Search Engine Optimization (aka “SEO”) is more than just a hot buzzword. For many, mastering it will help take a photography business to new levels. For others, it could be a painful strain on precious time that’s better spent shooting. The good news is, you don’t need to face the SEO monster alone – if you are a PhotoShelter user, we’ve got your back.
SEO: What We’re Doing
1. The PhotoShelter site map is designed to be indexed especially well with Google because we tailored it to Google’s exact specifications.
2. We allow photographers to name/rename images without breaking any of the links that may already exist with the search engines. This way, a photographer can continue to safely tweak and fine-tune their image file names to achieve the best rankings possible. This is significant for Google Image Search.
3. We’re using text links, not just images, which provide deep linking throughout site. Search engines follow these links, indexing pages that may be several layers away from the front page.
4. Your name appears in the title of every PhotoShelter page that features your work. This means better search engine indexing for your name.
5. The photographer directory is heavily optimized with photographer name and specialty. This will help the search engines associate a photographer with a specialty (for example: “Wedding Photographer”) and provide a direct link to their homepage and example images for that specialty.
SEO: What You Can Do
1. Caption and keyword your images. Both of them will show up next to the image, and will tell the search engines about the kind of content within the image. Remember, captions and keywords are text and the search engines love text (especially text that is near the image).
2. Keep track of your stats. If you are using manual customization you can put Google Analytics code into the templates. If you are using Manual Customization mode, just add the code to the “Footer HTML” in the Public Page Master Template.) It is important to keep track of your stats so you can tell if your efforts are paying off. (If you are using one of the templates, you’ll need to switch to manual customization mode to add this.)
3. Know your Google page rank number. (This is the number, 1-10, that Google assigns to every web page it knows about, the higher the number, the more important the page.) I have the Google Toolbar installed in my Firefox browser, and it tells me the rank of every page I visit.
4. The number of people who link to your site is of huge importance. Google uses this information during the process of determining which pages are more important than others. If you want to improve your page rank, get other people to link to you. Obvious suggestions include fans of your work, industry organizations and other directories you belong to, meet-up groups, your close vendors or studios, even your local chamber of commerce. Have your photographer buddies blog about you, and you can blog about them to increase SEO. Speaking of which…
5. One way to create links to yourself is to maintain a blog. There are plenty of free blogging systems available, so all you need to do is set it up and feed it with content regularly — but be sure you’ve got links to your site, and your images, on this blog. Having a blog is actually more about SEO and less about attempting to build a huge audience of adoring fans interested in your daily details (that wouldn’t hurt either, of course). The only audience members you should initially care about have the names of “Yahoo” and “Google.” Don’t know what to blog about? Talk about the gear you use, write about the assignment you just finished, share one of your images and talk about how you did it, or what you like (or don’t like) about it. Shameless plug #1: Why not review PhotoShelter? If you do, send us the URL(or now that this is in the blog, do we want them to simply add the link in the comments section) by January 15 and we’ll link to your blog from ours.
6. Use your browser’s title tag wisely. Use these as carefully selected keywords. If you are a wedding photographer in Wyoming, then you might want to use “Wyoming Wedding Photographer” as your site’s title. Be careful not to over-do it. Adding more and more keywords will devalue them as you add, making each one less important. Stick to keywords that apply directly to you and your work, and don’t stuff anything extra in there.
7. Make sure you are listed in PhotoShelter’s Photographer Directory, and choose your specialties wisely. Don’t select everything under the sun because that won’t help you. But 3 or 4 specialties if you feature galleries that contain images within those specialties.
8. Image names are important. Think of them as keywords as well, and wisely name your images. Remember – you can name, and rename, your images in PhotoShelter. If something doesn’t work, you can always rename and try something else. The worst thing you can do is leave your images with names like “IMG_0873.JPG” – in doing so, you’re blowing an opportunity to give the search engines some info about the image.
9. Whenever possible, links to your pages should contain keywords about the image. In other words, don’t use “click here” for anything, ever. Instead use something descriptive for your links, like “avocado photo” or “Barack Obama.”
We’re committed to innovating for SEO throughout 2009 – so much more to come! Your suggestions are welcome too.
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