For musicians and bands, one of the most basic SEO achievements you can make is to get a Knowledge Panel to appear for your band keyword searches.
In past blog posts, we’ve talked a lot about the different types of search results pages that matter to you as a musician. The key to unlocking many of the rich search features offered by Google for musicians and fans is to get your basic Knowledge Panel working.
Before you dig into this post and follow the advice, we suggest you head over to Chapter 1of this multi-post guide to get familiar with your SEO strategy and the Fan Journey and all of the other topics we’ve already covered. You may want to follow those steps first, including optimizing your website for SEO.
So… why do we care about getting a Knowledge Panel?
Having a Knowledge Panel helps people during the Exploration phase of the Fan Journey. It helps people get to know your band and become fans. At a glance, before they even click on a website, they can see your photos, bio snippet, and other detailed information.
Let’s zoom in on an example that we used in an earlier post, of a complete-looking Knowledge Panel for Zardonic.
Ton’s of great stuff there for fans.
For a less established band, a knowledge panel may look a little more simple, at least to start with. Like this one for Robert Bruey:
Your entity is basically the “thing” that is your band, or you as a musician – at least, as far as how Google views you. If you want to nerd out a little, you can have a bit of fun looking up your own entity. You might be surprised to find you already have one.
What we need to do is to spoon feed the Knowledge Graph with knowledge about your band, in a way it that can easily understand and organize. The information that appears in your Knowledge Panel depends, in part, on the knowledge Google has available about you.
You need to spoon feed Google with knowledge about your band.
Once you feed Google with that knowledge, it will decide for itself how to display it in search result pages.
One really important caveat to all of this though, is that whether or not Google decides to show a Knowledge Panel for your band keywords depends a whole lot on how notable – in other words famous, or established – you are. Don’t let that hold you back, but keep it in mind.
So, let’s introduce Google to your band.
Establish Your Google Accounts
Perhaps the most obvious way to create a presence for your band entity in Google is to just tell Google directly. They give us a way to do that, even if it’s a little convoluted. Doing this alone won’t give you a Knowledge Panel, but it’s a good place to start.
The first thing you’ll need to do is log into your Google account, or create a new one if you don’t already have one. Then, as you follow the next steps, make sure you’re always logged into the same Google account.
#1: Create a Google My Business account
The first order of business is to tell Google that you’re a “thing”. And not just any thing, but a band or artist specifically. You can do that by creating a Google My Business account for your brand (band).
Yes, this is going to create a Google+ page for your band. No, you don’t have to use it or even remember that it exists. The most important thing is that once you do this, you’ve indicated to Google that you’re an entity.
#2: Manage your Brand account
As you can see Bandzoogle, like many brands, has a Brand account. And of course your band (or you as an artist) is also a brand.
Your Brand account management page might look a little bit different from Bandzoogle’s. Go into your Brand account and add links to your all of your band profiles around the web, and any other info you can.
#3: Add your Music to Google Play
Uploading your music to Google Play is a simple way to provide Google with more detailed information about your entity – specifically, your music. Not to mention the other added benefits of having a presence on Google Play, which we won’t get into here.
It’s not entirely clear whether Google uses the data from Google Play to populate the Knowledge Panel, but it seems like a no-brainer that feeding structured information directly to Google itself would be advantageous.
So, if you haven’t already, we suggest you head over to Google Play and add your music.
#4: Register Your Site in Search Console
Finally you’ll want to connect your Brand account to your band website. It’s not enough to simply link to your website from your Google accounts – after all, you could link to any website. You need to verify that you actually own the website, and that way Google can connect your official website to your entity. This is a step that Google specifically recommends, so it should be done.
You do this by adding your website to Google Search Console.
Add your band website to your Search Console and verify it. If you use Bandzoogle, we make verification pretty easy for you using the HTML tag.
Once you’ve followed these steps, you’ll have associated all of this information by connecting it under a single Google account. Google will now know that your band exists. It will have data about your band including your music and other content, as well as your other band profiles around the web. It will know what your official website is. And it will know that you are the official representative of the entity.
A nice added bonus is that once you become the official representative of your entity, and once you get a Knowledge Panel, you can suggest a change directly to your Knowledge Panel. That way, you may be able to fix any issues you have with it, once it’s there.
Create a Wikipedia Entry
If you look at the Knowledge Panels of other artists, you might notice that they usually have a link pointing to the artist’s Wikipedia page, just under their bio near the top. Like this:
Google relies on Wikipedia to show biographical information in the Knowledge Panel. It also helps Google identify you as an entity.
Creating a new Wikipedia entry is not that simple unfortunately. Wikipedia has strict guidelines for approving new entries. We wrote a great post about this on our blog that can guide you towards successfully getting a Wikipedia page for your band.
We recommend you make your page entry as thorough, organized, and well-written as you can. No shortcuts. And absolutely make sure you link from your Wikipedia page to your band website – Google specifically recommends this.
If any of your band members happen to be notable enough individually to have their own Wikipedia page, do that too.
So what you can do now is head over to Wikipedia and create a entry for your band, or edit your entry if you already have one, to make it as complete as possible. Be thorough and follow the best practices advice we’ve provided.
Create a Wikidata.org Entry
It might seem redundant after making a Wikipedia page, but Google gets its Knowledge Graph data from Wikidata as well.
The information you enter into Wikidata is similar to Wikipedia, but it’s more structured. That’s why Google likes it for their Knowledge Graph – it’s easier for a computer to understand.
