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Optimising-SEO-yo-imrpove-your-business SEO & Web

You’re Nothing Without SEO! | Why I Moved My Website To WordPress

By Max Bridge on April 7th 2015

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Do you know what rich snippets are? Have you heard of title tags, meta-descriptions, long tail keywords, 301 redirects, above the fold content, anchor text, local citations, bots, or spiders? If you’re a professional photographer and the majority of what I just said made no sense, then your business is doomed to crash and burn in a glorious SEO fire.

Obviously, I’m being silly. The terms you read above are all related to SEO, and while it is crucial to running a successful online business there’s no need to panic. A few years back, many of us wouldn’t have heard that term, but sadly Search Engine Optimization is now key to running a successful online business. Boring as it may be (I have literally fallen asleep reading about it), it’s undeniably essential. In fact, the more I have read, the more I’ve come to find it somewhat fascinating (although I say that with some hesitation).

What Is SEO?

Aside from being a subject that can, on occasion, cause my eyes to droop, SEO is also an important concept for any online business. If you have a website, then I assume you want people to visit that site. Not only that, but you want the right people to visit. The kind of interested people who will hopefully become clients.

So, you’ve made your site visually appealing, started writing a blog and eagerly await thousands of daily visits. Yeah, that would be you and every other person in the photography community. A good SEO strategy will allow you to target your audience more effectively, increase your online visibility and hopefully allow you to organically rank more highly for some key terms.

For instance, most of us would like to rank number one on Google for London Family Photographer or London Wedding Photographer or any other type of photography with your location at the front. Now, by optimising your SEO, you will not suddenly usurp the current results but you’re investing in your business for the future. Building a foundation upon which an online presence can be built and high value, organic traffic can begin to flow your way.

A Few Recommendations

I want to get this out of the way early. I’m no SEO expert. I’ve read a lot and have definitely advanced my knowledge enough to “get by,” but be under no illusion, SEO is a hugely expansive subject. Thankfully, there are some great resources for learning. One of my favourites has always been MOZ. They provide loads of free advice and some paid for services. A gentle intro into all of this would be to watch a selection of their Whiteboard Fridays which are quite enjoyable.

Another great site you may not know is called Social Media Examiner. As the name suggests, it’s all about social media. However, social media can have a big impact on your SEO. They have a really good Podcast, which is always an educational and eye-opening listen.

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SLR Lounge SEO eBOOK

SLR Lounge has also just released an eBook called Photography SEO and Web Marketing. It’s a comprehensive book that covers everything you need to know as a photographer trying to learn SEO. As mentioned, I read a lot online about all of this. One issue I’ve always had is that content often doesn’t feel relevant to me and my business. That’s why I’m excited about this book. Yes, it’s about SEO, but it’s written by photographers, for photographers with our industry in mind.

[RELATED: WORDPRESS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS]

Why I Moved My Website to WordPress

Hopefully, I’ve sufficiently hammered in the point that SEO is important. So now let’s move on to why I went through the agonizing pain of moving my website. If it’s not too obvious already, the reason was heavily related to SEO. I designed my website with one of the many services out there for photographers that promise an easy build, perfect SEO, brilliant functionality, etc. I had a good experience with the service I used. However, they were expensive, they took a cut of MY profits on sales and I could get more functionality on WordPress. The final nail in the coffin and the biggest single reason for the move was that I was forced to have my blog on a subdomain. I know! How shocking! (That’s British sarcasm if it doesn’t come across).

The positives and negatives of subfolders vs. subdomains have been debated for some time. I knew it was better to have your blog on a subfolder, but I had no other option but to place it on a subdomain. If you’re like me and your eyes are already beginning to glaze over, watch this video. Rand, over at MOZ, does a far better job of explaining the issue. While we’re on the subject of WordPress, we’ve just released a free WordPress theme –  check it out here.

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User Experience

Something you may not realise that effects SEO is the user experience. If your site has a high bounce rate, this indicates to Google that people landing on your page are either: not finding what they are looking for or are unhappy with the site itself. This is another thing I felt could be improved with the move. I could make the site more visually appealing by utilising things, WordPress plugins, for instance, which had previously been excluded to me. This would improve the User Experience and in turn have a positive effect on SEO.

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My old website was nice. I liked its design and had I not been forced to move because of the reasons above it would have been ok. As you can see from the photo above there was a lot of text. That page just went on and on and would not have been a particularly enjoyable visual experience for the user.

shootguide-new

My new site is by no means complete and has a lot of room for improvement, but I’m liking the direction it’s heading. The page you see above now has a nice Google Maps plugin, less text and more imagery; making for a far more pleasant user experience.

