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Written by search engine optimization consultant Blake J. Discher.

Google Square Logo1. Keep Your Content Fresh
The search engines love, love, love fresh content. Change your site’s content as frequently as possible. This doesn’t mean have a blog as your home page. Doing so will bounce you up and down in the rankings since your copy is constantly changing as your new posts bump off the older ones and the amount of keywords changes with each post. One photographer I know puts up a “picture of the day” each morning. That’s a great way of changing up the page’s content without altering your body copy.

2. Create a Search Engine Friendly Website
Using a website that is based entirely in Flash and has no body copy does not provide search engine spiders information about your site. Google relies heavily on body copy to determine what a site is about and if a site has none, all things being equal, your site will not rank as well as a site with descriptive body copy containing your keyword phrases.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Jorge Parra continues his two-part article (part one is here) in which he shares how he leverages LinkedIn in his marketing and to help him identify potential clients. Jorge is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Miami, FL, his work can be seen at www.jorgeparra.com.

Three of the most powerful tools in LinkedIn are the Groups, the Answers, and what I call the Research Engine.

Groups

Belonging to groups in which your potential clients might roam is a critical step for your LinkedIn presence. Just point your browser to the “Groups” tab in Linkedin and start researching for the thousands of groups already established. Joining groups is sometimes instantaneous, but sometimes they are moderated and you’ll need to be approved as a member. The idea is to join groups and participate in some of the discussions there, share your knowledge and expertise, and bring alternative points of view to what is under discussion. Of course, your goal is to start building relationships.

The greatest collateral benefit of belonging to groups is that you can actually ask all (or selected) members of a group to join your network. LinkedIn considers this a valid method of connecting. Once in your network, a person’s contact info is accessible. Of course, this information is not meant to be used to just spam those contacts; you should build relationships first!

You may recall I mentioned in part one of this article that there is no benefit for photographers to join photographer’s groups, (stop preaching to the choir, etc). A fews possible exceptions would be for educators, presenters, seminarists, and workshop instructors, as most of the photographers in those groups could become their customers. You want to roam where your potential customers roam!

Answers

An equally powerful tool is to commit to answering the myriad of questions posted by an endless list of people looking for specific advice. This is, to me, the most interesting part of LinkedIn. Look for the “Answers” tab in LinkedIn. You provide feedback in your areas of expertise, helping people in their quests, who then, often immediately, want to become part of your network. All of this happens outside the groups, so responding to queries will help you in your research to find good groups to roam in as well!

The amazing additional benefit of providing “answers” is that those who asked the original questions will be tagging and rating (first, second, third) the quality of the responses received. Both LinkedIn (in its internal research search engine) and Google take note of those tags and quality answers will help you rank better in future searches. This is like good Karma coming back to you, thanks to your original input. Seems to be a natural law in this universe.

LinkedIn’s “Research Engine”

As I said above, I consider LinkedIn’s search feature a “Research Engine” which is more than a simple search engine. This is because you can get deep into researching the companies you specifically want to target, and it is difficult to think of any relevant company that is not listed, in detail, in LinkedIn. If you don’t want to go into “Groups” or “Answers”, then learn to get deep into “Research”, but I need to emphasize, all three tools mingle perfectly well.

You can do things like “Follow this Company” and receive notifications about news and updates related new people entering the company, new projects underway, and much more. Using this information you can start identifying specific people you want to make contact with, and use the tools described above to help in your effort to make contact. Right now, I am waiting on some initial contact attempts I have initiated to Victoria’s Secret, as one of my plans is to eventually have them as a client. With the Linkedin’s “Research Engine” capabilities, there is no need to think small.

Something worth mentioning is your LinkedIn profile, you NEED to polish what people are reading about you. Everything I written above depends, in large part, on this one item, so start by puttin gin place your best looking profile and explore all possible profile settings ASAP. There is always more than the basics in LinkedIn.

On a side note, I should add that Facebook also offers segmentation into Groups, and there are hundreds of groups indeed, but I have never got the quality feedback or established as many positive contacts with potential clients in Facebook as I have in LinkedIn’s groups. Others may have better luck, so I encourage everyone to explore this option too (assuming, of course, you have already set up your Business Page in FB!)

Care to share how LinkedIn is working for you?
Thanks and good luck!

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ASMP is bringing Strictly Business 3 conference to Los Angeles on January 21-23, 2011 over in downtown LA at Sheraton. [And I'm going to be a part of it!] Interesting part is instead of a set list of classes, you are free to choose 6 of the following :

  • The Agile Photographer: A Multimedia Partner for Business w/ Jay Kinghorn
    The Artist Lost and Found with Sean Kernan
    The Basics of Copyright, Licensing and Pricing with Susan Carr
    Breaking Into the Biz with Judy Herrmann
    Choose and Use Your Catalog Software with Peter Krogh
    Copyright Registration Workshop with Kate Baldwin and Jim Cavanaugh
    Essential Business Basics with Susan Carr, Judy Herrmann and Richard Kelly
    Essential Pre-production for Video: How to Budget, Quote and Crew Video Projects w/Richard Harrington
    Finding The Right Gallery For You with Thomas Werner
    Microstock: End of the world or a new world of opportunity? w/Ellen Boughn
    Multimedia & Digital Video Primer with Jay Kinghorn
    Secrets to Driving Traffic to Your Blog with Rosh Sillars
    Shooting Video with the HDSLR Cameras with Gail Mooney
    Stock Recipes with Shannon Fagan
    Strategic Estimating with Jeff Sedlik
    Strategic Reinvention with Judy Herrmann
    Thinking and Shooting in Motion with Gail Mooney
    What Makes a Successful Portfolio? with Ellen Boughn
    Work for Hire and Other Video Practices — Understanding Your Rights as a Video Creator w/Richard Harrington
    Your Website — Your Essential Marketing Tool with yours truly, People Photographer Blake Discher

  • In essence, you put together your own seminar. Private consultation is also available. To find out more, click here. Pricing and registration right here. By the way, this is open to the public so even if you are not an ASMP member, you can take advantage of this though at a higher price than members.

    Jan 21-23, 2011

    Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
    711 S Hope St
    Los Angeles, CA 90017

    Reprinted from PIX Feed LA with permission. Who’s the bald guy?

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    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? 

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    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!

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