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It’s a given these days that if a photographer wants to get his or her work seen by a wider audience, they will need a good website. However, getting the website completed is only the first hurdle, the biggest challenge is getting your site seen in an ocean of similar sites. To do this you need to perform SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. To some, SEO is a mysterious and unreachable goal, to others it is as simple as typing the right words in the right places. In this article we are going to take a look at optimizing your site to get more visits.
How Does SEO Work?
Typically a search engine, like Google, will look for a number of factors which include the number of links coming to your site from other sites and vice versa, and the pattern of keywords found in the site. More recently, images have become important. Another major contributing factor is how often your site appears in social networking.
Before you set off on any SEO journey, you need to make sure that your site has some sort of focus. Define what you want your site to achieve, if it's a simple tool for displaying your work to people you already work with, then SEO may not be so important. If, however, you are trying to drive new people, potential customers to your site then SEO will be vital. Make sure your website provides detailed information and specifics about what you do but do not allow it to wander off on a tangent with irrelevant content.
Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
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Keywords – Why Are They So Important?
You might think that as a wedding photographer, your most important keyword phrase would be wedding photography. However when you step back and think about it, this will be the most common phrase a wedding photography business will use, you will be competing with tens of thousands of sites using that phrase. Wedding photography is generally a local business, so you can narrow down the choice by using wedding photographer in Bournemouth England. As you can see, this is more a sentence than a phrase and this is important because Google’s algorithms recognize keyword spamming, the blatant use of specific keywords out of context with the content, and will lower the page ranking. As a photographer, you need to think of what your potential clients will be entering in the Google search bar and add these to your primary website content in a structured coherent way. Another important factor is making sure you have relevant names for each web page and also keyword based headings.
Linking is another important aspect of SEO. Try to get friends and customers to provide links to your site from their own sites. This can be as simple as adding your website to a recommended links page. You are more likely to achieve this if you reciprocate the linking. A powerful way to increase your SEO is through the use of a blog, by having a separate blog site, you can regularly link back to your main site in your articles. You can also persuade other blogs to mention and link to you in their own posts.
SEO and Images
Recently SEO has started to look more at images on websites. Make sure that every image you use has an informative caption, details description and relevant keywords in the <alt> attributes. Flash based sites are at a disadvantage here as search engines cannot read information from flash based imagery.
Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
In the days before the Internet, the business card was king. These days the principle is still the same – when you post on forums or send emails, always include your website address and social media accounts in your signature. Posting regularly to relevant forums is a good way to elevate your sites rankings.
SEO and Social Media
Lastly social media plays an important role in SEO these days. Whilst not directly effecting Google ranking, perhaps with the exception of G+, marketing your site through linked social media sites is a powerful way to drive people to your site. When posting information, say, about a photograph on Facebook, cross post it to all your social media accounts and include a link to your main website. You can also invite people to visit your site to get more information. The power of social media should not be underestimated in SEO these days.
By following some or all of these basic SEO tips, you may well find that your site begins to rise up the Google ranks. You can monitor your success and failures using Google’s powerful analytics tool which can hep you determine your audience demographics, most and least successful pages and even the flow that visitors take through your site. Combining this information with the basic SEO tips above can really begin to make your site work for you.
For a more detailed guide, check out Light Stalking's SEO For Photographers guide.