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Tag! You’re it.

17 December

How do you use Tags? Do you use them? Should you? We’ll take a look at those questions and see what the best way to approach Tags in WordPress.
There is an excellent article on Tags written by Tom Ewer on WPMU written back in 2011, and talks a little about Google’s Panda implications. However, I felt that a new discussion on Tags was warranted. One that also included the context of how, or even why, they should be used for photographers and other small businesses vs big database driven sites.
You don’t have to read the article since I’ll be covering some of the same basics Tom did, but our recommendations are a little different. So you’re welcome to read his to gain another perspective on the subject. 

Let’s look at why Tags exist first.

Tags are simply a method of sorting information. This allows your readers to easily sort through that information and read just what they want to. They’re similar to Categories in that sense, but think of Categories as a high level organization, and Tags as a more refined way to organize. For example:
Categories for photographers could be: Weddings, Portraits, Landscapes, etc.
Tags for photographers could be: different venues (i.e. Hotel Del Coronado, Rainbow Room, etc), or even vendors (i.e. Joe’s Roses, Jane’s Digiridoo Wedding Music).

Where Tags really shine is News sites, or Recipe sites. For News sites you might have people, places or things that show up often that a reader might want to read more about. An example on a News site would be Obama and his recent Executive Action on Immigration. The Category could be US News or Politics, but the three topics could each be its own Tag. Chances are good that someone would want to read more about any three of those topics.

On a recipe site, as a fellow developer, Leslie Surel mentioned in a comment to me “I like tags for sites like recipe sites — the category might be “Desserts” but the tags could be gluten free, fruit, chocolate, vegan, etc.”

Now we can have a crack at the question “Should I use Tags?”

The answer isn’t so clear cut. Because there are so many types of businesses and websites out there, many use WordPress, and many of those use a blog, so it’s not a one-size-fit-all type of thing. They’re great when you have a lot of articles with compelling and interesting talking points that can cross reference each other.

However since the majority of my readers are photographers, I say, I don’t think photographers (or many small business owners in general) should use or focus on Tags. Most of the time, they’re not used correctly (see Tags and SEO below), and as a small business, the main goal should be to drive people to your contact page to hire you. Your blog posts can be a mechanism to get them there with crafted Call To Actions, as opposed to let them get lost reading a bunch of blog posts and forgetting why they came to your site in the first place. Remember your business model is not having the most page views, or being an information website like a News website.

If you’re not a photographer or small business, look at your business model. Do you make money by people reading your blog posts. If not, then you probably don’t need to worry about Tags.
What businesses should focus on Tags? Well, any site that deals with a lot of information and benefits the reader by cross-referencing that info. Let’s have a look at some good ones.

Examples where Tags shine:

Like I mentioned News sites are a perfect site structure to utilize Tags. One of the reasons is because Newspapers are in the business of you reading the news on their site (and delivering ads to you while you do it). The longer you stay and read on their site, the better for them. So they make it easy for you to continue reading about related topics, and Tags are perfect for that.
Here’s an example page from the Sports section of The Guardian. Joost De Valk of WordPress SEO plugin fame (aka Yoast) is the technical SEO advisor to The Guardian and loves what they can do with Tags for a News type site like this.
You can see how easy it is to continue reading other articles on LeBron or NBA in general.


This site on learning to play the piano put together by the super talented group at Mind Blowing Things is a great example of using Tags for a site. They use the word Genres in place of Tags (that’s a WordPress customization that’s outside of this blog post). But they are in essence Tags, and you can see that they display different types of music: Christmas, Childrens, Traditional, etc. This makes it easy for people to click through and see songs that are similar styles.

IMDB is another great example. If you’re making a movie database site in WordPress you might have Categories like Comedies, Dramas, Horror, etc. But your Tags could be Inspiring, Dark, Witty, etc. to further describe the movies that people are looking to watch.

So consider if your readers actually need a deeper categorization than your Categories.

