It’s Not Only Rock ‘N’ Roll… The SEO of Band Names
Why Can sucks as a band name
I think Simon Reynolds said it in reference to Dolphins into the Future. If you can get the right band name, you’re halfway there. If you can pull those winning words out of the air that profoundly express who you are and what you do without actually saying it, then… wow!
But should you think about SEO when choosing a band name?
Consider German experimental rock band Can. Massively influential but with a name so SEO-unfriendly it hurts. Search for ‘can’ and you’ll be served a mixture of results pertaining to Can the band, CAN the charity, CAN the collaborative arts network, CAN the social enterprise company, and that’s just page one…
If Can formed now rather than in the 1960s would they still be able to build up a large following? Their fans would struggle to find them on Google, iTunes and Amazon for a start.
I’m not talking about using SEO to choose a band name. I’m not saying research high volume keywords with low competition in Adwords and hope that people looking for green widgets will also be interested in your band. I’m just saying that if you’ve got a few ideas in mind, it might be worth considering SEO when choosing between them.
The basic goal is to pick a band name that can’t be confused with anything else. That way you should be able to easily rank for your name. And with other social streams and channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t dominate the SERPs.
What works for SEO?
So how can I choose an SEO-friendly band name? Here are some key strategies, two of them mentioned by Chris Bolton in this excellent article.
- Cool juxtapositions e.g. Smashing Pumpkins
Think up a strange, two-word juxtaposition like the Smashing Pumpkins, a name that sounds great and hasn’t been used by another organization. This should be easy to rank for.
- Unique single words e.g. Fursaxa
If you can find a nice single word that doesn’t mean something else then you’re laughing. That’s what Tara Burke did with her acid folk project Fursaxa. If you search for ‘fursaxa’, every result on the first five pages of Google is about her. How’s that for making things easier for your fans to find you?
- Trendy misspellings e.g. Suuns
It’s been in vogue a while now among dot-com companies: using quirky misspellings such as Flickr and Tumblr. Now indie bands such as Suuns are following suit. A wisely misspelt name could add intrigue and mystique to your project. And of course it would be much easier to rank for ‘suuns’ than ‘suns’. Just bear in mind that these names might look a bit cheesy in a few years, like Lord of the Rings-inspired metal bands of the eighties.
Is my band name SEO-friendly?
So you’ve come up with an idea for a name. Here’s a quick checklist to see if it’s any good for SEO.
- Is it a competitive keyword?
Search for your prospective band name and see what results Google spits out. If the top spot is held by a Texan society that organizes pumpkin smashing contests once a year, chances are you’ll be able to dominate the SERPs.
- Is the exact match dot com available?
Check whether www.mycoolbandname.com is still up for grabs. This will make it easier for your fans to type in your address directly. It’ll also inspire trust that you’re the official resource and might help you rank number one a little bit.
- Can I get matching Twitter, Facebook and YouTube handles?
See if your band’s future streams and channels are still available in the simplest format e.g. www.facebook.com/mycoolbandname.
- Is it hard to spell?
If your band name is too hard to spell, people might not be able to find you. Welsh indie band Gorky Zygotic Mynci are culprits here, having a name that could be misspelled on three counts: Gawky Psychotic Monkey. Luckily, Google does a good job of returning the right results for misspelled words in most cases, so maybe this doesn’t matter much.
- Am I piggybacking?
Quite why Hype Williams decided to name themselves after the famous American music video producer, Hype Williams, is anyone’s guess. Not only are there legal implications of piggybacking on somebody’s name, it’s also not very good for search. Sure, you’ll have more people searching for your keyword, but most of them won’t actually be looking for you. I doubt Hype Williams (the band) care, but this tactic should only be considered if you have strong artistic reasons for doing so!
Should musicians think about SEO when choosing a band name? Or is it all a load of old rubbish? Also wanted to give a shout out to Andy Barratt whose article on band name SEO also gave me some ideas for this piece. Cheers!