SEO for WordPress Photography sites is something I’m extremely passionate about.
SEO is not a dark art, but it can be a slog if you’ve neglected SEO on your established site.
Whilst I’m here Bing is important, but here I will only deal with Google. Much of what is written about Google also applies to Bing.
Summary of Essential SEO Steps
- For Google to find your site you need to either:
- Have a backlink from another domain already indexed by Google.
- Have your site added to Google Search Console.
- Do nothing and be found by Google – eventually!
- To make your site crawlable by Googlebot you must:
- Ensure all pages are reachable from any another page on your site in three clicks and under.
- Ideally have a Sitemap listing your crawlable pages, Yoast SEO plugin can do this for you. As of WordPress 5.5 sitemaps are generated automatically. That change aside you still need Yoast.
- Ideally use a robots.txt file to stop search bots crawling certain pages. Pages like your WordPress login pages are obvious examples of pages that shouldn’t be crawled. Yoast SEO plugin can handle your robots.txt file.
- Without a robots.txt file, Googlebot will crawl all accessible pages.
- Deploy the free SEO Plugin called Yoast:
- This plugin is essential. There are other plugins but none as good as Yoast.
- Add your Website to Google Search Console using Yoast
- Visit Google Search Console.
- Verify your site with Google Search Console by using the “HTML Tag” method and copy the code given.
- Go to Yoast > SEO Settings > General > Webmaster Tools and add the ‘HTML Tag’ from Google Search Console and then click “Save”.
- Wait for about five minutes to check if your verification has worked.
- You might have to flush your site’s cache.
- Optimise your Photos (reduce the file size in bytes)
- No image needs to be over two thousand pixels longest edge.
- Export from your image editing software at the lowest possible JPEG quality settings. I use JPG quality thirty on export from Lightroom
- Further, compress your images either using a WordPress Plugin, a standalone app, or an online app.
- I use the EWWW IO WordPress Plugin to carry out image optimisation.
- Deploy Web Caching to Speed up your site.
- Find out what web caching your hosting provider has if any.
- Ask your hosting provider what they recommend for caching.
- Most web caching plugins do many other things besides caching.
- The caching plugin I use is WP Rocket
- Use Lazy Loading
- Lazy loading is a method of delaying the downloading of images until they appear in the window (viewport) as you scroll down the page.
- Lazy Loading will make the webpage quicker to interact with.
- There are many ways to deploy Lazy Loading.
- I use WP Rocket for lazy loading.
- As of WordPress 5.5 Lazy Loading is part of the environment. Personally, I still use WP Rocket for Lazy Loading.
- Consider using a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
- A CDN is a network of servers situated in strategic locations around the world serving up cached (duplicated) webpages from a site.
- The obvious advantage of CDN’s is that they overcome network latency caused by distance.
- The closer the server to the user the quicker the page loads.
- I use EWWW IO which is an image optimising plugin offering a CDN service besides optimising my images.
- Ensure your site performs well on Mobile Devices
- Google now crawls most sites as a Smartphone.
- Your website must work on a mobile device.
- Most WordPress Themes are responsive to different devices as of 2020.
- Don’t take it for granted – test your site on different devices.
- Test your Site Speed
- There are many sites that will test your site’s download speed.
GT Metrix is the best.
- There are many sites that will test your site’s download speed.
- Give your images context
- In the WordPress media folder for every image that is not just decorative, add an ‘alt’ or Alternative Text to describe the image.
- Also, name the file to describe the subject i.e. “cat-playing-with-wool.jpg” is descriptive. “image001.jpg” is meaningless from an SEO perspective.
- Add a caption to describe the image. A caption can be shown beneath the image on a page or post; and is therefore an opportunity add more context to your image.
- Write a Descriptive Unique Webpage Title
- Your page Title can be used in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) as the search listing title. Make it work for you.
- Keep the page title under sixty characters to avoid truncation in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
- If you don’t write a good Title Google will use your copy to create a search listing title which is an indicator that your page title does not represent your content.
- Use Yoast on a per-page basis to write a Descriptive Meta Description
- Keep the Meta Description to under 160 characters to avoid truncation in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
- The Meta Description is a summary of your page that can become a Search Snippet on Google.
