Besides taking photos, I manage a team of Internet Marketing professionals. I normally do not publish any tips, nor advise on my blog; but, I was browsing some great photographers' websites and realize that most of them are unaware that simply publishing photos to portfolio website is hardly a part of strong online business strategy.
I'd like to share some basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips that would increase your chances of increasing the visibility of your website on the popular search engines:
- Use a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site.
Put your company name at the end if you want to include it in the page title. It offers little or no search value unless you are a major brand name.
- Select good meta tag keywords that describe the site, more specifically your specialties. The keyword ‘photography’ is extremely broad – more than 376 million references on Google alone. Think about your strengths, try to be more specific to your niche. For instance, "abstract photography" search results in 170,000 references, "abstract tree photography" only has 7 results. The more specific you are, the better. For more keyword help, you may try the free tools at KeyWordDiscovery or SEOBook.
- Avoid ‘click to enter’ or ‘splash pages’ as the top level site page. Also, avoid the website designs depending on HTML frames. Splash pages are the main entry page with large graphic image or link that instructs visitors to enter the online site or flash animation with links to skip animation, and also a redirect to the new web page after the completion of the animation. You would really like the top level page to act as table of contents for remaining site. Splash pages lack anchor text and keyword rich text apart that search engines use to index your page.
- Never publish a website which says that site is under construction. You don't want search engines to index your under construction site and lead people there.
- Several photographers have either no copy or little copy on their pages. Always design your site with the help of words that target audience types into the search queries. You may want to keep the gallery and photo sections away from top level pages. Search engine robots cannot tell what type of a photographer you are based on the images. They need text. Use captions with your images - place keyword rich captions with your images.
- Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo ALT descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words. Images are, after all, the product. You have to pay attention to the text associated with the images to ensure that they too get indexed properly.
- Always avoid Flash for the above mentioned reasons. Though you may have typed loads about yourself in the Flash based site, search engines would hardly be able to observe a single word of it. If it is a movie, the search engines cannot even retrieve the words from movies also. I know this is a trade off for some people who use Flash instead of image files to try to protect their images from being copied.
- Always have a check on the linked referrals – a link from the other page to your own website - it's best to have keywords which are in line with the anchor text of link. Google search engine always weights the Search Engine results pages towards anchor text of links to the page. For example, if your target is “blue bird photo” then link to “blue bird photo” instead of a “Click here” link.
- Submit your URL to search engines – you could either do this manually or with the help of a free submitter service such as Submit Express or even seek help from a paid service firm.
- High page rank indicates high trust. Links (especially deep links) from a high PageRank site would carry more weight. Improve page rank by exchanging links with other reputable websites, directories and bloggers in your specialty photography area. Search engine giants like Google favor relevant and meaningful anchor text while indexing on websites. In general, the more websites on which the URL appears, the better. However, quality matters - one good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links!
- Focus on search phrases, not single keywords, and put your location in your text (“our Calgary store” not “our store”) to help you get found in local searches.
Just remember this formula:
Strong SEO = Text + Links + Popularity + Reputation