Search Engine Optimization (how to rank high in Search Engines results) is often confusing to photographers. SEO played a key role in PhotoDeck's history, so we've put together The Photographer's SEO Pyramid to help photographers focus their SEO efforts -- whether they are PhotoDeck members or not.
This is the last of three installments: in part I, we addressed the foundation of the Photographer's SEO Pyramid: "Search Engines and Me" covered the strategy, "My Keywords" explained the importance of planning for specific keywords. Part II was about "the meat" and what you should spend most time on.
Today, we cover the tip of the pyramid.
But Search Engines still have a lot of room for improvement, and although our view is that it is of decreasing importance, getting a few details right will still help your SEO efforts: there are few HTML tags (included in the code of your pages) you should know about. This is where things get technical – consult with your designer if you are not familiar with HTML!
The Title tag, in HTML parlance, denotes the title for your page. It is displayed in the browser bar (not on the page itself), and it is the text that Search Engines display in search results when linking to a page.
The Title tag is still very important, and should include your keywords. As it also shows in search results, it is a good idea to include some element of branding.
The H1 tag is the title that is displayed on a well-formed HTML page (putting a piece of text in a bigger, bold font is not the same as explicitly indicating in the code that it is the title).
When a visitor clicks on a link, he expects to be taken to a page with the same (or very similar) text in the page title: the H1 tag is therefore a natural place to insert keywords specific to the page.
Adding the website's main keywords, as in the Title tag, might also make sense if you are not able to repeat them elsewhere on the page, and as long as it looks sensible to your visitors.
The ALT tag is connected to an image: its purpose is to specify what text to display instead of the image if the browser cannot display the image. As Search Engines cannot (precisely, at least) analyze an image's content, the ALT tag should include the image's caption.
Use relevant keywords in the links from one page to another. For example, if your website is about “aerial photos” grouped by location, a link to the Europe category on the front page should read “Europe aerial photos” (or whatever search term your want this gallery to be optimized for).
When two galleries are related but their hierarchical organization doesn't show it, it is also a good idea to cross-link them.
Search Engines don't like duplicate content, as is a sign of potential abuse. For a photographer though, it often makes sense to include the same image in several different galleries / categories. When doing so, identify the primary page for that image, and use the Canonical tag on all other pages with the same content to indicate what the primary page is.
Google Webmaster Tools help you:
Power tip: use it to tell Google what your main target market is!
Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that gives you advanced reports on your website traffic. Of particular interest are:
The bounce rate for visitors coming through search engines is a very important measure, as it indicates how relevant your website is for their search!
There are alternatives to Google Analytics, for example the free StatCounter.
The key question to ask yourself is whether these improvements are worth your time as a photographer, within the role you give to SEO in your overall marketing strategy.
In other words – Would Pareto approve?
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