Tags and SEO

In my experience, Tags have unfortunately been reduced to being just for SEO value. And as a result, many site owners just “keyword stuff” every post with all the keywords they want to rank for (all while having about 10 words of actual text in their blog posts). First off, this can’t even be considered an SEO strategy (Join me for my webinar in January, and we’ll discuss real SEO strategies). And secondly, this really gets away from the true use of Tags as we’ve discussed above. Tags aren’t to be used for keyword stuffing your posts. Remember each of those Tags leads to a Tag Archive page, and often times if you use a Tag just once, that means that there is just one post per each of those archive pages.

Why is that a big deal? Well, at one point it was great to have lots of content and to appear like you had a very large site. But things pretty much changed when Google released its infamous Panda algorithm. At it’s simplest, Google wants to deliver quality information to people searching, and it penalizes sites with superficial pages. So if it finds your archive page with one blog post (one that it’s already seen in your blog), it’s going to determine that this page is of low quality. This can have a negative impact on your site as a whole, especially when it finds all those other Tag archive pages.


So if you use Tags, put together a solid strategy, and don’t just list every keyword you can think of when writing your blog posts.

Properly Setting Up Your Site for Tags

If your site can lends itself to using Tags, or if you just want to use them, I recommend doing one thing that will help with you in the SEO department. And that’s telling Google to NoIndex your tags. This is where Tom Ewer and I disagree, he suggests NoIndexing Categories. Either way, it gets the job done. But the goal is to have only one Archive that is indexed (this makes it easier for Google to crawl your site, and it also prevents the possibility of duplicate content.
There are actually multiple types of Archives in WordPress in addition to Tags and Categories. But you’ll only want Google to Index one. The more is not the merrier here.

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, it’s very simple to do. In the menu just go to Yoast –> XML Sitemaps, then check all the boxes except the Categories one and you’re set.


To Tag or Not? That is the question…

I think we’ve thoroughly discussed the issues, and the pros and cons of Tagging your Posts in WordPress. Whether to use them or not is a choice you’ll have to make. But to simplify things, if you run a small business, you really don’t have to worry too much about them. By eliminating the practice, you probably do yourself a favor in the SEO side of things, as well as simplifying your blogging process.

If however, you run a site that is heavily readership based, and your goal is to have people read and spend more time on your site, then Tags are a great method to do so.

If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments below.

The Jig Is Up

25 September

Well, really it’s been up since April 2012.

What “jig” am I referring to? The use of commenting as a link building strategy amongst photographers. More specifically photographers that participate in communities that remove NoFollow from their blogs.

This is referred to by Google as a link scheme, and has been against their guidelines for quite some time. I admit that I’ve participated, and in fact have even hosted a directory, (which is no longer published), that encouraged removing NoFollow from your blogs. I’ve begun to see first hand with clients, whose sites I’ve been unable to rank, the impact of this.

So what happened?  Well, in April 2012, Google released a new algorithm called Penguin. This algorithm was meant to take a hardline on websites that violate their Webmaster Guidelines and Best Practices. Google’s not playing nice with this either. If you’ve been detected as someone that has attempted to manipulate rankings through various linking schemes, the algorithm is set to reduce your rankings so you never see the light of day. You could be stuck back on page 5 or on page 55. Either way, you won’t be getting much in the way of search traffic.

But isn’t commenting on blogs is supposed be good? Yes, actually. Commenting, and adding to the conversation on blogs is really great. It builds community, it contributes to what others are putting up on the Net.
But… What is not OK is to use plugins that remove NoFollow and do link building through Comments.

Why am I saying this now as opposed to 2012? Honestly, when the Penguin algorithm came out, the talk was about eliminating SPAM, and “Link Farms”, and my knee jerk reaction at the time was that commenting on blog posts weren’t “SPAM,” or “Link Farms” and they had to be targeting actual Spammers. After that, I didn’t give it much thought, until recently when I had a client with an incredible existing link profile, and a site that I optimized very well, but could not get to rank for a relatively easy keyword.  I started to do some investigation and asking around, which forced me to investigate and fully understand the Penguin algorithm.

What should people be doing now? 