- The Meta Description is not a search ranking signal.
- If you don’t write a good Meta Description Google will use your copy to create a search listing snippet which is an indicator that your Meta Description does not represent your content.
- Try to get the Yoast Traffic Light to Green when you edit a webpage.
- I don’t entirely agree with all Yoast’s recommendations but try at least to get to amber for SEO and Readability.
- Make your Gallery Pages have meaning
- Ensure you introduce your gallery with descriptive text and a descriptive header. What is your gallery about – tell your viewer?
- “Gallery” as a page header is not very descriptive.
- Use Structured Data.
- Structured Data is a way of marking up data to make it more meaningful for search engines and therefore easier to present in a structured way.
- Data is usually marked up using Schema.org which is then wrapped in JSON LD.
- The are many Schema.org types from Food Recipes to Book Reviews.
- Yoast has two types of properties built-in: “How To” and “FAQ”.
- Try and use Structured Data if you can.
- Going forward Structured Data is becoming more important.
- Make your copy easy to read and Digest
- Use lists, summaries, and tables to make your content easier to digest and present for search engines and for your users.
- Write short paragraphs. No one likes huge slabs of text on web pages.
- Write for the Reader, not the Search Engine
- Don’t treat Google like a deaf elderly relative by repeating keywords unnaturally.
- If you are an expert in your subject and you have a good command of English — you will write with the natural use of keywords.
- Mind your Language
- Use Grammarly or Microsoft Editor web extensions to check your spelling and grammar. The free versions are fine.
- Linking is Good.
- Internal Linking – If you have another page on your site that you think a user will benefit from — link to it. This helps Google understand your website better, and it benefits the user.
- External Linking shows you care about your reader by not selfishly keeping a user on your site.
- Make anchor text on links descriptive
- “Click here” is not descriptive of a link.
- Try and get Backlinks from other Domains
- Some say backlinks are the most important SEO ranking factor. I don’t agree. Backlinks are important, but not as important as they were.
- Do not buy backlinks EVER. Google will find out and punish your site.
- Wait — SEO is not a sprint — things don’t happen overnight
- It can take months to get on the front page of Google Search for a given search term.
- Don’t keep changing your text daily because you believe it’s not working.
- Some of Google’s Artificial Intelligence algorithms rely on analysing user interaction – that takes time.
- If your content is remarkably like your higher-ranking competitors, you have little chance of overtaking them unless you add value by creating content that answers a user’s intent in a unique way.
- Awesome content will always win, all other things being equal.
- Use the free Screaming Frog ‘s SEO Spider
- This is the best tool for quickly seeing if sites are missing things like a Meta Description.
- The free version is restricted to 500 URLs.
- Don’t break Google’s Guidelines
- If it’s spammy you will get caught.
- Read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines here.
Photography Sites are Bad for SEO
Images have large file sizes in bytes. A photo gallery webpage is going to take longer to load than a webpage without images.
A slow-loading webpage is a negative ranking signal for usability, which, in turn, is a negative ranking signal for search.
Photos, although understood by Google to a certain extent, still need some descriptive text to help Google be certain of the photo’s subject
So, without the accompanying data, an image is just an image it conveys little information to a search engine.
There are many ways of letting Google know what the subject of an image is. I will cover this subject later.
Google Search Guidelines
Google does have search guidelines: Webmaster, Quality & General. They are worth a quick look. The Quality Guidelines warn against spammy SEO techniques. The Webmaster Guidelines are more about the technical side of SEO.
Do you want to be found on the web? These following steps are essential for WordPress Photography sites.
SEO for Your Photos
What Does WordPress do to your Images?
WordPress creates four other images for every single image it imports.
- Full Size – which is your original upload
- Medium-Large – which is not seen in the Media Settings
Go to Settings>Media to see your WordPress image dimensions
WordPress will not create pixel dimensions larger than the Full Size (original) image.
WordPress does not upscale images.
Further to the pixel dimensions that WordPress creates, your theme or your plugins will create further images with different pixel dimensions.
Your theme or plugin should tell you the sizes it requires for its galleries. This is usually in the Theme>Setting — hopefully.
