Using Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) I discovered nine "Short meta descriptions" on my website. You can see this shown in the image below. Google says: "Meta description information can give users a clear idea of your site's content and encourage users to click on your site in the search results pages."
The right column shows the URL for the page. What's wrong with Short Meta Descriptions? Short meta descriptions are considered bad SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Did you ever notice when you do a search that there is a description below the URL?
Below is an example of a Google search results for an HTML page on my website with a short meta description.
Because this had a Short Meta Description Google just took some text from the page. Boring.....boring....boring. My mistake. Sometimes if Google does not like your Short Meta Description it will make up its own. One website authority called them "snippety snippets". They were jesting of course, but would you rather write the description for your web pages or let Google do it?
SOLUTION: I rewrote the Short Meta Descriptions shown in the Google Webmaster Tools.
My preference both from an SEO standpoint and human interest is to use keywords that discuss the concept behind the work and relevant information about images or materials in my work.
EXAMPLE NEW META DESCRIPTION: Embossed Oval Alphonse Mucha Bracelet is about how famous paintings are made into souvenirs in museum gift shops and printed on candy tins as an indication of good taste by Harriete Estel Berman.
RECOMMENDATION for best website SEO Practices Try to write original descriptions, keywords, and titles on every page. Not only is it boring to your customer, clients, or collectors if everything is the same, but variety in your descriptions and keywords might capture a new or more diverse audience.
Today we will discuss Meta Descriptions. Meta descriptions show up in Google searches. The meta description is the text description below the link.
Watch this Google Video first..... and then I will tell you how to find your Meta Descriptions in Google Webmasters and the SEO goal for artists and makers. How much time should I spend on meta tags, and which ones matter?
Our Goal in today's post is to consider writing fabulous Meta Descriptions (as described in the video) and FIX DUPLICATE Meta Descriptions. Google does not like duplicate content. Finding and fixing duplicate meta descriptions is similar to fixing duplicate title tags in the post SEO Success: Fix Those Duplicate Titles.
Go to your Google Webmaster page. (The photo below shows my HOME on Google Webmaster Tools. This will be the example because I can't look at your Google Webmaster Tools.)
CLICK on your website URL. (In the image above it says: www.harriete-estel-berman.info)
Look at the image below. It shows the Google Webmaster TOOLS. In the left-hand column find where it says: Optimization
In your Google Webmaster Tools CLICK on Optimization.
It shows you a whole list of tools (like in the image below).
CLICK on HTML Improvements.
We want to look under HTML Improvements for the DUPLICATE META DESCRIPTIONS.
In the image below:
HTML Improvement says that my website has 27 Duplicate Meta Descriptions.
This picture is very small (click on the image for a larger view.) 27 Duplicate Meta Descriptions is very bad news!!! Google does not like duplicate content of any kind.
Google wants original content on the internet on every single page. Duplicate content is considered spammy, lazy, and fake. If you have any duplicate content on your website, change it as soon as possible.
DETAILED EXAMPLE BELOW:
Below is the list of URL pages on my website with Duplicate Meta Descriptions. (CLICK on image for larger view.)
I didn't know about any of this duplicate information on my site....and I do all the work on my site myself. This is why Google Webmaster Tools is so helpful.
In the Google Webmaster Tools, you can click on any one of these listings. It shows the exact pages with duplicate content. BELOW is what Google Webmaster Tools said about my website. It lists the URLs.
Each one of the URLs in the list(shown in the above image) represents one HTML page on my website.
On my website they open smaller "pop-up" windows. On my Sculpture page, if you CLICK on the images this is what it looks like.
I had to go behind the scenes on my website and rewrite the Meta Descriptions for each page.
I spend hours fixing the Duplicate Meta Descriptions for all 27 pages, but it is an absolute necessity. Original content is the internet of the future.
Google is clearly establishing that original content is a priority in every respect.
Original content on every page, for every item, object, piece of jewelry, painting, sculpture, or ceramic work.
Original content for your Titles, Meta Descriptions, and the content on your website and blog is an absolute necessity for top SEO. Artists and makers that are creating original content can make this an advantage and an asset with careful management of their website content.
For the past year, or so, the increased visibility of ASK Harriete has generated more spammy comments. (Spam is unrelated comments containing links.) I didn't like feeling "used" so decided to require approval before publishing, or I edit the comments. This seemed like an unfortunate choice as comments generate feedback and discussion. It is also wonderful to hear from readers of ASK Harriete.
It turns out that my intuition was correct. Research into improving SEO has revealed that spammy comments can hurt your website or blog.
