My SEO Promise to you
SEO for photographers is not black magic. It just requires you to give Google the information it needs so Google can understand your website.
I guarantee if you follow these steps below your site will rise the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) – for the keyword/s or search term you want to show up for.
Be specific initially. If you try and list for every keyword or search term you can think of — you will lose your way and rank for none. I’ve been there.
My main priority was to rank for the term “Isle of Wight Landscape Photos”.
Before optimising my site for this search term, I was lingering about six pages down in the search engine result pages. Who is going to click on a listing on the sixth page of the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages)?
Since optimising my site I’m on the front page of Google’s SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) for the search term “Isle of Wight Landscape Photos”. It took about three months to happen.
I am throwing my net wider to include more search terms. I will be doing it in a controlled way using Google’s Search Console to give me feedback.
Nothing happens overnight in the SEO world — be patient. If you make a change on Monday and check your listing with Google on a Tuesday – usually nothing will change.
Be methodical and outcome driven. If you know where you want to go — you will get there if you follow my guidelines.
Photography Sites are bad for SEO
Unoptimized photography sites come with three big problems:
- Lack of text or copy.
- Photos with no context.
- Slow webpage loading times.
Google prefers words to images, especially for essential information. Also, your images need context so that Google understands the subject of your photo fully.
Images slow web page download time which is a negative ranking signal for usability which will affect your ranking in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages.
What Search Term do you Definitely Want to Show up for?
This is your bottom line — your first target — the most important search term.
This search term should be your gold standard. Something you must absolutely show up for on the front page of Google.
Some search term examples can be:
- Wedding Photographers in Middle Earth.
- Portrait Photographers in Middle Earth.
- Pet Photographers in Middle Earth.
Before optimising your site for Search Engines have your chosen search term etched into your frontal cortex.
Forget about long-tailed search terms or Semantic latent indexing, keyword research and frequency-inverse document frequency. Be outcome driven and extremely specific.
Page Loading Speed is Important
Page loading speed is the new kid on the block.
Since 2018 Google Search now measures the loading time of your webpages. All other things being equal, the faster loading page will rank higher in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Summary of SEO Actions for Photography Websites
- YOUR PHOTOS
- Decide on the longest edge for your photos in pixels. Large pixel dimensions lead to large file sizes in bytes. Your photos do not need to be more than 2000 pixels longest edge. 1500 pixels longest edge works for most situations.
- Export at the lowest JPEG Quality for the smallest file size in bytes. I often start at 30% JPG quality.
- Compress your photos further by using either a standalone app or one of the many online apps.
- Name your JPEG files to describe their contents, i.e. photo-of-a-kitten.jpg is better than img-001.jpg
- Populate the HTML “alt” attribute (alternative text) in the HTML img element to describe the image.
- Add a caption below your photo if possible, using figure & figcaption for example.
- Make sure your HTML title element accurately describes the page contents. “Photo Gallery” as a title is without context. Whereas “Isle of Wight Photo Gallery” is descriptive. The title is often used in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) as the title of your listing. Therefore, the title drives clicks in the search result pages (SERP).
- Populate the Meta Description in the head of a document to summarise the page. Google might use the meta description as a search snippet for your listing in the search results. Might is the operative word.
- YOUR TEXT/CONTENT
- Add some text on your Gallery pages as a preamble to your gallery. A few lines will do to reinforce your title.
- Write naturally with the natural use of keywords. Don’t over repeat keywords. Google is not a deaf elderly relative.
- Avoid duplicating content on your site. Not a problem for most of us, but it can be for large e-commerce sites.
- Do not copy from others. If your content is copied or ‘scraped’ from other websites Google is unlikely to list your page in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).
- Have a correct document outline. This is not a search ranking signal. Google Search only cares about the content of your page. For your reader though it’s important. Use headers in the right order. Use h1 header once on the page (there are some exceptions). Use lists to bullet point your text where applicable. The more structured your content, the better. Try to use summaries like this summary you are reading now.
- Try and get quality back-links (incoming links from another domain). Do not go in for reciprocal linking especially if there’s no shared subject between the pages.
- Internal linking is good. If you have another similar page on your site that might interest the reader — link to it.
- Make sure your site works on all devices from desktops to the smallest mobile phone.