If you know what pixel dimensions your gallery needs — try to stick to those dimensions — especially the width.
Ideal Pixel Dimensions for Photos
I’m specifically talking about your photographs here.
More specifically I mean Galleries with Lightboxes or sliders. Places where you show-off your photos.
I’ve personally settled on 1600 pixels longest edge. Exceeding two thousand pixels longest edge is counterproductive.
You might argue that WordPress will serve the right pixel dimensions for any device. So why not upload an image of four thousand pixels longest edge?
What I am saying is don’t worry about filling the screen of a 4K television just yet.
I have covered the subject of Pixel Dimensions in another blog post:
I have a YouTube video on Pixel Dimensions and PPI
Optimise Your Images to the Smallest Size in Bytes
Export at a low JPEG Quality
In Lightroom and Photoshop, 50% JPG quality is a good starting point. Go higher or lower for the best quality versus file size.
Err on the side of low file size in bytes over quality.
To some, this is the job done but you are not finished yet.
Second-stage of JPEG Compression
It’s a bizarre concept that you can further compress (reduce the size in bytes) a JPEG even after exporting at a low JPEG quality from Lightroom or Photoshop.
This is because there are many different compression methods and Adobe’s JPG compression methods (for instance) are not as aggressive as some other compression methods.
There are two methods you can use for this post Image Editing software JPEG compression:
- Lossless – No loss of quality – but a small reduction in file size in bytes
- Lossy – A potential loss of quality but a much higher reduction in file size compared to Lossless compression.
Second-stage JPEG Compression Choices
You have four choices:
- Use a Standalone App or Plugin like ImageOPtim for Mac, or FileOptimizer for Windows. Or use the JPEGmini plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One.
- Use an online image optimizer like Google’s Squoosh App.
- Use a paid-for WordPress Image Optimising Plugin like EWWW IO
- Use a free Image optimising plugin like reSmush.it
With No. 3 and 4, you are letting WordPress do the image compression.
But don’t forget whatever method you use you still have to keep the JPG quality as low as you can in your image editing software.
If you’ve no budget for a paid-for plugin use reSmush.it. It does a fantastic job for free.
Paid for plugins come with other add-ons like a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Some image optimising plugins will even convert your JPEG’s into the more efficient WebP format on the fly. And to top it off, they can do the resizing on-the-fly as well — which is more efficient.
The image optimising plugin that covers all bases is EWWW IO
I have covered Image Optimising Plugins in another post:
Use Lazy Loading for Quicker Page load times
Lazy Loading ensures that the images on a webpage do not load all at once, but load as they come into view as a user scrolls down the page.
The Lazy Loading of images will allow a user to interact with a webpage quicker without having to wait for all the images to download first.
If you use Lazy Loading it will improve your ‘Time to Interactive’ metric on webpage performance testing websites.
For a photography site, Lazy Loading will be a significant factor in reducing page loading speed.
There are many ways of implementing Lazy Loading, for example, via a gallery plugin, an image optimising plugin, or a web caching plugin.
Be careful you don’t implement Lazy Loading in more than one place like turning it on in a plugin and a theme at the same time, as it might break your site.
Make Your Images Work on High Pixel Density Screens (Retina)
Making sure your photos look crisp on high pixel density screens is important. As photographers, we want our images to look their best.
Serving the right image to high pixel density screens ensures your image will not look blurry by stopping excessive browser upscaling.
There is one WordPress plugin that does the work of ensuring your photos look their best on high pixel density screens. Its name is WP Retina x2
If you understand nothing about high pixel density screens, just use the free version of the plugin.
You can pay for an upgrade to gain more control.
You will require a bulk conversion if you have existing images.
Give Your Images Context
Use the Image File Name to describe the Image
“img0001.jpg” does not give much information to a search engine. But “a-kitten-playing-with-a-ball-of-wool.jpg” is descriptive.
Google is clever enough to recognise the picture contains a kitten and a ball of wool. To help Google fully understand the photo you need supporting contextual information. So, naming the file to describe the subject of the image is helpful to Google.
There is a WordPress plugin called Media File Renamer which can do automatic image file naming using the “Title” of the image using the IPTC Title from Lightroom or Photoshop for instance.
