In recent times, I have started to pay more attention as to where, and in what way, my website is featured in search engine results.
Many of us will know the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) which is the process of ensuring our posts and pages contain titles and metadata that helps search engines like Google understand what the content is about, and therefore enables it to list you appropriately for any given search term.
I’ve been running websites of various kinds since 2001. My first was a website to help dog owners who have lost their dogs, find it again, by enabling people who may have found it to find the corresponding report. It was fairly successful but, at the time, it was before CMS (Content Managament Systems) like Xoops, WordPress, Joomla and others. And my work at the time meant I didn’t have the time to run it. Since then though I have continued to run and update many others, and MOST of them score very well in Google. But my photography website (this one), not so much, for CERTAIN search terms.
Though I have been actively involved in the professional field of photography since 2007, I know and understand that people these days aren’t all that interested in just reading about what you’ve been up to today. So, on the whole, most of my posts have been of a technical nature, delivering what I consider to be useful information to fellow photographers. This is further evidenced by analysis of my Google Analytics dashboard that shows the most found and clicked links relate to Hasselblad kit, Olympus kit, and Nikon kit. No surprise there, as that is the cameras I have used forever! So what’s the problem?
The problem is that I am wanting more brides to find my website to enquire about wedding photography. Sure, I’ve shot some weddings, but I haven’t historically written about them all that much. And that is now proving to be a problem because my website ranks highly for technical photography issues, but no so well for the average bride who is seeking a wedding photographer in Derby to cover her wedding with beautiful, fine art, true to life, classically captured photographs.
So, it is going to be a long haul of gradual blog posts featuring more content specific to wedding photography. I started this process about a week ago with my series on “Inspiring Wedding Photographers” from around the world, who shoot film. That’s a start.
Business-Shine.co.uk and SEO Generally
And I am writing this article off the back of an informative Facebook facecast I watched in a group that I am a member of that was broadcast by Julie Michaelsen Photography with guest star Maddy Jones of https://business-shine.co.uk who is an SEO professional who works with struggling website business owners to do better in search engines
Odly, I actually already know a fair bit about SEO. Like I said, I’ve run, successfully, websites for 20 years. The importance of suitable titles, meta-descriptions, plenty of regular, genuine, content (so not keyword spamming), naming your picture files properly, and providing ALT text (alternative text, used as background data if the image loads, and used instead of the image if the image fails to load) is stuff we all need to know about, as is the importance of getting links from others back to your content. If you don’t, do a quick bit of Googling and the answers will reveal themselves, but in brief, it’s about writing content with descriptive genuine words, and ensuring your images and metadata match it. That is all important stuff that we all need to be reminded of. I am guilty of not adopting some of that on this website as much as I should, and certainly not as much as I used to. Nevertheless, the video was a useful reminder and very informative for people who may just be posting content and expecting the best without really thinking about it.
Another important thing is that for sometime now Google has been smarter than just looking for text (or specifically, keywords). It also uses sentiment analysis, which means it can take the written text but it now knows and understands the context of it. So for example, if you are building a website for wedding photography, you can’t just rely on the existence of the words “wedding photography” or “wedding photographer” to get you high rankings for that search term. You have to combine those words in a genuine paragraph that Google expects to find them in. For example “I am a wedding photographer based in Derby whose passion is to capture timeless photographs of loving couples happy to be united on the most special day of their lives“. In other words, search engines know that “weddings” are part and parcel with “love”, “adoration”, “happy”, “couples”, “united” and so on and it expects to find them in unison. That is something I have had to work on in recent weeks, because until recently, wedding photography has not been my primary market. And my website, unlike Julie’s and other established wedding photography professionals (such as Virgil Bunao, Kristen Sautter , and Jina-Dover Jaques) has not been entirely dedicated to wedding photography, and has lacked those key paragraphs devoted to love and adoration of each other. So those of us who run websites, especially if we don’t have contributors or mass publishing teams, have to be more careful about how exactly we write our pages.
Hopefully that has given some insight as to how to think about your website in the mass of the Internet, and how to help search engines help you, by ensuring your content is genuine and worded in a way that makes sense in more ways than just the words you stuff into it.
(PS…note I am using section sub-titled areas in this post. A tip Maddy gave out that I didn’t know was important!)