  1. Well, the first thing is to remove any plugins that disable No-Follow. This will reduce the risk posed to people that have commented on your site previously. It will also reduce the risk that your site faces by serving up a bunch of DoFollowed links and looking like what Google might mistake as a “Link Farm”.
  2. Discontinue using blog comments as a method to building links.
  3. Reach out to others that still have NoFollow disabled on their website. Let them know that it will hurt people more in the long run by continuing to use these types of plugins.
  4. When commenting, avoid blogs that have removed NoFollow. You want to avoid any activity that would send a signal to Google that you’re violating their guidelines.
  5. In fact, if you’re looking at getting links, and the method of getting links is something that easily scales (like purchasing lots of links, or comments, or directories, or forums), it’s best to avoid it altogether.
  6. Since this is impacting more and more people, some have resorted to contacting sites to have their links removed. I don’t recommend doing that yourself since it’s time consuming, and having everyone remove their plugins is as effective. However, if someone asks you, to do so, you can easily remove the link without removing the comment in WordPress.

If you’ve been hit with this penalty, be prepared to wait awhile. Because this is an algorithmic change, and not a manual penalty, the algorithm has to be refreshed before the good stuff you’ve done (i.e. removing DoFollow plugins, and having others do the same), will become effective. And it may be a while before the next refresh comes along. But I urge you to think about this as correcting the wrongs we were doing. Ultimately this will be far more beneficial to you and others.

The New SEO

After reading all that, you may be left wondering how you’re going to get ahead in search results, because links are still important, right? Yes, links are still very important. But in this new realm of post-Penguin SEO, it will become really important to understand that Google wants high quality content to serve up in the search engines. You can’t provide something of high quality when you’re focused on trying to “get good rankings.”

The new SEO is about earning links and mentions from others.

It is about earning your place in the rankings by doing what Seth Godin calls being Remarkable (worth remarking to others about). It’s time to think of Google rankings as a side effect to creating unique and wonderful things that should be discovered.

But what if you’re just starting out, or aren’t Jasmine Star or Cliff Mautner? This is where you get to take on your skills, your networking, and all your other abilities to create something that truly is worth remarking to others about.
That may take some time, it may take a lot of creativity, but whether you end up on Google’s front page, I guarantee that you’ve found some incredible clients along the way, and in doing so have probably built a good word-of-mouth following.

Am I advocating not focusing on SEO? No, I still believe SEO and Inbound Marketing is very important. But the way we’ve looked at SEO in the past is definitely changing, and relying on Google as your only source of clients will always result in businesses failing.

I let you all down

I feel that I’ve let my readers down. My number one goal with Flaunt Your Site is to connect you, and you self-expression and photographic artistry, to the world. And while I believe in doing the right thing, and practicing white hat SEO,  I screwed up andperpetuated a practice (that was on the gray-hat side of things in the first place), but is now considered black-hat. This absolutely goes against what Flaunt Your Site is founded upon, and I hope you all can forgive myself and the ignorance that I was operating under for quite some time.

I understand that many of you look up to what I say, and I promise you all that the advice and the practices we do here at Flaunt Your Site will be consistent with Google’s Guidelines and Best Practices.

Google Ranking Factors

05 February

Did you know that Google has over 200 Ranking Factors?

“Wait a minute… WTF are Ranking Factors?” You ask.

Great question! Let’s talk about that…

You know when someone says “Google likes XXX.” Well, that XXX is what’s called a Ranking Factor. Maybe it’s “Google likes fast loading websites” or “Google likes sites with low Bounce Rates.” Those are Ranking Factors.
And yes, there are over 200.

OK, Got it… Why are there Ranking Factors?

Well, search engines like Google and Bing want you to come back to their site to use Search over and over again. In order to do that, they’ve become very interested in delivering the best Search Results for the term you searched for. And for that to happen, they created these factors that contribute to returning results. The more factors a website complies with, the better the chances are for it displaying higher than other sites.
(It’s important to note that the Factors that we talk about are only guesses as to what they can be, since the search engines keep these very secret. But the people that are guessing what these factors are, are incredibly bright people, using very sophisticated methods of determining these types of things).

Each factor is given a certain “Weight” (For example “Links from other sites” Weighs more – or has more value than “Age of website”).  Those Factors are put together with the other 200-ish Factors in a very complex Algorithm that the search engines uses to compare websites to each other in order to display the best results for a given search term.

No Website is an Island

Ranking factors about a website by itself doesn’t really mean anything. In order to give it some context, we have to compare websites to each other. So we’ll look at 2 imaginary webpages both wanting to rank for “Timbuktu Wedding Photography.” And we’ll compare just 5 of the ranking factors we think Google uses for it’s algorithm.