Media File Renamer has both free and paid-for versions.
Use the HTML “alt” Attribute to Describe the Image
The “alt” attribute will have different names depending on the way you view your media files in the Media Library. It’s either called “Alt” or “Alternative Text”
The “alt” attribute is part of the HTML “img” selector and is spoken by Screen Readers for the visually impaired.
It also read by search engines. Make it work for you.
Use Image Captions to Describe the Image
Not essential, but the caption will appear below an image in a post or page.
Add an IPTC Title & Copyright in Your Image Editing Software
Copyright and Title are IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) metadata.
Search Engines can read The IPTC title, but no Search Engines claim to use it as a search ranking signal.
Also, Galleries can utilise the IPTC data to help populate a gallery description or title.
Adding IPTC data in Photoshop or Lightroom can all help add context to your images.
Heads up About Copyright
If your image contains copyright metadata and then appears in a Google image search, Google will show the copyright. This may help stop image theft.
Webpage Title & Meta Description
Write a Descriptive Page Title
The HTML “title” is in the head of a Webpage and is invisible to a web user on the webpage itself.
The title will show as the name of a browser tab or when you bookmark a page.
The use of the “title” as the title in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) is common. Therefore the page title is especially important in the SEO world.
Keep the page title under sixty characters or truncation might occur in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
If you don’t write a good page title Google will
Yes, Google will rewrite your page title if doesn’t match the searchers intent. Don’t forget Its Google’s title on Google’s page.
Google wants to answer the user’s search query. If your copy matches the search query but your page Title does not— Google will rewrite the page Title using words from your copy.
Title rewriting Is Google helping you. If your content matches the search query but your page Title does not. Then Google is creating a search title to ensure your site stands a fair chance of being clicked-on.
Spend as much time as you can constructing a page title as it’s the biggest driver of click-throughs to your site in the search engine result pages.
Write a Descriptive Meta Description
The Yoast SEO plugin will allow you to change the meta description on a page by page basis.
In the HTML, the meta description will look something like this:
<meta name="description" content="This is a gallery of my latest wedding shoot of Donald & Melania">
Like the page title, the Meta Description is in the HTML “head” section of a webpage. It is not normally seen by and end-user. The Meta Description is there to describe the page for search engines.
Keep the Meta Description under 160 characters to avoid truncation of the search snippet (description) in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Create your Meta Description on a page-by-page basis using Yoast. Don’t repeat the meta description tag across pages — make it unique.
The Meta Description is often used as the search snippet in a search result.
As with the page Title, Google might choose a part of your copy, to instead of your meta description to create a search snippet more relevant to the search query.
Here’s a typical ‘plain blue’ Google search listing:
- The Title —may or may not be the page’s HTML title.
- URL (Uniform Resource Locator).
- Search Snippet — may or may not be your Meta Description.
The Meta Description is not a search ranking signal.
Use HTTPS – Secure Sockets Layer
Essential now as Google sees SSL as a usability factor. If you don’t have SSL this is a negative search ranking signal. How negative, I don’t know. Negative is enough — get SSL now.
Get Yoast — the Best SEO Plugin without question
There are other SEO plugins, but none are as good as Yoast and the free version is fine for most of us.
After installing Yoast use the wizard to setup Yoast.
Once set up it will do a lot without any intervention from you.
To make Yoast more effective you should check the Meta Description for every page and act on its recommendations.
I credit Yoast for any success I’ve had with SEO. Not just the plugin but its world class blog.
Yoast will do many other things which will make your page more visible to Search Engines, like creating a Sitemap for search bots.
Heads-up, Yoast will automatically make your <title> become your <h1>, which is good SEO practice but slightly disconcerting at first.
This list is not exhaustive but Yoast:
- Can add structured data for schema.org Article Type, for any post you write.
- Can add structured data for a knowledge panel.
- Can Create a Sitemap
- Makes suggestions for your copy, title, and Meta Description.
- Will judge and suggest alternatives for your content.
Yoast is a must-have plugin
Deploy Webmaster Tools
Google Search Console is Essential
Don’t forget Bing Webmaster Tools
Both give you various reports about the performance and coverage of a website.
