Garrett Breeze

Selling Sheet Music, Episode 2: Websites, SEO, and Content Marketing for Composers: Interview with Jacob Tingen

Garrett:

Alright today on the podcast, we have Jacob Tingen. He’s an old friend of mine and he is actually the one who built—so far you’ve built me three websites: garrettbreeze.com, breeztunes.com, holidaychoirmusic.com.  Would you just briefly introduce yourself?

Jacob:

Yeah. I’m like that dog in the movie “Up,” that’s all like “SQUIRREL!  You know?  And so I consider myself an entrepreneur first and a lawyer second. And so I own my own law firm.  Graduating from BYU I wanted to keep taking private lessons.  So I actually approached Will Kimball and said, Hey, I’ll make you a website if you keep giving me lessons for a little bit, cuz I also was poor still.  And, and he said, sure. And then I’m also like, okay, now I gotta figure out how to make a website. So his was my first website and it’s still up.  You can check it out at kimballtrombone.com—

Garrett:

And it’s blown up, hasn’t it?

Jacob:

Yeah. It gets like 5,000 visits a month, which for a trombone website is probably like everybody in the world who plays the trombone so, you know,

Garrett:

That’s probably not far off.

Jacob:

And so that’s been a cool project.  And then I went to law school. I always knew I would work for myself, but I didn’t think it would happen so fast. So I graduated and could not find work. It was the 2012 economy for lawyers, very difficult. And so I ended up just kind of hustling. And so I did some websites. I did some law. The law has grown faster than the web. What I really enjoy is business law, branding, intellectual property.

Garrett:

The reason I wanted to have you on the podcast is because so many musicians have questions about, building a website, starting a website, but, if you have the website and you don’t know how to present yourself, or you don’t know how to market yourself, it doesn’t really do you any good. And you’re someone who’s able to speak to both of those things. So I guess to kind of start off, is it even necessary for a musician to have a website? Is it enough to just have, you know, Facebook and Instagram and all these things?

Jacob:

Yeah.  I mean, I, I think it depends on what you’re trying to do. So it’s important to figure out your goals. So let’s say you are already a successful musician and you just want, have a place. You wanna have a place for people to easily find you and professionally present your information. You just need a website with your, a good photo and accurate information. What I tend to call like a business card website, you’ll see these pop up for like properties. Realtors will just put up like a website for a home and people can do that as well. And you might think like you just said, well, what’s the point if you’ve got a LinkedIn and you’ve got all this other stuff, having your own website does give you a lot more control and how it’s presented and how the information is presented. I think everybody should own their own domain name.

Then you can put your digital home there.  And then from there you can link to all your social profiles. If all you want is just kind of like an online business card, then you don’t need to be spending $10,000 on a website. That’s okay for a lot of people, that’s the need they’re filling. But then there are people like my good friend, Garrett Breeze, who, who wants to put massive amounts of audio and sheet music online. And at that point it’s a completely different ballgame.  It’s a completely different strategy. And so we’re talking, okay, content marketing, social media, how can people find me? And then I also need something dynamic that lets people search my music, listen to it, download it, buy it. We’re doing a lot there. And so that, that that’s, the strategies are completely different.

Garrett:

Okay. Well, before we get into the strategy, let’s do kind of the basic technical stuff. So if I’m a composer and I want to do it myself and, and make my own website, what are the options?

Jacob:

I know a couple of SEO guys and they will tell you Wix is always bad and you know, Shopify is always bad because it you’re, you’re still giving your web presence to somebody else. And, and I get that and I feel that, but I think that as a practical, like return on investment matter for a lot of people, Wix is gonna be fine, right? Like if you’re just doing a, a business card website, that’s fine. But if that’s the direction you’re headed, I would do wordpress.com. I develop solely on WordPress for marketing websites. I think it’s the way to go. I think WordPress, the last time I checked and every time I check the percentage grows, powers like 35% of the internet. So one out of three sites you’re visiting is probably on WordPress. And so if you go on a wordpress.com and then maybe your site grows and then you do wanna transition to your own site, you know, you can, you can bring that export file with you. And that’s a lot easier to do. It’s impossible to not find a WordPress developer. So I think WordPress just brand wise is the direction I’d go, but that’s where you’d get started. Right? So you’d buy a domain. I would not buy the domain through WordPress.  Buy the domain through somebody like go daddy or Google domains and then connect it to your wordpress.com website and then take it from there. The same goes for like WICS and these other site builders don’t buy a domain through them either, cuz that’s a terrible disaster.

