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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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PortfolioPhotographers are not the best editors of their own work. The task of choosing which images belong in your portfolio, either online or analog, is often best left to anyone but yourself.

We’ve all photographed that executive who woke up grumpy or turned a very boring office into an acceptable background for an environmental portrait. Sometimes creating a good image in spite of these challenges results in an emotional attachment to a photograph that otherwise is really not all that exciting.

That’s where a consultant can help. You send them the 40 or so images you are fond of and think will look great on your website, and because they are looking at them with fresh, objective eyes, they have no emotional attachment to them. You might hate hearing it, but they’ll be honest and will tell you “which of your children are ugly.”

Sometimes the truth is brutal… sometimes they’ll tell you to go out and create more images. But in the end your portfolio will benefit by being a more cohesive, tighter representation of your work.

[Photo by Jason Schlachet, used under Creative Commons License.]

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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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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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I’m writing a book and find myself leaving my office to write at a local coffee shop where I can be singularly focused on the project. While there this morning, it occurred to me how unappealing their baked goods looked and why. The shop’s competitor is Starbucks, just 4 doors down. I prefer this shop because it has less traffic and is quieter than Starbucks, not to mention they make great coffee!

But I’ve NEVER bought anything out of their pastry case. Why? Because all their offerings are wrapped in plastic-wrap. It looks horrible. My brain thinks anything pastic-wrapped was packaged the day before and was encased in a polyester tomb so they could squeeze an extra day of “freshness” out of it. Not only that, but the frosting or glaze on any pastry is going to stick to the wrapper when I open it… ugh! Starbucks on the other hand presents all of their baked goods unwrapped. They’re fresh. They’re appealing. I buy them.

How are you packaged? Is your website a boring template? Hope not. Does it look fresh? Hope so. Does it have big pictures? It better, potential clients want to see large, in-your face images. Can a viewer fly through 5 or 6 images in 5 seconds? They should, web usability expert Jakob Nielsen (website, opens in new window) says visitors to your website will give you eight seconds (yes eight!) of their attention to locate what they’re looking for.

So ask yourself: How are you “packaged”? Are you a muffin in plastic-wrap? Or are you a baked-fresh, pleasing-to-look-at, delicious, gotta-have-it slice of lemon poppyseed cake?

Written by one of many Detroit Photographers, Blake J. Discher. BTW, that sentence was crafted around the phrase “Detroit Photographers” for SEO purposes for my studio’s website. Photograph copyright 2012 Blake J. Discher, it’s mine, please don’t take it without asking first.

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More hours in a dayEver find yourself at the end of the day asking, “where did the time go?” Or, perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “I wish I had more time for this project.”

What if I told you you do? In fact you can easily (and I mean easily!) pick up the equivalent of 6-1/2 weeks per year. How? If you set your alarm to wake you just one hour earlier than you normally would Monday through Friday, you’d gain five hours per week, 52 weeks per year. If you do the math that’s 260 hours per year. Two hundred sixty! That works out to 6-1/2 weeks of “found” time.

I love this time; the house is quiet, the tumult of the morning hasn’t begun, and it truly is MY OWN time.

What will you do with all that time? Here are 10 suggestions:

1. Call a potential client you’ve never worked for.
2. Make a “touch call” to an existing client you haven’t worked for in a while.
3. Send a hand written note to an existing client to thank them for a recent job.
4. Add a few new images to your website.
5. Revise your website’s bio.
6. Ask a couple of key clients for testimonials for your site.
7. Ask a designer to evaluate your website. Is the format still current?
8. Work with designer to create a series of snail-mail postcards for next year.
9. Send an email blast to clients (potential and existing) that talks about a recent awesome job you just shot.
10. Determine how you’re different from your competitors and incorporate that into your sales presentation the next time the phone rings. Differentiation gets you jobs!

Good luck!

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Thou shalt not stealBusiness down or stagnant? When did you last…

Tip #1: Update the images on your website? (Google loves fresh content.)

#2: Refresh the “About Me” page on your website? (Again, Google loves fresh content.)

#3: Mail (using snail mail) a thank you to a client with whom you’ve recently worked? (Snail mail is so much more impressive than email.)

#4: Do an email blast to your existing and prospective clients? (Be sure to include your name or studio name in the subject.)

#5: Attend a networking event… even an art opening at a local gallery?
(EVERY gathering is a networking opportunity.)

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in•tox•i•cat•ed [in-tok-si-key-tid] adjective: mentally or emotionally exhilarated.

Friends often ask, “What was it that got you interested in photography?” My answer refers back to the first time I saw a silver print appear in the developer during my eighth grade photography class. I was “intoxicated” by photography from that point on. And I still am.

That said, I’m bothered that I haven’t worked on any personal projects in many years. With 365-projects all the rage, I just might start that picture-a-day project. There are plenty of good free blogging-platform templates from which to choose to showcase one’s work and you could even utilize Instagram or Tumblr if you’d like to work with a mobile phone.

What does this have to with web marketing? The answer is that both your existing clients and potential clients will enjoy looking at your personal work. My website tracking data shows that the “Personal” category is second in clicks only to the “Corporate” category on my Firefly Studios site.

I think people have a real curiosity about what we photograph when we’re not being paid to photograph. While I was in China last month my good friend Peter Krogh turned me on to panos and time-lapse using the Nikon D800, so that’s what I’m going to concentrate on over the summer.

So get started with me as deepen my intoxication with photography. There’s no time like now to begin!

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