If no one is backlinking to your site, Google and Bing will eventually find your site. That’s not good SEO practice.
Register your site with Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console, and your website will be visible straight away to the two search engines that matter the most.
Adding Your Site to Google Search Console
The various methods are:
- HTML file upload (recommended).
- HTML tag added to the head of the Homepage.
- DNS record (recommended).
- Google Analytics tracking code.
- Google Tag Manager container snippet.
The simplest method is to use Yoast using No. 2. the HTML tag method, which can add using Yoast.
Go to Yoast > SEO Settings > General > Webmaster Tools and add the ‘HTML Tag’ from Google Search Console and then click “Save”.
Since 2019 you can add metadata, using the DNS record method to your DNS (Domain Name Server) records which will eliminate the use of a Canonical URL — my preferred method.
These DNS records are usually accessible from the cPanel of your hosting provider — if you bought your domain name from your Hosting Provider.
If you are not confident about adding data to your DNS records, ask your hosting provider to add the data for you.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t go down the DNS route of registering your site.
With access to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, you can see how you are performing from a search engine perspective.
Many people have Google Search Console but never look at it — they are missing a lot. The performance reports alone give you so much insight into what keywords are bringing people to your site and the keywords which aren’t.
What is a Canonical URL?
A Canonical URL is way of telling a search engine that you should not use this page for search ranking purposes, but use the page indicated by the Canonical URL.
A common example is when you have two or more pages with remarkably similar content. In this situation on the page you did not want indexed, you would add a Canonical URL pointing to the page you did want indexed. This will stop the search engine picking the wrong page for indexing.
This scenario above is called the Duplicate Content problem where two or more pages have remarkably similar content.
If you don’t use a Canonical URL Google will pick the page it thinks best, instead of the one you necessarily want to be indexed.
Adding a Canonical URL can be done using the advanced Yoast section on a webpage.
As a footnote Canonical URL’s crop up with Google Webmaster Tools with some methods of adding your site (property). Google then wants to know what version of your site you want recognised. That could be the HTTPS, or HTTP version of the WWW version or non-WWW version etc.
Do not get Canonical URL’s confused with HTTP Redirects
An example of a redirect is when you have SSL (HTTPS) and someone types into the address bar of a browser the (HTTP) non secure version of your site. Your web server will redirect the user to the secure SSL version of your site. This is normally done automatically for you by your hosting provider.
These redirects are usually 301, 302 or 308 HTTP response codes.
Write for the Reader — not the Search Engine
Good Copy without the unnatural use of keywords is good for SEO.
Your copy needs to use keywords for search engine visibility.
Do not flood your copy with keywords unnaturally as this will be a negative ranking signal to Google.
Unsurprisingly Google is clever in this respect; do not treat Google like a deaf elderly relative.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of SEO experts that might disagree with my stance on keywords – they are wrong.
Google is explicit in its material related to search about the negative impact for SEO of the overuse of keywords.
“Keyword Density” is an anachronistic term in the SEO world of 2020.
Reminder: On your Gallery pages use some text describing what the Gallery is about — Context is important.
Use Document Outline to Help Your Users
Document Outline is not a search ranking signal but using headers in the right order makes your article more readable to humans.
Google is focused on the meaning of your words, the semantics. Personally, I try and write following these two rules:
- Use Headers in the right order.
- Have only one “h1” on the page (ignore this rule if it used in inside of a “Section” tag. If you use Yoast you can only have one h1.
Google does not care about multiple uses of “h1” tags on a page. But it does care about the meaning of headers. So even if your HTML is non-W3C compliant it won’t affect your ranking in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Structure Your Content for Users & the Search Engine
Use HTML lists “li” where possible.
Even the HTML “table” can be used but try and keep to three columns to render better on mobile devices.
The more structured your page is, the easier it is for Google to present that data and for your reader to understand the content of the page.
Use Internal linking to Help Users & the Search Engine.
If you think someone reading a page on your site will get benefit from reading a similar page — link to that page.
Internal linking also helps Google to understand your site better.
If you use tags properly you can customise the site to automatically include related pages. For me, I must go to Customise>Blog>Single Post and turn on “Show Related Posts“. If you don’t have that facility just use standard links.
