Photo by Flickr User SuperBoreen
For many of us, getting viewers to our site from a search engine is one of the best ways of finding new clients. Here are six ways that you can affect the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your site in order to get a little bit closer to that coveted first page on a Google search.
But before we start, let me make a note about keywords. There is much talk about keywording, but in simple terms, this is all you need to know: what searches do you want to be at the top of?
In other words, what will people be looking for when your site shows up at the top?
For example, Amber and I want to be at the top of a Google search when people search for “Huntsville Wedding Photographers.” So those are our three main keywords; Huntsville, Wedding, Photographers. I don’t want to show up in portrait searches, family searches, baby photographer searches, and so on. I want people to mention those 3 words for us to show up; otherwise they’re not in our target market. If they’re searching for “Huntsville Photographers,” it’s not necessarily for a wedding photographer. Similarly if they don’t include “Photographers” in their search, then they’re not necessarily looking for photographers; it could be venues, planners, etc.
But when people search for those 3 words together, we definitely want to show up at the top!
Similarly, if people already know about us and search our name, we definitely want to be the top spot. So, when people search for “Joel and Amber,” it’s super critical that we’re #1.
So find the small handful of keywords that people will be searching for when you want to show up, and let’s begin.
1. Page title
The page title is the first thing you see in a Google search. This is very important to Google as it’s a quick summary of your site. Google knows you want this to be very descriptive and an accurate description of your site, so it places much emphasis on how closely your title matches with someone’s search query.
Most importantly, make sure this isn’t blank! Some people neglect to put anything in there, which severely hurts SEO. The page title is your opportunity to mention your name and your target market.
In our case, we want people searching for “Huntsville Wedding Photographers” to find us, so that’s in our title. Words at the beginning of the title tend to have more weight than those at the end, so it’s a good idea to put your important keywords closer to the front of the title. In our case, our names are most important to our business model, so I’m willing to give up a touch of SEO so the first thing you see (and thereby the first thing you will remember) is our name.
Google only displays the first 70 characters of a page title. You can have characters after that which will show up on your site, but it won’t help potential clients looking at Google.
Technical: Your title source code must be in the “head” tag, and should look something like:
<title> Joel and Amber Photography – Huntsville Wedding Photographers </title>
2. Page description
The description is a 140-character paragraph that displays on Google under your link. A description is another important thing Google looks for. Use the specific keywords that people will be searching for, such as: wedding photography, your city, photographers, and the rest of those keywords you’re interested in people using to find you. Use those keywords as many times as possible but in different ways. Google hates repeated words, so if you say “photographers” 5 times, it hurts more than it helps. But if you use similar yet different words such as photography and pictures, that doesn’t hurt. A good description states your mission concisely and employs those keywords you want.
Don’t be afraid to restate your title in your description as it should also be full of your important keywords. Just be sure to keep it below 140 characters, because Google truncates anything after 140 characters.
This is also the first impression people have of your site. In our case, our names are very important to us, so we want to get that in their mind immediately. Albums are a big part of what we sell, so getting them in the client’s mind is also important.
The description is one of the few things that you don’t actually see from your site. It only shows up in searches, so make it count! This is a good opportunity to add additional keywords that define your target market further. Mentioning style, or a particular product that you want to emphasize helps refine who you’re looking for.
Technical: the source code must be in the “head” tag and should look like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Huntsville Wedding Photographers Joel and Amber preserve the love and emotion of your day to proudly display in your wedding album!”/>
Quick note on Meta keywords – in your source code there’s a place to put Meta keywords, but since people (yes, me included) spam keywords in their Meta tags, Google ignores them entirely. You can put some keywords in for those other search engines that still reference them, but it won’t do any good for Google.
If you’re a wedding photographer and you have “weddingphotography” or “weddings” or “photography” in your URL, that will help your authority for people searching for wedding photographers.
Having just your name or your studio name as your URL is good for clients who are searching for you, but won’t help you much if they’re Googling for “your city photographers.”
Granted, you don’t want to have too big of a URL and you probably don’t want to change your current one, but Google does look at it.
In our case (www.joelandamberphotography.com), we’ve tried to balance all three – we have our name and photography, but left out “wedding” to avoid a huge URL.
Also worth noting is that Google will look at the age of your domain. Older domains tend to rank better. Although that is something you can’t really affect, it’s worth thinking twice about changing your domain.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this SEO series next week!
About the Authors
Joel and Amber are a Huntsville, Alabama based wedding photography team that loves working together to create images that not only bring back memories of each wedding, but also show the love surrounding each moment. Joel’s technical knowledge complements Amber’s creative eye for details and beauty in each wedding they shoot. Joel loves to discuss photography, create delicious cappuccinos for Amber, and play the piano for church. Amber loves to read and play the violin and is also a chocolatier at a local chocolate store.