- Use a speed testing site like GTmetrix to test your page load time.
- Make sure web caching is in use. Caching speeds up sites. Some web hosting companies have caching implemented as a part of the hosting plan, some don’t. Ask your hosting provider what they recommend.
- Consider using a CDN (Content Delivery Network), to speed up page load times to end-users that are physically a long distance away from your hosting server.
- SEO TOOLS
- Use Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to get feedback about your site’s search performance.
- LOCAL SEO
- Join “Google My Business”, “Bing Places for Business”, and create a Facebook Business Page. Especially important for businesses that operate locally.
- SOCIAL MEDIA
- Get a Facebook business page.
- Twitter if you are going to post something extensively use it. Otherwise don’t bother having a twitter account
- Ensure all your Social Media posts have links to your site. Social Media has nothing to do with SEO it’s a marketing tool. But it’s important as part of an integrated approach to marketing your brand.
- Use your Social Media – nothing says I’m not interested like an unloved Facebook Business Page.
- Don’t be Stupid.
- Don’t be Spammy. This list of Google’s quality guidelines is long, but the guidelines are common sense. If it doesn’t seem right, it isn’t right.
A Life Cycle of a Web Search
- The Search Bot (Internet Robot), or Search Spider systematically Crawls the web following web links. The search bot parses the content from the websites it crawls. Googlebot is Google’s web crawler.
- After crawling the site, the content is put into an index.
- A Searcher queries a search engine this is called User Intent.
- The Search Engine interrogates its index and uses hundreds of algorithms to show results that match the user intent. Google admits to having around 200 search algorithms. Plus, they use human website reviewers as well.
- Google might deliver these results in many ways including The Knowledge Graph, Direct Results, Featured Snippets, and the Rich List.
These search algorithms are complex. Just creating content and expecting to list high in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) immediately is very unlikely.
If your webpage answers the user’s intent and loads fast and is usable on a mobile device – you stand a good chance of being in the SERP — along with every other qualifying webpage out there.
The hard bit is getting a front-page listing in the SERP, that requires excellent content more than anything else.
The machine learning search algorithms need feedback from real users in terms of search behaviour.
An example of a negative ranking signal is someone clicking on a search result and returning straight back to Google as the page did not answer the user intent.
Rising the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) can take months.
Let’s get into the details about SEO for Photography Sites.
The Essential Steps for an SEO Website
Have Good Information Architecture
If Google can’t crawl your site properly it’s usually down to poor menu system. If any page cannot be reached in under three mouse-clicks you’ve got problems with your information architecture.
Use Sitemaps to Help Googlebot
Sitemaps are XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) files listing the pages on your site you want to be crawled. There are many online tools that can create sitemaps for your website. If you are on WordPress, you can use Yoast to create Sitemaps for you. Wix and Squarespace will automatically create a sitemap for you. Note, as of WordPress 5.5 in 2020, WordPress will create an XML sitemap for you.
Anyone linking to you from another domain that Google recognises ensures your site will be crawled.
Use Webmaster Tools
Using Bing Webmaster Tools & Google Search Console guarantees that Bing and Google can find you.
Make your pages load faster
Fast Page loading time is a positive search ranking signal. All other things being equal the faster site will rank higher in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Most photographers will use a website builder like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. Consequently, we have no control of the code on our site. But we have control over our images which impact page loading speed significantly.
Make compromises over image quality to have fast loading images.
Make Your Images Load Faster (Image Optimisation)
- Get your pixel dimensions right. I now use 1600px longest edge as this covers most device screen sizes and leads to less browser resizing. In most website builders there are recommended sizes for images — stick to them.
- Export your photos at the lowest JPEG quality for the smallest possible file size in bytes. Around 30% is a good benchmark.
- Compress your images further using one of the many online or standalone solutions. The big one that stands out is Squoosh.app.
- Use an image optimising plugin if you have WordPress. I’ve covered this topic here. With an image optimising plugin, you can skip No. 3.
- Avoid sliders they slow web page loading speed. I’m a hypocrite here, I can’t resist a slider.
Steps 2 and 3. are an especially important part of the process of reducing your image file size. Image optimisation is vitally important for photography websites.
Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
If you are using one of the popular web building platforms you can skip over this section as your site will be responsive to mobile devices.