Use External Linking to Help Your Reader
If helps your reader and the search engine. For all, I know it could be a positive ranking search signal. Why not help your reader?
Add Structured Data to Help Search Engines
Structured Data is just a method of marking up data to make it easier to for search engines to understand the meaning of data, and therefore present in a structured way.
schema.org is a collaboration between the major search engines. Schema.org is the name as well as their web address.
The list of the types of data you can mark-up is growing all the time. Think recipes, events, film reviews, people, products, you get the idea.
Heads-Up About Structured Data
There’s no guarantee Google will use structured data in a search result.
Google doesn’t want you to leave their site – Google’s profits come from people seeing and clicking on Google’s Adverts.
Google might present structured data in the search results answering the user’s intent without that user leaving the Google search page. This scenario is becoming more common.
This could lead to fewer people visiting your site not more.
Write Descriptive Anchor Text
Anchor Text is the text describing a link — make it as descriptive as possible.
Check Your Spelling & Grammar
There’s Grammarly which is extremely popular as browser extension for check your Grammar and Spelling.
I am using Microsoft Editor which is Chrome only
Control your Tags and Categories
It is not good to have hundreds of WordPress tags and categories as it makes your site difficult to understand to both end-users and search engines.
Make your site work on Different Devices
A site that adapts to the different devices is called a responsive site.
Googlebot now crawls most sites as a Smartphone. If your site has any problems around usability on mobile devices you might not show in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) for someone searching using a Smartphone or any device going forward.
Most if not all WordPress themes and plugins are responsive to different devices from the largest TV to the smallest phone. Don’t assume this though do some testing.
If you have Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools, they will tell how your site is performing on mobile devices.
Here’s a quote from Google about usability.
When ranking results, Google Search also evaluates whether webpages are easy to use. When we identify persistent user pain points, we develop algorithms to promote more usable pages over less usable ones, all other things being equal.How Google Search Works
Work on all Web Browsers
Much of this is in the hands of our Theme or Plugin creators.
Do test your site on different browsers and on different devices.
Webpage Loading Speed
We’ve dealt with over-sized in bytes photos.
There could be a multitude of other factors slowing down the page loading speed. One is having too many plugins.
It could be that your website hosting provider is causing the slow loading page problem. If true, you need to upgrade your hosting plan or change your hosting provider.
It is possible to hunt down problems using GT Metrix or similar online tools.
Here’s a quote from Google’s search documentation about Page loading speed:
Since website owners can improve the usability of their site, we work hard to inform site owners in advance of significant, actionable changes to our Search algorithms. For example, in January 2018 we announced that our algorithms would begin to consider the ‘page speed’ of sites, six months before the changes went live.How Google Search Works
Deploy Web Caching
Caching is the temporary storage of web data for reuse. It helps stop every request for data coming from the Origin Server (the hosting provider’s server).
Caching will make your webpages load faster
Caches usually store data that doesn’t change often like your CSS, or images.
Caches can appear in various places for example:
- A web browser has a cache which is called a private cache.
- Website hosting providers usually have a dedicated caching server which sits in front of your server.
- Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) might have a proxy cache for webpages that are accessed frequently.
- CDN (Content Delivery Networks) use caching.
- Organisations often have proxy caches between the local network and the Internet.
Find out what caching you have now. Your hosting provider might have a robust caching capability already.
Ask your site hosting provider what they recommend for boosting your caching performance.
If your hosting provider is non-committal, you won’t go far wrong using the caching plugin WP Rocket.
There are free web caching plugins, but you will find the paid-for plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer with a built-in CDN. WP Rocket has a CDN (Content Delivery Network). In fact, WP Rocket mimics EWWW IO in its offering. At the time of my choice it had to be EWWW IO as WP Rocket did not offer a CDN.
As a bonus EWWW IO has an option to serve other cacheable assets besides just images. In other words it can serve any cacheable assets of your site besides images.
Choose your CDN carefully as some CDN’s are expensive and aimed at large enterprise websites.
Cloudflare offers a free CDN. But you must be capable of updating your DNS (Domain Name Server) records unless your Hosting Provider will do this for you.
