Articles & Columns » State of the Arts Tech Talk

I write a Tech Talk column for the bi-monthly newspaper State of the Arts, published by the Montana Arts Council. My latest is Free Site Builders. My archives are here and you can subscribe to my RSS feed with your feed reader or by by email.

State of the Arts for November/December 2009: How Well do you Google?

As a working artist or as an artist who is trying to establish him or herself, how well you “Google” is a consideration that is as important as a business card and studio space.

Just 15 years ago, internet searches didn’t exist as they do today. Back then, the web was much smaller, and indexes of websites were mostly drawn up by people, and as a result were limited in scope and usability.

These days, search engines on the internet constantly catalog billions of websites. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s new Bing search enable millions of people a year to simply type another person’s name into a search engine to find out all there is to know.

So when people search for you as an artist – it’s not if, but when they search for – you want to make it easy for them to find you. You can do this by spreading your name around more widely by using many existing free web services. As a result, you’ll “Google” better: your name and work will appear more often and rank higher in search results.

Using social networking to get your name out there is an obvious way to Google better, but don’t limit yourself to FaceBook and the other popular services.

LinkedIn is a very popular business networking service, and though the premium services are not free, there’s no reason why an artist can’t have a LinkedIn profile. Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn pages fairly highly, so your LinkedIn profile will increase how well you “Google.” Go to linkedin.com to start a free profile.

Earlier this year, Google introduced a new service called Profiles, and it’s a way for individuals to “take ownership” of their name in Google search results.

The main advantage is that a link to a Google Profile appears on the first page of Google’s search results for a matching name. You need a Google email account to get a Profile, but Gmail – and a profile – is free, and the payoff is placement on that first page of Google results.

You will need to enter enough information into a profile in order for Google to make it public, which includes an email contact, but you can choose to not have that shown publicly. Go to profiles.google.com.

If you don’t want to put time into maintaining profiles at different services, that’s OK. Getting a “placeholder” at these sites is a good idea. You can start a Facebook page, but have little else except some images of your work and an email link or a link to your main website.

A LinkedIn profile requires little information, but the more you provide, the better your profile will be indexed and searchable, and the higher rank you will get in search results. And a higher rank in search results makes it easy for people to find you when they Google you.

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