Tuesday, June 4, 2013

SEO Advice for Photographers

A woman executive stands at the top of a lighthouse in an urban setting scanning the horizon for opportunities and risks in the world of business and finance.
If you want to be found on the Internet by people searching for photographers then good SEO is essential!

Google, (or any search engine) is looking for the best site to send to a searcher.   So, of course, if you want to get on the first page of the search engine results you site has to convince Google or whatever search engine is being used that your site is the best or at least close to the best.

Google doesn't rely on just your website, but also looks at the links on other websites that point to your site. For instance, if someone searches for "photographer" then Google goes and looks through its database and finds websites that are related to "photographer".  Let's say Google finds 10 sites that are tied for 1st place.  All ten are really good sites. To break the tie, Google will look at how many links are pointed to the sites, what the links say, and where the links come from and it will assign a score for those links.  The links from the most important websites will count the most. Links from unrelated sites are worth almost nothing.

There isn't much you can do about the links from other sites. Unless you are buddies with the owner or something you most likely will not be able to have the links say what you would like them to say.  You would like them to contain the keyword phrases you are trying to get a good ranking for.
The only place where you have control is on your own site. Once you have a "perfect" site, (search engine wise), then you need those good links.  If your website is really good, other sites with related content will link to it. But again, all you can do is make the best site you can and let the links happen!

So let's see what you can do about your own site. Google looks at 200 variables to makes its decision on where to rank your site. This includes things like spelling and grammar; good sites don't have a lot of miss-spelled words and/or poor grammar.  It checks to see how many pages the site has, how many of those pages are related to the keyword phrase being searched for, what the keyword density is, what kinds of ads if any are on the page, how cluttered the page is, etc.  Nobody (outside of Google) knows for sure what the 200 variables are and how they are rated. 

You can have a great website, but unless you tell Google about it you still won't rank well. For good SEO, all you can do is make sure your site is really good, is easy to use for humans, and can communicate that to Google.

If I was Google, I would first look at the title of the website.  If I were looking for a photographer for a book cover, I would not bother with a website that had the title: History of Mesopotamia.   However, if I spotted a website titled " John Lund, Professional Photographer, Sausalito, California, then that might be worth taking a look at. The search engines will look to see how often "photographer" is used on each page, and if your site has the word on 3 pages but someone else has it mentioned on 48 pages then they will probably get better results than you.  But that is just one variable of 200...

If a keyword phrase is in the title, it should be in the text of the page at least once. Each page on your site is a chance to optimize for a keyword phrase, maybe two, but not more than that.  It should be good reading for a human. So you might have a page related to "business photos", and one titled "Financial Concept Photos" and one "Photoshop Composite Photos" etc.  If you have lots of pages, each optimized for a phrase or two, Google begins to think maybe you are an expert.  That gives you better ranking.

When you look at the source code of your page you will see near the top of the page something like this:

Best Photographer In The World

That is the title tag and is in the "Head portion of the page".  In other words it has to be between the tags and also in the head portion will be the description tag... put it under the title tag:


Pictures have an alt tag you use to tell people who can't see the picture what it is about.  Google reads it.  It's for blind people and people that have text only browsers etc.  Put a good detailed description of the photo in the alt tags.

Typical alt tag (for the picture at the top of this blog):

alt="A woman executive stands at the top of a lighthouse in an urban setting scanning the horizon for opportunities and risks in the world of business and finance."

HTML has something called headings. H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6
H1 is the most important heading. Use it only once on a page.  Google thinks it’s more important than regular text. H2 is next in importance... you can use it once or twice under an H1 tag. H3 and lower you can use lots of if you want to. But they are for headings of paragraphs, nothing else. If you are going to work on your site I would suggest you take a few online tutorials about HTML.

So, as far as SEO goes...
Make as many pages as you can about different aspects of your business.
Include as much text as you can on each page... between 250 and 500 words is good.
Put the keyword phrases in your title, alt tags, body text, use headings with the phrases in your body text, and don't use the phrase too often.  Usually 1 to 3 times in the body text is good. 10 times is too many for 250 to 500 words.
Google has to spider your site before it can index and then rank it.  So be sure there are links on your pages that Google can read so it will know about all your pages, or make a sitemap to tell Google what pages you have.

Join Google's Webmaster Tools.  It tells you everything you need to know about how to rank well at Google.

Use Google analytics.

And there you have it, my webmaster's sage advice on SEO for photographers…have fun!