EWWW IO plugin is serving me well with its built-in CDN.
Test Your Site for Speed
There are many methods for testing performance, but the most user-friendly method is to use the website called GT Metrix
Some of GT Metrix’s recommendations might require web development skills to action, but some recommendations you can do yourself like optimising images.
Test Your SEO Performance
I also recommend Screaming Frog’s, SEO Spider Tool. The tool checks your site for things like Meta Descriptions and much more. In the free version, you can analyse up to 500 URL’s (Uniform Resource Locators)
SEO Spider is must have auditing tool as you can see all the important data in a handy tabular format.
SEO Spider Tool is a great tool for spotting obvious SEO mistakes on your site.
Try and get Backlinks from Trusted Sources
Don’t buy links, Google might de-index your page if it finds out.
It’s logical that having a site that Google trusts already that’s linking to your website will be a positive ranking signal for your site.
Backlinks are far less important than your content.
The Page Rank Algorithm was one of the first algorithms Google deployed.
Page Rank was a backlink counter that also considered the quality of the links. The “Page” in the name Page Rank is a reference to Larry Page one of the founders of Google.
This Page Rank algorithm got abused to the extent where you could not trust the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Subsequent core updates to Google’s search algorithms have stopped this type of link abuse affecting the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Although sometimes there will be short-term gains from buying backlinks – buyers of back links will get caught by Google in the long-term.
Do not use reciprocal linking of the type: “I will link to you if you link to me”. Especially if the link is not relevant to the subject of both webpages.
All this said backlinks are important. It’s worth trying to ask for backlinks from sites that deal in similar subjects to your site.
Don’t be tempted to add backlinks to another site for a social media mention. The page receiving the link gets the positive search signal and you get a mention on twitter for instance which is worthless in SEO terms.
Back links are dying
As Google’s machine learning algorithms increasingly understand natural language and semantic meaning; there will be less emphasis on backlinks as search ranking signals in the future — In my humble opinion.
Social Media & SEO
SEO has nothing to do with Social Media.
Calling Social Media off-page SEO is confusing marketing with optimising your site for search engines.
Am I wrong? Not according to the Google Webmaster Team.
Somehow in this made-up world of SEO, social media has become part of something called off-page SEO.
So why do I mention social media, well people think it’s part of SEO so I feel bound to mention it.
Social Media is a valuable tool for marketing your business and it helps to bring people to your site. That makes you as a person, or your organisation more prominent. This could, in turn, lead to more hits on your website; but that is not SEO— it’s marketing.
Having links to your site on your social media posts is a must-do.
I only mention Social Media here as it is necessary for marketing your business.
Make sure your recent blog posts are announced on social media. Consider the Buffer plugin for WordPress, which will automatically post to your social media accounts for every new page or post.
Bottom Line About Social Media
Every post you do on social media put a link to your site.
Post Regularly on Social Media
If you have a Facebook business page or a Google Business listing, post occasionally especially to your Facebook business page. How does it look to your customer if you have a Facebook page that hasn’t had a post in three years?
You Won’t get to No.1 in the SERP Quickly
You can’t expect to be at the top of Google Search Engine Result Pages straight away. You must earn that right by producing unique content that adds value to someone searching Google.
After I optimised some of my pages for a key phrase. It took three months to go from the sixth page in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) to the front page.
Keep creating content. Stay fresh. That also means refreshing already published content to make it relevant.
In terms of answering User Intent, photography websites are not in an advantageous position. Your text or copy must be well crafted and unique.
Don’t become obsessive about your SERP ranking. You are meant to adding value to the world. If you add value search engines will notice you – eventually.
Myth – The URL of a Webpage Does Matter for SEO
There’s a myth that the URL of a page is a ranking signal. So, you should use keywords, or even a phrase to construct a URL.
A URL’s content, according to Google is a very insignificant search ranking factor. But it makes your URL easier to remember for a user if you construct the URL using keywords. But Google could not give a damn.
In WordPress, the URL is normally constructed using the Page Title. With Yoast the Title and the h1 header are the same.
Unless you have good reason to, never change your URL after the page has been published especially if it is performing well in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). Changing the URL is making that page a new page from a Google search perspective.