Patchwork Quilt: Small Pieces of Time was constructed in 1988. It is just as true today as it was 30+ years ago. Take those small pieces of time and use them effectively to update your website. Significant changes with Google search criteria during 2012 have made review and updates to your website essential.
This post was updated on July 11, 2022, to provide current links.
Today's post will help you catch up on the ASK Harriete 2012 Series of improving SEO for artists, makers, jewelers, metalsmiths, crafts persons, or creators. The links are below.
We still have several more days of tutorials and lots to learn so I want to be sure you are up to speed. ASK Harriete has great posts coming up with amazing information that will help you improve your website.
Whether you have a blog or website understanding online tools are as important to the savvy artist as the paintbrush, scissors, or saw.
During the holidays, ASK Harriete is doing a daily series of basic fix-its that everyone can do to improve the chance that your website will be found by customers, collectors, or curators.
Google Webmaster Tools is the foundation for this series on improving your website performance.
Google Webmaster Tools - All Messages allows Google to inform you about your site's status if there are critical or important issues detected with your site. Make sure you "Enable email notification" in Google Webmaster Tools.
How to find "Site Configuration Settings" (This took me an hour to figure out.)
On your Google Webmaster Tools HOME page (shown below)
CLICK on the blue website URL (in the example image below it is www.harriete-estel-berman.info.) On your Google Webmaster Tool, it would be your website or blog.
This reveals a whole new set of tools!
This is a little overwhelming. We are only going to cover the topics mentioned in the video.
Set preferred domain, if you want. (I decided not to do Set Preferred domain at this time. It was really scary and involved several steps. I also couldn't decide which is better www.harriete-estel-berman.info or harriete-estel-berman.info.) Are people ready for URL without www? Opinions anyone?
Set the Geographic Target
Setting the Geographic Target seemed an easy decision. Shipping my work internationally is expensive, and the economy worldwide is no better than in the U.S. My primary audience is in the U.S. People in other countries can still look at my site.
The next item in the video was URL Parameters. You can find this in the left column of the Google Webmaster Tools.
I did not use the URL Parameters tool. It said, "Currently Googlebot isn't experiencing problems with coverage of your site, so you don't need to configure URL parameters." This also looks like a very advanced tool for an amateur like me.
Keyword Report is under OPTIMIZATION. Fascinating information! Compare this to the information below on Queries.
KEYWORD REPORT is mentioned next in the video. As the video says, "It's the top keywords that appear on your site. So it's really interesting to compare that list to what you think your site is about."
There is also tons of information under traffic. LOOK under SEARCH QUERIES
Scroll down and look under the list of Search Queries
Lots to learn from this information.
Links to Your Site was interesting to me. It shows what people found interesting.
Moving on to the next topic in the video...HTML suggestion. From the video: "what that [HTML] feature does is it lets you know if we've detected any possible issues with your meta descriptions or your title tags. And those are pretty important because those two things can directly influence how your search result appears on that search results page. The title tag, for example, is often what we'll use to show the title of your site, and the meta description will often prefer that, if you've written one yourself, over us just trying to generate a snippet automatically as the description of your site. And the things that we detect are if you have a bunch of duplicate titles or meta descriptions."
OPTIMIZATION is under HTML Improvements.
There is lots of work for me under this category but this tool is fantastic. I fixed the duplicate Title Tags a few days ago. Obviously, Google hasn't searched my site since I fixed the duplication.
Note: there are 10 duplicate meta descriptions that I need to fix right away.
I have 0 Long Meta Description but 9 Short Meta Descriptions that need repair. I will cover this in another post.
SITE PERFORMANCE is the last item mentioned in the video. "Site Performance lets you see how fast your site is relative to other sites on the Web. Since site performance has a lot to do with user experience, users enjoy browsing faster pages. It's good to know which end of the spectrum you are on. Is your site one of those that people have to wait to load?"
Guess what? I can't find it, but I will..... and SITE Performance will be a future post.
That was a lot of great information that will take a couple of hours at least. That is why I like learning this information during the holidays when the rest of my world is dormant. Long hours of quiet time and cold rainy days to work intensively.
Google says: "A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers).
Below is a page from my website with art jewelry bracelets that have numbers for the URL. This is NOT good SEO by current standards. Learn from my mistakes. Improve for the future.
If you CLICK ON ANY IMAGE a page opens up (as shown in the photo below.)
Look at the URL(below). It is a series of numbers: 4-10-07.
http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/jewelry/imagesNEW/4-10-07.html This is exactly what Google says NOT to do.
My website had a lot of jewelry pages that are numbers rather than words from years ago when I didn't know any better, but what astounds me is that I still see websites with numbers for a URL.
