SEO Posts

Five Do-It-Yourself SEO Improvements

This post is now hosted at http://www.go-seo.tips.

Keyword Density, Prominence, and Proximity Explained

Written by search engine optimization consultant Blake J. Discher.

keywordWhen writing body copy for your website’s home page, it’s important to keep three things in mind. By now most anyone who is working on optimizing their website for Google and the other search engines knows that excessive placement of the keyword phrases for which they are optimizing can hurt their ranking in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

That’s known as keyword stuffing or keyword spamming.

Keyword Density

Put simply, keyword density is the ratio (or percentage) of the number of times your keyword appears on the page of your article, versus the number of words on the page. For example, if your home page has 500 words of body copy and your keyword phrase appears 5 times, your keyword density is one-percent. No one knows for sure what the search engines consider ideal — the number changes with every algorithm update — but conservatively, two to four-percent is probably in the correct range. I wouldn’t exceed six or seven-percent under any circumstances.

Keyword Prominence

Keyword prominence refers to how prominent your keywords are within key elements of your web page. Specifically, how close to the beginning of the page’s TITLE tag, heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), and meta DESCRIPTION, your keyword phrase is placed. You should always put your most important keyword phrase at the very beginning of your TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and H1 and H2 tags. Also try to begin your first and last sentences of body copy with the important keyword phrases.

Think Outside the Box, Improve Clickthrough

A small chain of outdoor adventure clothing shops based in Ann Arbor, Michigan sends me emails from time to time since I am a regular customer. Today’s email was a holiday promotion but what caught my eye was a link titled, “Gifts for Ex-Lovers”.

Ex-Lovers

Like everyone, I have ex-lovers so my curiosity got me and I wanted to see what the gang at Moosejaw would suggest I give an ex. If you’re unfamiliar with the psyche of the company, one day this past summer, they were bored, took a hunk of bologna and a deli meat slicer up to the roof of their headquarters and whipped sliced bologna at passing cars and made a video of the fun! (click here, opens in new window). Suffice it to say, they’re an irreverent bunch… one reason for their success in their target demographic I’m sure.

I clicked the link and was sent to a page of the site containing 16 items that I guess they deemed appropriate for ex-lover, most of which I’d be grateful if an ex-lover sent me. A few stood out from the rest (and I’m keeping my comments to myself): a “Ruffwear Roamer Leash”, a “Black Diamond Pecker” (that’s it to the right), a “SOG Flash I Knife”, and a “Back Country Access B1 Shovel”. Hmmmmm.

In any case, I’m guessing that link in the email will get the most click-throughs of any. Think outside the box, be different, and be successful!

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Show Personal Work on Your Website

When designing a new website (or redesigning your existing one), one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what to call your portfolio galleries and what to include in your images. Photographers are all over the map, some simply number their galleries: Gallery 1, Gallery 2, and so on. Some use more descriptive words: People, Places, Editorial, and Corporate. I’ve even seen gallery titles such as, Happy Faces, Beautiful, and Innocent. Clients I’ve asked prefer intuitive, descriptive gallery titles.

I think even more important than gallery names is that you include personal work. Years ago, before the web became the prominent method of showing one’s portfolio, a consultant suggested that in addition to one’s regular portfolio, a photographer should have a second, perhaps smaller, book of personal work.

Effective Achor Text for SEO

Written by search engine optimization consultant Blake J. Discher.

anchor

Anchor text is the actual human readable text of any link on a web page. We’ve all seen the worst example of effective anchor text, the clickable Click Here. A link that simply reads “Click Here” tells the reader (and more importantly, a search engine) nothing about what that link is about.

Instead, you should attempt to have any link to your website “read” what that specific page is about. This is referred to as “relevant anchor text”. In other words, if you are a wedding photographer in Houston, perhaps you should strive to have any incoming links to your site read, Houston Wedding Photographer. This tells the search engine that the destination of that link will contain information about a Houston Wedding Photographer.

When you undertake a link exchange campaign, your incoming link’s anchor text ideally should be the keyword phrase for which you are optimizing your home page or another page on your site.

      Your keyword phrase is the phrase that you suspect buyers would enter into a search engine to find a photographer that offers the type of photography you provide. According to my research, the most common syntax used by a searcher seeking a photographer is in the form:

[location] [specialty] [“photographer” or “photographers”]

    (With the plural generally having more occurrences.)

If I’ve negotiated a credit line for any of my images appearing on my client’s website, I always specify the credit read Detroit Photographer Blake Discher with that text being the link back to my site. In fact, I just made that example a link to my homepage.

Detroit headshot photographer Mary DuPrie (I did it again, the words Detroit headshot photographer are a link to Mary’s site) helps out her makeup artist Tammy Pore from time to time with a link in her blog to Tammy’s webpage. Because Tammy’s site is entirely made with Flash, incoming links play a critical role in Tammy’s SEO efforts. A screen grab of Mary’s blog post is below.

Exaple of anchor text in a blog post

(Tammy optimizes her site for the phrase “Michigan Makeup Artist” and Mary’s link will help Tammy in her SEO rankings.)

Photo by Svadilfari licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Use Only WordPress for Photog’s Website?

On one of the listserves I subscribe to, there was some discussion of whether or not anyone had seen WordPress used as a platform for a photography studio's entire site without it looking too "bloggish".  (Is there such a word?)

By far the most elegant implementation of WordPress for a photographer's website that I've seen is Susan Carr and her partner Gary Cialdella's site.   It does very well in search for the keyword phrases they target.

Another well done WordPress site that does well in search and doesn't look like a blog is Andrew Pogue's tasteful site.

A photographer's blog, implemented in WordPress, that does incredibly well in search is Mary DuPrie's "Photographing Models" blog.  It also helps her studio's main site rank well in search because each is hosted on a different server and her blog copy is written intelligently/correctly so as to to improve her search rankings for both sites.

Flash content is OK with workarounds such as browser client tests and at least some control over the content on your home page.  Few Flash-based sites give you full access to your home page's source code.  There is one Blue Domain (!) template that does so in a clever way, but I'm not sure they even realize it does.  Off-server landing pages can also help, but it's a slow road to page one using that tactic since the domain for such pages will likely be younger in age than the sites on Google's or Yahoo!'s first page.  Age of domain is becoming an increasingly important factor in search.

What do you think?  Have you seen an amazing implementation of WordPress by a photographer for their main site? 

Crucial for SEO: A Good Title Tag

One of the basics in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the content of a website’s TITLE tag which end up being displayed in the top-most bar of a browser window when someone is looking at your site. The tag is given significant weight by search engines in their effort to figure out exactly what a site is about.

Sounds super simple and you might think everyone already knows this, but as I speak to photographers around the country about SEO, I notice quite a lot of studio names (such as “XYZ Studio”) or the photographer’s own name (such as “John Smith”) in the tag.

Unless your name is nationally recognized by photo buyers, you’d be better off thinking about what keyword phrase potential clients would use to find a photographer that produces work such as you create. So for example, your TITLE tag might better consist of “Seattle Editorial Photographer John Smith.” Place the most important keywords toward the left of the sentence. About eight to ten words is good.

It is important to make certain your TITLE matches your page content, the “Description” META tag actually describes what on the page, and is unique for that specific page.

Good luck!