Garrett:

Can you talk about the domain thing a little more? Like how do you pick a domain? How do you buy it? And like, why would you not go through Wix or WordPress directly?

Jacob:

Let’s pull that apart into two different questions. So first there’s, you know what name to get? What are you gonna call your business? I just call it after yourself or similar enough to yourself. Like I like yours breeze tunes. Right? It’s got your name. It’s got what you do. Breeze. Tunes. Simple. It’s great. It’s very smart. Right? And then you also have garrettbreeze.com

Garrett:

And you made me buy that one too. Cuz you were like, you gotta start building a brand. It’s gotta be off of you. You’re the product you went through this whole spiel.

Jacob:

Yeah. When I, when I first started my law firm I called it “Good With Laws” and my tagline was great with people. So good with law is great with people. It’s the name of my firm. I go into court and this judge looks at the filing and goes Good With Laws? And I’m all like, yes, your honor. He goes, you gotta change your name council.  I was like, OK, your honor.  So Tingen Law it is, all right and I do own jacobtingen.com. But yeah, I mean, your name is, is your word is your bound, right? I mean that’s where you build who you are. You probably already have Goodwill with your friends and family. So your brand has begun. Yeah, I would. I would start by definitely registering your own name in some form or another. So the problem that I have with buying your domain name through somebody like WordPress or Wix or something like that is that those sites were designed to create websites, not to register domains initially.

Jacob:

And so you’re not gonna find an interface that is easily editable or usable as you might on goad or Google domains, which were designed for domain management. And if you’re gonna have somebody else get involved, which if this is not what you do someday, you may have somebody else involved helping you move your website around or do things. You want your domain in a place that’s easily accessible and easy to work with. Go daddy, Google domains. Those are, I’m sure there are others, but you want to go to a domain registrar. Cause I’ve worked with clients who registered their domain through. I think it was Wix. I don’t know, but it was like I had to ask to get it transferred. I mean, you have to make a support request to do things that otherwise, if it’s like with Google domains, you can just log in and take care of. And so that, that is why you wanna use a domain registrar that’s reputable.

Garrett:

Are there other sort of best practices to keep in mind if you’re gonna, if you’re gonna go it alone and you don’t really understand web design, but you’ve, you know, maybe you’ve watched some YouTube tutorials. Talk to me like I’m five. What do I need to be thinking about?

Jacob:

When you start to go down the rabbit hole of WordPress and you realize, holy cow, I’ve got a WordPress website. I can install any plugin in the world and accomplish anything online. Right? I don’t need a developer. I’m so smart. I’ve got this figured out. What you don’t realize is that each time you install or activate and do a plugin on your website, that’s more code that’s running and you’ve slowed things down. So that’s the first thing that I would say is sure, you might have a very functional site that can do all this cool stuff, but then you may end up with a very slow site that never ranks on Google. Cuz Google’s gonna say, you know what? I’m never gonna load your site cuz it takes five seconds per page. And most people click away and lose patients after like the first 10 milliseconds.

Jacob:

Right? So you know, instead they’re gonna click on Garrett Breeze’s site cuz the server is lightning fast, right? That’s something you need to pay attention to. The other thing I would say is you can find cheap hosting, but you do get what you pay for and you can find WordPress hosts like 3 95 a month or whatever, what you don’t know, what they don’t tell you at the beginning is that this tends to be shared hosting. So it’s you and a hundred other people sharing the same like computer. So if somebody else’s website is hogging a lot of resources, let’s say they installed 80 WordPress plugins on their site. And now it’s slowing down your site because your neighbor is using ad WordPress plugins. That’s obviously something you don’t want. So it’s probably worth it to find. And this is the, the, the keyword to Google managed WordPress hosting and pay the, you know, 10, 15, 20, 30 bucks a cost to maintain good hosting. Again, if it’s a business card website and you’re like on something like wordpress.com and you tie a unique domain to that, you’re probably fine. But once you get off on, on your own site, you should pay for a virtual private server with managed WordPress hosting and most modern managed hosting services will do things that you want, like connect an SSL certificate, make your website secure. That’s required. If you’re gonna be collecting client or user information or going to be doing transactions under website.

Garrett:

I think most people listening are gonna be interested in some kind of a storefront or e-commerce platform. Is that something that comes with the WordPress blogs and the do it yourself options? Or do you need to have someone build it for you? If you’re gonna be selling products?