Ranking Factor Diagram

If we look at each of the 5 ranking factors, we can see why Page A would rank better than Page B.

  1. Use of the Keyword (or Keyphrase) in the Title of the page: You can see the phrase “Timbuktu Wedding Photography” in the title on Page A, and Page B making them equal in this factor.
  2. Use of the Keyword (or Keyphrase) in the Content Body: Here is where Page A gets an advantage over Page B. The actual term is used in the content area.
  3. Number of links to the page: Links are an important strength metric, and in our scenario Page A has more links than Page B giving Page A a better chance of ranking for the keyword.
  4. Not using Meta Keywords (or using them sparingly): Meta Keywords is an outdated method of putting the keywords you want to rank for in the Meta section (the behind the scenes area). Page B happens to be using them in our scenario. In this instance, it’s a negative ranking factor for Page B.
  5. Finally Page A has been around a lot longer than Page B, and has a greater trust factor.

Putting It All Together

Just looking at the 5 factors we looked at here, you can see that Page A scores better than Page B in 4 of the 5 areas. This would give it a tendency to rank higher than Page B when someone searches for the term “Timbuktu Wedding Photography.”

Of course there are over 200 ranking factors in the real world. But I hope this gives you a sense of how webpages are ranked.

Is Your Bounce Rate High?

28 January

Photo Credit: Shaun Amey from Flickr 

One of the things that we focus on in the world of SEO is not only how to get traffic to your site, but also how to turn that traffic into actual paying customers. In the world of Analytics, the measurement of the traffic on your website, we call the people that turn into a paying customers “Conversions.”

Having a website is like on an online business and the sales or Conversions are your goal.
Many photographers want to make their site very pretty, but they don’t give much thought to how efficient that website is when it comes to Conversions. Often times we think from our own perspective of what our site should be like, rather than how potential customers actually use websites or what would support them in the process of hiring you as a photographer. When there’s little to no thought of what visitors need, it leads to a high Bounce Rate.

What is Bounce Rate

When your potential customers don’t find what they need right away, they leave the site causing what’s called a Bounce. The Bounces (along with other metrics) can be tracked in Google Analytics (or some other Analytics tracking solution). The number of Bounces compared to your overall traffic is called your Bounce Rate which is expressed as a percentage. So if 100 people came to your home page, and 50 of them left, then your Bounce Rate would be 50%.

Reasons for Bounces

There are many reasons for Bounces. And you will always have Bounces. Here are a few:
  • Your Visitors might have been looking for something else, and stumbled on your page accidentally.
  • Your Visitors could have found a blog post, read it, then left without clicking through to anything else.
  • The worst one is when people come, looking to hire you, but can’t find the information right away (or your site is in Flash and they can’t see it on their iPad), and then give up and leave.

There are others, but you can see that some of these you have control over, and some you don’t. When we focus on lowering the Bounce Rate at Flaunt Your Site, we work on things like creating visible Call To Actions, Contact Forms, or other points of engagement that will pull your visitors deeper into your site.

What is your Bounce Rate?

Let’s quickly look at how to find your Bounce Rate.
First I want to be clear that we’re looking at a specific Page on your website, not the bounce rate for your entire website (which is an average of all your pages).
Step 1: Log into your Google Analytics account. (We will be using Google Analytics for this since most people use it. If you use a different package, you’re kinda on your own 🙂 ).
Step 2: In the left menu bar, navigate to Behavior –> Site Content –> Landing Pages
Step 3: Set your date range. I suggest looking at the past month, and the past year to get a real idea of your Bounce Rates.
Step 4: Look at the resulting table. You’ll find something similar to the image below. You want to look in the Bounce Rate column for the “/” The “/” is the top level of your entire website (in other words, your Home Page).
That percent is your Bounce Rate for the time period selected.

