Content ~ Keywords and Text
Now that the framework of your website up and published in order to start the ageing process and you have made sure that you have adhered to the following:
- Domain name is registered and contains your brand and main keyword e.g. barendcravenphotography. This should preferably be separated with hyphens. I have registered my domain, not really knowing better, as www.barendcraven.com which is a step up from having 2 brands, namely, my name “Barend Craven” and my previous brand “ultimateFstop” to try and contend with. This makes SEO twice as difficult, even more so because key wording for both brands just became diluted. Your domain cannot be changed with ease so give it some thought before you register.
- Your page titles are correct and contain your primary and secondary keywords. Your page title is what appears in the address bar of your browser when you are on that page. E.g.http://www.barendcraven.com/product-photography.php. Primary keyword here is “photography” and secondary keyword is “product”. As this is my product photography page, the SEO here is correct as opposed to http://www.barendcraven.com/products.php. If the page title was just “products” the search would be too broad and you are going to lose rankings. Remember also keyword proximity here so steer clear of something like: http://www.barendcraven.com/the-products-that-I-have-done-with-my-photography.php. Here the keywords are way too far apart, diluted and remember, one should not have more than 3 hyphens in the page title to prevent dilution. This is important to get right the first time, as going back and correcting this will not only tell Google it is a new page and you will lose Page Ranking here, but you will also lose all external links linking into this page.
You are now ready to populate your page. Google essentially sends out “spiders” that “crawl” your site periodically, checking mainly for new content. They are also directed to and around your site via links, internal and external. These spiders behave very much like we do when surfing the net and they tend to steer clear of sites that take too long to load. Remember this when you are loading images that are not optimized for web as it will slow your page down and you will lose ranking. You will also lose ranking if your website is difficult to navigate so keep it simple, clean cut and easy. Always think of spiders as being blind. They cannot see flash presentations, pdf’s etc, they look only for text. A simple way to determine what text is on a page is to navigate to the page and press Ctrl+A. Everything that appears in white is text and “braille” for these “blind” spiders. A very important aspect of SEO is new content. Think of yourself browsing Facebook. You will tend to visit peoples profiles which always contain new and interesting content. If you add a new friend and they very rarely update their status, you will visit their site equally as rarely. If their content is poor or spammy, you will stop visiting or even block them. Google works very much in this way. News sites with constant, text rich updates will get crawled daily. A site that is basically an image gallery with very little text and no keywords will get crawled very rarely and will get zero page ranking. This is why your webmaster will tell you to update often and blog. Keywords define the content of your page. here is a quick summary of terms you will hear that will let you understand key wording a little better:
- Primary Keyword: This is the main theme of the page e.g. “photographer”.
- Secondary Keywords: These are usually the words that elaborate the Primary Keyword and for “photographer”, will usually describe the genres of photography e.g. “wedding photographer”, “studio photographer” or “sports photographer”.
- Keyword Proximity: This is how close the relevant keywords are in the text e.g. “product photography and commercial photography” as opposed to “product and commercial photography”
- Prominence: This is how high up in the page your relevant keywords and content is. Your first paragraph has to contain your primary and secondary keywords in close proximity. Anything “below the fold” is going to be as prominent to Google as it is going to be to you (remember the timeframe Google spiders have on your site). Below the fold refers to anything on your page you have to scroll down to see when browsing with an average size screen.
Keyword Stuffing and Keyword Density:
- This is an outdated black hat technique to boost SEO. Keyword stuffing is essentially exactly as it reads. People used to stuff as many relevant keywords as possible into the first paragraph, reading: “my Randburg photography studio where I photograph Randburg weddings, Randburg product photography, Randburg portfolio photography as a photographer based in Randburg is easy to locate in Randburg…..”. This is a typical form of keyword stuffing. Remember at all times, Google’s algorithms for determining SEO are constantly being developed and keyword stuffing will, not only hurt your ranking, but will render the page impossible to read for your human readers (should they ever accidentally stumble upon your page), which in turn will hurt your business. A good guideline is 2% to 3% of keywords in your text, however I cannot put enough emphasis in the 3 C’s of SEO:
- . If you pay attention to the keyword guides set out here, you will have keyword rich text, with the correct keyword density, that will turn your visitors into customers.
Short Tailed Keywords:
- These are normally one or two words that people type into the Google search to reveal a broad base of search results, e.g. “Randburg photographer” or “product photographer”. These short tailed keywords make up the bulk of our key wording.
- These are aimed at people looking for something more specific, e.g. “product review on a Tamron 70-200mm lens” or “photographer specializing in newborns”. I find it good SEO practise to include at least one long tailed keyword in all my images, articles and blog entries. Long tailed keywords have a higher value of “commercial intent”.
- This is what qualifies the value of visitors to your site. It has been said that people intent on purchasing will enter different keywords in their browsers than people intent only on browsing. Microsoft had an Adlabs Commercial Intent Tool (this seems to be no longer available) that you could enter your keywords into and it would produce a commercial intent percentage on that specific keyword. A good way to go about determining the commercial intent of your key wording is to ask your clients (perhaps in general conversation during or after your shoot) what they looked for when searching for a photographer and make more use of these specific keywords in your text and images.