DO NOT USE LISTS OF NUMBERS for the URL of pages on your website. Google doesn't like it.
Below are the BEST PRACTICES FOR URLs on your website.
Consider using HYPHEN punctuation in your URL. The URL http://www.example-website.com/wasabi-peas-bracelet.html is much more useful than http://www.example.com/greendress.html.
Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs. Underscores are hard to see and cause mistakes.
Use only lowercase letters. Using only lowercase helps avoid mistakes.
Use four to five keywords relevant to your site and the specific page. http://www.example-website.com/wasabi-peas-art-jewelry-bracelet.html
While 10 years ago short URLs were recommended this is no longer the case. Most people are cutting and pasting URLs. The benefit of better SEO with a descriptive URL outweighs the benefit of a short URL.
Did you ever wonder if Google found your website? Even if you know your site comes up in search results, do you wonder about which pages will show up? Do you wonder if Google has discovered all your pages?
For my website, I was really worried that my silver repair business pages were not being found. In 2012 I wasn't prepared to make another website, so these pages were added to the website for my artwork. Still, I wondered if people could find my business Berman Fine Silverwork.
By doing a test in Google search, and looking through the search results...
I confirmed that Berman Fine Silverwork pages will be found in search results even though they were separate pages on my artist website. That is the way I built my business on the web for years.
UPDATE 2016: In 2016 I built a whole new website for my silver repair business Berman Fine Silverwork. My first step was to buy a separate domain keeping the domain name as short as possible hence bermansilverwork.com. Short domain names with key search terms are the current trend since so many people are using phones and mobile devices. My new website is now mobile-friendly. The outcome with a new website: I doubled my business gross revenue in one year.
Here is how you can check your website in search:
STEP 1. Go INCOGNITO in your web browser to eliminate past search history.
OPEN A GOOGLE SEARCH BOX.
Type in your website into the search box like this:[ site:example.com ]
For my website I would type in: site: bermansilverwork.com
For your website type in: site: your-web-site.com
STEP 3. CLICK SEARCH and see what comes up.
You could also try search terms that you think a customer might use to find your site.
Every year I work on improving my website during the quiet of the holidays. This is the perfect time to catch up and ramp up for the new year.
My suggestions for improving SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your website are always free basic fix-its that everyone can do to improve the chance that your website will be found by customers, collectors, or curators.
No baloney. No manipulation of search results with tricks.
Google now penalizes websites with duplicate content.
Duplicate titles will hurt SEO for your website.
Below is an example of duplicate titles on my website, and how I found the mistake. The correction was easy, finding the duplicate titles was hard until I found this great tool on Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools).
It turns out that I had three pages (show below) on my website all with the SAME title: "In My Studio - tools used to construct my work."
This is really important. The tools of Google Webmasters are all free diagnostic tools for improving your website or blog. I am going to spend the next week learning how to use these tools with the readers of ASK Harriete.
Yes, I know this sounds a bit overwhelming, but a productive website is an ongoing task, always with room for improvement. Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) is a very helpful tool and registration is completely free. (Embedded videos don't show in the email subscription of ASK Harriete. Go to the actual post.)
Every year, during the quiet of the holidays, I work on improving my website. This is the perfect time to catch up and gain more visibility for your work online.Over the next couple of weeks, ASK Harriete will offer easy tips to help your website achieve better SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
These tools are not just for professionals. I am largely self-taught, learning by using tools and services on the web. If I can do it, just about anyone could. The Google Webmaster Academy has tutorials for reference as well. Below is an older video Google Webmaster Tools (now called Google Search Console) that describes some of the webmaster tools and how they benefit your site. (I noticed that the videos don't show in the email subscription of ASK Harriete. Click on the link provided instead.)
Now time to improve my website's visibility and find mistakes with me on ASK Harriete. (I already fixed 13 errors this afternoon.) Harriete
Ever since starting this theme about craft shows and art festivals, readers have been sharing stories of chronic problems.
The vast majority of issues fall into one or more of four categories:
imported items competing with local artists
bad, sub-standard, low-quality displays
Each one of these categories deserves further illumination, but I am wondering ....How do these situations persist from show to show without resolution? The responsibility certainly lies with the craft show/art festival sponsor, but a bit lies also with the artists and makers. I see the situation as somewhat similar to cultivating a garden. In a garden, some weeding and pruning are often required to promote healthy growth. Likewise, our craft show participation needs to carefully cultivate what should be nurtured and what should be weeded out. We are in control of our future, but only if we act accordingly.
Artists/makers can decide to decline participation in shows that do not have clear policies regarding buy/sell, imported merchandise, and minimum display standards.
