How to choose a Domain Name (and page URLs) for Your Art Website or Blog

Published Oct. 21st 2007


If you’re about to launch your own art website or art blog and want to maximize the amount of search engine traffic you’ll receive, I’d suggest taking some extra time thinking about what your domain name will be.

For instance, when I first started EmptyEasel I didn’t know as much about SEO (or search engine optimization) as I do now. If I had, I might have named it something else, although EmptyEasel’s fairly catchy so in that sense I’m more than happy with it. As far as search engine traffic goes, however, I probably could have done better.

So based on what I NOW know about SEO, here are some things to consider when choosing a domain name for your art website or blog.

1. Include keywords relating to your type of art

This means if you’re an oil painter, think up some keywords relating to oil painting. And actually, just using the words “paint” or “painting” isn’t necessarily specific enough, because that could refer to house painting as well.

Now, a lot of domain names are already taken, so don’t be surprised if it’s tough to get the domain name you want. You might have to try a few different ideas before you come up with a name that’s still available.

The reason why it’s worthwhile to spend some time on this (whether it’s a few hours or a few days) is because Google gives a great deal of importance to the words in a domain name—just by having “oil painting” or “oil painter” in your domain automatically boosts your website higher in the rankings when people search for those terms.

2. Include your last name in the domain

Whether you’re famous now, or you want to be famous down the road, it’s usually a good choice to include your last name in your domain, at least for a portfolio website—an art blog could probably go either way. The reason is, at some point people will be searching for your website using your name and you definitely want to show up in the rankings when they do.

Artists with more common last names like Smith, Thomas, etc, (in the English language anyway) will have a slightly tougher time ranking highly for just their last name—there’s simply too much competition. Including a first name or some art keywords mentioned in tip #1 will help bring the right searchers to your website.

3. Include a location-specific keyword

Not every artist should do this, but it will help some. If you’re fairly well-established in a certain location, or have a specific style that’s associated with a city, state, or region (Like the Southwest, or East Coast) you might want to include that in your domain.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a good amount of searches being done for things like “East Coast Artists” or “Southwestern Art,” and savvy artists can cash in on those trends by picking a domain name that includes some of those words.

4. Keep your domain short: three words or less

This is what makes it difficult. . . long domain names are easy to forget, annoying to type in, and just a bad idea all-around. Be creative in using the tips I’ve mentioned, but try to keep your final domain limited to three words or less.

Many times it’s better to go with fewer letters overall, and easily-pronounceable words, than stringing together a long string of keywords, although the best advice I can give you is to just brainstorm and try everything. You might find InstantDomainSearch to be a helpful tool as well, for seeing which domain names are available.

But it’s not just the domain that will affect your search engine rankings. Page URLs (the “addresses” at the top of your internet browser) can also help or hurt your website.

Here are some tips for choosing page URLs

1. Use important keywords in URLs

Search engines put emphasis on every word in the URL, which means that it’s better to use descriptive keywords relating to each page than things like “page1″ or “about.”

For example, this page uses the URL: http://emptyeasel.com/how-to-choose-
a-domain-name-and-page-url-for-your-art-website-or-blog

It’s almost exactly the same as the title, which is good for relevancy, and it gives the search engines the correct words to work with when sending visitors to this page.

Luckily, most blogging programs create the URL from the title of the blog post, so you won’t have to worry about it—this is what we do for our members at foliotwist.com, too. But if you’re making your own portfolio site you’ll want to keep this tip in mind.

2. Separate words with a hyphen or underscore

When words run together in the main part of the URL, search engines won’t know where to separate them, so they won’t do you any good. By separating each word with a “-” or a “_” those words will actually count for something.

(I should mention that this is NOT the case for your DOMAIN name itself, and you’ll want to avoid putting hyphens or underscores in that if at all possible.)

So there you have it. . . everything I know about domains and URLs. If you’re just now choosing a domain name, give these tips a shot—and good luck!

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