If you have a website to highlight your work, certainly you’ve heard the dreaded term SEO before. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s essentially the tactics to get your website noticed by Google and other search engines.
The Essentials of SEO
Now before we get started, I want to mention again that this is just a basic guide for SEO. There are thousands of techniques within SEO, and it would be impossible to go over everything in a single short guide. If you read this article and decide you want to know more about SEO, I highly recommend checking out the 10 chapter Beginner Guide for SEO by Moz.
While SEO has thousands of different techniques to ensure your website, I wanted to go through and talk about a few tools that will drastically help your rankings on search engines. Photographers’ websites are largely photo based, which is terrible for most search engine rankings, as Googlebots and other crawling services read your website for words, not for images. Because of this, it’s important that we make use of every tool available to help search engines identify out websites appropriately.
The Three Musts For SEO
Since your time is limited, let’s focus on the things that will give you the most return.
Arguably, the most important aspect of SEO is keyword research. Keyword research is figuring out what terms people are typing into search engines to find both yours, and your competitors’ websites. It’s important to figure out the most common phrases used in search engines, and assuring your website has those exact phrases within them. There are a number of tools out there that help with keyword research, though my favorite is a free service called Keyword Suggestion Tool by WordStream.
By simply entering your keyword you’d like to research, you can see other keywords that are often searched using similar phrases. For example, when I search “Albuquerque Photography”, it also tells me that “photography in Albuquerque”, “Albuquerque wedding photography” and “New Mexico photographers” are common phrases also searched when searching for my initial keyword. So I’ll want to use those phrases within my blog posts and other outlets to help promote my work and get the attention from search engines.
Make Use of Alt Tags
Images will often have something called Alt Tags, which you can change and edit pretty easily. These are designed to describe the image to the viewer. Google also uses these to archive the images within their database, and figure out what your website is about, as Google’s computers that crawl your site cannot identify what each image is. Using alt tags (and putting your keywords into the alt tags) will help Google figure out what your website is about, and archive it accordingly. All images on your website should have alt tags.
Write For Your Audience & Write Often
Perhaps the biggest mistake people can make when doing SEO for their website is that they begin to focus too much on SEO, and not enough on the content they’re providing. It’s easy to get filled up on keyword research and keyword stuffing that you begin to stop connecting with a viewer and only focus on the robots that are crawling your website. The best SEO practice that you can have is to deliver content that others want to share. Comments, shares and interaction will generate you far more results than anything else, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
Secondly, it’s important to constantly be churning out content for your website, which is why blogs are so important. Portfolios will often get archived pretty quickly by search engines, especially if they have no content aside from images. Blogs keep your website fresh and encourages search engines to crawl your website more frequently, which will rank you higher than your competition.
Most Important FREE Tools For SEO
Want a little help? Here are some great tools.
Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
Yoast is among the most popular SEO plugins available for WordPress. Not only will it’ll help you check your optimization of specific posts with a grade, it’ll also help develop sitemaps and other features important for SEO. Perhaps what makes Yoast the best of them all is that it’s completely free to use. while the plugin itself is massive and overwhelming at first glace, it has all the tools you need to get your website ranked #1 on Google.
One of my absolute favorite websites to compare my web stats to my competitors is OpenSiteExplorer. OpenSiteExplorer measures your various rankings, such as Domain Authority, Page Authority, and a variety of tools to measure quality links to your website. These can help you grasp where you need to improve and what you’re doing right compared to your competitive market.
Google Chrome and Firefox has it’s share of SEO plugins available for your browser. That said, there is one that is so far above the rest in my opinion, and that’s SEOQuake’s browser plug in. Using the plugin, you can quickly check websites (and not just your own) to insure that everything SEO wise is entered correctly. The plugin also comes with a great guide on how to use the system correctly.