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exhibit-E Image for welcome post Sep 2015

News from our Partners: exhibit-E tells us how to make Google work for galleries

AWAD recently welcomed a new Partner to our London & New York Chapters, exhibit-E, the leading provider of websites for the art world. Their first exhibit-E automated website was launched in 1998 and they now serve over 400 gallery websites world wide. exhibit-E‘s clients include blue chip names such as Gagosian, The Willem De Kooning Foundation and artist Laurie Simmons, in addition to localised gallery brands such as AWAD’s NYC Founding Member Liz Garvey’s Garvey|Simon Art Access.

exhibit-E will be sharing their expertise through regular posts on this blog, starting with one hot topic, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) that is discussed here. This post also provides tips about how to improve your ranking.

Search Engine Optimization

Getting visitors to your website is the oxymoronic practice known as “driving traffic,” and it’s been one of the biggest challenges for Web developers since the Internet first became a mass phenomenon.

Alternatively, web users can have difficulty finding the information and content they’re looking for. To simplify, the vast majority rely on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! to get to the webpages they need.

Harnessing the power of these search engines can be a powerful tool for anyone trying to drive traffic to their website. This is particularly pronounced if you can position your website on the first page of a search engine’s results page. If one were to search Google for “Andy Warhol,” for instance, more than 1.3 million results would be returned. One would be more likely to visit a site that turns up on the first few pages rather than continuing through hundreds of pages. The numbers bear this out—a study by OneUpWeb.com found that a month after a website turned up on the second or third page of a Google search, traffic increased by five times from the previous month.

But getting your gallery website to turn up in those searches is no easy trick, and many galleries are willing to pay to get there. That’s why there’s so much talk among Web developers about search engine optimization (SEO) these days. In fact, there’s a whole cottage industry of SEO consultants that has sprung up—firms that pledge to improve search engine performance with a mixed bag of tricks. While some SEO consultants are doing good work, many are peddling snake oil, claiming that they can guarantee number-one placement with little or no work required on your part, or promising instant results when it usually takes three to five months. Some use tactics frowned upon by search engines; the worst offenders can even get a client’s website banned from Google.

The reality is that there’s not just one quick fix for getting good search engine results. It’s a holistic process that must take into consideration everything from the site’s structure, to the copy, the technical components, and the design. It’s best to have your site optimized for search engine ranking by the company that built it.

Searching by Artist Name

Where does your gallery rank? Galleries in particular can benefit from quality search engine optimization. One of the greatest hopes of a gallery is to come up high in a search engine ranking when someone searches for one of their artists. This is not easy to do, especially for galleries that are getting started late. But it is possible.

If a Web user searches by the gallery’s name, galleries will generally come up on top. The battle is in the more general searches, e.g., when searching by an artist’s name, style or period of art. If a gallery’s website comes up when someone searches by an artist’s name, then the SEO is working well. For example, if you Google Fred Tomaselli, James Cohan Gallery ranks in the top position. That’s what you want.

Aside from a custom “content-only” solution, getting that top placement requires a lot of time, persistence, hard work, and regular brushing up on search engine metrics. But even all that won’t guarantee a top placement.

Freshness, Words, Links and More: Other Ways to Increase Your Ranking

Keep Content Fresh: Regularly updating the content on sites is one way to get the attention of search engines. Websites that keep content fresh tend to get more traffic, which translates to a higher ranking. A site that doesn’t update is neither very useful nor interesting and will be passed over in favor of a fresher site. Aside from the search engines, adding new content is good practice in general.

Get Your URL Out There: All of your gallery’s advertising, exhibition catalogues, announcement cards and emails that go out should include your gallery’s Web address. Try to get your website URL featured everywhere that your gallery is mentioned. If you circulate a press release announcing an exhibition, include the URL in it. If that URL gets picked up and posted on other websites, that will increase the visibility of your site and the likelihood that it gets picked up by a search engine.

Links and More Links: Other qualified websites linking into your website play a major role in search engine ranking; some experts think links are the best way to get higher rankings. The more sites that link to your website, the greater chance that your website will rank above a competitor’s. Therefore, getting your site linked from portals and industry resources like the BBC, NY Times, Artnet.com, Artforum.com, and passive traffic like Wikipedia is highly recommended. People clicking from these related sites to your website will increase your ranking.

Write for the Web: In addition to incoming links, optimizing your website so the content-to-code ratio attracts search engine spiders is another important step for increasing your search engine ranking. Web searchers search by keywords, looking for things like “contemporary American sculpture” or “Ed Ruscha catalogue.” A site won’t turn up on a search engine if it doesn’t feature relevant keywords that describe its content specifically. Try to keep that in mind when writing headlines and text for your site.

Use Paid Advertising: Target your artists and keywords by using paid advertising services such as Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. A search for “Ed Ruscha” will display a prominent link to your artist, exhibition or publication. AdWords and Search Marketing also allow you to tailor your ads and keywords on the fly and get instant feedback on what keywords prompt people to click to your website. These services include extensive reporting to track your progress, and their costs are negligible.

Talk to Your Designer or Web Developer: Any competent Web firm knows the importance of search engine ranking these days and has developed strategies they can implement to improve performance. Again, there is no magic spell they can cast to instantly boost Web traffic, but there are proven techniques (like “content-only” solutions) that can be employed to put your website in a better position.

Search engines exist to connect Web searches with the content they’re looking for, so let the Internet do some work for you. There’s no reason that your site can’t be harnessing some of the search engine traffic that’s out there now. Even if you capture one new client, all the effort and expense will have been worth it.

This content was first published by exhibit-E, in their book The Art World and the World Wide Web that can be bought in hard copy or read online via this link

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