Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technique that helps search engines organically find and rank your site within their search results. The idea is that the higher you rank in results, the more people can find your site, which in turn gives your more chances to convert prospective clients into buying customers. To do that you need to do two main things, 1) Know how you want your clients to find you, and 2) Understand how your site interacts with Search engines.
By “Know how you want your clients to find you”, we mean what do you think your clients will type (or speak) into the search engine to find your business. The more specific you can be about your services, the more likely you are to turn up in search results. However, being too specific may prevent you from coming up when prospective clients are searching with more vague search terms. The trick is finding the right balance. You will also need to be realistic about your direct competition for certain terms. “Wedding Photographers in New York City” is going to have much more competition than “Rodeo Clown Photographer in Bozeman Montana”. The main aspect to know about for this step is keywords, which will be further discussed below.
The second part of the SEO process is knowing how to interact with the search engines so that they will clearly know what your site is about and be able to offer your site as a result when they think someone is looking for what you have to offer. The ultimate goal of all search engines is to provide relevant results to its users, thus they are continually fine tuning their formula for arriving at results. The best way to get results with SEO is to tell the robots, spiders, or gnomes that examine your site for the Search Engines exactly what you are. The trick to doing this is again keywords, and how you apply them.
Understanding SEO terminology
Optimizing your site for Search engines depends a lot on your site content, namely your text and images. However, there are some aspects of SEO that occur behind the scenes, they are not visible to the viewer on your website, but are part of the html code that makes up your site and are visible to the automated crawlers that index your site for search engines. Some of these aspects are integral to how your site is listed in the organic results. Knowing what these are will help you craft a presence that is more likely to get clicked by potential customers.
It is considered a good idea to use some of your keywords in the title, but probably not a good idea to use all your keywords. Should be limited to 70 characters.
example: Contact Jane Smith – Springfield Ohio Portrait Photographer
Each page and gallery on your site has a tag in the html code. Redframe has tools for you to customize each of these.
The meta description is the snippet that appears below the link in search results. It may be used or ignored in the actual search algorithm, but a well structured one will definitely enhance the chances your link will get clicked on if it does appear in the search results. This is a 156 character opportunity to describe and market your services.
example: Jane Smith is an award winning photographer in Springfield Ohio. Specializing in wedding, portrait, and event photography. Contact for availability.
Finding the right keywords is covered below. You’ll want to use these keywords in your title, meta description and content (image names). Common thought on SEO best practices is to make sure that any Keyword you add to your meta tags should appear in your site content.
Note: There may be some confusion between SEO keywords and keywords used for your sites image search functionality. There may be some over lap in the terms used but there may be some less specific terms that you want to apply for the in site image search functionality. For more information on that feature please read here
Having a readable URL also helps improve SEO rankings. Redframe handles most of this automatically for you. The main thing to keep in mind is to name your pages, galleries and images with proper naming conventions. By proper I mean relevant to the content.
examples: http://yoursite.com/gallery/weddings/ and http://yoursite.com/gallery/weddings/bride-before
Another technique that apparently works well is to use your keywords in your page and gallery urls. An example of this would be: http://yoursite.com/gallery/springfield-ohio-weddings/
Getting Started with SEO
Step 1. Find Your Keywords.
Create a list of keywords your potential clients would likely use to find you, then use
those keywords in the page titles, meta data, and page content. This is what search engines “crawl” to see if your website is relevant to what the person is searching. There are multiple online tools for doing keyword research and can help to discover which keyword combinations are the most popular and how strong the competition is for certain phrases (search for “Keyword Research Tools”). It is best to find keyword combinations that are less competitive, but still relevant to your style of photography. It is also important to consider what types of visitors certain keywords bring you. For example, even if your website were to show up as a top-ranking entry with the broad search of “photographers“, you would almost certainly find that it’s not a paying client using those search terms. A potential client will more likely use a search like “Springfield, Ohio photographers” or “Portrait studio Springfield, Ohio“. So these are the search terms where you most likely want to focus.
2. Apply Keywords Correctly
Redframe has built in tools to help you get your keywords into elements of your site. For more detailed instructions on each of these steps please visit the following sections:
More information on adding SEO to Pages in Redframe
You can easily add Title, Meta Description, and Keywords to your page.
You can easily add Title, Meta Description, and Keywords to your galleries.
SEO for your Images
Add captions and keywords to all your photos. Don’t be afraid to put text next to your images, although make sure your descriptions are succinct and don’t clutter your site. If you are not the best writer, ask someone for help, but don’t avoid image captions altogether. Captions can also give important factual information about an image and can be used to underscore the importance of the subject matter. If you don’t like how the captions clutter your image you can hide them from the viewer (more information on this) , but they won’t be hidden from search engines.
It is also a very good practice to use some of your keywords in your images names. For example smith-wedding-springfield-ohio-3.jpg is more relevant to search engines than DCS345563E.jpg
3. Add Content to Your Site on a Regular Basis.
This is not something that is natural to all photographers and photography businesses. Sometime you just want to create a portfolio of your best work and let that speak for itself. The best way to achieve this is to regularly remind yourself to upload the best of your newest work. Making sure to name the images with keyword friendly names and captions.
4. Build Links
After doing everything you can to use strong keywords appropriately across your site, the next step is to get some external sites linking back to your site. It is even bester if that link includes some of your keywords (i.e Springfield Ohio Wedding photographer Jane Smith apparently works better than Jane Smith ). The easiest way to start this is to approach businesses, services and colleague that you associate with and ask them to list you. you can create a page of listings on your site to reciprocate the favor. The higher ranking (busier) the site is that links to you, the better credibility you will get with search engines. This comes with a warning that it is probably best to limit your link building to sites that you are legitimately associated with. If the search engines just listed the sites with the most external links coming back to them, relevant results would soon be obsolete. It is unclear as to how they determine whether an external link is legitimate or not, but it is good practice not to try and trick them. If you get caught, you may be penalized and all your SEO marketing efforts will amount to nothing.
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed formula for improving your search engine rankings, and the search engines don’t share their secrets. But, we do know that that how you structure and edit your website content can help your rankings, and Redframe provides the tools to help you achieve this.