SEO And Your Photography Site

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by LarissaPhotography, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. LarissaPhotography

    LarissaPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Is anyone here ranked high on Google for their metro area? We're still working our way up the rankings for St Louis, but we're not there yet. Any tips to break from 2nd page into 1st page results?
     
  2. spyderwebtech

    spyderwebtech TPF Noob!

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    I am pretty good at ranking my websites high in google... you question is a bit vague though.

    Which keyword are you trying to rank for? St. Louis? That keyword is pretty "non-useful" as people are now getting very specific in what they search for such as "hotels in St. Louis", or "Photo studios in St. Louis".
     
  3. LarissaPhotography

    LarissaPhotography TPF Noob!

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    St Louis Wedding Photographer is my primary key word I'm trying to get good ranking for. There are others that are secondary keywords.
     
  4. webaware

    webaware TPF Noob!

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    Hi Larissa,

    I'll start off with some background - I perform SEO services as a job and my wife owns a portrait photography studio in Milwaukee - Christine Plamann Photography.

    I have gotten her website to rank within the top 1 or 2 results in all the keyword phrases she was interested in targeting. (for "milwaukee photographer", for example, she is consistently #2 behind an older and more established studio in the area)

    Word of mouth referrals and web search inquiries make up almost 100% of how she obtains new clients, so high ranking in search engines makes a difference with how many sessions she gets and by extension how many of those clients are passing the word around so she gets more word of mouth referrals -- it all snowballs.

    I also want to state a conflict of interest up front - I publish an SEO guide for photographers - seoforphotographers.com. My goal is not to push that guide, but to give you some honest feedback on your site with regard to SEO and search engine ranking. If you feel it's something you can do on your own and want some direction, take a look at the SEO guide. I'm still more than happy to give you some guidance through this forum or over email if you have specific SEO-related questions so you can understand what it's all about. There certainly is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there about what SEO is all about. SEO itself is time consuming, but not rocket science. Learning it and applying it to your own business discipline is the challenging part, especially if you are wading through a lot of conflicting (mis)information without a roadmap to follow.

    I'll start with some SEO basics and then apply them to your site.

    SEO Basics

    There are three main factors that have an effect on SEO:

    • Targeted keyword selection
    • On-site techniques
    • Off-site techniques (i.e. link building)
    Within each of these categories there are a lot of research and techniques you should apply.

    The end goal is to make your site easy for search engines to scan and understand and sprinkle the targeted keywords you want to focus on throughout areas of your site in places that are known that search engines place a heavy weight on (page title, for example).

    Selecting your target keywords is perhaps the most important step you can take. They need to be something that is relevant to your business and it must be phrases potential customers looking for your services will actually be searching for. Your business name, for example, is a bad search phrase to target. Potential customer don't know who you are unless they are already looking for you. In general, search engines will naturally rank you high for your business name because it's prominent in your site already and often sites linking to your own use it as the text they hyperlink to your site with.

    Finally, you need to build links back to your own web site from other, established and relevant websites. Ideally these web sites are related to your business in some way. For example, links from a local business organization you belong to or links from an article you published online about photography. The link building is half the battle, but also the most time consuming and challenging part of getting your own web site to rank highly.

    Now onto applying these principles to your own site.

    Current Ranking

    First, where do you rank currently? I have a lot of tools at my disposal, so I did a quick check of where you already rank for the search phrases of "st louis photographer", "saint louis photographer", "st louis wedding photographer" and "saint louis wedding photographer".

    Here are the results:

    "st louis photographer" ranks 19 (Google), 73 (Yahoo!), 41 (MSN Live).
    "saint louis photographer" ranks 12 (Google), 73 (Yahoo!), 53 (MSN Live).
    "st louis wedding photographer" ranks 16 (Google), 23 (Yahoo!), 14 (MSN Live)
    "saint louis wedding photographer" ranks 12 (Google), 22 (Yahoo!), 16 (MSN Live)

    These ranking poisition are your baseline to compare, in the future, if the changes you make are working. If you start to tackle some of the on-site and off-site SEO techniques you're currently deficient in and then continue to check on rankings, say every month, for your targeted keywords you will have an accurate metric to see how well your efforts are working.

