6 Search Engine Optimisation techniques that your business website can’t do without
(A Beginner’s Guide)
Just launched your website? Looking to improve your position in the search results? If your site has only just gone live or you’ve been online for years there are a number of optimisation strategies that you really can’t do without.
This blog post is part 2 in a series on SEO (search engine optimisation).
>> Part 1 – The 7 SEO questions you were too embarrassed to ask
To keep things short most references to ‘Google’ in the article below will also apply to other search engines, e.g. Bing, Yahoo etc.
1. Great content (and good copy)
If marketing and writing are not your strong points then your business website would probably benefit from a professional copywriter who is versed in SEO techniques. This way you can be sure that your content is relevant and well optimised.
A great way to build traffic to your site is to offer ‘original content’ – content you’ve created yourself just for your site. Valuable original content on a photography site might come in the form of:
- Biography text and information about the services you offer
- Open dialogue with customers; feedback, reviews, etc
- Articles about recent shoots, weddings or events
- Hints, tips and general information about photographic methods – don’t be afraid of sharing your secrets!
- Equipment reviews (e.g. ‘all about my new Nikon D700’)
2. Clear and concise headings & titles
Remember: you’re writing your content first and foremost for your visitors, and secondly so that it can be read by Google. Don’t bury your content in a dense paragraph of barely legible text at the bottom of the screen. If it’s not for people, it shouldn’t be there.
Each page on your site has a title (shown at the very top of your screen or tab). This appears right at the beginning of the code and so it’s the first thing that Google ‘sees’. The title is vitally important, because Google uses it to form the link in its search results. Your title should always ‘make sense’ to your human visitors because it’s often the first thing they see, even before they’ve clicked on your site.
3. Consistent & relevant content
Keep your content consistent. Nobody likes to be mislead – if you’ve advertised a page by giving the title ‘Image editing techniques’ then that page should contain image editing techniques.
By the same logic keep the title of the page limited to what’s on that page; e.g. a page on commercial photography should have a ‘commercial photography’ title, not ‘Lifestyle, wedding, portrait & commercial photography’.
Lots of first-timers take the scattergun approach – filling all available parts of the page with search terms in a frantic effort to improve position. Remember to keep calm! Write your site text with care and focus; don’t dilute your efforts with lots of keywords.
A bride-to-be isn’t interested in your corporate event work – only your weddings. When she searches for a ‘Wedding Photographer in Gloucestershire’ she’ll probably only click on results with ‘Wedding Photographer’ somewhere in the title. Google will look at lots of your site pages, so remember to make each one count.
>> “The Perfectly Optimised Page” From SEOmoz
All good optimisations start with analytics. Before you can improve your site you need to know how it’s performing – what people are searching for, how many are looking at your website each day and so on.
For example; if you don’t get many website contacts first find out your overall traffic, then find out how many are visiting the contact page. From this you can determine:
- If your average traffic is low then you probably need better advertising or an SEO package.
- If people are going onto the contact page but not filling in the form then you need more incentives to get them to contact you.
- If lots of people are landing on your site and not going as far as your contact form then you might need better content or even a better design.
Analytics can tell you a great deal about your site and those who visit you. Don’t worry: you’re not invading anyone’s privacy – this information is no more than any other site could find out (there are no personal details revealed). Here are a few things you can learn:
- What people search for to find you (successful keywords)
- What pages people are spending the most time on
- What pages people are leaving your site from
- How many visitors ‘bounce’ (arrive and then immediately leave)
- What screen size/device people use to view your site
5. Local Business listings
Local Business can take up around half of page 1 for searches containing a geographical location. This has made it all the more important to get your map marker and business listing placed accordingly.
Placing a map marker allows customers to easily get directions to your offices/studio. This marker can also include customer reviews, opening times and general information. Don’t forget that if you’re selling prints online you’re bound by law to include the geographic address of your business – so you may as well make the most of it and include a business listing.
Well performing sites will find their business listing/map marker appear well above other ‘organic’ results on the results pages. This is a great help for photographers working in towns and cities where the competition is extra fierce.
You can improve your business listing by getting genuine customer reviews – the more numerous (and favourable) reviews you get, the higher up your listing will appear.
6. Up-to-date content / An active online presence
The web moves fast. Very fast – and with ‘real time’ minute-by-minute services like Twitter it’s become extra-relevant to keep yourself in the loop and updated. Sites whose owners are more ‘active’ on the web do tend to do better in searches – though we should point out that as ever the emphasis should be quality over quantity.
Developing an often-updated web presence can be done in many different ways. An update could be:
- Editing your site to ‘tweak’ your keywords
- Adding new text content (offers, services)
- Writing a blog post/article
- Creating a new page/event/wedding album
- Social networking (Facebook update, posting and replying to a customer testimonial)
You don’t have to update your website every day for it to function well in searches, but a site left untouched for a year or more could weigh you down. Keep on top of the content – but most of all make sure it’s relevant, useful and worthwhile.