Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Multiply new clients with search engine optimization tips from Zach Prez, photography SEO expert

Your competitors already do SEO. Search engine optimization makes small changes to a website or blog site to improve the chances of ranking in Google. Simple steps toward an optimized site will payoff huge. Page 1 ranks in search engines deliver a consistent stream of potential new clients to a website. Those satisfied customers refer new business and deliver exponential growth for new or even veteran business. Learn how to apply the basic principles of SEO and increase your chance of a successful rank. How many new clients per month would it take to pay your mortgage? Maybe 1 for a wedding photographer or 3 for a portrait photographer? And most photographers don't stop there. I've helped double and triple the size of their businesses in a matter of months through my Photographer's SEO Blog and free SEO email class. With this post I hope to educate you on what's possible for your business, starting today.

What Does it Take to Rank Well?

Google doesn't make it easy to rank, but does offer simplicity in how to rank. Google's job is to return the best possible results for every search. Satisfied searchers continue to use Google, who earns lots of money from the small percentage of people who click the sponsored (paid) results along the right side of the search page. Take a sample search like "San Diego wedding photographer." Users typing in that search don't want to see San Diego portrait photographers, or Sacramento photographers. A search engine that spits out misaligned results like that will quickly lose all of its searchers to another engine. Thus the top 10 results for that phrase or any other phrase have very specific pages about the exact topic that was searched. When your page talks about multiple topics, like wedding photography and portrait photography, your chances of outranking a specialized page quickly decrease. Again, it's because the person searching wants just wedding photography in San Diego (not wedding and portraits) and Google knows it. I talk briefly about how to become laser focused on a page's topic in a moment, but assume you nailed it already. Your page is EXACTLY about the search phrase with keywords in all the hot spots. Chances are, 10 or 100 other sites did the same thing. How does Google know which page to rank #1 when keyword placement is the same? It goes with the most popular site as measured by the quality of links pointing to it from other sources. Site A has 100 inbound links pointing to it from across the Internet. Site B has 10 links. Search engines quickly assume more people like and refer to Site A thus rank it higher. Think of links coming into your site like Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Everyone easily knows who's popular, connected, and preferred. Keywords and links... its that simple.

Keyword Placement Explained

Most people think a page needs keywords everywhere to rank well. In fact, search engines only check a couple places for keywords (the phrase someone typed into search). I can assess a page in under 2 seconds and know if it has a chance of ranking by checking the following locations:
  • Page title (in the blue bar at the top of the browser)
  • URL
  • First sentence on the page, and perhaps repeated once or twice
  • Alternate texts (the image description in HTML code)
A page only has one title, URL, opening sentence, and typically a couple of images. The words used in these locations are obviously what the page is about. No need to look at meta keywords or text at the bottom of the page. Great search engine optimization chooses the one phrase to rank for and places it in those locations. Where I help people take it up a notch is picking the right phrase, creating other pages for additional phrases, working around Flash where text is hidden, etc. That's a whole workshop so don't get overwhelmed. You're off to a great start just knowing the locations and not wasting time with placing a key phrase everywhere else.

The Importance of Link Building

I guess they call it link building because the website creates a foundation of links pointing to it in order to earn reputation in the eyes of a search engine. Every additional link adds quality and improves the chance of that page ranking as well as the overall site ranking. The majority of Google’s process assesses all the links. Google ranks sites higher that have lots of links pointing to it, including:
  • The number of websites linking to a site
  • The popularity and importance of the website that has the link
  • The text used in the link
A link from a reputable source with the words San Diego photographer get a site ranked quickly for that phrase. Why? Because a search engine trusts the other website and if they say your site is key phrase X (via the link) then everyone believes it. It's way more difficult to manipulate what others call you than it is to update the text of your own site for search purposes so links become ever so important.

What You Can Do Today to Rank Well

Start with your homepage because that page has your best shot of ranking well. Take a look at the top 10 results for big, competitive phrases and you'll find mostly homepages in the top 10. Does your homepage use the 1 or 2 phrases that you want to rank for? Are your phrases hidden in Flash or images that Google can't read in the HTML code? Most photographer sites don't have enough HTML text on their homepage or try to rank for too many things with their homepage (and lose that lazer focus). I created a Splash Page Builder to help users optimize their splash pages in all the right keyword places. Next step - get links. Links from great sites (like this one) are weighted more than a link from Twitter or your friend's blog. I offer dozens of recommended link locations and lots of link building stratgies in the Photographers SEO Book, but you are probably already thinking of a few friends, forums and bookmarking sites that can start linking to you today. Lastly, setup free Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to track web stats. Even if the data is confusing, the accounts can at least collect it now until you figure out how to take advantage of it. For example the keywords reports that show everything you currently rank for!

Outline an SEO Plan

I recommend starting a document that outlines which key phrases you want to rank for and the websites where you plan to get links from. Put these in priority order help you focus on the most important and not waste time (or lose track) of your targets. Believe me, confusion happens really fast. One final tip. Search engines value sites more that have a consistent stream of activity, whether it’s fresh content or links coming into the website. Space your links over time because it tells Google that you are not "spammy". Guess what will happen if you get 50 links in one day, and then no new links for the next month. You may rank high for one day, then disappear into oblivion. I hope you don't disappear. Follow me @photoseo on Twitter or Zach Prez on Facebook to stay connected with my latest suggestions for a better rank.

{Thank you Zach for the article! So much great advice for photographers!}


1 comment:

  1. I had no idea what SEO or Link Building was all about. This is a wonderful explanation and so helpful. Thank you!