The Basics of Search Engine Optimization for Photographers and Visual Bloggers
**I got a Facebook message from an across the seas photographer friend today! She’s ready to start getting her name in the Google limelight, but wasn’t sure where to start…
I hope you’re ok and business is good. I wanted a little advice, if possible..basically, my ranking on Google is zero and I wondered how I would improve that?
I’ll be honest…when I read her little love note, my first thought was “Oh man, that’s a question with an answer as long as five thousand lined up pixie sticks!!”
My next thought? …CHALLENGE…ACCEPTED!! If I were going to give advice in 1000 words or less, what would I say? I think Sophie will absolutely dive headfirst into research…but let’s say that I was going to give advice to someone who I KNEW wouldn’t maintain the weekly SEO work, and who was only looking for crumbs of knowledge. What would I say? What concise advice would I give?
So…here I went.**
I’d be more than happy to give you advice!! SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is kind of like a game…you have to set up your pieces on the board before you can make any moves.
There is a lot more to explain than I can get out in one email (it takes years and constant maintenance to stay at the top of Google), but I can definitely give you the basics!
There are a few things that Google considers important for those websites on Page 1.
- The length of time the URL has been active.
- How often the website is updated.
- How much valuable text is on the individual pages of the website.
- How many valuable links you have linking to your website.
- Google can’t see images.
1. If you’ve owned your URL for longer than two or three years and it has been active, then you are WAY better off than a URL that was just created a month or less ago. The reason for this is, if the URL has been up for a while and has received traffic and is obviously not abandoned…Google believes there is more of a chance of this website “surviving” and being valuable than if it were a start up website. In general, the majority of URL’s that are created are abandoned within 30 days.
2. Google is obviously a search engine that holds “accurate and valuable answers to your search queries” in high regard. SO, if you update your website often with valuable information, Google will put you at the top of the search engines for certain keywords. THIS is why photographers generally have a blog! The blog allows you to update your website with GREAT text and images….in addition to being able to vary the topic of what your website is covering at any given moment. Remember above where I said the amount of time a URL is active is important? That applies here! When you put up a blog post…it stays active, even after you’ve added a newer blog post! On a static website, when the website is updated with new text content, old text content is deleted and replaced.
3. Ok. So now that we’ve TOUCHED on text, you need to know what kind of text I am talking about! In addition to that, there are a few rules of text you should know. Keywords and key phrases are absolutely imperative. I recommend using a tool like “Google AdWords: Keyword Tool”. You’ll have to play around with it to get the hang of it, but it’s invaluable once you figure it out! By typing in a phrase you’d like to be googled for, it will suggest phrases that you might also like, then rank them by popularity. I highly recommend poking around on websites and blog posts that explain The Adword tool in more detail.
The text on your web pages should be in sentence format with your chosen keywords placed as near to the top of the page and as frequently in the body of your page as possible. The higher up on the page your keywords are placed, the more valuable Google believes those words are.
I notice on your website that the top of the page is just titled “wedding photographer and portrait photographer”. I HIGHLY recommend adding a location to that! Use a location that is NOT huge, but near where you would like to be googled for. You want your competition to be low…but the demand to be high.
For the record, the amount of text on your “weddings” page is awesome!! BUT, there are no really great keywords on the page. So I would take two of the keywords that you REALLY want to get googled for, and make sure they are in the first sentence of the first paragraph, and then used a few more times throughout the page. Make sure you do this on each page! It doesn’t have to be the same keywords! You can use two wedding keywords on the weddings page and portrait keywords on the portraits page, etc.
4. Socializing on the interwebs is SUPER important!! Try to get your work featured on other websites…and when they feature you, make sure they are linking to your website! You can do small things like make sure your website is listed on smaller sites like weddingwire.com (or the UK equivalent). Also, make sure you are commenting on blogs and using your website’s URL when you comment! This will help to lend credibility to your page. If Google sees that websites are “recommending” your website, then they will consider your website more valuable!
5. And finally, Google has NO idea that images exist. I know, crazy right? But if you were to just put up a website with photos (and no keywords or metadata attached to them) Google would only see a blank page with a little bit of coding. So, what you need to do is make sure you’re taking those keywords that you did research on, and use them in your images. You can add keywords in Lightroom! What you DON’T want to do is add the same keywords over and over again to images located on the same page. So no copy and pasting!! Google will automatically think that you are trying to spam, and will give no credit OR even knock you down!!
So that is pretty much the basics!! I recommend starting a blog, if you haven’t already. (Go through WordPress…it’s much easier for SEO.) And let me know how you’re getting on!! Hope all is well and this helps!!