SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is an insanely popular topic these days. There is a lot of great information out there for small business owners looking for a way to increase their exposure to web savvy clients. Unfortunately, many people are turned off by the thought of one more technical skill they will have to master in order to stay competitive in their market. This isn’t the case at all. One of the most impactful things you can do to increase your ranking in search engine results actually requires no knowledge of code, no access to your site’s server and no experience whatsoever as a web developer. This simple yet powerful SEO tool is Link Building.
Link Building is quite simply the act of increasing the number of inbound links pointing to your website. For instance, if two sites were exactly equal in all other factors (age of domain, on site keyword usage, proper page optimization, etc) but one of the sites had 100 inbound links and the other had none, the site with 100 inbound links would easily out rank the other. In fact there isn’t any single factor more important than the number and quality of inbound links.
So, how do you increase the number of links pointing to your site? It just takes a little effort and time. If you can manage to dedicate an hour a week to link building you will be doing far more than most photographers I talk to. Below are a few strategies to get you started.
I find it best to start by compiling a list (or bookmark folder) of blogs that you think would be easily accessible for you. In other words, if you shoot weddings, look for mid-level wedding blogs. These bloggers are often looking for contributors and quality content. Send them an honest and to-the-point email with some samples of a recent shoot. Ask them if they would be interested in featuring some of your work. I suggest the mid-level blogs because they are the easiest to come by and are generally more eager to publish your content. Check to see if the blogger routinely gives credit links. If they don’t be sure to ask for one.
Another strategy that works less frequently but when it does can be far more effective is simply creating content that other sites are eager to link to. This includes tutorials, tips, video, resources, and information that other webmasters and bloggers would find valuable to their readers. This method can still benefit from some friendly social networking to help spread the word about your post.
There are literally thousands of free directory and social websites out there (linkedin, twitter, behance, virb, facebook, DMOZ, yahoo) and many of them pass authority to the sites they link to. Be sure to spend a few minutes setting up an account and be sure to include a link back to your site if possible.
Those are just a few pointers to get you started. Link Building is an on-going practice and your ranking won’t jump up overnight. Be patient and persistent and you could nail down that first position before you know it!
Have questions? Feel free to contact me via twitter (@phindyphil) or leave a comment below!
Written by Phil Thornton
Phil Thornton and his wife Mindy run one of the most successful wedding photography studios in the Nashville market, Phindy Studios. Before entering the photography industry, Phil was a web developer and internet marketing professional. He contributed to several international web marketing projects for clients ranging from Disney to Madonna. He has also helped develop internet marketing strategies for celebrities such as Clink Black, Martine McBride, and Sarah Evans.
Phil will be speaking at PartnerCon 2010 on the topic of SEO. See more about his presentation “Google Ranking Demystified- SEO for Photographers” and add it to your personalized PartnerCon schedule here.