Why Are So Many Music Sites Making These Mistakes?
The fundamentals of any site, especially music sites (where the competition is harsh) is to 1) keep the visitors and 2) for the visitors to find you. Most of the methods listed have the other advantage of being search engine friendly.
When your site loads up, it must load up quickly. Any pictures must be quick, and small. This has an advantage. Within 15 seconds your visitors will either be saying "I like this site", or "only half loaded, I will go to the other site listed on the search engine". The visitor will leave your site and that is one down. If you have other pages listed, would they go back onto your site? Probably not. What the visitor should know is:
What your site is about
where to get what they want
what other things do you offer.
So with that in mind, any load up animations or any Flash intros should be replaced (I personnally can't stand these, some even have a "skip intro button", what is the point of that?! Don't use it!). Any visitor wants information fast, now. Not in 1 minute's time. You can save the anims to another page, direct people to it if they want to download or see it- they can judge it for themselves. The main problem with too slow or no-info main pages is that the search engines know the time people spend on the pages referred from them. In other words, once a surfer has clicked through to a page from a search engine, the engines then see how long the surfer is on there for. If the surfer goes off the page quickly (due to slow loading and frustration) then the engine will deem that page poor, and rate it lower.
MIDI sounds are cool, great on mobile phones, but please leave them off the web-site. It gives a tacky feel to the site. If you are using your own tunes then why use a MIDI file? MP3s are the way to go, use a 1 minute sample of an MP3 if your really have to- sounds better, better quality, and shows off your tunes much better.
Never ever go off subject. If you build a page talking about Slipknot artists, thats great. But if you link to pages talking about drum n' bass then this is bad. The search engines will rate you much lower if your neighbouring pages are unrelated. Related pages "Slipknot sounding, best Slipknot tunes, Slipknot related artists" etc is fine and can then open up and can expand your site.
The Alt tag for pictures- always name them. If your page title is called best rock acts, and you include pictures of them, the Alt tag would be called "bestrockactmetallica". Again this tells the search engine that everything is related to the main topic of the page.
Speak with passion about your subject, include little anecdotes about the topic "I went to their concert and they did this". Say how you came about liking the group. Virgin Music is a competitor, they can only go off what the PR people tell them, what the back of the CDs say. They have realised now that the personal touch is much better at selling to customers and attracting them, so they have set up forums. Amazon does the same, but they have "your view" under the CD that you clicked on. A personalised chat is better than any amount of advertising revenue being thrown at a product.
Make sure you have an RSS feed. If you have a newsletter then you have to wait a while until someone submits their email address (very sacred) and subscribes to you. With an RSS feed they subscribe to your site, but telling their RSS software to pick up the chosen sites feeds. No email addresses given out! If interesting article links catch their fancy they can click through to your site. Becasue you have only asked the software to keep in contact with know sites to you there is no junk. A sort of screened email. It is still in relative infancy, but it is wise to start one now rather than wait. If it catches on you will be at the forefront (most companies don't really know what RSS is or its potential, at the moment). For musicians it is a must. You can put MP3s into links for people to download, increasing your marketing spread. The search engines seem to like RSS, they either list more of your pages or rank your pages slightly higher with a RSS feed attached.
Watch out for your spelling. A search engine will place your site pages much higher than a site that has poor spelling. Even street words could have a negative effect (unless it is a specific searched for keyword)- MP3z, gr8, and tunez to name a few.
Never assume. If you use words like accapella, Vibrato etc how do you know that your readers know the words? If you did your research, then you should know who your visitors are. But always put a glossary, or brackets with an explanation. It can become frustrating for someone who is just starting out to look up another web site to find out what words mean from the first web site. This disregard for new, rookie visitors (you will get quite a few, no question) will have a negative effect on your traffic. People will leave or just get fed-up with a "members only site", they could email you with the same question" what does this mean, why are you saying that". After a while you then see FAQs appearing.
Never assume, part two. Yeah sure, you know how to work the software, you know how to set your kit up, but it is a really good idea to show how you did so. Pictures help a great deal. With general text screens, after a while your eyes start to see just a blurr of text. Hence that is why most sites use colour, bold, or paragraphs to split text up. Write a guide, write a "how to", include pictures, little tales of what happened to you, and write in a logical step-wise manner. Brief and to the point. This demonstrates that you know your subject and are not lying. It also demonstrates commitment, understanding and builds up a great web site term- trust.
About the Author: Dominic is web master of http://www.make-your-own-dance-and-techno-songs.com which has free guides and downloads regarding making your own techno music. The site also includes guides on sampling, sequencing, drum loops, marketing and much more.