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How to Start Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

The idea here is to explain a couple of the basic, though often overlooked, components of SEO, specifically keyword research and creating title tags, while also giving you specific tips on how to get started optimizing your own site.

Keyword Research –

Any good SEO strategy begins with keyword research. Keyword research allows you to find keywords and combinations that people are searching on.

Although there are a plethora of keyword research tools out there, Google has made it easy for us by offering a great free tool you can access here: http://bit.ly/9u0oNP.

We will be referencing this tool in the rest of this post so please take a moment to familiarize yourself with it.

To begin, insert a few words that relate to what you do. In this case, “Wedding Photographer”, “Wedding Photography”, etc, then press ‘Search’.

The first thing you should notice is that there are approximately 1,220,000 Global Monthly Searches. Since we’ve chosen ‘United States’, and ‘English’ as our parameters in our search, these numbers should reflect this.

“Wow”, you say, “If I could only get 1/10th of those people visiting my site and I will be set.” Well, yes, that would be great, but not very realistic. What I like to do, and what I suggest to others is something more ‘localized’, which is to say, add your ‘locale’ to the terms you are trying to rank for.

For example, you might try to rank for “Orange County Wedding Photographer”, “San Diego Wedding Photographer”, or try reversing the order of the words using “Wedding Photographer Orange County”.

Broad Phrases (Hard to rank for): Photographer, Wedding Photographer, Portrait Photographer

Local Phrases (May be difficult to rank for): San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Palo Alto Portrait Photographer

Long-Tail (Easy): San Francisco Wedding Photographer Price List

Not only is this much more realistic to rank for those terms, though still possibly difficult, it also targets the area in which you work.

Armed with this data, we can now move on to the site optimization process.

Called different things by different web site template companies and content management software products, the title tag we are referring to is typically also called the ‘page title’.

The blue text in the image below is how your sites’ title tag is displayed in Google.

The image shows how your browser (in this case Safari) shows the title tag.

Finally, the image below is how the title tag is displayed in your code, within the <head> tag.

You will need to change your title tags, in all likelihood, to reflect the keywords we’ve just discovered. It is recommended that you optimize a page for fewer than 5 specific keywords or keyword phrase variations. That means you’ll want to make the most of this by using different title tags on each different page of your website and/or blog.

Here are examples of how, and how not to write title tags.


“Shannon Priestly Modern, Lifestyle Photography, San Francisco Wedding Photographer, Portrait Photography, Boudoir Photography, Baby Photographer, Maternity Photos, etc, etc, etc…”


“LDV Photography : San Francisco Wedding Photographers” (52 chars)


“San Francisco Wedding Photographer | LDV Studio”

There is debate on the topic of putting your studio/business name at the beginning of your title tag, the end, or leave it out entirely.

The reasoning goes something like this…. Because more weight is given by Google to the words in the beginning of the title tag, you should make sure your keyword is the first thing you use in constructing your title tag. While I’ve witnessed this being the case, I also have many examples where a site with it’s brand name is before the keyword and still ‘out ranks’ the site with keywords at the beginning.

In my opinion, it helps your listing to standout as well as to give you one more ‘touch’ in the brand recognition battle.

This is something that I suggest you test on your own. You could start out by adding the keyword in the first position, then later once you are ranking on the first page for that term, you could try changing the word order.

In conclusion, it is important to begin with the end in mind and give more than a moment’s thought to the keywords you are targeting, and make sure that you are constructing title tags which are inline with your keyword phrase ranking goals.

Written by Wade Holloway

Wade Holloway is an (online marketer) SEO for Photographers. You can find out more at FolioMojo.com.

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!