Zenfolio SEO for Photographers: a step-by-step guide
Ranking high on Google for a given keyword phrase is largely about convincing Google that your page is highly relevant to that keyword phrase. If someone is searching for, say, 'apples,' and you want your site to appear high in the search results, your SEO work is really about convincing Google that your page is about apples.
As we discussed in the previous section, the title tag is one good way to tell Google what your site is about. Another is to include text on your home page.
4. Home Page Content
This refers to any text on your website's Home Page.
In addition to the Display Name (see previous page) two ways of adding text to the Home Page are to include a Welcome Message and an About Message.
See here and here for the steps to change the Welcome and About Messages. In the event that they aren't showing up on your Home Page, go to customize mode, click on 'display options' and enable their display.
So how should you fill these in ?
Content on the Home Page (and on most of your pages) should be written primarily with the aim of providing a good experience for visitors to your page. This could mean welcoming visitors to the site, describing what you do and in what ways your work is unique; perhaps you could provide information about navigating around your site.
Your secondary objective, and the one relevant to SEO, is to be sure that you have included your most important keywords. In the case of Bob Trippenfall, our portrait photographer, these would include "Kalamazoo, portrait, photography, photographer, photos, head shots" and others.
Here are some guidelines on how to go about including keywords in the content of your home page. First, avoid linguistic contortions--that is, don't try to force keywords into places that break the natural flow of a sentence. Second, in addition to including short-tail keywords (e.g. 'photographer') try to include long-tail keywords (phrases like 'kalamazoo portrait photographer')--particularly the ones you are attempting to rank your home page for. Finally, avoid keyword stuffing; that is, try not to repeat your keywords so many times that your site begins to look spammy. How many times should your keywords appear ? Many folks suggest that a keyword density (of the keywords you want to rank for) between 2-4% is ideal. You can check the keyword density of your page here; but also bear in mind Google's own suggestion.
I'll close the section by suggesting that optimizing for google shouldn't always be your primary motive when designing aspects of your site. Getting a visitor to your site is only half of your goal; the other half is about engaging this visitor in such a way as to keep their interest and perhaps even to get their sale. With this in mind, it might very well make sense to forego the SEO benefits of adding text to the Home Page and to just opt for a sleek minimalist look--one dominated by images and without much text.
5. Home Page Menu Links (Site Menu Titles)
These are the links on the Home Page that take visitors to other areas of your site including photo galleries. Note that because the header (or footer) menu bar appears on every page of your site, whatever you choose for Menu Links also appear on every page.
See here for the steps to change the Home Page Menu Links.
Using keywords in these links can be a quick and easy way to populate every page on your site with keywords. More significantly, these Menu Titles become anchor text for the navigational links throughout your site--and anchor text is incredibly important for SEO.
So-what is anchor text ? And why is it important ?
Look below at the following links (no need to click !):
Each of these links points to the same page, but note that the clickable text (anchor text) differs for each. Also note that the last two links provide some level of description about the page that is being linked to. So part of the purpose of anchor text is indeed to make navigation clearer. More importantly (from an SEO standpoint at least !), anchor text provides another way for you to tell Google what your page is about. In short, using keywords in your anchor text helps the page you are linking to rank higher in Google for that keyword.
Now that we understand how anchor text works, let's look at some possible Menu Title options for our friend Bob Trippenfall.
Option 1: Home | All Photos | Contact (note: the link to the Home Page doesn't show on the Home Page)
Choosing 'Home' for the Menu Link leading to the Home Page is helpful in terms of navigation, but not so much for SEO--unless your website really is about 'home'. The same is true for 'All Photos'.
Option 2: Kalamazoo Portraits | Gallery 1 | Gallery 2 | Gallery 3 | Contact
This option will help the Home Page rank higher for Bob's main keywords. Also, depending on how Bob organizes his photos, splitting them into multiple galleries representing different 'genres' can help ranking for each of those genres. Still, descriptive text for those Menu Links is preferable.
Option 3: Kalamazoo Portraits | Fashion Portraits | Children's Portraits | Black & White Portraits | Contact
Option 4: Kalamazoo Portraits | Fashion | Child | Black & White | Contact
I'd probably go with something like this. Although option 3 would probably be slightly better for SEO (Bob would want to rank for 'Fashion Portrait' more than 'Fashion'), reducing the redundancy results in a cleaner look that still provides SEO value to the (gallery) pages linked to.
Christopher Steven B. is an Ottawa Wedding Photographer.