Links, Links, Links

A chapter from Folk Music 2.0: Better odds through science.

One thing you’ve got to admit, the internet is what we call reality-based even if the reality is virtual.  And it’s based on science, isn’t it? Acts logically, mathematically, to make it all work. You want better odds on being heard, an increased chance of success, so put SCIENCE ahead of ART for a few minutes and consider this:

Go to Google and start typing. But just one letter, say A. Whoah. What do you see? I get Amazon, AOL and American Airlines suggested to me. Mind you, you may get different result, especially if you are logged in to, say, a Google account; they know everything about your browsing habits and will attempt to choose what their computer’s think you are looking for. But no matter, Google is still using science to make those suggestions.

OK, so what? Well, let’s examine how they come up with these suggestions.  If you want to do any testing (you know, the scientific method), log out of any account that might affect your searches, again, especially google. You also might want to delete your browsing history. This takes any ‘user bias’ out of the equation (notice how we can smartly bandy these math terms about)- try the A test again.  I still get the same big three, and I bet I know why. There are 671 million reasons for Google to pick Amazon first, as that’s how many LINKS they found for that term. What’s more, I can see from Google Keyword Analytics that 83 million people a month search for that term. They are just laying odds that Amazon is likely to be what you are after when you start typing with an A. Number two, AOL, as you might expect, has lower numbers than Amazon, take my word for it or check for yourself.

Get to the point!

You may have thought that having a snazzy website was all there was to it- well, the website is really just the anchor, a convenient and “respected” place for a link to point at.  It’s not about the website, it’s about the LINKS! Strictly math here, the more the better, and even better if there’s some content with the link. We’re trying to achieve some virtual heft here, just to impress Google’s robots. They won’t be listening to a track or looking at your video, just looking for info. “Just the facts, Ma’am”, as Jack Webb used to say.

So instead of hacking on your own site, spend some time spreading the links around. Use the obvious, MySpace and FaceBook, of course; doing that much gets you in the game, but getting noticed takes a bit more. Now I’ve never said that an efolkMusic presence is your key to success, but it is an example of how you can bulk up your web-resume.

Like most “social networking” sites, efolkMusic is designed to allow multiple places to add search engine accessible links: Artist page, Member MP3 pages (each track creates a separate link), and the ever-popular video section. We also have blogs, each artist can publish their own from their artist page.  Use all the tools and you may have 20 links with content from efolkMusic alone. That’s a start- but you have to do that everywhere you maintain a presence; don’t think that just signing up and getting a page going will do it, you need to make it “rich” in content and links.

The other tool you need to work is RSS or “Really Simple Syndication”- the little RSS buttons are popping up everywhere, giving you a way to extend your reach.  Here’s how it works: Let’s use the blog example. Say you have a MySpace blog (you should!)- well if you can find the RSS feed button and the URL it points to, you can then “publish” that content on another website- efolkMusic artist pages have an “RSS” tab, a place for you to publish any RSS feed. Login to artist admin, click on the RSS tab, add your MySpace RSS URL, and voila, anything you add to your MySpace blog is automatically published on efolkMusic.  Published AND updated every time you update your MySpace blog.

This is a very powerful tool. Not only can you be published in multiple locations, but people can subscribe to your feed, and automatically get your latest post.  Add a audio or video file to your blog and you are podcasting!  For example, the efolkMusic Song of the Week has about 150 subscribers, plus it’s published as a “widget” on about a dozen sites.  The subscribers get the song downloaded automatically whenever a new track goes up; people viewing the widget can download manually or subscribe from the widget.

Make these tools your micro-business “partners” to carry a corner of your promotional load, if you just get a hundred new links a day you’ll catch Amazon in about 18,000 years!  Better get busy… your odds are improving by the minute.


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