Is that Good or Bad??? Bounce Rate in Context

So now you know what your Bounce Rate is, and you may have already freaked out, because you had a thought that your Bounce Rate seemed high. Well, metrics and stats are all kinda pointless until you put them into context with something. The answer to ask isn’t “Is it good or bad?”, but rather “How does that compare to other photography websites?”
I’ve started a Google Doc you can enter your own Bounce Rates so that other photographers can see the average Bounce Rates.  In addition, you can click through to the sites to see how the better performing sites are designed. From those sites you can get ideas on how to modify your site to reduce your Bounce Rate if it’s on the higher end.
From the entries so far it appears that the average Bounce Rate is about 36%. That means for every 100 people that visit your home page, 36 leave or take no other action on your site.
So if you’re in the neighborhood of 35-40% you’re about normal. This is why we put statistics in context with other sites. Now we have a range to actually determine what is normal and what isn’t. So, if you’re well under 35-40%, you’re doing fairly well well, and if you’re considerably over 40%, you may want to rethink how your page is setup.

Contribute your Bounce Rate, and Help Increase Accuracy

If this article helped you out, please consider adding your own Bounce Rate to the Google Doc. The more website data we have will help to increase the accuracy of the numbers. We can be a lot more certain with a larger sample, it will also help with a couple more articles I’d like to write about in the future in order to help you increase the efficiency of your websites.


Why you should be using JPEGMini

21 August

Everyone, I repeat – Everyone, should be concerned with the speed in which their website and blog posts take to load. The speed in which your site loads will impact your SEO rankings, as well as if people stick around and wait for your website to load – or if they decide to go to your competitor’s site because it doesn’t take as long to load.
Some factors that make a difference with that are:

  • Your hosting
  • Your website design and structure
  • And the number and size of the photos you’re posting

A good hosting company and a good designer can help with the first two (I recommend Flaunt Your Site for both of course 😉 ). But there is a fairly new piece of software that I’m sure will be part of your workflow soon.

JPEG Mini is this new program that you should all be clamoring to get your hands on. And I have no affiliation with this company (yet). In fact, I saw the technology when it was just a web service and thought it had a lot of promise, and thanks to John Patrick from San Luis Obispo, I discovered that they now have desktop applications for Mac and Windows that will batch your photos.


As a test, I took the photos from this wedding blog post I did recently.

I originally exported the photos from Lightroom at 1000 pixels wide at 80% JPEG Quality. There were 36 photos and at that size they came out to 8 Megabytes.

Then I used JPEG Mini to run all the photos in a batch, and I eliminated 2.82 Mbs. That is over 25%!!! That means that that blog post could load in 3/4 of the time.

A Couple Examples

The first photo was originally exported at a size of 230KB, and the JPEGMini version ended up at 159KB which is a 31% reduction.

This second photo originally weighed in at 360KB and ended up at 290KB with JPEGMini.


If you look closely, these photos are virtually identical. The second photo in each series is the JPEGMini version, but I bet you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. My suggestion is that you hurry right out and buy it. For $20 it’s a steal for the improvement it will provide to your website visitor’s experience. And again, I have no affiliation to this product, I’m not making any money for recommending it. In fact I just spent $20 for it, and I think everyone should have it too.

Should I Put My Blog On The Front Page of My Site?

09 December

There’s a misconception that gets around quite a bit in the photographic industry. And that’s that having your blog posts display on the front page of your website is better than having a static page. And I’d like to de-bunk that myth for you today.

Why is it a popular idea?

The whole idea about putting your blog on the front page of your site came about from three pieces of information:

  1. Blogs naturally attracted lots of search traffic do to it being based in actual text for content.
  2. Most photographers were using a Flash based solution for their main website.
  3. Google loves sites with fresh content. (Another myth, actually).

Based on this information, I could see why people would be flocking to move their blog to the front page. And your blog outperforming your Flash website would be cause for celebration. But, hey I could get an 6th grader to create a website that will outrank a Flash site.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that when you have your blog on your main page, it becomes more challenging to rank for one specific keyword. As I mentioned in an earlier post, you want to limit the keywords your targeting to one or two per page. This makes it easier to optimize that particular page.

But when you keep your blog posts on the main page, you get a mish-mosh of keywords coming through. One week it could be about weddings, the next about a high school senior you photographed.

With the blog on the front page, the content becomes volatile and you have no way to optimize it. You know the “O” in “SEO.”