    SEO is definately a long-term marketing strategy, so expect it to be an area where you make a few tweaks, wait some time for the search engines to figure out you made those tweaks, and observe how the tweaks changed your ranking. Too many people think their rankings will change over night and there are certainly a lot of sketchy SEO firms claiming they can do that (for a lot of money). Over night ranking changes is just flat out impossible except in the most extreme cases (i.e. original site was so poorly developed in the first place it had zero ranking to begin with...in those cases any improvement is a miracle!)

    On-Site SEO for larissaphotography.com

    Did you recently change the title tags and or meta description tags on your site? It's interesting because Google shows a diffent title in their index for some of your pages, so if you've recently changed things around chances are Goolge has not indexed those changes yet.

    Your page titles and meta description tags are good. I would tack on your business name (Larissa Photography) at the end or begining of each title tag because it will then be displayed in the hyperlink of the search engine result. Portential clients, by scanning just the hyperlinks, will know the site is for a legitimate company and more likely to click (now we are getting into the social science and phychology part of SEO).

    You have very descriptive TITLE and ALT elements on all your hyperlinks and image tags, respectively. This is very good.

    Overall, I think your on-site SEO efforts are very respectable. And good job having a good looking site without the use of Flash. Exclusive use of Flash will kill your site as far as search engine rankings are concerned. There is not data inside a Flash application that a search engine can read and therefore it is a dead end to a search engine when they come across a site with pure Flash content. There are some ways to get a Flash site to rank ok, but since your site doesn't use Flash, I won't go into that.

    Off-site SEO for larissaphotography.com

    Here is where it looks like you are struggling. You have almost zero sites linking to you that are currently in Google or Yahoo!'s main indexes. Google lists four sites, none of which are high quality in Google's eyes. Yahoo! lists only one site linking to yours.

    I recommend focusing on buliding as many qualitylinks back to your web site. Over time this will get into the search engine indexes and do a world of good for your own ranking. Search engines place a tremendous weight on links from other quality web sites.

    Feel free to email info@seoforphotographers.com if you have any specific questions as you get more into this. I'd be glad to give some advice where you need it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  5. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    Very very useful info. Thank you very much.
     
  6. LarissaPhotography

    LarissaPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Webaware, thanks for taking the time to post that information. I think your suggestion about adding our studio name at the end of each page title is great. I did change my page content recently, and Google has not had the change to update its index.
    As far as quality links, where did you get yours? I'm adding links in as many places as I can - directories, blogging, forums, press release, etc. I'm also doing a link exchange with a few other photographers. Any other suggestions? So far I haven't spent any money for any of my links. Have you found paid listings on photography directories or wherever to be effective?
     
  7. Saint-Brown

    Saint-Brown TPF Noob!

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    This is excellent information. Thanks so much WebAware.
     
  8. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    Anything positive or negative to say about Google Adwords? I was just looking on my website last last night and it seems I have a "free credit" towards google adwords.
     
  9. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    I've been doing som research and I found this article on how to get to Number 1 on Google: Number 1 in Google Really good stuff.
     
  10. webaware

    webaware TPF Noob!

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  11. webaware

    webaware TPF Noob!

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    As far as getting links to your website, don't bother with paid links. Google especially, generally views links that you've paid for as "spammy".

    Link building is a slow process that happens over time. At some point you'll find that your clients, business partners and others in the industry will begin to link to your website in their normal interactions online. This building of reputation online is a good thing.

    You can foster your own link building by asking business partners to link to your site (as long as they are relevant to photography), post links in forums (generally low quality, however), or publish relevant blog posts that make people want to link over to your site. Create valuable content and people will link to it! Of course, creating valuable content and spreading the word about it is time consuming, which is why link building and SEO in general should be seen as a long term endeavor.
     

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