Examine show policies before applying. Do not apply to a show that does not have minimum standards. Go one step further and write to the show organizer clarifying what you consider the minimum expectation. It may require pruning a show from your list of events for the coming year even if you made money last year.
Do not support poorly managed shows with your money & time.
The same goes for show organizers. This job is not a popularity contest. Clear policies regarding the hot button issues of buy/sell, imports, and display are necessary. Just like cultivating a beautiful garden, strong pruning is often required for healthy growth. This includes eliminating sellers that do not meet minimum standards for selling studio-made merchandise in a reasonably attractive display and instituting policies that guarantee acceptance for top-quality sellers.
The limitations and clear expectations for show standards from both the artist/makers and the show organizers are important for a healthy future for craft.
During the holiday season, many artists and makers open their studios to the public seeking holiday sales. That also means reasonably preparing ourselves for safety and security. That is why the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES has a document OPEN STUDIOS: Artist Checklist.
Open studio events raise concerns that are only important when the public enters your studio.
Do you have business insurance? Homeowners insurance will NOT cover a business loss or liability issue if a person falls or is hurt in your studio.
Is your studio handicap accessible? Legally this is not important but potential embarrassment for all parties and a distraction. Make sure your invitation spells it out.
Is your work priced at full retail? Don't undercut the stores or galleries that sell your work at full retail. If you do....they will not be happy and this will damage your working relationship with your gallery or store arrangements.
Here are a few other thoughts:
Plan for parking.
Directions to your studio - signage.
Safety of your guests -- unplug power tools, remove chemicals, and rope off unsafe areas. Have a plan if your guests bring children or animals.
Keep your money and phone on your person at all times.
Have a 2nd person around if you are alone.
Studio space for Harriete Estel Berman. My studio is open for tours and by appointment. Contact me by email any time. Work is always on display in my home and in progress in the studio.
Open Studio events are also an opportunity to gain exposure and to show your community what you do and make. We can educate the how and why we create what we do. We can answer technical questions and address issues of price and materials. We can even dispel a few myths and misconceptions. And, of course, we can open the door to new markets.
In early December, we are mid-stream in the holiday shopping frenzy including open studios and holiday craft shows. This could be the right time to bring up the important topic of discounts.
I strongly disagree with the premise of discounts for one-of-a-kind art or craft. Every holiday season, I whither like a dried-up fall leaf as I watch the art and craft world try to compete in a shop till you drop world of consumer discounts.
Here are the Disadvantages of Discounts from the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES
Discounts can create disadvantages for both the artist and the gallery.
A) Discounts create uncertainty about the VALUE of the artwork. Discounting gives the message that the work was perhaps not worth its initial price, and may diminish what customers are willing to pay. Thus, in the long run, discounting can erode value. By not discounting, a consistent value is maintained for the work.
B) Discounts create uncertainty about the stated PRICE of artwork. If it is widely known that a gallery will negotiate prices, buyers will regard the posted retail price as fiction and will expect a discounted price as a starting point for negotiation.
C) Discounting creates the impression that art should be bargained for, like items in a flea market. Many craftspeople find this highly undignified.
D) If an artist’s work is discounted in one gallery and not another, and buyers become aware of it, sales at the gallery that refuses to give discounts may be discouraged.
E) Discounts can encourage price competition between galleries, which is not in the best interest of either artists or galleries.
F) Giving discounts selectively may imply that some collectors are more important than others. Many collectors know one another, whether or not they live in the same area. If some customers receive discounts and others do not, word may get around and cause ill feelings.
G) When buyers negotiate for discounts, the discount becomes the object of discussion instead of the artwork itself.
H) Once a customer receives a discount from a gallery, he or she will expect a discount on all future purchases from that gallery.
In our society, price establishes worth and value. For better or worse, the common denominator in the marketplace is the dollar, and worth is measured by what is paid. It is the job of both the artist and the gallery to establish the value of the artist’s work (by virtue of its uniqueness, craftsmanship, reputation, and quality), and remind people that this worth is reflected in its price.
The actual selling price confirms the value. If the selling price is negotiable, then the value is questionable as well. And then the discounted price is the true value, not the retail price. As a result, it’s in every artist’s interest to maintain close control over the selling prices of his or her work.
Be aware of the impact of discounts on your work. Approach the holiday season and the whole year with a firm understanding of the financial and reputation impact of discounts. Harriete *Read the comments (and clarification) below offered by Fiona Purdy.
This post was updated on July 1, 2022, to provide current links.
I just can't resist sharing these two holiday window displays that are the perfect inspiration for making your booth display remarkable. Holiday window for Macy's, San Francisco It can't get much easier than making your own oversized "price tags" from cardboard and hanging them with ribbon. The slightest bit of air causes movement that catches the eye.