Google favours sites that work on mobile devices. In fact, Google Bot crawls most sites as a Smartphone.
If a page does not work on a mobile device, it will affect the page’s ranking in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). This is particularly true if someone is doing a Google search using a mobile device. Google is not going list pages that don’t render well on a mobile device or are too slow to load.
If you have a separate mobile domain of your website like “m.mysite.com” and another domain called “mysite.com” for desktops, this is not ideal. It’s best to have just one site for all devices.
Deploy Web Caching
A web cache stores copies of web resources passing through it. Subsequent requests can be taken from the cache if certain conditions are met.
Using Caches improves page loading times significantly. Caching stops reusable resources always being served from a Hosting Server.
There’s a high chance the assets will be from the user’s browser’s cache if they’ve visited the site before.
Web caches exist in several places:
- Host (Origin) Server Caching – on a separate surrogate proxy which serves resources faster than the server it sits in front of.
- In a Web Browser, which is a Private Cache.
- ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) use Intermediary access caching proxies to cache frequently accessed pages.
- An Egress Proxy is placed between a private network and the internet. Companies and Schools usually have an egress proxy.
- CDN (Content Delivery Networks). A set of web servers distributed worldwide serving up cached resources of a webpage.
What gets cached is the resources that change little like logos, CSS, and images.
All Caches have an expiry date and ‘freshness’ testing is done to ensure that the cached version is an up-to-date version of a web page.
Host (Origin) Server caching is in the hands of your hosting provider and is normally beyond your control.
For Wix, for instance, you must turn it on a page by page basis.
If it’s WordPress, you could get a Caching plugin like WP Rocket but communicate with your hosting provider first.
Your hosting provider might have caching enabled as part of the hosting package, (that is becoming increasingly likely).
This site you are looking at now is on Site Ground and I use the SG (Site Ground) Optimizer plugin, which is part of my hosting plan, and I also use WP Rocket. In fact, WP Rocket liaised with Site Ground to ensure compatibility.
Speaking to your hosting provider is vitally important
If your hosting provider does not provide caching still, ask them what they recommend for caching. They are the experts if they don’t want to help you change hosting providers.
Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A CDN is a network of servers in strategic geographical locations serving a cached version of web documents.
A CDN can serve up web resources from a server physically closer to the end-user. This will reduce network latency as there are fewer hops to the browser.
For example, if someone in Tokyo requests a page from a host server in London. It’s highly likely that the CDN provider has a server in Tokyo which can serve a cached version of the webpage.
The other advantage of CDN’s is that they have powerful servers, compared to most web hosting companies. Google Cloud is a good example of a CDN.
Do you need a CDN? Yes, if you want optimum performance worldwide
Lazy Loading for Faster Page Rendering
Lazy Loading is a way of delaying, (normally images) from loading until a user scrolls down the page to where the images are located.
With lazy loading, the images in view will load as normal but any images farther down the page will not load until you scroll down to them.
Lazy Loading images will allow a user to interact with a webpage before all the images have loaded. This will improve the metric “Time to Interactive” in website performance tools.
It’s possible to turn on lazy loading in more than one place. This is especially true if you are using WordPress. Turning it on in more than one place can break your site.
Use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – HTTPS
This will ensure your site has HTTPS rather than HTTP.
Google treats SSL is a positive search ranking signal.
The Google Chrome web browser puts ‘Not Secure’ in the browser bar as a warning if a site doesn’t have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
Test Webpage Loading Speed
There are many tools and websites that offer speed tests for webpages. The best is:
GTmetrix has an easy to use interface and its recommendations are simple to understand.
Action any recommendations around images. Some of the fixes might require web development skills.
Make Your Images Talk
- Populate the HTML “alt” (alternative text) attribute in your img element to describe your images.
- Make the image filename describe the image for example, “picture-of-a-ginger-cat.jpg” instead of img-0001.jpg. Don’t forget to break up the words with dashes.
- Use Captions below the image if possible. That might require the use of the HTML tags figure and figcaption
Important — make sure you use your relevant keywords here. Mentioning let’s say “San Fransisco” in the file name and in the alt tag of every image is ok if the subject of the image is related to “San Fransisco”.