- Keyword Stemming, Singular and Plural: Keyword stemming is the variations of a keyword, e.g. “photographer” can stem to “photography” and “photographic”. Singular and plural refers to exactly that, e.g. “photographer” and “photographers” are both good keywords to use, especially in your image keywords. This is recognized by Google and is good SEO practise.
- Page Meta Tag: This is the description of the page that appears on the SERPS. It is advisable to define this or Google will chose random text that may or may not make sense. It is not important for SEO but is the first text your potential client will read before navigating to your page. Keep it down to 160 characters so it doesn’t get cut off and keep it as attractive and informative as you can.
To the right here you can see the page meta tag “an introduction to search engine optimization for photographers” clearly states the nature of the content of the page and also note the key wording in the page title.
As photographers our primary form of new content is going to be images so we need to make these images “readable” for these blind spiders. The first way we do this is using the “alt tag”. This is the image name and appears when you hover the mouse over an image. When naming the images, remember, Google sees hyphens as spaces and underscores as no space. Looking at the image, a good alt tag is “beautiful-woman-with-wine”. Naming it as “beautiful_woman_with_wine”, even my spell check rejects it, is going to appear as “beautifulwomanwithwine” to Google. The alt tag does not count very much with SEO but every single bit helps.
Our main way to making images visible to Google is to add keywords to images. There are many ways to do this, Lightroom, Bridge and Content Managers are a few but my preferred method is Photoshop. The simple reason for this is that I can create an action for each specific genre, i.e. “product photography file info”. I run the action and it puts all the copyright info and basic keywords pertaining to product photography, e.g. “Randburg photographer”, “Randburg photographers”, “Product photographer”, “Randburg product photographer” etc, then I can go back and add the specific keywords relevant to the image. This for me is a massive timesaver. Please note that, I have found that this must be added to the “final image” before you upload. If you keyword the image, then “save for web and devices”, it will retain the copyright info but lose its keywords.
The first way to generate keywords is to do a keyword analysis which is essentially a brainstorm. Show the image to people and ask what they would type into Google to get that specific image. I guarantee your first answer will be your long tail keyword for the image. Your next step is to break the image down into “subject”, “items” and “mood”. Mood is relevantly important here as it is one of the first defining factors that is used in an image search. When looking at the image again on the right, the moods “happy”, “seductive”, “comfortable” come to mind. We can then elaborate on it a bit looking at the subject e.g. “girl”, “lady”, “woman”, “adult”, “child”, “beautiful”, etc and even more with “white”, “Indian”, “black” (important in South Africa) etc. Then we get to items other than the subject in the image and we start to keyword that, e.g. “wine glass”, “red wine”, “red wine glass”, “red top”, “jeans”, “boots” etc. Simply following these steps provides us with “beautiful happy white woman with red wine wearing red top, jeans and boots” as a result of this quick brainstorm.
A very good tool for key wording is the Google AdWords Keyword tool. Sign into your Google account (a must have for SEO), register for Goole AdWords, then go to their keyword tool. Having made the changes in the image below, I select the keywords I want to use then click “download” and choose “comma separated values” (.csv). This will export to an excel spreadsheet where I can combine my keywords and check for duplicates etc. You will have to manually remove the square brackets which can be a bit of a pain, but worth it. This is a very handy tool for key wording images and doing a bit of research before doing any text on your page.
Text has always been an issue with photographers. There is only so much text you can put on each page as the main elements are usually images (correctly key worded of course). The important thing on these pages it to always go back to basics. Put the text on the top of the page (prominence), and ensure key word proximity, keyword and keyword relevance. Key word relevance is importance in our text and image key wording. If you are a photographer in Randburg, don’t be the person who will add “Cape Town Photographer” to your key wording. This is not at all relevant and is borderline spam. In the long run this is going to hurt your SEO and will not, in any way, increase your business revenue. It will probably decrease your revenue. Remember, a woman with children is not prepared to drive very far for a family shoot when there is an equally as good, local photographer nearby.
A very good and recommended way for photographers to increase keyword rich text on their website is to write a blog. This tends to scare a lot of people off as most do not consider themselves as authors or lack imagination when it comes to writing. An easy way to overcome this is to write about equipment or how you go about a certain aspect of your photo shoot. One can also treat it as a diary of photo shoots. A quick bit of advice here is to initially write the piece from the heart, then refer to these notes on key wording and go back and fine tune it accordingly. When populating your site, again, remember at all times: “Your site must contain quality and useful content, presented in an aesthetically pleasing way, that people will want to read and action.”
Every time somebody sits in front of Google, searching for a photographer, there is instantly a competition on the go with a cash prize. You would never enter an image into a competition purely because the composition is good, or the exposure is good. Before you enter it, you are going to make sure that every single aspect of the image is 100% up to scratch. Adopt this attitude with your SEO and you will find yourself winning more and more “competitions”.
Once your site is populated, we can move onto the next and possibly the most important section, links.