WHAT IS this SEO stuff ? Listen as I give some amazingly DETAILED how-to's for improving your SEO and if you're hungry to succeed with your website & photography- you will put these items on your ACTION-TO-DO-List today!
SEO = SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION! Something that is truly imperative in order for your website to rank among its competition through major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
When done correctly, you will begin to notice a drastic change in your placement in these search engines over time. There is no quick fix or magic wand you can wave that will get you placed on Google’s front page overnight, so don’t ever believe anyone that calls your business phone and tells you they can do it for you for a fee. The truth is, it takes quite a bit of time, a lot of diligence, research and persistence, but, it’s well worth it!
YOU NEED TO DO THIS. Remember, it takes time for them to index everything and there is a lot involved with how a webpage ranks. Notice there, I said web”page”, not website. The reason for this, is that EACH PAGE OF YOUR WEBSITE can ,and does rank differently than another. And photo names MATTER, too... we'll get to that soon! What would be a good TITLE for this one?!
PAGE /VS/ SITE ... You may have noticed this before, you see a page on Google that reads yourphotostudio.com/page1 or yourphotostudio.com/super-awesome-photographer instead of just the main domain. This is because each of these pages are set up differently, visited different amounts of times, and have other attributes attached to them that some of the other pages do not. Let’s talk about some of those attributes right now.
So, you have a website. Great! Now, what’s it called? Are you a photographer in Cincinnati who specializes in gourmet food photography? What’s the title of your website? Is it your business name? Is it your personal name? Does it have the word photography in the title? If not…why not? If you are a specialized photographer, does your specialty make an appearance in your domain name? No? Why not? Because it’s too long? Because it wasn’t unique enough and it was already taken? Because you didn’t know about this when you bought your domain? Not an excuse. You can purchase domains that have your specialty photography in the name and then use them as ghost sites that forward to your main site. While this is not the best way to do this, it is still something that can be useful. Ideally, you want to have something in your domain name that is descriptive of who you are and what you do. Unless you own Nike, not many people are going to be able to distinguish Jane Doe Photography in Cincinnati from Jane Doe Photography Too in Miami. You may be all about your name as your brand, and that’s wonderful! I hope that you are marketing and branding the heck out of yourself every turn you get to help your name become a household item, like Sue Bryce, or Annie Liebovitz. How awesome is that going to be??? Awesome. Until you have dominated at least your own market, branding your own name is going to be very challenging, but very worth it. You can totally rule the world! I'm going to, one photo at a time!
DOMAIN, check. PAGES TITLED? When I say titled, I mean, what shows up when you hover your mouse over the grey tabs at the top of your browser window? Does it say “about our business” Or does it say “Awesome Senior Tog | Somewhere, FL | Your Photo Studio”? I’m sure you can clearly see the difference between the two. Each page on your website should be distinctively written for the content it contains, your location and your business name. Why? Because Google and the other search engines read text much in the same way that we do. It looks for valuable information that will catch the attention of a reader and organizes it in their fantastical magical way that I couldn’t really begin to describe because I’m not a coding genius. All I can tell you, is that it’s not only important what information you put in there, but in what order. You want to try and keep your titles as short as possible so that they are not truncated by the search engines. Meaning, you don’t want people to search for you, then see your link as “The Best Photographer in the Whole World located in ….Seniors”. This isn’t very good…you want the reader to be able to see what they are clicking on. Google for example, allows between 50 and 60 characters before it truncates, so keep it short and to the point! The order you put your information in also is very important. The closer the keyword is to the front of the tag (the far left), the more helpful and accurate it will be when ranking. For example, if you write a blog post on the 10 Best Locations to Eat Mexican Food in Colorado…you have to determine what is the most popular keyword your prospective readers will type into Google to find that article. It could be Mexican Food in Colorado, it could be Mexican Restaurants, but, something detailed and unique will have a better chance of standing out than using the same keywords as everyone else. Come up with something creative that you would search for if you were looking to find it on the web. Your location should always be included in there, so that people searching for something local to them, will find you! Go through each of your pages and read them over, and come up with a keyword rich title to change your page to, then SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!
Because this has become a very, very long tutorial, I am going to go into one other extremely important method of optimizing your website for great search engine rankings. This one is probably one of the most tedious, but one of the most important. Typically, your page titles are really the MOST important according to some, but I’d argue that this next tip is just as important.
DESCRIPTIVELY NAME YOUR IMAGES ... When you photograph a client, and you are going through all of those photos…those DSC_7100.jpg’s to show your client, or to print for them, or to put on your website…you know what I’m talking about…do you save them as your camera named them? Or do you save them as Super Awesome Pet Tog in NYC.jpg? Ok, you don’t have to save them all to your computer like that, but, you should NEVER put up an image that has anything less than a descriptive title, alt tag and description. Never. Every single photo that you upload to your website (except your background images, solid color images, etc.) should be as descriptive as possible. Why? Because Google and them read images the same way they read websites. They look for descriptions. Have you ever searched Google for “Gerard Butler shirtless”? No? Just me? Ok well then…. Ahem. Anyway…if you DID search for that, guess what….you’ll find it. Know why? It was uploaded to the internet titled “Gerard Butler shirtless” or “sexy Gerard Butler and his fine ass shirtless body” or something to that effect. That’s how Google shows us what’s out there in the interwebz!!
So, what’s an “alt” tag? Ever get an email that looks like there should be a photo there, but instead, it’s an empty square with a thin border and a little red X in the top left corner? We all have, and none of us know what that picture is of, since the link was broken somehow. But, when you upload a photo and include its title in the “alt” field, if someone does get directed to that photo, and they get the red X, they will ALSO get your title right next to the X. So, even if Google can’t show the image, it’s at least showing what the image is called, and it will still show up in search engines, pointing people to your site of broken photos. You should fix that pronto btw.
These are all tedious, but very important aspects of SEO that every website should start out with. Once all of your pages and images have been set up correctly, then you are able to start creating some keyword rich content on those pages that also is searched by Google and helps your rank. There are things to watch out for though so that you are not blacklisted – and not the cool kind with James Spader – this is the bad kind that can hurt you in the search engines.
Once your content is created, your keywords are generated and strategically placed, there are so many other avenues of SEO that will help your ranking, both on site and off site for you to learn about and implement.
I hope this has been informative and a helpful start for many of you!!
If you are interested in taking my one-on-one SEO for Photographer’s course which covers all of this, plus a whole lot more, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Talk to you SOON!