Just mix it up a bit, for example with these file names:
It’s not a problem if the alt attribute and filename are the same, you are just reinforcing your message, and being consistent.
Don’t send conflicting signals to Google by having the alt attribute and the filename unrelated to each other, synonyms are ok.
Forget about the apostrophes Google will understand.
Metadata in Images (Exif & IPTC)
It’s worth mentioning Exif & IPTC data.
Exif = Exchangeable image file format (Camera Info).
IPTC = International Press Telecommunications Council (Copyright etc)
If you leave image metadata in your file, Google can read it.
It’s unlikely that Google would use the image metadata as a positive ranking signal. Image metadata is not an indicator of content quality.
Maybe just leaving your copyright (IPTC) data is good practice if you are worried about image theft.
Google will now show the copyright of an image if present in Google image searches. Google has finally started to care about images being stolen.
Personally, I strip most of my Exif data out – things like what lens I use is not a ranking signal for search.
The bottom line is Google reserve the right to use image metadata.
This image metadata could contain your physical home, or business address as well as your email address. Personally, I don’t think Google would use this data in any way – I honestly don’t.
Write a Descriptive Page Title
The title stored in HTML head of a page. This title is not visible to an end-user on the web page itself.
The title in the HTML will look something like this:
<title>Fat Karen and Bills Wedding</title>
Title tags appear on browser tabs and when you bookmark a web page the title becomes the bookmark name.
Importantly for SEO, the title normally becomes the title of a search listing in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Titles are important, they drive searchers to click on your result in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
Make sure your title is succinct and describes the subject of your page or post in the optimum number of words which is 50 to 60 characters to avoid truncation in the Search Engine Result Pages.
It’s possible that Google may even rewrite your title in the SERP to make the title more relevant to the search query. I’ll explain more in a minute.
You Need a Descriptive Meta Description
The Meta Description like the title sits in the HTML section of a webpage and is not normally seen by an end-user.
Most people say “Meta Description” though it is part of Meta Name.
Here is an example:
<meta name="description" content="Essential SEO actions for a WordPress photography site">
The Meta Description is there to give search engines a summary of your page.
The Meta Description It is not a ranking signal.
Try and restrict the length to 50 – 160 characters to stop truncation in the SERP.
A search listing often uses the meta description as a snippet.
Here is an example of a plain blue listing as Google calls them.
- Title – usually your HTML title
- URL (including a breadcrumb)
- Snippet — usually your meta description.
The search listing has truncated my meta description to 141 characters in the example above.
In the example above, the search listing uses my meta description and title. This will not always be the case.
Google can create both the title and the search snippet using your copy as the source.
If your content answers the search users query, but your title or meta description is not relevant to the search query. Then Google will re-write the title or snippet using parts of your copy to make it more relevant to the search term.
The takeaway is this. The meta description and Title could be used in the SERP and is therefore important. But there are many pages at the top of search listings with no meta description at all. Why? Because their content answers the user’s intent?
How you access the meta description is different for each website builder. On WordPress, you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast.
Meta Keywords – Don’t Bother
Meta Keywords also lie in the head of a webpage. Fill it in if you wish but it’s no longer a SERP ranking factor according to the Google Search Team.
Write Good Content
Write for your readers, not for the Search Engines.
Always spell-check. Even good spellers make typos.
Don’t scrape or copy others content without proper attribution. If do you copy text or images from another site Google will know you are doing this. If you are copying text from other sites use the HTML quote tag or similar. And make sure you link back to the page where you copied from.
The copied text though should not form the bulk of your page.
Do not stuff your page with the unnatural repetitions of keywords. Useful content is nuanced and has a natural balance of keyword use.
Don’t Have ‘Thin’ Content
Sites with thin content and lots of Affiliate Links, or adverts offer little to the reader. Google is unlikely to show a webpage in the SERP that has thin content that doesn’t meet the user’s intent.
Make sure the affiliate links are secondary to your content and flag these links for what they are – commission earners, so the reader is in no doubt about your affiliate links.
You can add rel=”sponsored” or rel=”nofollow” to the links in the HTML so Google will not use them as a ranking signal.
Alert! As of February 2020, now Google will treat these ‘relative’ link attributes as a hint rather than an instruction.