Also from a site design/user experience, your users become lost all of a sudden. Your main page should help them find what it is they want to find, and a long stream of photos don’t do that.

And… I bet you have a solution, Mister Smarty Pants?

As a matter of fact… Yes!

Make your main page, a page that really helps your clients find out what they need, or what you would like them to do. Keep it simple and the hub for everything they can get from your business. Remember, for most, it will be their first impression of you and your business, so how would you like that experience to go?

Remember to think of your client first. SEO second.

That said, your front page will always rank better for the keywords you want to rank for because of the consistency. If your keywords never change or fall of the page, you will firmly establish that page as the page that Google wants to serve up to people looking for that term.


Myth…. Busted!

When Should I Post My Blog To Get More Traffic

05 December

Photo Credit Michael Connell under Creative Commons license.

I know you’ve been working hard on getting your photos ready, culled them down from the 3,000 you took at the wedding, to the 40 you’re going to put up on your blog post and have the world see. You’ve spent a little extra time in Photoshop cleaning up the files to be portfolio worthy, you’ve added Alt Text to each one, wrote a great story about the Bride and Groom with excellent keywords and you’ve got the Yoast SEO plugin filled out with a good Title Tag and description. You’re so proud of yourself… You hit Publish, throw up a link on Facebook, and call it a night ’cause it’s 1AM and you just finished it.

Whoa, What time is it???

The time of day you publish makes a difference?

Yes. It really does. When you posted that blog post you were so proud of, who did you think would see it at 1AM? Sure the Aussies are up, but are they your clients? Are the people that read and follow your blog up? I highly doubt it.

So… When is the best time to post to get the most traffic?

That depends.

How to find the right time to post

You can listen to what all the “experts” say, but why not find out what works best for yourself? It’s not that hard. I’ll show you how, and it will only take a few minutes. It’ll be cool too.


Step 1. Log in to your Google Analytics account. (Don’t have one? Bad dog! You totally should go sign up right now).

Step 2. Select a date range like 3-6 months.

Step 3. Go to the Custom Reports tab (don’t be scared).

Step 4. Create a New Custom Report.

Step 5. Use the settings in the graphic below to fill out the new Custom Report.

Step 6. Hit save, and you’ll be presented with a breakdown to the most popular times for your website. The breakdown is in 24 hour time, so 1, 2 and 3 PM, are 13, 14, 15 respectively. In my report you can see that Flaunt Your Site’s most popular times are 11am, 1pm, and 12pm meaning that most people are on this site around mid-day, local time. Your results may vary.


OK, now you know what time to post. But did you know you can find out the same thing for the best Day to post???

Yep… You can. Guess what you need to do? That’s right, make another Custom Report. Repeat Steps 1-4, then use Day of Week instead of Hour. See below.

Once you’ve saved it, you’ll see something like this:

As you can see, it just uses numbers to represent the Days of the Week. 0 is Sunday, and 6 is Saturday. And in this graph you can see that over the last 6 months, Monday and Tuesday have been the best days for traffic for Flaunt Your Site.

What next? Announce it! Schedule an announcement!

Schedule your posts silly! In WordPress you can actually schedule your posts to go out at a specified time. In my case, if I were posting once a week, I would chose Monday or Tuesday at  11AM to schedule my posts to get the most traffic and readers.

Schedule it in Facebook too! If you have a Facebook Fan/Business Page, you can actually schedule the time you want your status announcing the blog post you worked so hard on.

Schedule it in TweetDeck three! Do you use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite? You can schedule your tweets with either of those cool programs.

Poor Google Plus 🙁 Unfortunately, there is not a way to currently to schedule your G+ status updates. Keep crossing your fingers though. That place keeps getting cooler every couple months. Wait… I just found a Chrome Extension called Do Share. This extension is supposed to schedule your Google Plus statuses for you. I’ll test it out with this post, and provide an update to my experience with it.

What are your peak hours and days?

Now that you’ve gone through the SUPER EASY experience of finding out what your peak times are, why don’t you share with everyone else in the comments when you get the most traffic? Who knows maybe we’ll all find out that it’s the same for all of us, or maybe we’ll find out that every site is slightly unique… But you would never know had you not checked it out for yourself now, hmmm?