Macy's window downtown San Francisco.
Strips of fabric...really create a great window. The diagonal lines direct the eye. In this case, they used the entire depth of the window, but you could keep it flatter and it still works. The star is an effective motif for the holidays, but you could substitute an example of your work after the holidays.
Alison Antelman suggests artists ask themselves: “What do you want the show to provide for you?" "What are your expectations?" "What can you do to bring expectations to reality?" Photo Courtesy of Alison Antelman
Alison Antelman setting up her booth at Contemporary Crafts Market Santa Monica, CA
Consider the amount of effort you will expend to prepare and exhibit at a craft show; the physical labor, time, and money involved; investment in the display, wear and tear on your display and tent, lodging and travel, food, and booth fees. Well before you go to the show, it’s worth some thought about self-promotion.
While the primary responsibility for show promotion rests with the event organizer, artists and makers can play a significant role in making a show successful for themselves.
Alison Antelman recommends that every show participant do the following as part of checklist months before and at the show:
Provide links, emails, and contacts for newspapers and blogs where the show promoter or their P.R. agency might be able to promote the show.
Provide short videos (no more than 3 minutes) about you and your work for promotion (NOTE: this is new but I’ve seen the request several times recently)
Reach out to your clients in the area.
Be a good booth neighbor
Harriete recommends that the better you are at reaching out to local newspapers, bloggers, or media contacts, the more likely you are to get a feature article. Two months before the show, look for local newspapers and online media writers. Don't hesitate to write a personal note including one amazing image along with a short description, show information, and booth number.
Metro Ring by Alison Antelman 18 k. & 22k.gold, tangerine garnet, diamond.
Yes, technically, all of the above should be done by the show promoter, but there is nothing wrong with a personal note (not a press release.)
In addition, if a writer contacts you, make yourself available immediately as a top priority. Your interview should be full of positive energy and excitement for the upcoming event.
In this post, Alison Antelman offers her opinion on the role and responsibility of craft show organizers. She has been participating in retail juried craft shows for 12 years. She participates in 6 to 8 national juried shows per year, in addition to two open studio events.
Note: The opinions expressed by the author, Alison Antelman, in this post are hers and hers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Alison Antelman at the Bellevue Museum of Art Arts Fair. This show is actually held inside the parking garage. The show has very long hours (till 9:00 p.m.) because the garage is open that late! Make sure you investigate these issues in advance.
The art festival/craft show sponsor establishes the flow and organization of a huge multi-level event. Many shows are run by non-profits, some by a city’s chamber of commerce, other civic groups, or even artists who want to create the "perfect" show. These events operate in a kind of partnership with the artists. They provide the venue, publicity, and crowds. The artists provide high-quality work to attract and satisfy visitors.
The two previous posts on ASK Harriete recommended that artists and makers do their research before committing to a craft show/art festival. Below is a list of responsibilities for the craft show organizers.
Most important a craft show or art festival should promote the event and individual artists including an image and link to each artist's website on their website. Advertising should promote the artists through print, television, web site, Facebook, and other social media.
Additional Event responsibilities:
Clear written instructions for artists before arriving with booth location, logistics, details, schedule, and useful tips
Organize and plan the move in and move out
Provide security before, during, and after the show
Bring in the audience of potential buyers
Provide the space and atmosphere that enhances artwork sales
Deal with problems immediately
Provide an artist listing and map of the layout for visitors to navigate
Make sure exhibitors are displaying the work represented in their jury images
In case of extreme weather, have a system in place for warnings. An example would be automatic phone calls with updates about storms.
Provide a survey at the end of the show for artist input
Some shows also provide:
Hospitality services for artists including daily lunch
Free beverage coupons
Booth delivery of water and snacks
Booth sitters (important if any artists are doing the show alone)
Hospitality location where artists can relax and have some snacks/food
Special events: This might include galas for patrons where artists are invited and expected to schmooze.
Awards, cash prizes, or acceptance into the next year's show.
Breakfasts, dinners, or receptions.
Links to lodging and special artist pricing for hotels
Parking during the show
Fashion shows, music, kids events, and other amusements
Incentives for patrons to become collectors and commit to purchasing a certain dollar amount at the show.
Artist Demos and/or lectures
Brochures with artist listing, images, featured artists, sponsors, map of show layout, and information about the show promoter/organization
Thank you Alison for your words of experience. If the readers of ASK Harriete have any suggestions for the responsibilities of craft show organizers, please consider adding them as a comment. It is always good to hear from a range of experiences.
NEXT POST: What is the Artist's Job Before an Art /Craft Event?