Search engine marketing is all about updating your photography website to appear in search engines. With a million ways to attack SEO it can be overwhelming where to begin. The best approach includes a long-range plan/strategy while implementing quick tips as you find them. This post addresses twenty ways to quickly apply some quick tips across a photography homepage, blog, URL, images, and links to get your feet wet with SEO.
1. Update your homepage title to focus on 1-2 key phrases that you want to rank (ie. Las Vegas Premier Portrait & Wedding Photography Galleries). Too many keyword phrases in your title make search engines think you’re a little about everything (broad/general), but they will only rank a page that is a lot about one thing (specific).
2. Make sure your homepage has 300+ words of text (the standard minimum for SEO). Google doesn’t want to refer it’s searchers to a page without content on it.
3. Update your meta description to make users want to click your link from a search results page. The meta description is what appears as the black text underneath the link. With tons of other choices to click, a great meta description will help searchers click on you. Include your business name, why you rock (award-winner, lots of experience, etc) and a call to action (“view my stunning photos”).
4. Add hyperlinks to 5 other pages that are important for you to rank (galleries, blog posts, etc). Your homepage has the most SEO juice, and that juice passes down to the pages you link to.
5. Remove any unnecessary links, like a link to a Flash installer or website directories that asked you to link to them. Your homepage SEO juice is divided among the number of links on your page, and you want that passed only to your pages.
6. Add a testimonial and contact information. Users from search are brand new to your site and may only look at one page. You need to get them to trust you and call you right away.
7. Update your blog homepage title so that it uses a different phrase than your homepage (ie. Destination Wedding Tips from a Las Vegas Wedding Photographer). Otherwise you’ll have two pages attempting to rank for the same phrase and only one will win. Instead you can have two pages ranking for two different phrases.
8. Remove your blog name from the titles of individual blog posts in the All in One SEO Pack (see 5 Minute Photography Blog SEO Overhaul for instructions)
9. Create a sitemap (I suggest the Google XML Sitemaps plugin by Archibald) that will automatically ping search engines every time your blog changes
10. Change the permalink structure to use keywords instead of the default post ID. For example if you wrote a post about Great Vegas Weddings you would like /great-vegas-weddings/ in the URL instead of ?p=123. See (Photography Blog Keyword Rich URL Video for instructions)
11. Change your image upload folder to something that uses keywords. For example put your images in a /wedding-albums/ folder instead of your website system’s default folder like /wp-content/uploads/
12. Name your image filenames with descriptive keywords. Google can’t see the image like a human, so it relies on other factors like the filename. By changing DS001.jpg to mother-cradling-infant-soft-white-blanket.jpg, now you know the topic of the image without being able to see it
13. Provide unique alternate text for every image. Describing the photo with a single sentence. “A new mom cradles her baby girl in a soft blanket just hours after birth” will help you rank for lots of related searches while “Las Vegas baby photographer” as alt text won’t affect your rank much for that competitive phrase
14. Reduce image filesize as much as possible without affecting quality. Page load time is becoming more important to Google’s ranking algorithm. Nobody likes to wait for a page to load
15. Write a caption for your most important photos. Many times a caption is the first thing a user will read on the page – right after they look at the image. Captions often use very descriptive; niche phrases that will help you rank for related searches. They also add word count to the page to help Google understand what the page is about
16. Add a signature to any community/forum profiles you may have. Put a link in the signature so that every time you post in the forum, you’re adding a link back to your site
17. Write a testimonial for a partner or product you like. Sites love to feature great comments and can easily link to your site within your quote
18. Create accounts in review sites like Yelp, SuperPages, and Merchant Circle. These feed into Google Places (the map results for local businesses) and can help move you higher on the map
19. Create an account at google.com/analytics and look at the Traffic Sources > Keywords report. These are phrases people click in search engines to find you. It’s great for ideas on what to write about next. For example if you see “Valentine’s Day Sessions” as a keyword then you might want to start creating more pages around this phrase, or pages for other holidays
20. Create an account at google.com/webmasters and upload your sitemap. Google Webmaster Tools provides great insight to how you rank in search engines and if they are finding any malware or crawl errors in your site