SEO for Artists and Artist Portfolios

by | Apr 4, 2023 | Art, Content Marketing

Many modern-day artists rely on their websites to promote their work, create a professional portfolio, or sell their artwork. However, simply creating a website isn’t always enough to get artists the visibility and traction they’re looking for. Your artist website has to be maintained, accessible, and aimed at your target audience: those who are interested in buying or showing your art and talent. Search engine optimization, or SEO, for artists, is an essential tool in marketing your website.

SEO can promote your art and artist profile in Google’s search engine results. You can use SEO and optimized website design to make your site both more accessible to visitors and more appealing to search engines. This increases the visibility and amount of viewership on your website, which increases who may see your portfolio or buy your work.

Why Artists Need Websites

A portfolio website is what enables artists to get their art seen and marketed to a wider audience. Some websites have the artist’s work up for sale, allowing them to ship nation- or worldwide to many more buyers who love the artwork they create.

A website can feel to some artists both overwhelming and not worth the effort. Many artists struggle to find the time to create art on top of working other jobs, getting ready for exhibits and shows, and handling daily life.

However, it’s essential to try to market yourself and your creations, and a website allows you to more easily share the entire contents of your work with interested parties, family, and friends with a quick link share. An optimized website can help you reach those looking for artwork just like yours and can take some of the stress out of marketing and promoting — because a search engine can do some of it for you.

How SEO for Artists Can Promote Website Visibility

SEO allows a website to be easily understood by search engines, which will then enable it to rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP). The closer to the top result your artist’s website ranks, the more visitors to the site you’ll get. SEO is an organic way to get more website traffic and allows artists to not have to rely only on costly marketing and art brokers. This can save you thousands when selling and getting eyes on your art.

For many websites, strong SEO means having a lot of text-based content that is useful to visitors. While some artists may be able to use this tactic, most artist portfolio websites rely almost solely on visual content. The website is about your art, and many art portfolios have only a short artist bio as website text. Because of this, ranking on SERPs can seem more difficult. Optimizing the website’s design and focusing on several image-based SEO strategies can help your portfolio be found online and increase your opportunities.

How to Optimize Your Art Website’s Layout

The good thing about SEO is that it’s geared toward visitor interest and user experience. Search engines prefer websites that real users visit and enjoy. When more people spend time on your website, the site’s SERP ranking will increase, which will lead to more visitors to the site. This cyclical organic growth does take time but can lead to great results. An artist’s website that is accessible is great for both visitors and the artist.

The first step in accessibility is making sure your site is mobile-friendly. While a desktop-viewable website is important, a significant amount of online web traffic is done through phones and tablets. If your website is hard to view or cumbersome to use on someone’s phone, they aren’t likely to stay long. A phone-friendly site can also make it easier for you to show an interested person your art rather than scrolling through your phone’s large photo album or pulling out a laptop.

Your website builder should understand SEO and offer options for creating a site viewable on desktop and mobile. You may consider platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify. There are also website builders aimed at artists, like Format, Pixpa, and Cargo.

The next step is to ensure your site is easy-to-use. Your website should be easy to navigate. Each page should have its own focus, such as your artist biography, a contact page, an artist statement, and your artwork. A drop-down menu is one of the simplest ways to organize your content and ensure people can find what they’re looking for – regardless of how tech-friendly they are. Your artwork can be divided into categories such as medium, style, year created, or content in progress. This makes webpages rank better in their specific SEO categories.

The basis for SEO is keywords, and they vary depending on your industry – and even what school of art your work falls into. Determine what keywords potential buyers might search for, and leverage those in your content. These keywords should appear in page titles, meta-descriptions, descriptions of your artwork, and tags, as well as in content that fills your pages.

Keep in mind that your keywords should be specific. If you use too vague keywords, such as “abstract painter” or “portrait photography,” you will be facing high competition. There will be thousands of artists and websites that fit into these categories, and ranking up on SERPs will be very difficult. You may even end up competing with gallery and museum websites and the entirety of art history.

While those types of keywords have their uses, you need to be sure to focus on descriptive and informative keywords. This can be done by using location tags for the state or city you’re based in or that inspires your work. Find what makes your art unique. Style, method, medium mood, color schemes, and subject matter are useful ways to find less-competitive keywords for your art. Google Adwords and SEMrush both have tools that may help.