Jacob:

I don’t wanna miss anything. So we were just talking about the SSLs. So I, I wanna be technically correct. And let you know that if you’re selling your material elsewhere, you may not need the SSL certificates. Like the thing that puts the lock and the browser URL bar. But it’s now a ranking factor for Google to rank you. And so again, any reputable managed hosting service is gonna provide an easy, probably free way to install an SSL certificate. So make sure you do that, whether you sell stuff or not, if you link somewhere else, maybe that’s all you need. Maybe it’s just as easy as a link from your site to this other platform that sells the, the, the music for you. If you’re gonna build a, like an in-house platform like breeze tunes.com, you want to install a plugin if you’re building on WordPress.

Jacob:

And frankly, I think that’s probably the, that’s what I know best. And so that’s the context that I’m gonna talk about this from, I think you could reasonably or credibly do something similar on Shopify. Again, if you’re gonna build something though, I wouldn’t build on Shopify because the store essentially belongs to them. Getting that out somewhere else is gonna be difficult. I think if you’re ready to do that, you should probably own it yourself. On your own managed hosting service via WordPress. The, the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin is WooCommerce. I think easy digital downloads is also a very viable option for those of you who aren’t shipping any physical products, but because WooCommerce kind of won the WordPress eCommerce word, it, it has more resources, more developers who know about the product. It might be the easiest way to go, despite frankly, being more complex than easy digital downloads. So, that’s a whole other conversation that probably isn’t necessary for this podcast.

Garrett:

All right. Well, let let’s, let’s ask this then. At what point do you think somebody needs to have a website built for them versus doing it themselves?

Jacob:

Let let’s say you’ve got that business cards website and you’re hustling elsewhere. You are doing things on social media, you’re attending conferences, you’re selling on some of these other sites and people are telling you, man, I really wish that I was looking for this sheet music, but I couldn’t find it on this other site. Where is that? And you start to think, well, geez, maybe I should have that on my own site. There’s a chance that you could reasonably, if you’re only gonna sell like four or five products, maybe you do that yourself. But if you’re gonna start like really pushing and growing your online presence through your own website, that’s the point where I would say, okay, am I gonna do this as my job? And now spend 10 to 20 hours a week every week doing this part of my business for myself or not. And then maybe at that point I hire somebody else to do it for me.

Garrett:

I think that’s a good way of thinking about it. Thinking about the time you would spend doing it yourself.

Jacob:

You know, I don’t want to imply that you have to spend 20 hours a week to maintain a website. Like a lot of it is once set up, you can set it and forget it. So for example, on Bre tunes, you write music and then you put it on your website, correct?

Garrett:

Yeah. So I didn’t do anything really with the setup, but then it’s organized in a way that I can go add products by myself. I can update a page or add new text or whatever by myself. So I don’t think you have much day to day involvement with the website, but setting it up was a lot of work. And then of course, when anything breaks and you get a frantic email from me saying, you know, that everything’s down, and, and we’re getting hacked from North Korea, you know, or whatever it is, that’s when it’s really good, right. To have a, a web designer in your

Jacob:

Corner. And so how, how many hours a week do you spend like uploading a new product?

Garrett:

I mean, I would say it probably takes a half hour to an hour to upload a new product. I mean, and that’s with variations, you know cuz I’ll write something that has multiple voicings. And so, you know, coming up with the product description and uploading the audio and linking it to all the social medias and you know, the cover pages and the images and everything is there. I mean, it probably takes about a half hour.

Jacob:

I mean that’s but that’s pretty good. Right. I mean that’s a pretty good at this point, return on your investment.

Garrett:

Yeah. And, and you had to definitely hold my hand in the beginning and kind of walk me through, but yeah.  You’ve obviously worked on a lot of musician websites. So how do you think they ought to be organized?

Jacob:

Yeah. I mean, we all miss MySpace, right? That’s where musicians used to go.

Garrett:

It’s coming back. It’s coming back.

Jacob:

When you have a WordPress website, you have essentially two kinds of content that you can create pages and posts. And then if you install something like WooCommerce for eCommerce, you have a third kind of content that you can create, which is products. And so I would only create the number of pages necessary to introduce what I do. Right. So a homepage on a, about page, a contact page, probably all you really need for most musicians and then maybe some kind of services page. So we’re talking home about contact services, not necessarily in that order. So four pages and then the rest is, should be blog posts. And the reason for that is that, you know, to make a well designed webpage can be time consuming because as any good creative musician knows, right? So like, should that be an F sharp or should this be a minor six or should it be a, a three chord?