Keep the information about your band that’s online organized and consistent, everywhere.
Go to wikidata.org and do a search to see if you’re already there.
If you are there already, then just edit your entry to add more complete and detailed information. If not, then you’ll need to create a new “item”.
The form will look something like this:
We won’t go through it step-by-step here, but it should be fairly self-explanatory.
Just be sure to keep the information about your band online organized and consistent with what’s found in other places on the internet (like your Wikipedia page). And make it as complete as you possibly can. No shortcuts here either!
So now, you can head over to Wikidata and create an entry for your band, or edit your entry if you already have one, to make it as complete as possible. Be thorough and follow the best practices advice we’ve provided.
Create a MusicBrainz Entry
MusicBrainz is kind of like the Wikipedia of music.
Google specifically recommends artists add their band information to MusicBrainz if they want a Knowledge Panel in their band SERPs. So it’s a must-do.
MusicBrainz have their own set of rules on how to contribute. You’ll probably want to get familiar with them, and then create an account.
First, check to make sure you’re not already there, and if so just review and edit your entryas needed. If not, then go ahead and add your band’s information.
Add any album and song information you have too. Again, be as thorough and detailed as possible, and make sure the information you add here is identical to the information you’ve added to Wikipedia and Wikidata.
Also, absolutely make sure to include your band website in your MusicBrainz profile – Google specifically recommends this too (in the same place we linked to previously).
So now you can head on over to MusicBrainz and create a entry for your band, or edit your entry if you already have one, to make it as complete as possible. Be thorough and follow the best practices advice we’ve provided.
Optimize Your Images
The previous steps will cover a lot of the biographical information about your band for the Knowledge Panel. But it’s also nice to have a selection of different images to show fans as well, like this Knowledge Panel for Kaia Kater.
Obviously Google can’t simply look at an image and know it’s you. We need to indicate thatto Google. In truth, the way Google chooses these images is not that clear to anyone outside of Google themselves. But here are some tips to help things along.
Firstly, of course, you have to have enough images of your band on the internet for Google to use. So, start there – get a variety of different band images online for Google to find. You’ll notice that Google only shows headshot-style images in the Knowledge Panel, not abstract images such as landscapes. So make sure you’re putting high-quality promo shots online that actually showcase you – as in, your face (or faces, if you’re a band).
Secondly, optimize the promo shot images that are on your band website by making sure your band name is in the image alt text and file name.
The alt text is found only in the HTML where the image is placed, inside the <img> tag. Here’s a made-up example of how that might look in the code:
<img src=”http://www.kaiakater.com/images/kaia-kater-promo-shot.jpg” alt=”Kaia Kater Promo Shoot”>
Notice how the words “kaia kater” are included in the image file name, as well as the alt text? That’s the idea.
When supplying promo images to media, try to make sure they do the same thing on their websites as well, because Google might use those images too.
Another trick is to use YouTube thumbnails, which is where Google is getting Kaia Katers’ main image from currently. If you have a video on your YouTube channel that you can produce a nice still from, make it into a thumbnail.
Another trick you can try is to suggest a a main feature image directly in the Knowledge Panel, as long as you already have a basic Knowledge Panel showing, and you’re an official representative of your entity. Your suggestion may or may not be accepted, but it’s one more thing you can try.
One last tip: make sure your Google Brand account has one or more promotional images associated with it. This is an easy way directly associate a relevant image to your entity.
There isn’t really any hard-and-fast rule for Knowledge Panel images, but these tips should get you started.
All of the same tips also apply to albums and songs, by the way. If you have an image that is specific to an album or single, like cover art, make sure you optimize the alt text as well.
So what you can do now is go through all of the images on your site and optimize them as we described. Optimize your YouTube video thumbnails if you can. And try to make sure your images are also optimized when you’re getting press, by sending images with good file names, and maybe even requesting that they add alt text.
The Takeaway: Introduce Your Music to Google
Getting a Knowledge Panel for your band involves providing Google with the right structured information, in the places where Google specifically looks for that information.
While that’s not the only thing you need to do, it’s one of the important steps. You might also need to become more established, and you’ll also want to optimize the structured data on your own band website, which we’re going to cover in detail in our next SEO post.
So, let’s recap what you’ll want to do next:
- Establish your Google accounts, including adding your music to Google Play
- Create a Wikipedia entry for your band
- Create a Wikidata entry for your band
- Create a MusicBrainz entry for your band
- Optimize your artist images
- Make sure all of the information you enter, everywhere, is consistent and as detailed as possible
You may need to be patient, and you’re never guaranteed to get a Knowlege Panel for your band name – or even to keep it once you have it, for that matter. There are other factors – like competition and notability – that affect your chances.
But taking these specific steps should bring you a lot closer to getting a Knowledge Panel for your band. And once you have that, then you can take it even further by adding more information, and getting other rich SERP features like the Event Carousel.
We’ll write more on how to do that in following blog posts in this SEO series.
Special thanks to Cameron Gorham for contributing research and ideas to this post.
Read other articles in this series:
- Part 1 – SEO for Musicians: It Starts With The Fan Journey
- Part 2 – SEO Keyword Research for Musicians
- Part 3 – Music SEO: Know Your SERPs
- Part 4 – Optimizing Your Band Website for SEO
- Part 5 – How to Get a Band Knowledge Panel