Welcome to the twenty fifth instalment of Monday #MusicMatters as part of the JAMS Canada PRO Series – “Here’s What I Know”.
We caught up with Ryan Murphy for his insight on Website Optimization
What are the key website elements that a musician should focus on?
I believe the most important elements to a musician’s website is the same for any content creator: where can I find your stuff! As soon as a visitor arrives on your website, they should be able to easily spot where your content can be consumed, whether it’s on Spotify, YouTube, or right on your own website. You don’t necessarily need to provide your entire catalog of content, but just enough to give visitors an idea of what you’re offering. This preview should be “above the fold”, which means it’s visible on most standard screen sizes on load without scrolling, so make sure not to place this critical content too far down the page!
Another key element related to where a content creator’s work can be found is an events list. I know during this pandemic there are very few in-person musical events going on, but if you’re participating in an online effort or a COVID safe event, you’ll want to make sure your website details these events and provides a clear path for interested parties to get more information.
Finally, you’re going to want to try and capture the look and feel of your content in the design of your website. Similar to how you craft the perfect album artwork for your next album, your website should reflect you as an artist and your content. A photo of yourself or your band is a must, bonus points if the photos include your music in action!
Why are meta tags important?
Meta tags and keywords are sort of an old tech way of helping a search engine determine which website to surface. These tags would help break down the content on a page or post into very simple terms. While not completely off the table, it is no longer the only tool you can use to help your website climb the search engine charts. That being said, if you operate a WordPress website, I recommend setting up the Yoast SEO Plugin. There is a free version, and I find the plugin presents simple and honest feedback as you prepare your content on posts and pages. The plugin focuses less on tags and keywords, and more on guiding the user in constructing their content in a way that is best for the user and search engines alike.
How do you get a website to the top of the google search list? What are some of the things that can musicians do to optimize their website visibility?
As explained in the previous question, Google and other search engine requirements have changed over the years. Keywords have been replaced by the need to provide stronger content (tools like Yoast SEO Plugin can help with this), and to display it in a user friendly way. With that being said, it is critical that your website be mobile friendly. Years ago, this meant loading a separate theme to present to mobile users. These days though, with responsive design, you can use one design/theme that dynamically changes based on the platform and size of the view window. Personally, I use the Divi theme to construct mobile friendly websites and highly recommend the theme to users looking to set up a new website.
JAMS Canada uses an SSL Certificate to show as a secure site in Google Chrome.
Another important note is to make sure your website is set up with an SSL Certificate and is showing as Secure in all major browsers. While an additional yearly fee can sometimes be associated with making your website secure, some hosting packages will include an SSL Certificate for one of your domains. Costs can range from $20 to $200 a year, depending on how secure you want your website to be. Normally the more expensive SSL Certificates are for websites that require customers to enter their credit card information.
What an SSL Certificate provides to your visitors is the knowledge that the website they intended to go to is in fact your website. Also, Google and other search engines are now prioritizing secure sites in their searches.
What platform do you think is best for a musician’s website? WordPress is popular but there are many others to choose from – which do you like and why?
My personal preference is the WordPress platform, which shouldn’t come as a surprise from my previous answers this month and in the last. It works well when self-hosted, and is flexible with many plugins and themes to choose from. You can also set up a hosted WordPress website through WordPress.com.
If you’re looking for an alternative to WordPress, check out SquareSpace. It’s an all in one option that has a visual editor to assist in building your website. With templates and tools, you’re able to craft a website that suits your needs. This option also has one easy monthly payment that includes hosting, domain, SSL, web design templates, SEO features, mobile friendly, stats, tools (booking, shop, etc), and more (depending on your needs)!
Another option that is quite popular, is Wix. While I don’t have personal experience with this service, it’s offering is very similar to SquareSpace
How has COVID-19 impacted you?
In my October JAMS Canada Pro Series, (Episode #21, October 5) I detailed how COVID-19 has impacted me. I am still on parental leave, and a few months into helping my oldest with Kindergarten via remote learning. It’s certainly been a learning curve for us all!
Each year I raise money for SickKids Foundation in Toronto through my work with Extra Life. This year will be my 11th supporting this great cause, and over those years I’ve been able to raise over $8,000 dollars for SickKids. Extra Life is a global initiative where gamers work to raise funds for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, paediatric medical equipment and charitable care. If you’d like to help this great cause, please check out my Extra Life page at bit.ly/extraliferyan. I have a lot of fun plans for the rest of the year to help raise funds for SickKids, so please join in on the fun!
Some contributors also responded with videos – please subscribe to our JAMS Canada YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-CmaB7MV0r1ehhveBPmBEg