Also let me know if you are interested in posts like these. I’m a metric geek. Some might not be. I’d like your opinions.


Stop the SEO Insanity! Use Your Blog Posts Effectively Please

04 December

In yesterday’s blog post I snuck a Pixies reference in there and asked people to see if they could find it. The first person that could would get a link in today’s blog post. Brian Kraft, a Wedding Photographer from Denver came through pretty quick with the answer (It was Paco Pico Piedra from the song Crackity Jones). Maybe I should do that in every post…
Not only is he getting a link, but I asked him if he had a request for a blog topic. Sure enough he did, and that will be today’s topic.

Stop it, seriously!

What Brian was asking about was keyword content on blogs and how having that on many pages sitewide impacted your rankings. And the simple answer is that the more keywords you have on your site doesn’t make your site any stronger than anyone else’s.

See the issue is that SEO is a Per Page phenomenon, not a Site Wide phenomenon. And the more you stuff your blog posts with useless keywords, the more diservice you do to finding unique opportunities. You know the “Your City Wedding Photographer” that you put in every post? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

So what’s the solution, you ask?

Well the first step is to really get the Per Page part of SEO. And to do that, you have to be willing to select one page to be your “Your City Wedding Photographer” page. Usually just one page will rank for a big keyword term like that anyways (and those types of pages often need many links to compete with others), so you want to chose one page and optimize that page very well to get it to be the one that ranks.

OK… So what to do with my blog posts then?

Well, blog posts are a great opportunity to diversify the keywords that you have across your website, increasing the volume of traffic you get from Search Traffic. So instead of using the big head terms, look for unique opportunities that people aren’t taking advantage of… Locations, Venues, Vendors, something unique about the shoot; You did a Walking Dead styled family portrait session? Well talk about it, and make sure you keyword that. There’s got to be someone out there that wants that stuff. And if it’s something you want to do more of, do it full on.

Conclusion, a short and sweet one

Use your blog posts to diversify your links.

Use one page to rank for “Your City Wedding Photographer.”

Boom Baby.

The 7 Best Types of Links for Photographers

03 December

Building links to your website is an unfortunate necessity in today’s online world. If you’re going to get noticed, it’s crucial to have the web of the world crossing through your little corner where you’re selling your services. Not only do you need those crossroads to have the traffic come to you, but search engines are also dependent on links to determine what the most popular sites are. Obviously the more links to a certain page on the internet, the more likely there will be value provided.

With that thought in mind, I wanted to talk about the different kinds of links and which ones are best for professional photographers. I’ve brainstormed a handfull of different link types and I’ve listed them in order from flaming hot to warm bathtub. (I have left out links that have no value at all. So this blog post never gets chilly).

  1. Featured posts

    Getting your work featured on photo blogs are one of the best ways to not only get your work out in front of a larger audience, but also pick up a solid editorial link. Google can determine what part of the site your links are on, and when they’re in the body of the text of the page, as opposed to the footer or the comments section, you’re in much better shape.
    With as many wedding blogs that are out there, like Wedding Chicks, Style Me Pretty and Rock N Roll Bride, you can be assured that your style of photography works on one of them.

  2. Guest posts

    There are quite a few photography resource blogs like Digital Photography School and The Modern Tog that would love for you to submit an article on your area of expertise to help teach their legions of followers. And you will often get a link back to your site for your efforts.
  3. Industry specific directories

    Wedding Wire could be looked at like a dating site where Brides and Wedding Photographers find each other. There are other directories geared towards photo specific industries that do quite a bit to promote the photographers. Wedding Wire does this every year with their Bride’s Choice Awards. Fearless Photographers do their own Fearless Awards each year as well. The links you get from these directories tend to be pretty strong.
  4. Social media

    Facebook is ridiculous, just share your content. You’ll get traffic.
    Google Plus is something that people should really begin to think about sharing your blog posts on. It is a Google property, and we have seen that blog posts tend to get indexed quite a bit faster when submitting your content there.
    If your clientele is fairly techy, Twitter could be a good place to link to your content as well. It’s also a great place to trade jobs with other photographers.
  5. Comments on other blogs