Jacob:

You know, you can like battle in your brain for like two hours over a small decision like that. And it’s the same with web design. You can be like, should it be 12 pixels or 10 and you’ve wasted an hour and a whole day. And so you design your webpages and then for the rest of your content, you just want to do blog posts. They look the same every time you’re just writing. And the reason you want to have a lot of blog posts, or if you’re doing products is you want to have a lot of products is Google will index that the search engines index your content. They organize it in their giant massive database. And when people are search for Baroque trombone music, and you’ve got a blog post about it by golly, they’re gonna land on your page, your blog post page about Baroque trombone music. And then they’re gonna see your services tab and say, Hey, this was really well written. Look at the stuff that he does. Oh, he even sells the sheet music. I think I’m gonna buy some. And that’s how that’s how online sales and, and search marketing kind of kind of work. And it’s most basic sense.

Garrett:

Well, let’s dig into that a little deeper because I think SEO or search engine optimization is probably one of the things our listeners have the most questions about.

Jacob:

All right. So let me ask you a question. What’s something you have Googled recently, Garrett

Garrett:

Paddle boards,

Jacob:

Paddle boards. Why were you Googling for paddle boards

Garrett:

To buy one for my wife.

Jacob:

Okay. So your wife wants a paddle board or you think she does?

Garrett:

Well, we, we, we bought it. Not spoiling anything here, if she’s listening.

Jacob:

Right. Okay. So I’m Googling paddle boards right now. I see some ads and then my organic results are Costco REI. Then there’s switch back, travel. All I Googled was paddle board period. Right? Then I see some map results. I see REI, which is to be expected. They’re big corporate one, Dick’s sporting goods also. But then I see west Marine and I can tell from the pictures, it looks more like a mom pop right now. The reason that they pop up on search results in maps and other places is because they’ve done a couple of things here. Okay. One, they have written content about paddleboards. Okay. That’s step number one. Okay. So I’m Google. I want to show relevant search results. If you’ve got a website about cats and I search paddle board and you’ve got one blog post from 20 years ago, about how it was so cute.

Jacob:

This one time you took a picture of a cat on a paddle board and that’s the search result I give you as Google. How happy are you as a searcher? Not very happy at all. Right. Okay. So Google then looks at the whole website and they’re like, well, this website is about cats. It’s not about paddleboards. I’m gonna set it to the side and then it looks at the next one. All right. Now let’s apply that to your music. So you want people to buy choir music for their high school show choirs, correct? That’s right. Okay. So Google’s gonna look at all the websites out there that it’s already looked at about this topic. And if it finds a site about cats and this woman is all like, I, my granddaughter’s show choir rehearsal thing, you know, Google’s gonna say, all right, nevermind. But then it looks at garrettbreeze.com and it finds a blog post about how to arrange for show choir.

Jacob:

And then it finds a couple of other posts about show choir performances, or I think you also judge. Right? And I think you’ve written about that.  So it finds three posts and it starts going ding, ding, ding, I think I’ve found something. And then it finds some links from here at breezetunes.com. And it finds an entire catalog of, I think you have like 500 songs up there now.

Garrett:

Oh, we’re over a thousand.

 

Jacob:

Okay. We’re over a thousand baby. Right? So you got a thousand songs goo, look at that and say, well, this guy, this is show choir. So if somebody Googles show choir, this is what the result that I need to give. Right. And so that’s how Google works. It wants to present useful information. And so if you sell show choir music, but you have one page of show, choir music compared to Breeze Tunes thousand, what are your chances of ranking?  Zero.

Jacob:

Right? And so you have to provide useful content for Google to rank you. And then the other thing that I would say is, is something that has been occurring to me and more and more and more is Google has come out with this. They, they want to find authoritative sources too. And so they’ve been doing the, I think it’s eat expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. And so you want to build trust through your site for Google to send people to your site. And so that is really the foundation of modern search is you want to become an authority in, in your product and your topic. Now, are you ever gonna compete with big players? Probably not. You’re one person, even though you’re a company and you should look at yourself that way. Are you ever gonna compete with, if you’re west Marine, are you gonna compete with REI for paddleboards? Probably not. But if you have like a specific what they got on there, unique, they got on there. Right. But if you have a unique selling proposition, something that makes you extra special. Well then by golly, you’re gonna pop. And I’m just curious now, actually, I’m gonna, you, you can ask me a question, but I’m gonna Google show choir, Garrett priest.