Google has also added rel=”ugc” (User Generated Content) as the new relative link attribute.
Give Your Page a Correct Document Outline
Document Outline is not a search ranking signal.
Google does not care if your H2 header is in the wrong place. Google only cares about your content.
For your reader well-structured with a correct document, outline is important. Google don’t say whether could be usability signal or not. Personally, I find it disappointing that Google do not mention document outline anywhere on their site.
The h1 header should only appear once and the top of a page. You can have multiple h1 header tags in an HTML section for instance. But the main page h1 header should only appear once.
Other’s might say use as many h1 headers as you want. And for search, it isn’t important. But if you want Worldwide Web Consortium compliant HTML use one H1 per page. The exception to this rule is using h1 inside of HTML sections.
Structure your page with the correct headers as you go down the page. For instance, after your h1, use an h2— not an h3.
Ensure that paragraphs are not too long and use lists where possible to bullet point data.
HTML Tables are not in use much these days, but they can be ideal for Google to use in Rich Results. Don’t make them too wide as they have to work on mobiles as well. It’s difficult to make a table responsive so it works on mobile devices. Three columns max is my rule of thumb.
Use Structured Data
To be honest I wasn’t going to mention Structured data as Photography sites wouldn’t normally need to use Structured Data.
Structured Data is a way of marking up data to make it easier for search engines understand and present.
Think recipes, events, famous people, FAQ etc. There’s a lengthy list of properties you can you use.
For Google to recognise your Structured Data it would have to be marked up using one of the methods below.
- JSON-LD (recommended)
And the data is marked up using Schema.org rules. Schema.org is the name and website address. Schema.org is an alliance of the major search engines.
Google has many ways of presenting search data and structured data helps Google present data to the end-user.
There’s no guarantee that Google will even use your structured data, as it would have done in the past.
Do not use spammy methods with Structured data, for example, marking up content which does not meet Schema.org types.
Finally, having structured data might lead to fewer visits to your site as Google can present data in the search results answering the user’s intent without them needing to visit your site.
Keywords are no big Deal
Oh, I nearly forgot about them. And I wish others will do the same. And I’m not joking.
Keywords are words that searchers use when querying a search engine.
When I was desperate to get on the top of the SERP for my chosen keywords I just flooded my pages with keywords wherever I could. My copy was stilted and not easy to read. This led to poor SERP rankings.
Yes, you need keywords. Do not overuse Keywords – write, naturally.
Google is not a hearing-impaired elderly relative.
If you state on your cornerstone page that you are San Francisco based wedding photographer just once on the page, that’s fine. Google has heard you there’s no need to shout!
Here’s a quote from Googles Search Quality Guidelines.
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66358?hl=en&ref_topic=6001971
Internal Linking Helps Your User & Google
If you’ve got a similar page or post to show the reader, link to it. It all helps the user and Google to understand your site.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) is not a phrase that Google uses in their Webmaster documentation. But they do use it their “Search Evaluator Guidelines” which is the manual for human evaluators that Google employ to assess sites.
Let’s say you are a well-known university professor writing about your subject on a well-known university website. That might be a positive search ranking signal for Google for the following reasons.
- Google will trust the domain. Most well-known educational institutions have unique domain names. like “ox.ac.uk” for Oxford University.
- Assuming the professor hasn’t been living under a stone, Google will know something about the professor.
- The content will be professionally written, authoritative and have structure. And importantly be similar in content and style to other articles written by academics in the same field.
In fairness to SEO experts, Trust and Authority would be a non-mathematical way of describing what some search algorithms measure. But E-A-T is not an algorithm it’s judgement call assessed by a human.
E-A-T is relevant for sites that deal with medicine or give financial advice.
Google calls these sites the “Money or Your Life” sites as a nod to English Highwaymen of the 1700s.
What Google means is that these sites could have an extremely negative effect on your wealth or your health.
Google is very tough on any sites that could affect your wealth or your health that have no corroborating, or medical trial data behind them.
I do not think E-A-T will be a crucial factor for photography websites.
Before I go any further, I need to point out that neither I nor anyone outside of Google Search knows the inner workings of Google’s search algorithms
Some SEO experts think that backlinks (incoming links), from trusted websites, are the biggest contributing factor for a high search engine result page ranking.
