The 1st person v. 3rd person discussion for About pages on web sites can be a tough one for me to balance with my web design clients since artists’ sites are often light on the amount text they include. Google, an important “target audience” to consider, uses the plain (HTML) text to understand a web site. If an artist’s name appears only in a graphic logo it may be highly beneficial to incorporate the full name into the text on several pages within the site or the site may be invisible to people searching for the artist by name.
The About page is sometimes the only page with a lot of text on an artist’s site so it becomes a candidate for including the name and description of the artist’s work, making 3rd person a choice, sort of by default. For example, on a graphic-heavy site, including “Mary Jo Miller, a portrait artist in Portland, has received awards for her commissioned paintings of children and families” gives Google a lot to work with and, importantly to connect with Mary Jo Miller. Google just doesn’t understand who “I” in 1st person text is.
Before writing an About in either 1st or 3rd person it might be good to inventory the site to see how many times the name appears in plain (HTML) text. Another good test is to enter the artist’s name in Google and see if any sites show up above the artist’s site. If art guild or exhibits the artist is involved with, or personal sites show up first, the artist has done a poor job of including his/her name in the text on the site.
I love 1st person bios so I’m always looking for ways to avoid the dreary “Google matters” lecture with artists.
→Here’s a compromise format I’ve used with success. Start with a headline at the top of the page, such as “About Mary Jo Miller.” Put the text under the headline in 1st person, but include on the page a brief quote from one or more of collectors that incorporates the artist’s name: “Mary Jo Miller’s portraits are stunning and original . . . “ It can make a big difference.
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