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how do I find me?

April 6th, 2009 | 6 Comments

Googling me

Ok, well, here's a nice boring post.

Google searches are something I've taken for granted since they were invented. I've figured that there aren't many other illustrators out there whose names are Brian Biggs, so I assumed that a Google search for something like "Brian Biggs illustration" would likely bring up my site. Now, since I know where to find me, I've never really bothered to give it a try. However, the other day I got a comment on one of my images on Flickr that said something about this, that they searched my name and that Flickr image came up. That got me thinking. Thinking leads to trouble, and that trouble started when I went and Googled the previously stated term ("Brian Biggs illustration" for those of you with short attention spans). What to my wondering eyes did appear but about twenty five other links before my site appears. And when a link to MrBiggs dot com does come up, it's to a random blog entry here in the News section.

I was shocked and more than a little annoyed.

Worse, when one removes the "Brian" part of the query, Google asks whether I'm sure it's "Biggs" I'm asking for, and not "Briggs?" and then gives me the two top "Briggs" results which are to the lovely work of Alice Briggs. In this case, I got eight pages into the results without a single link to MrBiggs dot com coming up.

Now, not to say I don't exist. Yes, Google grants me that at least. Plenty of the results are to my work or mentions or reviews or complaints or things like that. My entry in the Directory of Illustration, some mention of me on drawn.ca, lovely comments on Flickr, pages on Random House and HarperCollins' websites. But in regards to MrBiggs dot com itself, nada.

In this difficult time of recession and hardship, I think we all need to make it as easy to find ourselves as possible. And I'm no exception. Like you probably do, I get several spam emails a week telling me that I can enlarge my raise up my search engine rankings if I just hire such-and-such company. And also like you, I've ignored such advice, relying on the fact that my name is Brian Biggs, what I do is illustration, and clearly my website is set up so that this is quite obvious. But when a small entry at Strand Books for one of my books I've illustrated is the number one result in a search, I need to rethink my thinking.
Therefore, I ask you, my dear reader, to tell me your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) secrets and send me your linkages. My truck posting last week was a wonderful success (thank you thank you all who took the time to comment), so I'm hoping you come through for me here. The limited knowledge I have comes from a Google search last week in which I realized that pithy title tags and all-graphics homepages don't help anything. I'm not yet interested in doing away with the all-graphics homepage, but I did change my title tags. I'm also working on a site realignment that will probably make WordPress the backbone of my site, which might help things somewhat.
But what I really would like is some method that when you search for me, my website is what you find.

Any thoughts?

Update 7 April: I discovered that if I Google only my name without including the "illustration" part, the front page of MrBiggs dot com is the top result. So among all Brian Biggseses, I am number one. Among Brian Biggs illustrationers, I am elsewhere. Also, I discovered today that if I Google "Brian Biggs illustration" as I did in the above post, ten hours after posting it, it is now the number one result. I have no idea how this thing works…

6 Comments

  1. Adam says:

    Doesn't Google base relevance somewhat on how many pages link to yours? You could trade links with artists and authors you like. My blog already links to mrbiggs.com, but apparently I'm not doing much for you on my own.

  2. joel says:

    I tend to come up 2nd or third when i google myself (joel cooper illustrator). though i'm not sure how i did it. You can submit your website to google (you've probably done that). I also get a lot of hits on my blog, i think this is probably to do with adding lots of relevant tags to each post. I'm sure its a war of attrition, in have a blog, a myspace, a flickr account, a link on illustrationmundo.com, facebook, etsy shop etc . . my thinking being that the more place you can find me on the web the better. not sure it its true though.
    I'll add a link to you from my blog, if you want to exchange.
    good luck
    joel

  3. hkrall says:

    I'm assuming by now someone has pointed you to Nate Williams awesome post about optimizing your illustration site?-

    http://www.n8w.com/wp/552

    also google has lots of resources for webmasters-

    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=40349&ctx=sibling

    also I don't know if you code your site yourself but maybe change your title on your index page to simply "brian biggs illustration" (without any punctuation or breaks) or at least have that phrase show up more often rather than:

    Brian Biggs: illustration, etc.

    hope this helps? Im only a dabbler (not a real expert) but went through the same thing a year ago when all of a sudden my site was the 10th hit for my name!

  4. brian says:

    Thanks for the help.
    Hawk, yeah I've seen and memorized Nate's advice. His post is mainly in regards to interior content. I'm looking for the next step, which is where does Google look for information that isn't necessarily content text, but nevertheless describes the site and the content. That is, while I'm likely not going to have lots of text that strings "Brian Biggs" with "illustration," especially since, other than this news section, my site isn't going to be especially text-heavy, how do I still get Google to know that if someone is looking for illustrations that I made, MrBiggs dot com is the best place to find it?
    I've always used title tags as a clever little place to put clever little titles. I have a lot of pages that say "MrBiggs dot com: Land of Opportunity" for instance. But now I'm realizing that this possibly a good part of what is keeping the site from appearing in the results as they should be. I suppose it's time for my title tags to act their age and become more utilitarian in nature.
    Thanks for the webmaster link as well. I'll take a gander.

  5. Sean Ashby says:

    From what I understand, part of what gets you a higher rating is the number of times your name is mentioned within a site. You can increase this a couple of ways.

    One is in the meta tags. Right now you have:

    <meta name="keywords" content="advertising, agency, art, artists, commercial art, editorial art, illustration, children's book, shredderman, roscoe riley, animation, Biggs, Brian Biggs"

    So your name is only in there twice. You COULD do something like "Brian Biggs art, Brian Biggs editorial art, Brian Biggs children's book, etc etc" and make sure it's on every page.

    Also you could add you name to the ALT and TITLE tags of all your portfolio images. These aren't something you see unless you roll over the image and leave your cursor there long enough for a little yellow rectangle to appear with that text in it. So for example, where you currently have:

    alt="illustration 20" title="Illustration for Kids Guide magazine"

    … you might put:

    alt="Brian Biggs illustration 20" title="Brian Biggs Kids Guide Magazine"

    Not that I'm a web expert, but I asked someone who is once and that was the advice they gave ME. Hope it helps!

  6. Google analytics is something you might want to check out, if you haven't already. It seems like it might give you some specific help/answers. http://www.google.com/analytics/

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