In this guide I'll attempt to numerate each of the areas relevant to improving the ranking of your Zenfolio photography site. But knowing what areas to make changes in isn't enough. I'll also use examples that point the way toward how to best implement these changes.
1. Display Name
The Display Name is the text that appears on the Home Page as an on-page title.
See here for the steps to change the Display Name (and Home Page Title).
This field is used to display your name or the name of your business (e.g. "Christopher's Photos" or "Christopher Steven b." or "Aperture Blossom Photography") on the home page. It is of low SEO value, but because it contributes to on-page content, any keywords or branding you place here are helpful.
2. Home Page Title
(70 character limit in Google)
This text becomes the Title tag of the metadata underlying your home page. Google uses this metadata to give your page a title when it appears in search results. More importantly, Google judges the relevancy of your page for a given search result based on the words in your title. For this reason, choosing appropriate keywords for this field is probably the most important single thing you can do to improve the SEO of your site. So what Home Page Title should you choose ?
The first thing you need to do is to consider who your likely customers are and how they are searching for content similar to yours. You need to ask: what keywords would they type into Google ? One of the tools helpful in assessing which search terms are the most popular is Google's own keyword tool.
The second thing to consider is that it is easier to rank high on Google for specific terms rather than broad ones. Type 'photography' into Google and note the number of results; now type 'wedding photography' and compare. With far less pages to compete with, the latter would be easier to rank high in Google for. In short, the more specific you make your title, the less competition there will be. On the other hand, if you choose something too specific there will be less people searching for those terms. So as with most things, it's about a balance.
A third relevant factor to consider when choosing the Home Page Title is that the keywords placed at the beginning are weighted as more important than the keywords placed at the end.
Let's have a look at an example.
For a portrait photographer from Kalamazoo (let's call him "Bob Trippenfall"), relevant keywords would include:
Option(s) 1: "Bob Trippenfall Photography" or "Aperture Blossom Photography"
The main problem with both of these is that unless you are an established brand, nobody will be searching Google for these terms. Ranking high on Google for something that nobody is looking for will not bring 'organic' visitors to your site.
Option 2: "Portrait Photography"
This is probably better than option(s) 1, but it would mean that Bob's site would be competing on Google with not only local portrait photographers, but photographers from across the world. The search terms are too broad and the competition too high.
Option 3: "Kalamazoo Portrait Photography" or "Kalamazoo Portraits"
Much better. Based on the population of Kalamazoo, this is probably a little too narrow; I might broaden the geographic constraint a little.
Option(s) 4: "Kalamazoo Portraits | Aperture Blossom Photography" or "Kalamazoo Portraits | Bob Trippenfall Photography"
I'd probably go with one of these for the Home Page Title. Note that we have included keywords for organic searches (Kalamazoo portraits) as well as branding keywords (business name, name). Note also that we are placing the 'organic terms' first thus giving them more weight.
3. Home Page Meta Description
(165 character limit in Google)
The text entered into this field becomes the description tag of the metadata underlying your home page. Google uses this metadata to include a description of your site when it appears in search results.
To change the Home Page Meta Description go to :
Preferences >> Search Engine Tools.
Meta descriptions have no effect on Google ranking. They are still nonetheless relevant to SEO in the following ways. First, a well-written description that seems relevant to what the searcher is looking for increases the likelihood that they will click through to your site. Second, any keywords matching those in the Google search will show as bold in the description for your site (and the same is true for the title and web address). This is another indication of relevancy for the person doing the search and thus also makes clickthrough more likely. So how should you approach writing up your Home Page Meta Description ?
Let's look at some possible options for our portrait photographer Bob Trippenfall.
Option 1: "photography, pictures, photo, portraits, portraitphotographer, britney spears, kalamazoo, best photographer".
The main problem with this for a meta description is that it reads like a love-letter to a Google-bot; in other words, it seems to be written with the presumption that jamming in multiple keywords will help the site rank higher in Google. More to the point, if you saw a link with this description appear in search results, would you be more or less likely to click ?
Option 2: "Welcome to the website for Bob Trippenfall. Feel free to look around my website and if you would like to book a session, please send me an email via my contact page."
The good: it's at least in sentence form and written for a human ! The bad: none of the most important keywords are included, and it's not clear from the description exactly what service is offered.
Option 3: "Bob Trippenfall photography - offering Kalamazoo portraits, senior photos, business headshots. Come visit us and fall in love with our work"
The best option of the three. If this website appears on Google for a search for "Kalamazoo portraits" or "Kalamazoo headshots" or "Kalamazoo senior photos" not only will those keywords appear in bold, but the call to action at the end might very well entice the searcher to visit the site.
Christopher Steven B. is an Ottawa Wedding Photographer.