Knowing a thing or two about search engine optimization is always an advantage if you’re in a band. With some experience in SEO, you can optimize the Facebook page of your band and get your D.I.Y music video on Google’s first page yourself. But much, much before that, some basic knowledge about SEO can help you choose a search engine friendly band name, which can help your career down the road.
Though many bands have managed to achieve success with their ‘unoptimized’ names, there are also many bands who have realized at the later stage of their career that an unsearchable band name can hurt sales, reduce gig attendance and frustrate fans. And it’s not just major search engines like Google that you should be concerned about. A poorly-chosen band name can make it hard for fans to find your music on iTunes, your videos on YouTube, and your band profiles on social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
Below are some things to consider when choosing an SEO-friendly band name. However, remember that the main keys to musical success will always be rooted in hard work and great music with mass appeal.
Use more than one word
A single word band name will only be easily searchable if your band name is very unique (Jamiroquai, for example), but a unique band name can be hard to spell. Why not use a cool juxtaposition of a few common words such as Daft Punk. This way you can have a unique name that almost anybody can spell and easily find.
Test Your Band Name
So, you’ve got a cool and unique name for your band. Now let’s search for that name in Google (don’t forget to use quote marks for a more accurate result). If you can’t find Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, or music-related accounts on Google’s first page of results, then you’re good to go.
Research Your Domain Name
A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online. If, for example, your band’s name is Jakarta Digital Duo, your ideal website would be www.jakartadigitalduo.com or www.jakartadigitalduo.net.
If those weren’t available, you might want to go with:
www.jakartadigitalduomusic.com or www.jakartadigitalduoband.com (or the .net versions)
Make sure to check on the availability of domain names while you do your research. A good domain name will make it much easier for your fans to find you.
Trademark or Register Your Band Name
Once you’ve found the perfect SEO-friendly band name, you should trademark it so nobody else can lay claim to it. Trademarking a band name is the expensive option, though, so only consider this option if you’re willing to throw money at the lawyers etc. The other option you can choose is to use a free service like www.bandnamr.com to register your band name. With Bandnamr acting as a third party witness, you can show what’s called ‘prior use’.
Of course, there are also things you should avoid when choosing the right name for the band. Here they are:
Using creative spelling
Using creative spelling will actually increase your search engine ranking, but only if your fans spell your name correctly. Take the band Gorillaz. Gorillaz fans know how the band name is spelled and therefore don’t have a problem finding the band online. But if I heard of Gorillaz from a friend, and didn’t know they used an “z” instead of an “s,” I might search for “gorillas” with an “s” and find myself knee deep in articles about big hairy apes.
Using special symbols
Do you know how to put an umlaut (ü) over a ‘u’ when you type it into a search engine? Chances are, a good portion of your fans don’t. Many special characters will be unrecognized or ignored by search engines. In this case, Prince’s is an excellent example.