Before You Pick Epic Rap Names, You May Want To Learn These SEO Basics
Once upon a time—when, AOL chats were poppin’, Compaq computers reigned supreme, and dinosaurs roamed the land—we depended on Lycos and Ask Jeeves as lifelines to the outside world.
Yes, there was life before Google.
I’ll never forget the time I had to do a report in elementary school on “miracles performed,” and somehow, in my Internet search, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles popped up in my results. At the time, I couldn’t understand why. I just assumed my parents tailored the parental block by their music preferences. But what I (and probably Smokey Robinson’s people) failed to realize was that search engines often fail miserably at understanding context, thanks to keywords and data-based algorithms. Fast forward to 2016, and there are people who now think G.O.O.D. Music newcomer Desiigner is just a random kid with a knack for fashion. Much hasn’t changed.
pizza man: okay ur order comes to $37.50, could I get ur first name?
pizza man: uh, ur last name?
— Father (@father) March 28, 2015
In the age of Google, the SEO of your rap name is important. It can make or break you. A common enough name choice—like “Future” or even “Common”—and you’ll have to reach Common- and Future-like levels of fame before you even scratch the search surface.
So if you’re a wannabe rapper ready for your name to be in lights—or at the top of Google’s search results—listen up.
Use Misspelled Words With Caution.
While you probably think you’re giving yourself an advantage by putting a slight spin on words like “fabulous” and “ludicrous,” artists should keep in mind that Google auto-corrects misspellings, especially when the artist isn’t widely known or searched often. That added hassle of having to perform multiple searches to get info could lose fans looking for quick results on a new artist.
Avoid Special Characters.
Though Jay Z once swore his lyrical excellence with “word to the hyphen in my name,” and even said his rap name originally included umlauts, the millionaire mogul dropped the special character years ago, saying that it wasn’t useful anymore. You should choose a name that can be typed easily on mobile devices, for starters. Having to type a dollar sign in names like A$AP Rocky or the actual asterisks in N*E*R*D? C’mon, that’s a whole other keyboard.
On top of that, special characters cannot be typed in URLs, which compromises some of your SEO value. You should be able to type your artist name in its entirety in the URL, headline, website title tag, and body text, if you want to maximize your search results.
Avoid The Word Well-Traveled.
Common names with already-established connotations, like Future and Freeway, or names based off of known characters/titles, like David Banner and Rick Ross, can cause unnecessary mix-ups, affecting an artist’s search value. Search engines simulate technology’s artificial intelligence—they don’t readily know the difference between Scarface, the rapper and Scarface, the movie.
As an artist, you also want to be found or tagged easily on social media. Who wants to fight with an egg account over rights to a Twitter handle anyway?
@intanetz New album is the bomb kids 🚬💣💥
— The Internet (@theinternet) August 4, 2015
More Words Are Better Than One.
Names with more than one word also help diminish some of the commonality of general terms, allowing distinction for artists like Method Man, Chance the Rapper and Young Thug.
Get the world talking.
While utilizing the above tips can help strengthen your web presence, nothing beats good ol’ fashioned press. The bottom line is new artists looking to build their name in the digital realm need lots of supporting content with mentions of their name to boost SEO and search result relevancy. Once your name is out there enough, search engine algorithms will adjust accordingly. Also, engines like Google use a cache of your past searches, as well as the tendencies of devices under your IP address, to properly assume the results you want. If you search music artists often, chances are Google will think you want Freeway the rapper, and not the movie or highway. If you want to make a name for yourself, get people talking, and get them talking often.