Field of Dreams or a Website on the Road to Nowhere

When Art and Search Engines Don’t Meet

I was chatting to a musician friend, a great guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, visiting us in Normandy. He told me rather proudly he had a website. This sounded good – a “Field of Dreams” is born. I am always interested in real world examples of how well people’s websites are doing, what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) they are doing.

I asked whether he did anything to optimise his site for Search Engines. No – he said people will find it. A sinking feeling hit me. We were on the “Road to Nowhere”.

I asked again. “People will like what we do and find us – word of mouth.” This sounds like an ominous case of ‘Build it and They will come’!

I think sensing my dismay. My friend said “My brother builds websites. Perhaps I should talk to him. He says they should always make money.”

I said I thought that was a good idea or at least make enough to cover the running costs. His response “But we’re artists we don’t want to make money. Anyway, I have a good deal on the hosting.”

Conversation closed! Now I knew we had a problem. Could I solve it? Short answer is no. I thought I would take a look at his website anyway. Well you never know. A friend is a friend.

Anyway I might learn something; Search Engine Optimisation – what not to do.

The next problem finding his website. I tried the obvious searches round musician and his location. As you would expect – no joy!

I tried his name. Millions of pages of joy but certainly not ranking near the top of the search engine results page (SERP) . Eventually I used a combination of him and his wife’s name. The “masterpiece” was uncovered!

The website is very basic. Could be better but could be much worse on the eye.  To be honest there was not much to it. I am not a web designer so I should not offer other than a layman’s view.

From a Search Engine’s Perspective, I suspect the Gogglebot barely found anything to index. Unfortunately my friends, from an artistic perspective would prefer their music stood alone to be judge on its merits. However, a search engine is a blunt object, which does not appreciate music and the human voice. As music, like most  things arouses different emotions in each of use it should never be judged by a machine.

So what didn’t I find (oh so negative)?

    • Any real insights into my friends, their music and other work. Things that could be indexed and understood by search engines.
    • Regular “blog-style” postings providing a window on their current activities. Again that marks a website as providing current information.
    • Use of social media such Facebook or Twitter to drive additional traffic to the site.
    •  Apart from the music itself,  no tagged photographs or YouTube hosted video to widen their horizons. Good stuff, that shows the search engine that you are to be taken seriously.

My son is currently learning the guitar. Later, my friend, who also does some guitar lessons, was giving him some tips and playing some stuff at the kitchen table. My son came away, really excited and motivated watching and learning from someone who plays well.

The lesson for my friend is hopefully some day soon, he realise that be it artist or local business, it takes more than a good product to make yourself heard in a search engine’s results. And the lesson for me is to try to communicate my ideas better, so that people’s Fields of Dreams become realities, and don’t end up on the Road to Nowhere!


About Eric Hewett

I am an internet programmer, and smallholder. I am really trying to figure out what I can do with Wordpress. A few observations and thoughts which someone on the dark side of the moon might find either useful or interesting.
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