Search Engine Optimization for Photographers
If you have a website on the web its there to be noticed. Getting noticed means having search engines find you. The web-o-sphere is full of advice on how best to structure your websites to make them friendly to the search engines. Some of the advice is real, most of it is redundant and a lot of is not focused on helping the photographer with a website full of images.
If you are like me, then creating websites and bending over backward to make them search engine friendly is not your main interest in life. The trick is to find the key habits that help in the ranking process while not going too overboard. My ultimate game plan is to make the SEO practices habitual so that as I upload content I make the right decision at the right time and minimize the amount of rework necessary while achieving reasonable to good results.
Why is this important?
A key realization is that while websites are full of pictures and the web is inherently a visual platform, search engines are incapable of seeing and appreciating your pictures. The search engines cannot distinguish a beautiful sunset and a bland one. They cannot tell the difference between a snapshot and a master photograph. Search engines index web pages and their content by looking at the codes and text that make up the web page. What a picture shows has to be inferred from its web page surroundings rather than by direct view.
Fortunately, search engines are designed by people and they operate predictably based on algorithms. But just how they work are closely guarded secrets to keep web page designers from unfairly tilting the scales. Ranking in the search results is a key business skill and for large companies can mean the difference between earning millions and going bust. Understanding, adapting to and tailoring web pages to make the optimal for search results is a big business.
So, if it's so complex you must be wondering what you can possibly learn here.
A few simple changes to your habits and behaviors can pay off a lot. Measurable success can be had for following a few basic implementation patterns. Building up your audience can be done in small steps that culminate in a larger following.
Two kinds of SEO
SEO is generally divided into two categories; on-site and off-site. On-site SEO is all the work you do to make sure your site is clean, fast loading and takes full advantage of the sites structure to best represent your work. A lot of this is following simple and basic rules of design and making sure your hosting platform works for and not against you. Off-site SEO is what you do on the web on other sites to make your site more popular. A big part of SEO is understanding that the web is like high school. The more popular you are the more popular you will become. For your site to be ranked high, it's important that other sites link to you and in doing so raise your importance. When other sites link to yours they are, in effect, voting for you. The search engines take note of how many votes you get and they rank popular sites higher than less popular sites.
We'll look at both on-site and off-site SEO in upcoming articles.