Garrett:

Well, I, I do think every composer, every musician should Google themself and see what comes up. I think that’s really instructive in a lot of ways. Okay.

Jacob:

If you Google show choir music for high school, there’s a bunch of ads, but you are the fourth organic search result. It goes JW pepper. Okay. Actually the third JW pepper show, choir.com and breeze tunes.

Garrett:

All right, I’ll take it. Is it the, is it the amount of content or is it the, the regularity of it is the length of it? Like how do those different factors rank in terms of how Google sees it?

Jacob:

There is a ton of information written about how Google ranks content and keywords and metadata and all of this stuff. The, the thing to remember is it’s kind of like music theory. Okay. Bear with me for a second.  so we look back at Mozart and Beethoven and we say, oh, this is what they were doing. And that’s how we view the music. Right? Yeah. But I don’t think that some of these older musicians were thinking, well, I’m gonna go from a major four major five one. I mean, I think Mozart probably did by the time he rolled around. Right. But I think some of these earliest musicians, maybe didn’t analyze their music in the way we analyze their music. I think music analysis is helpful. Don’t don’t get me wrong. Don’t misunderstand me. But I think that a lot of times people are just being creative, right?

Jacob:

And then we come back and we analyze and we say, well, why did that work? That’s what Google is doing. That’s what SEOs are doing when they’re saying, oh, well look, it had this keyword. So many times, if you study music analysis too much, your music can appear choppy. Right? There’s gotta be room for creativity still. And so that’s my approach to content creation for the web is I could tell you, oh, and there are SEO plugins. You should absolutely install to, to help you write content that has enough keywords is likely to rank. I’m not saying ignore them. But at the end of the day, you just wanna be a trustworthy source. Like you shouldn’t focus on gaming the system, you should focus on being the best show choir website in the world, right. Or if maybe you sell, maybe you’re Lindsay Sterling and you want to do dance and violin in.

Jacob:

Right. So for her and she was brilliant at this, she just made cool stuff, right? Yeah. People just love cool stuff. Think about anybody who’s truly succeeded online. They just have made cool stuff. And that’s the thing to realize about social media as well. I actually have recently decided that social media marketing is a bit of a misnomer. You have to approach social media. Like it’s a separate product. People want to be educated, entertained, or inspired. And so you wanna approach social media from the same aspect. And once you get into the business of creating cool stuff, people will follow you because they want to be educated, entertained, or inspired. People do not want to be sold. Like nobody’s gonna follow you, Garrett. If you get onto Twitter and say, buy my show, choir music, like who cares? Right? But if you post guys check out this freaking sweet arrangement, I just did. Here’s the mini file. And people listen to it. And they’re like, that is really cool. They’re a lot more likely to buy than if you posted the other lame tweak. So yes, from a technical standpoint, there’s a lot of SEO specific things you can do. But if we spent 30 minutes talking about that, I you’d get less out of this conversation than what I just said.

Garrett:

You sent me a bunch of material when we were putting the website together to read about SEO and, and blogging and, and branding yourself and all of that stuff. And I remember it being really frustrating because a lot of the advice out there didn’t really apply to what I was doing because a lot of the guides that are written out for, you know, out there for SEO are about, you know, you’re selling a t-shirt and the assumption is that basically anyone in the world is a potential customer, but you know, when you’re a musician, that’s not necessarily true. Like if you’re writing music for OBO, your customer base is pretty much only people that play OBO and like the relatives of people who only play the OBO that might buy it for them as a present. You know what I mean? So you’re looking for a much more specific group of people. And so is there a way you approach SEO or marketing just in general differently because of that?

Jacob:

So they always say the riches are in the niches, right? So you do want to find a niche, like show choir specifically, not just composing music generally. Right. I would say music composition is probably too broad show choir arrangements is probably just specific enough, right? Show choir arrangements for high school show choirs, very specific. Right. And that’s where the riches are in the niches. So you’ve got this niche and you’re doing a great job there. So how do you create content for that niche? A again, I think that it comes down to like saying, okay, this is a niche I’m going to become an authority on I’m visualized in this. How do you specialize in it? I mean, I think that you’re a good example for anybody listening, just visit breeze tunes, check out how the number of arrangements there and the writing about the arrangements

Garrett:

D do a product and a post have equal weight when it comes to the search engines,

Jacob:

A product or a post.

Garrett:

Yeah. Cuz I have a lot of products on breeze tunes, but I don’t have a ton of written content. And you know, I don’t have a lot of blog content there.