Search engines use website crawlers to read your site, and crawlers can’t see images. They know an image exists, but without any text tied to the image, the crawler doesn’t know if it’s relevant to the content of the site. Optimizing those images for SEO will make clear what is on your site and how it has been used by visitors.

Most experienced artists know that high-quality images are essential when downloading, photographing, and sharing artwork. When the artwork is physical, lighting and camera quality can have a big impact on how your work translates to a computer screen. Low-resolution digital art can lose a lot of art detail.

However, there is a limit. If your images are print-resolution, your website will take too long to load, and this will impact the user experience and your SEO. The ideal image resolution should be 200 to 300 pixels per inch (PPI). Three hundred dots per inch (DPI), which is the printed measurement of PPI, is generally considered good printing quality, while 72 PPI is a lower-resolution computer image. Your images shouldn’t be over 300 PPI, and neither side should measure longer than 1,920 pixels.

How to Make Sure Your Site Gets Crawled

Before you upload your artwork to your website, you need to give Google and other search engines something to find. To do that, first, make the file name something relevant, like the art title or description and your name. That way, if someone is searching for your name, your art pieces come up in the image tab, and it improves your site’s SEO.

Likewise, meta descriptions and titles are an easy way for search engines to find you. Though they are a more technical aspect of your site, they are useful for improving your SERP ranking. It also lets users see what that webpage is about from the results page. If you don’t want to mess with website code, some website creators have a place to put metadata. Your main keywords are used in the web page title, and the meta description is a description of a specific web page that should be clear and concise and have certain focused keywords.

Invest in Accessibility

Alternative text is an exceptionally useful tool for artist websites. It is used to describe images for website crawlers and makes a site accessible to those who use screen readers because of vision impairment and users unable to download images. Your alt text for each image should be a short and straightforward description of what the image is and use relevant keyword phrases. You can add alt text with certain website creators or by editing code.

Ensuring your website is accessible to as many users as possible is helpful not only to your site’s visitors but helps your SEO. The World Wide Web Consortium provides international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines that you can follow to improve your website.

Optimize Your Content for SEO

Whether your text is just your artist bio and statement or you often create news or blog posts about your art, your content needs to be high-quality, clear, and optimized for search engines. This just means it should be as easy for search engine bots to read as it is for humans (and both are crucial). This means making sure you use keywords, include relevant links, keep your content updated, and make sure there are plenty of words for those bots and crawlers to find.

One small thing to consider when it comes to keywords. They are useful to ensure users can easily find you, but there can be too much of a good thing. Search engines may mark keyword stuffing as a spam website, which means your site will be demoted.

Be Aware of Your Links

Effective link building can show website crawlers that your website is reputable and contains useful information for visitors. Link building includes:

  • Internal Links. These are links from within your site to another page on the website. You could link to your contact information page or to the artwork that is similar to what the user is viewing. This creates a strong structure for your website and helps visitors navigate.
  • External links. These are credible links to other sites, such as exhibits or galleries you were featured in, interviews you did, or websites or other artists you’ve worked with. This gives your website better reputability.
  • Backlinks. These links are to your website from other sites. You could get backlinks when you work with museums, art galleries, or new outlets.

Share Your Content and Stay Consistent

Search engines like websites that consistently update content. If you are adding new artwork to your website portfolio, this can help you with SEO. Investing in regular blogs can help, too. You could also create a newsletter that provides regular updates about new products, new artwork, or other changes to your portfolio. Search engines look at your website as if it’s a living thing. If it’s getting regular upkeep, then they will see it as “live” and be more apt to index it when people start searching for your keywords.

It’s also a great idea to share your website content on your professional social media. Posting regularly about your website is a great way to reach new audiences and take advantage of social media algorithms to promote your art. Be sure you have a running, easy-to-navigate, and accessible website before you begin promoting it.

Jane Replogle

Jane Replogle

Jane Replogle graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2022 with a BS in English Writing and a minor in Art and Design. She lived most of her life in Michigan and is currently based in Oregon as a freelance copywriter. She enjoys many creative art forms, including fiction writing, poetry, sketching, and painting.