I think Backlinking is a positive ranking signal, which is carrying less weight going forward.
If the US government is linking to your site, it’s safe to say Google would take that as a positive ranking signal, (assuming that Google trusts Donald Trump).
Finally, the consensus in the SEO world as of 2020, is that Google is downgrading the importance of backlinks to a website.
My guess is that Google is getting better at understanding content as machine learning algorithms get more accurate with time.
My belief is that the more Google understands webpage content less weight it gives to incoming links to a website.
Many people purchase backlinks, and there’s a whole industry devoted to buying links. Google know this industry exists, and that’s why I believe that Google will put less emphasis on backlinks going forward.
You Need Google Search Console
Make sure you register your site with Google Search Console.
The registration process is a bit intimidating as it can require you to put metadata in the head of your webpages. That’s easy for some, not for others.
Pre 2019 we had to give Google Search Console a canonical URL.
A Canonical URL is your preferred version of your site you want Google Search Console to use.
That could be the non-www version, the www version, the HTTP, or HTTPS versions.
Google Search Console cannot assess you on all versions of your site, just one version and that version is called the Canonical URL.
As of 2019 we now have the Domain method for adding a property to Google Search Console, so you don’t need to declare a Canonical URL.
With this domain method, all you have to do is add some Google supplied text to your Domain Name Server Records.
Some hosting providers like Godaddy have a seamless method for registering your site with Google Search Console without messing with the HTML.
Once registered there are a host of reports you can run. You can receive warnings about your site from a Google search perspective.
The warnings and reports are important. It’s Google’s way of telling you about the health of your site from the point of view of the Googlebot.
And do not Forget Bing Webmaster Tools
Google is the biggest player in the search engine arena. I’m not going to mention Bing too much. But you should register your site with Bing Webmaster Tools.
Don’t forget many people in offices have Windows system computers, that use the Microsoft Edge browser which usually defaults to using Bing as the default search engine.
Do join Bing Webmaster. Anything I mention about Google Search Console applies to Bing Webmaster Tools.
SEO Spider Tool — Screaming Frog
This is a freemium tool that restricted to 500 URLs in the free version.
This tool is often just referred to as ‘Screaming Frog’ not SEO Spider Tool.
It crawls your site parsing out relevant data and presents it in a tabular format so you can see problems quickly.
Here a few things that SEO Spider Tool does:
- Analyse Page Titles & Meta Data
- Find Broken Links
- Audit Redirects
- Discover Duplicate Content
Marketing Good Practices
This is Marketing really but some SEO people have muddied the water. So that Digital Marketing has become, wrongly in my opinion, part of SEO.
List your Business on Google, Bing, Facebook & Yelp
It’s not SEO it’s marketing.
Essential If you serve a local community. And, even if you don’t operate locally, get set up on Google My Business, and Bing Places for Business and get a Facebook Business Page.
This all helps your online presence.
Don’t forget to post once in a while.
Post to Social Media
To say that Social Media is important for SEO is incorrect.
Instagram might make YOU more prominent.
But it doesn’t have a significant impact on how Google ranks Your Webpage in the SERP.
Social media is important in bringing people to your site. That, in turn, must be a positive ranking signal. How much you can influence Google by your Social Media presence – only Google knows.
Social Media is transitory. Your site might get a short-term boost in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) if your social media accounts are getting a spike in traffic.
P.S. If you are going to link your website to your social media accounts and vice versa. Post occasionally on social media. A dormant Facebook business page is not a good advertisement for your business.
Don’t be an SEO fool
If you look at Google’s Quality Guidelines there’s a long list of things that will lead to your page or site be de-indexed.
- Automatically generated content
- Sneaky redirects
- Link schemes
- Hidden text and links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Affiliate programs
- Irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behaviour
- User-generated spam
- Ways to Prevent Comment Spam
- Report spam, paid links, or malware
Don’t copy from others is an obvious one. But quotations are fine. If you do quote use the HTML quote tag, or similar no one is going to mind that. Cite the original author and have a link to their page.
Bottom line, don’t be spammy.
Want to Learn SEO? try Google First.
Google have Guidelines. A good place to start is their Webmaster Guidelines. They also have guidelines on Content and Quality.