Jacob:

So, so this is exactly what I was gonna say. We’ll talk about a couple of things and we’ll talk about products versus post. So let’s say I know that I can’t beat JW pepper and I can’t beat show choir.com, but maybe there’s a chance I could beat Bre tunes.com.

Garrett:

Go

Jacob:

For it. I apologize.

Garrett:

Bring it on.

Jacob:

So I, I go to your website and I look at your arrangements page and I picked an arrangement. So I’ve got, let’s start tomorrow night, original artist smash performance time, four minutes, 11 seconds instrumentation says the instrument’s voicing. And then you’ve got a file to listen to this arrangement. Sounds pretty good. All right. So what’s not, here is a full written description of what it is completely missing, right? And so me, if I wanted to compete with you, then I would make an arrangement for this song or similar songs. It doesn’t have to be this song, but I would add a 500 word description to every single one of my products. And then what happens is you start to lose visits to your site and you find out what your competitor’s doing. And then you start writing thousand word descriptions of your, of your pieces.

Jacob:

And then eventually, you know, is somebody else gonna write 2000 word descriptions? I mean, you know, at some point you start with lose return on investment, but yeah, I mean that matters the difference between a product and a post Google probably doesn’t put too much stock into that. I think it is going to recognize that this is a store product as opposed to a blog post article. And then there are things you can do to boost that with what’s called schema. And this is a very technical SEO thing. And there are plugins that do some of these functions automatically schema tells Google, like what I’m looking at. Like if it’s a recipe, you know, you can put like a tag around the heading like recipe description, recipe, ingredients, and you can let Google and give them a heads up. Like, Hey, this is what we’re talking about here. And then it can categorize that better and give search results. That’s definitely something you can do with blog posts versus blog products and maybe rank differently in different ways. But for the vast majority of people in this industry and your niche, you’re ranking third because nobody’s competing with you. But

Garrett:

You’ve also kind of illustrated my point because the internet would go and tell you to write a 500 word essay for each of your products. But I don’t know a single music publisher out there who is writing anywhere close to that length of content. And I don’t know any conductor or teacher who wants to sit there and read 500 words for each product they’re potentially buying. Cause all they wanna do is listen to it.

Jacob:

Yeah. I mean, there’s an argument. And actually an article I read recently that says Google has ruined the internet and here’s one example like recipes. I hate it when I go to a recipe site. And the first thing I’m bombarded with is a story about how they couldn’t find the perfect. You

Garrett:

Have to read their life story.

Jacob:

You have to read their life story before you get a stupid recipe. I hate that. Hate it with a passion the people who are smart and Google has actually figured this out. They’re starting to rank the people who put a link at the top of the page to the recipe. You can just jump to the recipe.

Garrett:

Okay. But why not? Why not just put the recipe first and then have all the words after it. That way Google still sees me. That’s

Jacob:

How I would do it. That’s how I would do it. Okay. The reason people don’t is because you, the, it increases their bounce rate. This is where SEO causes a problem. Right? And then Google eventually comes back and fixes it because then they down rank all the sites that suck because they were gaining the system. So you are right. Do they want a 500 word description? Maybe not.

Garrett:

So what I hear you saying is don’t stress out about what the SEO gurus say you have to do and look at who else is competing in your niche and you know, make sure that you’re one upping them. Essentially.

Jacob:

I would agree with that. Look at your niche, see what’s being done and make sure you, you, one up your niche. The problem is is once you start to do that, eventually somebody will come along, see what you’re doing in your niche. And one up you. So you have to keep track of your analytics data. Google analytics is free. It’s easy to install on WordPress or virtually any platform and you should keep track. Now let me add one thing to that. About content creation, Google, they look at a number of factors and they’re absolutely gonna look at factors in your niche. And I assume that every niche is a little bit different, but the variety of content is going to matter. I, I want to give a good example. Let’s say you have a blog post and I don’t know why cats keep coming to mind, but let’s say you have a blog post about cats, right?

Jacob:

It’s 500 words. Let’s say your neighbor has a blog post about cats. That’s also 500 words and they’re substantially similar. But on your neighbor’s page, they have a video of them talking about cats. They have four images, you have zero images. And then they also have, like I mentioned, the schema code to like outline like a testimonial from somebody about how great you are with cats and, and a couple of other like additional features on their page. Which one is Google gonna give them the page with the video or the page without the video, the page with the images or the page without the images, right? Google’s gonna say, well, this website has more on it. I’ll probably rank them first. And so maybe you don’t add a verbal description, but maybe you start recording a quick YouTube video where you say, Hey guys, the inspiration for this piece was I was listening to this.