The Domain Name Does Not Matter for SEO
Having a keyworded readable domain name is good for marketing. Google doesn’t care at all.
Backlinks are not Very Important Now
They were particularly important, but not as important now that Google has Natural Language Processing driven by Artificial Intelligence.
Content is king is a cliché but true. Content trumps mediocre backlinks in the SEO world.
Keyword Density & Research is Outdated
Yes, we need keywords. Do we need to write with the deliberate use of keywords? No is the answer.
Google is not an elderly deaf relative, there’s no need to shout or repeat yourself.
Do you honestly think that repeating keywords is going to fool one of the most sophisticated computer systems in the world? If you do SEO is not for you.
My WordPress Plugin Setup for SEO
|Purpose||Name of Plugin|
|Image Optimisation||EWWW IO|
|CDN (Content Delivery Network)||EWWW IO|
|Analytics||Google Site Kit|
|Image File Naming||Media File Renamer Pro|
|Media Folder Organisation||Media Library Assistant|
|Edit Image Alt attributes||Media Alt Renamer*|
|Adding Image Metadata||PhotoPress – Image Taxonomies*|
|Posting to Social Media||WordPress to Buffer Plugin|
*Media Alt Renamer & PhotoPress Image Taxonomies have not been updated in the last 4 versions of WordPress.
- Backlink – Incoming link from another website outside of your domain.
- HTML body tags the human-readable content of your page. The most important part of SEO.
- CSS – Cascading Style Sheets. HTML marks up. CSS Styles.
- HTML – Hypertext Mark-up Language.
- HTML Head tag – The first part of a webpage not seen by the end-user. It is where the Title and the Meta Description reside.
- Index – Is what Google’s search bot does with website data. It puts it into an Index.
- IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council). This is image metadata, like Copyright and Title.
- Image Optimisation – The process of compressing an image as small as possible in file size (bytes) with a minimum loss of quality.
- Lossy Image Compression – Is destructive and involves some loss of image quality but delivers a greater file size reduction than Lossless Compression. JPEG uses lossy compression.
- Lossless Image Compression – Does not degrade image quality but is less aggressive in shrinking the file size in bytes.
- Meta Description which is in the HTML Head of the document and not seen by the end-user. A Meta Description is used to summarise the webpage for search engines. It normally gets used as a Search Snippet in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
- Retina Screen is a High Pixel Density Screen. “Retina” is Apple’s proprietary name. The name Retina has become synonymous with High Pixel Density Screens.
- Search Bot – The search robot that crawls the web following links. Googlebot for instance.
- SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
- Title – Which is in the HTML Head of a webpage and not seen on the page by the end-user. The Title appears as the tab name in a browser, and when you bookmark a page the Title becomes the name of the bookmark. The page Title is often used as the title in a search engine result listing.
- User Intent – Is what a searcher is looking for, and that might not be clear as many users just use keywords and not complete sentences.
A Final Heads Up About WordPress and Images
WordPress will normally create three more images for every image you bring in. If you go to “Settings>Media” you will see the three other image sizes: Thumbnail, Medium & Large.
WordPress refers to your original image as Full-Size
If the full-size image you are importing is smaller than WordPress “Large Size” – WordPress will not upscale an image to make a Large Size.
WordPress creates these other pixel dimensions of your image to ensure that the right image shown to the right device.
Whether that be a desktop or a small mobile phone. Also, WordPress will also resize these images dynamically to serve the right size image to a device.
On top of this, your Theme will create its own pixel dimensions for galleries etc. You can sometimes see these sizes under Theme>Settings. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to find out what extra sizes your theme creates.
Your original image, the Full-size image will not be compressed.
The other images created by WordPress and your theme will have compression using Image Magick compression at 82 quality.
This 82-quality setting bears no relation to the 82 JPEG quality in you see on export in Lightroom, or Photoshop
If you’ve published your images already with let’s say at 100% JPG quality at four thousand pixels longest edge. Your images are far too large which will slow your site down which is bad for SEO. You will have to reimport your images.
If you’ve published at less than 20% JPG quality and at eight hundred pixels longest edge. Your photos will look awful. On the plus side, no one is going to steal your photos.