Attn Webmasters: Promoting your photography website, Part I

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vonnagy

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Greetings tpf website owners,

I am putting this up as temporarily sticky, i'll remove this if no one expresses interest in this thread. I have been a web developer and search engine promoter for a few years now, so I figure i can provide a few pointers to people who are interested in promoting there website online.

I'll present a few useful links here and if you questions, you can respond to this thread.

Search Engine Optimising web site, whats it all about?

Optimising a website is a way of promoting your by ranking well for a certain search term. The key here is finding your search term you are trying promote. For instance, most photographers slather there names all over their website. Unless you name is Ansell Adams, chances are no one is going to look for your name when typing into search engines. If you are not famous, "Johnny Liecamanglers Photography" website is probably just going to collect dust on the world wide web.

Finding your niche

The key is to find your niche. Photographers have easier job than most because there interests can be easily categorised. For instance, you do black and white photo photography and you live in Tittibong Australia (actual place name :D). You can optimise your site for Black and Photography Tittibong Australia.

One note, try going for niche categories instead general categories, such as "photos", "photography","digital photography". These are very hard nuts crack because of the competition. If you can crack them, maybe you should be writing this instead!

On useful tool is Wordtracker, it contains a database to words people type in search engines. You can see what people type into searchs by to going here:
Wordtracker Search Term Database

You can get an idea of how much traffic a search term that interest is getting, and build your site around it.

Building a search optimised site:

you can find alot of tutorials on how to do this, alot of theories etc. Basically (and thankfully) all three big search engines (The Googler, YAHOOOOO! and M$N) can be structured in the same way to be optmised.

You can do websearch for tutorials are try these ones:
search engine optimisation tutorial #1
Search Engine Marketing Tutorial #2

Link Pimpin' 8)

Yeppers linkies are quite important! However there are certain guidelines to follow which are mentioned in the tutorial above. A common useful practice is to include your keyword website link

Code:
<a href="http://www.thephotoforum.com">Photo Forum: An online photography community</a>

General Guidelines:

1. Make sure the page that is linking to is relevent - for instance a link from "Ethel's Adult Lingerie Boutique" will probably not do much good if you promoting "Lawrence Kansas Photography". However, if you know of a camera shop, in Lawrence Kansas that has a website, that can be a pretty good link.

2. Exchanges links. These can be helpful - this is basically saying to one webmaster "I'll link to your website, if you link to mine". If you do this, make sure the site is relevent to your niche. Link exchanges are not as effective as one way links

3. One way links: This is getting a link to your website, without linking back. If its a relevent site, this is a very good thing indeed!

4. redirected links: These are pretty useless for search engine promotion, these are links, go to another website or a counter before they go to your website. A sample of this would be the photoforums links page, if you notice the link to matt needham's site does not directly go to his website but rather:
Code:
http://www.thephotoforum.com/links.php?29

Redirects are used to measured how many times people have clicked on a link. These links are useless for optmisation as search engines are very of redirects as its a common spam technique (see below). However, if they are on highly visible page they can deliver alot of traffic to yourwebsite. You just have weigh what is more important for your website.

5. Directory links - These are online link resources divided into relevent categories. This is a choice way of getting one way links to your website. There is good soul from Australia named Dan who has taken the time to compile a list of search friendly directories in an excel spreadsheet (bless'im). Go here to download the Search Engine Friendly Directories List

Spammification
Just like the nasties you get in your inbox, search engines are prone to spammy sites trying to get to top of the listings. Here are some common search engine spam techniches to avoid:

* Keywords unrelated to site
* Redirects
* Keyword stuffing
* Mirror/duplicate content
* Tiny Text
* Doorway pages
* Link Farms
* Cloaking
* Keyword stacking
* Gibberish
* Hidden text
* Domain Spam
* Hidden links
* Mini/micro-sites
* Page Swapping (bait & switch)
* Typo spam and cyber squatting

Many of the above terms may be new to you, i encourage you to look them up on the net if you are not sure what they mean. You can read more about them in this article: http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3483601


Paid Advertising

i'll let you in a lil secret, work! Those are the paid advertisements that appear on the side of google, or on top of Yahoo. The are great way to supplement traffic to your website. It can take a bit of practice to get your formulas right, but don't be turned off of using google adwords or yahoo overturejust because yer a cheap bast*rd. You will spend a HELL of alot less on this medium than print advertising and yield better results. Trust on this.

Email!

Email marketing for your website is one you can drive good traffic to your website and promote your website. Here's another secret: You as a photographer have a huge advantage over all other folks sending out emails - why?? Because you can provide visual content!

I've sent several email campaigns for different marketing companies and I thought email marketing really blow until I did work for an artist. We made a simple email with some art samples linked to his website. Because photographs were used to attract the users attention and they didn't have to read a bloody thing - the response was up to 500% greater than plain text emails i've sent.