Jacob:

I feel like this is a great piece for middle school choirs or younger choirs, or this is a great piece for more advanced choirs. I don’t know how long it would take you to make a five minute video for each of your pieces. As you, you said it takes you 30 minutes. If it now takes you 35, but cements your position or even gets you above JW pepper. Is that worth it? I don’t know, but maybe it is. That’s a decision for you to make one other thing you said is SEOs don’t follow SEO advice. But what I would say is good SEOs, really good SEOs today are gonna tell you something similar to what I said, which is just write naturally create good content. In fact, that’s, that’s been the same message forever. And then all these other like granular detail things are, are efforts to game. The system are, are they’re music theory analysis. You know, they’re not actual writing music. And so you, you just wanna make good music. You just wanna make good content. You just actually want to make the world a better place instead of doing recipes and putting them after a thousand words, life story, just put the recipe at the top, right? Like that’s how the internet always should have been. That’s the lesson.

Garrett:

I think that’s a really great way of thinking about it. Do these same concepts also apply to social media?

Jacob:

Yeah, I, so I used to give this advice that I’ve seen everywhere, which is 50, 30, 20, which is like 50% of the time share your own content. That’s really cool. 20% of the time or 30% of the time share other people’s content. That’s really cool in your niche. And then 20% of the time sell yourself. I no longer agree with that. I just think the entire point is educate, entertain, inspire, focus on becoming an expert, focus on being authoritative, focus on being trustworthy. If you do those things through your content, you will succeed.

Garrett:

My understanding is that the more things you have linking back to your website, whether it be a product or a video, my understanding is that those are really important for Google search. And so composers, in particular, if you’re selling sheet music, you have a lot of opportunity to create link backs to your site through products. So like if I write one piece and I put a video on YouTube and then I also posted on Instagram and then I also have it published on JW B pepper, you know, and all of those things have a link to my website. Isn’t that gonna be a big boost for the website?

Jacob:

I’m gonna say yes, tentatively, but I also want to give you a little bit of history on back links. Once everybody found out that Google gave sites more authority from back links, they view it as an authority signal like, oh, look, other sites also trust this website. It must be a good site. This must be a good page. And then people started putting back links to their site and comments on other people’s blogs and then people would do so they call it black hat SEO. That’s a very common black hat SEO tactic is to just send out a robot to make a million comments on other people’s blogs, with a link back to your page. And then all of a sudden Google would in theory, be like, oh way, look at how fancy and useful this site is, right? There are a million people linking back to it.

Jacob:

Well, Google wisen up to that very quickly. The same thing happened with like guest posts, guest posting was all the rage because people are like, oh, it’s a more natural way to get a link back to your site. You post a blog post at somebody else’s blog. And then you put a link back to your site and then both of you profit because your neighbor gets content and you get a link and you know, then they’ll guest post on your side and vice versa. Right. But then Google saw that people were doing that too much in an unnatural way and, and started penalizing sites for that. So I’m not saying that guest posts are bad ideas. I think guest posts are great ideas, but like, you know, within your niche, it still has to make sense. Like you’re not gonna come to my law firm, website and guest post about music and I’m not gonna come to breed tunes and guest post about law. Cause Google’s gonna look at that and be like, what are these people doing? And they’re gonna penalize this. Right? So,

Garrett:

And when you say Google, this is like, this is like the algorithm, right? Or there are people actually checking this.

Jacob:

I, I don’t know. I mean, there are people who are more on top of this than I am. I think there are occasionally like manual corrections, but I think generally they’ll the algorithm does it, or they’ll even do updates to the algorithm and like Panda and others. They have these fun names. Panda was really tough on some of these backlink practices. I think that one was like several years old though. And then during the pandemic, there were a couple, of course, corrections to the algorithm to kind of beat out some of this spam behavior. So when it comes though to like publishing music, that’s what social media’s for. Of course you wanna share your music. You say, Hey, check out my new song. I’ve posted it here. Check out my new video or, Hey, here’s a new video. I’ve posted about my new song at my website. Sure. Link around do well.

Garrett:

That’s related to your content. That’s related to your content, right?

