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SEO Analysis of the Average Photography Website

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May. 18th, 2010 | 09:14 pm

A friend is having SEO issues, where even when you search for his company name, the blog shows up but not the homepage. I was going to respond via the call for help on Facebook, but this quickly became too long for that. If you need to do similar things to your website, the URL referenced is http://www.kaiheeringaphotography.com

To Kai:

You've got several things wrong that are putting your search engine ranking into the dump.

  1. Validate your HTML. The better the condition of your code, the more easy it is for search engines to read it. Not only will this make search engines happy, but you'll help ensure your site is more consistently seen across browsers. http://validator.w3.org Namely, you are missing a quote at the end of your metadata tag, so the values in there are getting lost. Also, you need to add all of the doctype and character encoding specifications. Copy the top few lines of my little website's source code: http://anthonydpaul.com

  2. Make your HTML ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Add alternate (alt tags) to all images. Describe what they are briefly...but without being spammy. For instance, putting "Kai Heeringa Photography" as the alt tag for every image is hurting your SEO rather than helping. The "blog" button should be tagged with "follow us on our blog". Your logo's alt tag should be "Kai Heeringa Photography logo".

  3. Use link titles in the same way you use alt tags. If the "blog" link were a text link and not an image, the link title would read "follow us on our blog".

  4. Use page titles and metadata correctly. Your website title and meta data are flagging your favorite terms as spam. Metadata used to be the way search engines knew what your site was about...so people put every term in they could think of. Now, they are only top-level keywords and the rest of your SEO is semantic. Search engines scan your site and build up a profile of information on it, based upon what content updates most, what your page titles are, what words you mention a lot in context, what websites link to yours, how many people Tweet about you, how many people blog about you, and more. Everything is contextual. Your site is defined by its network, behavior and virality.

    Putting 30 variations of "wedding photography" into your page title and metadata flags those terms as spam and actually REMOVES them from your site's profile. The reason is, there are plenty of sites that put "sex, brittney spears, michael jackson, viagra, bmw, etc." into their metadata, thinking it will get them more hits. In actuality, the search engine recognizes those terms are being abused on the site and scans the rest of the content to more accurately tag the site (ignoring the words it now sees as "yeah, yeah, yeah...we got it already").

    Your title should actually be "Kai Heeringa Photography". If you want to get fancy, add "- Home" to that, and appropriate page titles to other pages.

    Your metadata should have a maximum of ten terms, each short and DIFFERENT but related. For example, "wedding photography, engagement, baby shower, destinations, travel, michigan".

  5. Make your content ABLE to be read by search engines to begin with. As a follow-up to above, your portfolio is in Flash. That does nothing but hurt you because that content is all invisible from search engines. Think about doing a regularly updated HTML alternate version, if only for SEO. Link to it in your footer. Be real with the content, alt tags and links.

  6. Use SEF URLs. Make your portfolio easier to see by search engines. Aside from content, your URL is "/pfsitez/index2.php" instead of "/portfolio/" or "/portfolio/index.php". Google doesn't know what "pfsitez" is, so it is looking at your two most important pages being called "blog" and "pfsitez". No wonder the blog is getting more air time.

  7. Update often. I covered this in a couple ways, but your content needs to be fresh. Aside from being easily readable by search engines, your SEO is based on how often you update and how often people link back to your updates. Google promotes content more people clicked on, because the mentality is, "if everyone else who searched for this term clicked on this link, you probably will too". The blog is getting attention because specific posts and/or images are getting linked to across the internet. That means everyone who visits your site is coming via your blog rather than your homepage. Nobody is coming through the portfolio because people can't link to specific pictures or pages (note they all have exactly the same bad URL).

    Updating frequently with pages/data that can be detected as fresh with unique URLs makes the search engine have to spider your content more often and keeps it at the front of the line. If Google looks as your page one week, then sees it is exactly the same a week later, next time it will return two weeks later. If it is still the same, it will try to get away with a month later. Inversely, if your site is updated, it will come back in 3 days instead of the week it just waited. There are billions of pages to look at across the internet, so a search engine has to prioritize. It does so by reducing the number of redundant scans it performs...with a little intelligence noted above.

  8. Get promiscuous. Give your cross-linking a nudge. Link to your Facebook account, Twitter account, LinkedIn, etc. in your footer. When people go to those URLs via your website's URL, that is a good checkmark in your ranking. Then, when people get to that link, it also increases the number of people who click from your Twitter feed back to your website, giving you a referral.

    After college, I decided to optimize myself. I changed every social profile I have to consistently use "anthonydpaul" as the username and "Anthony D Paul" as my display name. Whenever my name is printed or mentioned anywhere, I insist on the "D" being added. It is to the point where if you Google either of those terms without quotes, I dominate pages and pages of results. I did this because there are at least thousands of "Anthony Paul" folks in the world and when I searched for that in quotes, I was 15 pages deep. Now, give "Anthony Paul" a try without quotes and I am at least among the first page, if not at the top, even though there are plenty of famous folks with my same name.

That is a start.

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