Several years ago I decided to make some major changes to my blog and website in an attempt to make them more SEO friendly. After all, art buyers can’t buy your work if you can’t be found. At the time this was a major change in how I was doing things online in an attempt to increase my own web presence and in doing so raise the awareness of my work. The good news? It worked! My workshops took off, tripod manufacturer Manfrotto “found” me and I became a member of their school of Xcellence; complete with a monthly article, things were looking good. The bad news? I had some major health issues and the continuous effort needed to keep things rolling wasn’t something I was able to keep up with. As a result and I lost a lot of the momentum I had built. Time has passed, things have changed (both with my health and SEO) and I’m back at it. I don’t pretend to be an SEO wiz or a professional in the field. I’m just someone who has collected more than a bit of knowledge over the years and thought I’d share my SEO tips for photographers with you.
If you don’t have a blog, a portion of your website you routinely update with new images, updates, articles, thoughts etc. you should start one. Why? Because search engines like Google and Bing love NEW information. They like websites that are alive with updates and a blog is perfect for just that. While the core pages of your website may not change very often you can consistently update your blog with information on new images, travels, sales, projects…you name it. When search engines crawl your site and see new information to index they know the site is currently being maintained. This fresh information is a signal that your post may be more relevant to a searcher’s needs. As a result, it has a better chance of being ranked higher.
The trick to having a blog that gets you noticed is doing it right. First, you want a self-hosted blog, something that is part of your actual website. For years I had a blog hosted on wordpress.com (www.edwardmendes.wordpress.com, I think). It served me well, or so I thought. It was the landing pad for everything I did photographically but because it was hosted on WordPress.com instead of my own domain, edwardmendesphotography.com, the traffic it generated didn’t help to increase my own website’s presence, it helped WordPress. So, when you start your blog make sure it’s part of your main website which is extremely easy to do if you’ve built your site with WordPress or even a creation site like Wix. If not, install your blog in a directory just under the root so it’s URL will read as, www.yourwebsite.com/blog.
As I mentioned earlier, the point of having a blog is to share with others your thoughts on certain topics such as photography. Google and Bing are always trying to offer the best search results to their users, after all, if they bring up results that don’t hit-the-nail-on-the-head then you’ll stop using them. Gone are the days where you could keyword spam a post to death and rise to the top of a page ranking. Today search engine algorithms consider articles with a more organic presentation of information as those of the highest quality. The key is to optimize each post for a single keyword or a single keyword phrase and use them naturally within the post without going overboard. It’s all about creating posts that offer relevant, thoughtful and interesting information to people.
As an added benefit if you can execute this approach well you’ll slowly develop a following of people who enjoy what you do and respect your opinions regarding whatever it is your “blogging” about. Hopefully, these individuals will come back regularly, bookmark your site, tell their friends about you and perhaps even add a link to your blog on their own (these are called backlinks). All of these elements help to drive traffic to your web page making your site more relevant to search engines, which is the driving force behind how highly you rank in organic search results.
Lastly, I wanted my blog to have a much narrower focus in terms of subject matter. Instead of general photography topics which included everything I was doing, such as weddings, portraits etc. I wanted this new blog to center around just landscape and nature photography or things that can help photographers interested in that subject, such as this post on SEO (I hope). The reason being is a term I mentioned earlier, relevancy. The website domain this blog is connected with, edwardmendesphotography.com is exclusively for my fine art landscape and nature photography, so blog posts discussing such topics are more relevant to this domain’s content.
This associated relevancy is a great thing because, remember, a major component in most search query results is how relevant a site is to the terms that were searched for. If someone searches for the term Yosemite National Park and my blog, which is hosted on my site’s domain, has a large number of posts and related comments regarding Yosemite my website will have a better chance of having a high placement for that search term. This is because search engines see it as highly relevant to a general search for Yosemite.
If planned and executed correctly a blog can play a major role in increasing traffic to your website and is a major element in increasing your overall web visibility and notability within the greater photography community. One thing to remember though, nothing happens overnight. Showing up in search engines, building a following and gaining the respect and eventual traffic of fellow photographers takes time. Create posts people (photographers) find helpful and are interested in and results will follow…eventually.
I don’t know how many parts this little series will end up being or when I’ll write the next one, relatively soon I hope. Some future topics will touch on backlinks, social networking, image keywording, alt-tags and perhaps a few others as I think of them. Seo is an important topic for photographers, let me hear what’s worked for you in the comments below and hopefully, we can all benefit. Also, in the article I mentioned backlinks, if you’d like to link to this article as part of your own blog or discussion please feel free.
See you next time!