seo tips for photography

Recently, a photographer friend of mine asked me for some tips on “showing up in search”. My day-job is spent as a web application developer, mostly on ecommerce sites, so I basically live on the internet at least 40 hours per week and have spend a bit of my time in the SEO world. Here’s a rundown of some of the tips I gave her.

SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization, or “optimizing” your site to be more searchable. Getting your website to show up in Google or other search engines, or basic search engine optimization, typically depends on a few things:

  • external links, or links pointing to your site from other sites
  • content on your site: do search engines think your content is relevant, fresh, and trustworthy?
  • technical SEO: crawlability, indexability of your site or how easily can search engines crawl and analyze your site content

In terms of a photography website, here are several high-level recommendations I’d probably make:

  • I would probably stay away from flash if you can. I know it’s pretty popular to use flash, but search engines can’t always read all the content on a flash-based site. Nowadays, there are a lot of JavaScript-ey animation things that can replace flash, but still have flashy effects. For example, the image gallery used on my site’s homepage is done via the jQuery Galleria plugin.
  • I would recommend keeping up a blog and posting regularly. This is a common recommendation. Search engines value the freshness of a site’s content. On this note, it’s also important that your content (blog and non-blog) contain keywords for the type of search traffic you are trying to get.
  • I’d also recommend getting external links. This is easier said than done. In terms of SEO, paying for links is considered “black hat SEO” and search engines can penalize you by not showing your site if they identify that you’ve been paying for links. White hat SEO includes getting external links from other trustworthy sites like business associates, event sites that you may be sponsoring as a photographer, or through affiliate programs. Also, regularly producing valuable blog content can help build your external links as people choose to link to your valuable content.
  • I would recommend using a single domain that contains all your website content. Search engines examine how “link juice” is passed throughout the web. Rather than diluting external domains into two domains (e.g. www.mysite.com and www.mysiteblog.com), it’s better to have all links pass juice into a single domain. On this note, when you use a service like wix.com to build a portfolio site, all of your external links are going to be passed to wix.com. If you ever decide to move your site to a single domain, you will have to start on a new domain that has no links passed to it, so it will have no domain trustworthiness according to the search engines.

I could go a lot more in depth here on several of these recommendations, but I’ll save some for a later post 🙂

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