There are not many photographers who would spend a great amount of time pondering what website builder or framework to use that would give them maximum ranking in the SERP.
There are some excellent SEO blog posts around Wix, Squarespace and WordPress from Ahrefs.
Saying build it and they will come, is a bit naive but it’s never too late to turn a website around. But it will take a lot of work If you’ve created your site without a primary purpose in the first place which also loads slowly.
That said, SEO is fundamental and very easy to implement. You are more than capable of optimising your site.
I hope no one creates a website with the sole aim of ranking high in the SERP anyway.
You normally create a website because you believe you are adding value to the world.
If I’m going to leave you with one statement which I believe sums up what SEO is about:
Write for your readers, not for the Search Engines.
The video link below deals with WordPress sites. But some of the content will be relevant for any photography website.
- SEO – Search Engine Optimisation.
- SERP – Search Engine Result/s Page/s.
- PageRank – Was Google’s first link analysis algorithm dating from 1998. It ranks webpages based on the amount of quality incoming links (backlinks) to a page. PageRank data was publicly accessible via a web browser toolbar. Google no longer divulges PageRank as they did in the past. PageRank was open to massive abuse.
- Origin Server – Server which hosts your site.
- Web Cache – temporary storage of web content in various locations (including a web browser) which reduces network latency, and therefore can speed up delivery of web content.
- CDN – Content Delivery Network. Simply put, is a network of servers worldwide serving up cached versions of web documents from servers closest to the end-user.
- White Hat SEO – Good (acceptable to Google) SEO methods
- Black Hat SEO – Bad (unacceptable to Google) SEO methods.
- Grey Hat SEO – Not so bad SEO practices. But not recommended.
- Meta Element is HTML stored in the head section of a web document and not visible in the body of a webpage. I list a few important ones below.
- Title Element – Description of the document as seen in the title bar, or tab of a web browser. It’s important to make the Title Element as descriptive as possible.
- Meta Description – An element which can contain a user-defined summary of a webpage. It is stored in the head section of a webpage and visible on the page. Its use in the SERP as a description of your page is common.
- Meta Keyword – User-defined word/s or even a phrase stored in the head of a webpage and not seen by end-users but it can be read by search crawling bots. No longer a SERP ranking factor according to Google.
- Alt (Alternative Text) – an HTML attribute which accompanies an image img tag. It’s for Screen Readers, but it also helps give n image context.
- User Intent – Is what the user is searching for. Sometimes User Intent is not always obvious as searchers just use keywords alone without constructing a phrase or sentence.
- Keywords – as far as SEO is concerned are words that make up a search query. These keywords represent “User Intent”
- LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) LSI Keywords is the conceptually linking of terms that search engines use to understand the content of a webpage.
- Longtail Keywords – Are specific low volume searches made by a user that should match your product or service. The whole idea is you should guess what these search terms will be, then use these terms in your content. Some SEO experts are not sure this is a valid way increasing your SERP ranking – and nor am I.
- Lazy Loading – Only loading a resource (an image normally) as you get near to the image when scrolling down a page. This decreases webpage loading time. Allowing faster interaction with the page.
- Search Bot, Googlebot, Spider, Web Crawler etc – A internet robot which systematically Crawls the web to Index the results for a Search Engine.
- Trust & Authority – Trust – For instance websites (already trusted by Google) that link to your website can make you trusted by Google. Authority – Does your content come across as being written by an expert?
- Structured Data – a way of structuring data that makes it easier to display for search engines. Food recipes are good examples of data that benefits from structuring. Google prefers the use of JSON-LD as the mark-up code and Schema.org for data properties.
- Conversion – In the world of the World Wide Web. Conversion is something you want your web customer to do. For example, buy something, or click a link for example.
- Backlink – Other sites linking to your site.
- Ranking Signal – Something Google Search considers when ranking your page.
- Bounce Rate – A web analytics term, usually expressed as a percentage. The percentage represents the number of searchers that leave your site after visiting just one page. A high rate might not be an undesirable thing. It could indicate they found what they were looking for.
- Google Analytics – A free (to most of us) tool that enables the webmaster to extract detailed data about visitors to your site. In large enterprises, it is a crucial tool. Install Google Analytics if you wish. I’d say most photographers will rarely make use of the data.