Jacob:

What you wanna avoid is that whole question about putting the recipe after the thousand word life story, you’ve made the internet. You’ve made the world a worse place by doing that. So ask yourself if you’re doing something, am I making the world a better place? If the answer is, yes, you probably won’t get penalized by Google. If you’ve made the world a worse place, Google, if they’re not penalizing you under the current algorithm, they will under the next, right? Because they catch on to these ways that people play with the system. And they do course corrections and sites that used to rank really high, suddenly plummet to the earth. And this happens all the time.

Garrett:

Shifting gears a little bit. How do you balance the social media marketing versus the traditional web marketing?

Jacob:

Personally, for me, I’m moving away from the terms, social media marketing. I want to start viewing social media as its own like product or service line. I wouldn’t say that the old stuff is dead. It’s very much live content is king. I would just say that what qualifies content is evolving, you know, it, it’s really amazing how you can repurpose content. So this video could end up on YouTube. You could have a podcast, you could have a transcript. You could take some of that content and make quote blocks that you put on Instagram. You know, you can, you can share this

Garrett:

And I’m going

Jacob:

To right, like, right, right, right. So you take one piece of content. This is an hour and you’re going to make eight pieces of content from it and share it all over the web. That’s absolutely what you should do. And it’s easier to do than it’s ever been. Like you could have a transcript of this thing made up and a matter of minutes and have that instantly shareable and you should post it as a blog post alongside the video on your website, you know? And, and it’s a great way to make lots of content.

Garrett:

Now, I guess this question doesn’t really matter, cuz you’re going to do all of it, but is there a, a ranking or, or a priority, does video score higher than text or is it about how many people interact with the content?

Jacob:

So not all SEOs agree on all things. And to clarify, I don’t consider myself an SEO so much as just somebody who’s been in this space for a while and there are different schools of thought, right? Like there are people that are have different, different perspectives on a lot of different things, but some people might tell you, you want to create every single kind of content you wanna create written content, video content, podcasting, content, infographics, all of it. Right. But then I think within your niche, it, it matters. And also what you’re trying to do take, like, I don’t know, mark Rover, I love his YouTube videos. Right? engineering guy, NASA engineer. Now he like just posted videos of his really cool secret lab. Right. Which is really awesome. Or the scammer video that he did or, you know, he’s the guy with the, the glitter bombs. Right. I don’t think he has a blog. At least I’ve never looked for it. Why would I, you know, so if you’re mark Rober is really the best use of his time to make a blog, I don’t think so. So it depends on what it depends on your niche. It depends on your audience. If, if you’re competing with other people and they’re making video and you’re not, I think you need to be careful, but as to where you spend your time, I think it depends on your audience and what you’re doing.

Garrett:

Do you have any, I guess closing remarks or advice you maybe want to give, to wrap things up?

Jacob:

I think it’s important to remember return on investment. It, it can be easy to sync tons of time down the web rabbit hole  which is also why I think it’s important to just make cool stuff, make the world a better place and, and you will be rewarded. The internet is like the embodiment of karma, right? Like  you put good stuff out, good stuff will come to you. But yeah, I mean, I think it’s really great to, to be involved in the creative field and to maybe give some advice to help people kind of dominate in their space. I, I I didn’t realize you were ranking that high for high school show, choir music. I’m actually really proud of that. So, and proud of you for doing it. Well, I mean, all

Garrett:

I think

Jacob:

Is you’re the one that’s made all the content. So

Garrett:

Are there any resources you’d recommend, you know, with SEO and web design and content marketing and all those sorts of things, we didn’t even talk about building an audience. That’s one of your soap boxes that you shared with me time and time again.

Jacob:

Yeah. I mean, if you have a million followers, you could sell rubber bands and make the living, right. So it doesn’t matter what you sell. If you have a fol for me, I places to find authoritative information, Google itself will publish their webmaster guidelines, I think on an annual basis, if not more frequently, quick, sprout is an excellent web website. If you Google quick, sprout online MBA and read those, I think it’s like 12 PDF ebook things. You will be as much of an expert, if not more than I currently am on this topic. Mas.Com ma SEO also has resources and material on SEO generally. And after those three resources are probably given you more than you will ever be able to read in your lifetime. So if they, you have it

Garrett:

Well, thanks again. I really appreciate it.

Jacob:

Yeah, no, Garrett, it’s been fun. I I’m happy that your site is doing well and I’m glad we could help with that.

 

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Garrett Breeze

COMPOSER, ARRANGER

Garrett Breeze is a Nashville-based composer and arranger whose credits include film and television, Broadway stars, Grammy-winning classical artists, and many of the top school music programs in the U.S.

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