When the Google Panda update hit in early 2011, a…
You’ve probably noticed that the majority of your favorite pro photographers have a blog (Strobist, Zack Arias, Joe McNally – just to name a few of our favorites). And while it’s true that blogs are a great way to share new work and connect with clients and fans, one of the main objectives of your blog should be to help build your SEO.
It’s time to start thinking of your blog as a place to build backlinks, create content around your keyword hit list, and build a following that regularly posts your work to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. We’re not saying that these should be your only goals in blogging – your SEO efforts should never interfere with posting good, valuable content – but given what you now know from the SEO For Photographers workbook, you can now start better utilizing your blog.
Here are our 5 reasons why blogging is crucial for SEO, followed by tips for how you put these strategies into practice.
1. Use the anchor text you actually want
Remember when you read this whole post about anchor text, and so you went out and got a ton of backlinks to your website, but everyone kept linking to you with “click here”? Pretty frustrating, right? Well guess what – with your blog, you’re in the driver’s seat. You have total control over what webpages you link to and what anchor text you use.
Now when you post about you work, you can say “Here’s a story about my latest gallery, Underwater Caribbean Stock Photography” and link “Underwater Caribbean Stock Photography” to your gallery for some awesome anchor text. You’re in charge of your blog, so take advantage and put those anchor text best practices to use.
2. Give people something that they can naturally link to
Although it’s totally possible to email someone about your galleries and score a link, sometimes people aren’t motivated to do so unless there’s a story to go alongside it. It’s much easier and more natural for people to link to your blog post about how you shot those photos. And if your blog posts links to the gallery with those images, then you’ve just helped your website’s SEO.
Next time you have new work to share, consider writing a blog post about it – tell some funny story from the shoot, or talk about the beautiful scenery, or even run through how you actually set up your camera and captured the shot. For more ideas on what to post, check out 9 Ways To Blog More In Less Time and just remember to use anchor text that complements your keyword hit list.
3. Encourage people to “socialize” your work
When you regularly post to your blog, you have more content to share with your network via social media – namely, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Similarly to how people are more likely to link to your blog posts, people are also more apt to retweet you, like your Facebook post, or +1 it. It’s an easy one-click of a button – and ease is key in getting people to share your work. Once someone has shared your post, then it get shared with their network, thereby increasing its reach beyond your own personal network.
How is social sharing related to SEO? Remember that Google takes socialization into consideration for its ranking algorithm, especially from Google+, so it might actually help your blog and website move higher up in the rankings.
4. Increase website traffic & build a following
If you post engaging content that presents value to your readers, then they will probably spend more time on your blog and continue coming back for more. If you’re frequently linking to your images, your blog becomes a tool to drive traffic to your website.
Another likely outcome of building a following for your blog is that you’ll get found by new clients and customers. If enough people are sharing your posts and your blog is moving up in the SEPRs, photo buyers are more likely to stumble across it. When they do, be sure that links to your contact information and website are obvious so that they can see your portfolio and get in touch.
5. Play nice with Google’s Freshness Update
In fall 2011, Google announced that it had altered its search algorithm to provide users with fresher, more recent search results. Dubbed the Google Freshness Update, the intended purpose was to place greater emphasis on returning the most up-to-date web content. Said Google:
“Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.”
Although this was meant to help ensure that when you search for something time sensitive – like recent events or hot topics – you get the most recently updated webpages, it ended up affecting about 35% of all searches.
Searching for “Nikon” yields to the minute results
What does this mean for bloggers? SEO experts largely agree that Google’s update means that fresh content can boost your blog or website in the SERPs for a certain period of time. Bloggers have an advantage because they continuously publish large amounts of fresh content.
Keep in mind that in most blogging platforms, every time you publish a new post you’re also creating a new page. Large sections of content and new webpages are signals to Google that you’ve updated your blog and therefore might be more relevant.
Takeaway: How to put this into practice
You know that blogging takes time and effort, so if you’ve chosen to make it part of your regular workflow then it’s a good idea to know some SEO best practices. Below are our top tips for how to blog and help boost your SEO at the same time.
Infuse your keywords throughout the post. Most people initially think that “keywords” refer to a big comma-delimited list of terms they want to rank for in their webpages. But this a great way for Google to ignore you. You want to provide as many keywords in context as possible (in other words, write like a human being, not a computer). Again, don’t appear spammy and unnatural, but get specific – instead of “Here’s a sneak preview of my beautiful images from the local farmer’s market” try, “Here’s a sneak preview of my New York City garden stock photos from the farmer’s market.”
Pay attention to your post title. Most blogging platforms take your blog post’s title and use it for both the URL and the page title. Meaning that choosing a relevant and SEO-friendly title is critical. Use this as an opportunity to input your keywords, and try to keep it at 70 characters or less, which is SEO standard practice for page titles.
Input the alt text. When you upload an image to your blog, there’s usually a place for you to input a caption, alternate text, and link. Be sure to utilize all these features – include a descriptive caption, choose alternate text that’s relevant to your keywords, and link to the original image on your website. If you can’t find where to input the ALT text, then simply include a text link under your image. Because Google can’t read images, this all helps to tell the search engine what your image is about.
Utilize social sharing buttons. Find a widget or plug in that’s compatible with your blog platform, and use it to install social media sharing buttons. It’s an easy and effective way to get people sharing your posts.
Strive to post frequently. Make a commitment to posting at least once a week. The more you post, the more you can positively impact your SEO.
Want more strategies and insights to improve your website’s search engine rankings? Sign up and get the free 39-page SEO for Photographers Workbook, plus more tips sent right to your inbox with our 4-week Bootcamp.