    Comments create a very strong sense of community with other photographers, and at the same time when you leave praise for other people’s photographs, you get a link back to your site. Just a quick reminder… Don’t be spammy, don’t sign your comments as “Santa Cruz Wedding Photographer Paco Paco Picopiedra.” Just use your name and be cool.
    Oh, and don’t forget, if you disable No-Follow on your blog comments, make sure you check out the Followed Photography Sites page and add your link there. Bet you weren’t thinking you’d pick up a link when you came to check out this post huh?
  6. Business directories/Yellow Pages

    There’s a TON of little Yellow Page type business listings. They help create some credibility for your Google Local Listing. If you can get these for free and not a ton of work, grab em.
  7. Profile pages

    Any sites where you’re a member often provide you with a Profile Page. If you’re on Flickr, click on your name and you’ll see you have an area to customize your profile. Add a link there, and you’ll be stylin!

OK, there you have it. Go out and get some links and provide some value to the internets. Leave us some comments if you had some success from our tips.

What Photographers Need to Know About the Google Places and Google Plus Local Merge

01 June

In January I predicted 3 things to focus on this year in the world of SEO and online marketing, and while my 1st prediction, Pinterest, was a no-brainer. And my 2nd, Google Plus, was going to have a large impact on Search, I had no idea that the 2nd, and the 3rd, Local Search, would actually come together in as a whole new creature. Well yesterday Google announced it. All Places Pages have now become a Google Plus Local Page. And if you’d like to read more about it, you can hop over to the Google And Your Business blog.

I’m not here to break the news, but prepare photographers for the changes and what’s to come. Yes, there’s more to come.

First and foremost… 

  • All Places Pages have already been converted to Google Plus Local Pages.
  • If you have already claimed your Places Page, you will still manage your new Google Plus Local Page from the same place.
  • If you have a Google Plus Business Page also, don’t fret, the accounts will be able to link in the coming weeks. Hopefully they combine the two accounts into one for ease of use. Google is still recommending people to sign up for Business Pages on Google Plus, so there is definitely some thought going on that we haven’t seen yet.

The Changes

Here is what people will see while doing a search. It looks similar whether logged in or not. In this case I searched for “Folsom Wedding Photographers,” and of course, friend and client Teresa K‘s listing pops up to the top of the Local Listings pack. You can see that instead of the old Star rating, she has a new score out of 30. Hers is 30/30 cause she’s so damn awesome at what she does. If you click on the Title, you’ll be taken to her website, but if you click on the “14 Google reviews” she has (let this be a lesson to you all that reviews are important! We’ll touch a little more on that in a bit.), you will be taken to the new Google Plus Local Page.

Below are two examples of what the page looks like when logged out and logged in to Google Plus. Aside from having the Sidebar and Hangout window available to you, there is a nice little difference on this page, and that is the addition of the +1, Share and Add Public Photos. That makes this page truly social in that these features all are tied into their Google+ accounts. Ultimately it will affect SEO as well for people with Google + accounts. All the +1’s and Shares will shape people’s Google Circles, and impact the way people see search results.

The other thing that will enhance SEO is that these pages will be Indexed in with Organic Results (not just part of the Local results)! This could give you an additional advantage over your competitors if you are keeping your Google Plus Local Page updated and well optimized.

Now to utilize Google +

  • Reviews: Reviews are one of the reasons why some businesses show up ranked higher in Local Results. In the example above, with Teresa K you can see that she is well cemented in the first position and has 9 more reviews that anyone else. If you have a Reviews page on your website that points to things like Yelp and Wedding Wire, you’ll need to change the URL to your Google Reviews page now.
    If you don’t have a Reviews Page, you should create one right now.
  • Circles: I don’t think I need to mention that the larger your Circles, the more influence you will have on people, and the people in their Circles as well. That being said, go add me to your Circles now. 🙂
  • Update your Google Plus page. Whether or not you use it as much as Facebook, the more you use Google Plus, the bigger advantage you’ll have over your competition when it comes to Google Search. I’ve heard the complaints about the lack of adoption and I can totally get it. Stick with it though, and there’s nothing saying you have to devote major hours daily to it. A weekly update may just be enough. You’ll have to gauge it based off of your own experience and what you see your competitors doing with it. (Keep me informed).

Now go forth and get Reviews! 🙂