge.
However even conflicting studies can’t cancel out the fact that if Google is now using social proof as part of its results rankings, then Google+ participation would affect those rankings. Even if that were not the case, Google is introducing multiple reasons to convince or even force your participation.
YouTube Comments Will Soon Require Google+ Accounts
Last week YouTube began to introduce comments “powered by Google+” with full rollout by the end of the year. The new system means that comments about videos on Google+ can show up on YouTube, comments can have privacy settings and new moderation tools are available.
Based on additional details, this new system should be an improvement for videomakers and marketers:
"comments from the video creator will be ranked very highly and surfaced more regularly…The system will also push comments from popular personalities on YouTube and people in your Google+ circles higher up the comment chain, as well as highly engaged discussion about the video. Just like before, you will be able to vote comments up or down, too, and those votes will also influence the ranking…"
"YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube….users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users."
Google Authorship Now Requires Google+ Accounts
I’ve been remiss is not discussing the benefits of the Google Authorship program for solo musicians and individuals building their music industry brands but both Roo Raymond and Bob Baker recently addressed the topic.
In the latest version of Google Authorship you connect Google+ to your web content, in particular blog posts and website articles, and then your Google+ avatar appears with a byline next to your first content-related search result.
Google is partnering with multiple platforms including Wordpress (.com I assume) and Typepad which will further simplify the process for many bloggers.
For Wordpress.org users, various plugins are addressing the issue including Jetpack 2.5.
But the biggest recent change in Authorship is that you no longer have to be signed into Google+ to see those avatars in search results.
See Search Engine Land for more on Google Authorship.
What About the Death of Keywords?
So keywords aren’t really dying, they’re just becoming a bit less key to the Googleverse and that means, in the tech world, that they’re dying.
Hyperbole aside, the role of keywords in SEO is changing as search changes. As Google moves to encrypt all searches, analytics results for keywords used on Google will no longer be available. Though other tools can help take up the slack, this is a major step in undermining the gaming of keywords by SEO practitioners.
But if you take a look at these suggestions for post-Penguin SEO, you’ll start to see that the way forward is a move away from tricks and towards engagement, quality content and honest navigation.
Both earlier seo changes at Google and newsfeed changes at Facebook suggest the same thing, doing what’s best for your readers and site visitors will ultimately improve your presence on Google and Facebook.
Key Points for Musicians and Music Marketers
Emphasis is shifting towards engagement and high quality content in search results and on social media and away from tricks and techniques for higher rankings.
Current changes involving Google+, especially Authorship, privilege individuals over groups. Keep an eye on those changes and make sure you have a Google+ page for your band in the interim.
Keywords have never been the biggest issue for musicians beyond making sure you’re found when they search for your name though they have been of use for particular marketing tactics.
Focus on getting your name out there. Make sure you have a broad but manageable social media presence. And be sure your official website’s homepage has your name in the title and in relevant text on the page and you’ll be found.
When in doubt, serve your fans.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
Music videos are no small potatoes for YouTube, and Google’s looking at making them bigger in Google Search results — literally.
As part of Google’s quest to more tightly integrate its different services, the company appears to be experimenting with how music videos appear in Google Search results, according to the blog Google Operating System. The top search result for a music video would be significantly larger preview of the video itself, in the style of a Google Now card, with additional information such as the artist name, song title, album name, and year released.
It’s not clear if the preview will let you play the video directly from the search results list, or if you’ll have to click through to YouTube. It’s also unclear whether Google will be opening this test out to more people.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Monetize your videos on YouTube through ONErpm’s Premium Network and earn more revenue! Get started by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Source: CNET (by Seth Rosenblatt)
Make it easy for your fans to find you online.
Choosing a band or artist name that is search engine optimized (also known as SEO) can help your career down the road.
Yes, many bands have managed to achieve success in spite of unsearchable band names (the band Girls come to mind), but why not make it easy on your fans and choose a name that is easy to search for and find?
Many musicians have discovered (the hard way) that an unsearchable band name can hurt sales, reduce concert attendance, and frustrate fans.
And it’s not just major search engines like Google and Bing that you should be concerned about. A poorly chosen band name can make it hard for fans to find your music on iTunes, your videos on YouTube, and your band profiles on social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
Below are some dos and don’ts for choosing an SEO friendly band name. Just remember, these are only suggestions. The real keys to musical success will always be rooted in hard work and great music with mass appeal.
Common names and phrases are often searched for. So it’s difficult to place at the top of search results for these terms. Avoid band names like Blue, Harmony, Hot and Cold, or El Nino. These sorts of everyday names and phrases present an uphill battle for good search results.
Using creative spelling will actually increase your search engine ranking, but only if your fans spell your name correctly. Take the band Gorillaz. Gorillaz fans know how the band name is spelled and therefore don’t have a problem finding the band online. But if I heard of Gorillaz from a friend, and didn’t know they used an “z” instead of an “s,” I might search for “gorillas” with an “s” and find myself knee deep in articles about big hairy monkeys.
Do you know how to put an umlaut over a ü when you type it into a search engine? Chances are, a good portion of your fans don’t. Many special characters will be unrecognized or ignored by search engines. Also some special characters can be misinterpreted by computer programs as code and it can cause errors. Keep this in mind before you name your band: <Bl@st%>
If you name your band The Katy Perry Experience you may get some traffic from Katy Perry fans who stumble upon your site, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your music. Collateral traffic isn’t always the best quality. Also, popular news about Katy Perry may often supplant your good rankings and there’s always the possibility you get suedor the world gets tired of Katy Perry.
A single word band name will only be easily searchable if your band name is very unique such as Jamiroquai of Fugazi. But a unique band name can be hard to spell. Why not use a cool juxtaposition of a few common words such as Arcade Fire, Daft Punk or Kings of Leon. This way you can have a unique name that almost anybody can spell and easily find.
Let’s say I’d like to call my band Unicorn Bluff. Let’s search for that name in Google. For a more accurate result, I’ll put “Unicorn Bluff” in quotes so that Google only searches for those two words strung together. In this case, there are only 307 results for “Unicorn Bluff.” The top results are related to a unicorn poster. This looks promising. There are no Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, or music related results on Google’s first page of results. My only concern with this band name is that “unicorn” has been a popular word in recent years for band names. So I might also do a search for “unicorn band” to see what my competition looks like.
A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online. If my band name is Unicorn Bluff, my ideal website is www.unicornbluff.com. Unicornb-forever.net would be less than ideal because it does not contain both keywords of my band name and it may be hard for my fans to remember.
If my first choice wasn’t available, I might go with:
Make sure to check on the availability of domain names while you do your research. A good domain name will make it much easier for your fans to find you.
Once you’ve found the perfect SEO friendly band name, you should trademark it so nobody else can lay claim to it.
Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/) and was written by Chris Bolton.