Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Backlinks!
Our photography SEO expert and friend, Zach Prez, author of Photographers SEO Book, is back to share some more tips about link building in the photography industry. We hope this information is useful and informative for your photography studio.
After reading our previous post titled Understanding SEO, you know that your best time spent in search optimization is building backlinks – quality links from others sites to your page. This post covers some more tips when establishing links for the purpose of search engine optimization. Simply tips, these are not listed in any order of importance. But very important – create a spreadsheet to track your backlink plan, otherwise you may forget which directories you submitted to, which community profiles you created, and usernames and passwords. Plus if you ever create a second site (or a blog), your tracking list will come in handy the second time around.
Build Links Over Time
Remember that spreadsheet I strongly suggested two seconds ago? Use that spreadsheet to document all of your links, dates, text used in the links, usernames and passwords, contact emails, etc. Plan out a link strategy before you begin the process so you can focus on critical links first and figure out your keywords relative to the site where the link will exist. Search engines value sites more that have a consistent stream of activity, whether it’s fresh content or links coming into the website. Space your links over time because it tells Google that you are not “spammy.” Guess what will happen if you get 50 links in one day, and then no new links for the next month. You may rank high for one day, then disappear into oblivion, or you may even get blacklisted (probably not, but I don’t risk it).
Submit to Easy Link Sources
Cherry-pick easy links from free website directories, local search sites, and business listings. It takes only a few minutes per listing and some appear at the top of search results and can outrank your existing site (like Google Local or Yelp). Be prepared to get contacted by some of these sites that want you to upgrade or buy advertising, so setup a unique email address for those listings. The amount that these listings help your search rank is not overwhelming, so take this into consideration and don’t spend huge chunks of time on this step.
Check PageRank Before Requesting a Link
Lots of people know about PageRank (PR), which is a Google indicator of how important a page is on a scale of 1-10 (you can see PR with Google Toolbar from toolbar.google.com). The point is that Google does not value all links equally and your task is to get links from pages that matter. A link to your site from New York Times (high page rank) is more valuable for your search optimization than a link from a friend’s blog. It is not worth any effort to be linked from a page that has zero PageRank. Typically this is because Google does not find the page valuable (and can sometimes devalue who it links to) and search engines rarely crawl those pages to even see the links and give your site credit. The problem I see most often is that photographers find a site with a high PageRank homepage, and think they are getting value from a link from deep inside this site. Remember it is the PAGE where your link will appear where you want to check the PageRank. It takes many links from PR 1 and 2 pages to start impacting your search rank, but only a few links from PR 5+ pages to see a noticeable change.
Link to Deep Pages
Search engines do not like controlled activity. Example: a photographer establishing a bunch new links in a short amount of time that all point to its homepage. In reality, the most popular sites will have real users linking to many different pages of the site, and not just the homepage. When building links, it is best to link to multiple pages to avoid being seen as spam-like activity. Impress Google by mimicking human nature and link to subpages of your site, like galleries or blogs.
Use Multiple Anchor Texts
Search engines look at the words in the hyperlink (called anchor text) to understand what the website will be about. It values these words more than the words that are on the site itself, because these words span many other websites and are less likely to be manipulated. It is very important to use highly searched keywords within the links that point to your website. For example my blog might have a link to my main website that says “San Diego Wedding Photographer” instead of “www.mydomain.com” because I want Google to know my site is about San Diego wedding photography. If you read the previous tip, you will understand that the normal process of linking would not produce the same anchor text in all of the links pointing to a site, so change your keywords slightly from link to link to “act natural.” This will also help you rank for similar keywords that users might be searching.
Build Profiles in Communities
Do a search to find forums and communities for photography or your specialty and start a profile. Put your website in your profile and in your signature (remember to use quality anchor text, and different anchor text in each forum). Every time you participate in the community with a post – your name will link to your profile (which will link to your site) and your signature will link to your site. All of these links; and you only have to set it up once. You will get great value from your new network at the same time.
For more tips from Zach Prez, Check out his e-book. It provides a step-by-step guide for improving your search rank. It provides a simple formula for finding your key phrase, an optimized splash page text example, plus a list of places where photographers can get free links.
Good luck and if you have any comments or additional ideas, please list them below!
Written by Zach Prez, author of Photographers SEO Book