Oh.. please use your common sense, friends. Don't Spam. You should have everyone's permission before you email.

Measuring Stats

You'll never how good your website is doing if you don't measure your website traffic. The main things I measure are the following;

* total vistors
* unique visitors
* search engines + keywords
* webtraffic from other sites
* direct webtraffic (bookmarks or typing in directly)

Usually most hosting companies can offer free stats programs such as AWstats which analyses log files to give the above information.

A fantastic open source analyis tool is phpMyVisites, which requires a piece of jjavascript to be put on each page. It was developed by a french student and I highly recommend it. Click here to go to the open source website statistics

There is alot to web analytics that is covered here, but if you have questions just post them here and I will attempt to answer them here.


Hosting:
I have used over 20 hosting companies when i was a web developer. Most have been really expensive, poor quality and quite frankly sucked. When I look for a hosting I look for the following:

1. linux servers
2. apache server with MOD REWRITE support (more about this later)
3. PHP/Perl Support
4. shared SSL (for secure connections)
5. CPanel - (this is a web management console, makes webmastering easy!)

All the above are musts and non negotiable. There are three webhosting companies which do all the above and offer great prices and superb service which i recommend.

They are:
SiteCity Webhosting This by far is the best hosting company for the price $1.95/USD a month for cpanel hosting. Based in Illinois, the support is excellent for the price I pay. I give them alot of business, and with good reason.

Aventure Webhosting is a Belfast based webhosting company who also are a fantastic to work with. The support is outstanding. I typically use the $3.75/USD a month webhosting.

Monster Hosting Canada kicks butt too. These folks provide good service for the coin you pay, hosting starts at

Please note, these companies didn't pay me for these kinds. I recommend them because they earned it.
 
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vonnagy

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Miscellenea & Links

If you are going to learn the art of webmastering - go open source! Learn PhP/Perl scripting language, MySQL databases and a bit of Apache Server. What great about the above is that you JUST have to know a tiny bit, i know some of my friends make some serious dosh off the net and don't have very very very very limited of computing.

Don't be intimiated by what you don't know. You were a novice photographer at one point, remember. Just be patient with yourself.

If you know a bit of html and php, I can recommend drupal. Drupal is an website system that allows to automatically put websites online. It has extensive plug ins such as thumbnail galleries, forum's etc. I've tried many, many systems before (like mambo) and drupal is by far the most flexible. I developed my Port Waikato website using this system. Though not for beginners, its free :D


Search Engine Info and Tools
Google information for webmasters What Google says you need do to get listed in there search engines
Search Engine Optimisation Information
Search Engine Cloaking - note i don't condone these practices but its good to know
Search Engine Ranking Checker - requires login account
Free Search Engine Optimisation Tools Nice site with alot of freebies!
search engine spider simulator Users see your site one. Search see it another, they strip out all that fancy design you did to get to the gets of what your site is really about.
**new**
Mod rewrite Forum finally, an idea that has come :D

Tuturials/Info/Articles
Don't let the bastards steal your photosthis is a good'n for photographers, learn how to prevent folks from hotlinking your images on their website.
Fresh Webmaster Tutorials/Articles/Info Some good reads here if you have the time
.htaccess tutorial.htaccess is the duct tape of the webmastering world. find out why...
Kick Arse CSS designs This site has some really nifty css designs that are free to download. very coolicious.
Web pages that suck As Freud said, you can know alot about cool websites by observing websites that really blow. Pray that your website does appear on this website.

Free Web Tools
great online webmaster tools
Broken Link Checker Xenu broken link check is a simple old school prog that works great
Website Speed Checker - Site a bit sluggish - find out why! Nice lil' free tool.
Online Google SiteMap Generator
Check how many people are linking to your site
Hide your email from spambots Convert your email to unicode!
CSS Menu GeneratorNeed a fancy dancy drop down menu? Well, here ya go!
Download Any Old Browser Archive Curious to see what your website would like like in ie 3.0, Linx or other old school browser? This site is for you.
Fantastic Free FTP program Filezilla FTP, use it. You will like it.
Validate your HTML (and weep) But don't feel bad, thephotoforum has 68 errors :D


(slightly more) Advanced Tools/Scripts:
International Proxies Sometimes you check how your site appears in different countries, especially if you monitor paid advertising and search rankings. Proxies are best way of doing this.
Web Bug You use this to check http headers, can come in handy if you work with mod rewrites and redirects.
Mod Gzip Checker Is your server running Mod Gzip? You can shave some precious seconds your website download time if you have Mod Gzip installed on your server :)
Ardvark Fire Fox Extension see source code of a website in a new way!

Open Source and Programming Scripts and Sofware
Online WebScripts - never reinvent the wheel if you have a website idea, someones probably already wrote a script for it!
PHP scripting language bestest web scripting language, ever :mrgreen:
Apache Webserver
MySQL Database
phpMyAdmin - Web Interface for MySQL

Bits and Bobs
Find expired domain names
Website templates Buy a cheap website (<$100USD) or get ideas for your next website design
Lorem Lipsum GeneratorSome times you need to generate copy as placeholder for content your website, this lil' site should come in handy.
Find out what sites looked like a long, long time agoThis website contains archives of old websites, and a lot of 'em. kinda cool!

phew... and nearly 2 hours later and finishing this up. I hope you kids find some of this useful. Its helped make a bit of dosh of the net :D
 

loopy

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Wow, thanks for posting this, what a great collection of resources. :)
 

terri

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I think you're awesome, Mark....but you did just make my eyes bleed. :mrgreen:

In all seriousness, thanks for doing this. It's great! :thumbup:
 
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vonnagy

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more stuff to make your eyes bleed, i just cleaned out the last of my bookmarks and added them to the list. enjoy!
 

PeterBraden

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vonnagy said:
Hosting:
I have used over 20 hosting companies when i was a web developer. Most have been really expensive, poor quality and quite frankly sucked. When I look for a hosting I look for the following:

1. linux servers
2. apache server with MOD REWRITE support (more about this later)
3. PHP/Perl Support
4. shared SSL (for secure connections)
5. CPanel - (this is a web management console, makes webmastering easy!)

All the above are musts and non negotiable. There are three webhosting companies which do all the above and offer great prices and superb service which i recommend.

They are:
SiteCity Webhosting This by far is the best hosting company for the price $1.95/USD a month for cpanel hosting. Based in Illinois, the support is excellent for the price I pay. I give them alot of business, and with good reason.

Aventure Webhosting is a Belfast based webhosting company who also are a fantastic to work with. The support is outstanding. I typically use the $3.75/USD a month webhosting.

Monster Hosting Canada kicks butt too. These folks provide good service for the coin you pay, hosting starts at


http://x9internet.com/faq.php is also a good host - they're the ones I'm with right now. They do everything on the list and I've not had any problems in the few months I've been with them.

Please note, these companies didn't pay me for these kinds. I recommend them because they earned it.
me too

Peter Braden
--
photography.peterbraden.co.uk photography.peterbraden.co.uk
 

Mikey reda

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Wow thanks mate that really is valuable information- and the fact that you put all that time into writing it shows what a dude you are:D
Cheers
 
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vonnagy

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thanks all for your comments :D

balserodeluxe said:
Cool resources!

How do you compare Drupal with Coppermine?

Also, any suggestions on my site, www.rostonics.com?

sorry - it took a few months before I saw this :oops:.

Drupal and Coppermine are two completely different beasts - Drupal is used to get all sorts of info up on a website, Coppermine is a more specialised photo album. Coppermine is quite a beast in of itself, but check the drupal website because it may have a coppermine module . Drupal does come with photo album plugin, depending on your template it might be a bit difficult to get it to fit your site. I had to tweak mine quite a bit.

On the other, there is a nice flcker plugin for drupal, which i've seen works really nice.

I think your website would work well with drupal, but it depends how much time you want to invest in overhauling it :)
 

Alpha

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Vonnagy,

I know you're a mod, and I don't doubt that you've done some work in the marketing world, but I have to say (for the sake of whichever members are taking advantage of this thread) that most of the above advice is simply obsolete. Organic (and sometimes inorganic) search engine optimization strategies radically change relatively often.

To begin, there are very few niche markets left on the internet. Photography is most certainly not one of them. Unless you're optimizing your targeted search terms geographically for a location more or less in the middle of nowhere, it's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and occasionally a lot of money.

Secondly, I should stress that optimization strategies enormously differ between the top three search engines. Each one uses an entirely unique algorithm for finding and indexing content on the web, and each engine is constantly changing its algorithm. Strategies that will get your site far on one search engine are often relatively useless on the other two.

Thirdly, anchoring the text in your links is extremely important, but using very similar anchor text in all of your links across the web can actually be harmful to your site, especially on Google.

Fourth, while relevant links are very valuable, link exchanges are no longer simply less valuable. They have little to no value these days. Additionally, redirects can most certainly aide your site's overall optimization when used properly within your domain.

Fifth, directory links now have highly diminished value because they lack contextual anchor text.

I'm not trying to contradict you simply for the sake of doing so, but SEO techniques have drastically changed since you posted this advice, and I thought people trying to take advantage of this post should know that.
 

Itchy

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Hi all and especially Vonnagy for the postings above.

I am a newbie to forums and to say that this site it is an eye opener doesn't even begin to get close.

Amazing !

If only I had discovered this before embarking on my own web site design...ah well better late than never.

My ignorance is in danger. Thanks.:thumbup:
 
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