[REWIND: Website SEO Alert: The One Thing Every Photographer Should Do in March 2015]

By moving to WordPress I could save money on the yearly subscription, make more money by not being charged a commission on sales, have a better user experience and increase site functionality (using plugins and other features). Hopefully, you’ll agree it was a pretty wise move. Feel free to check out the new site and give any feedback or recommendations. It’s not totally finished, the product page, for example, has not been worked on and my about me photo is horrendous (best I had), but feedback is always appreciated.

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But SEO Is A Long Term Game. I Need Results Now!

If your site has never been optimised for SEO, then a few immediate changes may yield some instant results. Realistically, in our marketplace, it takes consistent effort to organically rank highly on google. My business is still pretty new so I definitely think of SEO as a long-term game. I’m not suddenly going to organically rank on page one of Google for “Family Photographer London.” I suppose we’re all doomed then? Of course, the answer to that is no. I’ve recently started using Google AdWords which is a form of PPC (Pay Per Click). PPC essentially allows you to pay to rank on page one. Sort of. The recently released SLR Lounge E-Book has a section devoted to this subject.

[PRODUCT LINK: Photography SEO and Web Marketing E-Book]

Not only that, but I’ve managed to secure a little deal for you all. I purchased an E-Book called “ Your First Three Months on AdWords ” before I got into paying Google for clicks. The book is fairly self-explanatory, but it basically takes you through a technique to find relevant and valuable keywords to bid on. AdWords has been updated since the book was released, but all the advice and techniques are still sound. The book is pretty expensive ($297) but I’ve managed to get you $100 off, just enter “slrlounge” at checkout. Buy that and the “ Photography SEO and Web Marketing E-Book ” and you’ll have a formidable combination to get you going on this journey to better online visibility.

We also have an entire bonus section of articles focused on SEO and creating websites. Check it out here.

If you’ve got any SEO tips, stories or great resources you’d like to share please pop them in the comments below. Then we can all learn and grow together.

About

Max began his career within the film industry. He’s worked on everything from a banned horror film to multi-million-pound commercials crewed by top industry professionals. After suffering a back injury, Max left the film industry and is now using his knowledge to pursue a career within photography.

Website: SquareMountain 
Instagram: Follow Author

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Andre Thomas

    I’m a wedding photographer and am trying to optimize my website–pictures in particular. Can you school me on how to export pictures in LR and still maintain a good quality? I’m trying to get them below 400kb but it always gets distorted. I’m using WordPress.If you could give help, I’d much appreciate it.
    website: http://www.covenantlx.com

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  2. Max Bridge

    Thanks for the question. It’s very simple to tell, just look at the URL structure.

    Subfolder = http://www.example.com/blog

    Subdomain = http://www.blog.example.com

    A subfolder will have the page after a “/” at the end of the URL. Whereas, a subdomain will have blog, in this example, before the main URL. Hope that made sense.

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    • Facundo Luzardo

      thanks… That helps.
      I thought it was that way… but just wanted to make sure… Then with Squarespace I´m good to go!
      Is there any reason why wordpress would be better than Squarespace? Besides being cheaper…

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    • Max Bridge

      I’ve not personally used Squarespace so I want to be careful not to give you inaccurate info. In general though I think most of those website builders are pretty similar; Squarespace, Zenfolio, Smugmug etc. Most are built pretty well in terms of SEO but will never be able to match WordPress for the number of customization possibilities available. In my opinion the biggest benefits are:

      1) Price
      2) Customization options
      3) Ability to use third party plugins, of which there are thousands

      Negatives:

      1) Lack of support
      2) Steeper learning curve

      If you’re happy with your current site I wouldn’t suggest moving, it can be a bit of a pain. Perhaps as, or if, you decide to delve deeper into site design you’ll decide otherwise.

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    • Facundo Luzardo

      That´s a good answer!
      Thanks!

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  3. Facundo Luzardo

    So, when it comes to “subdomain or subfolders” I´m like John Snow… I know nothing!
    My question for someone more experienced would be: in the blog I get with Squarespace, is that Subfolder or not? Due to the URLs I´m guessing it is the nice subfolder kind… but just in case I ask.

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  4. James O

    I agree with what you’ve written about but I also have a lot of people that order photos through our site (We use Zenfolio) and it goes right to our preferred lab (Mpix) where they order prints or canvases, etc. They are also great at allowing me to easily change our watermarks, etc.

    The thing that I’m unhappy with is the customizations, I want control over that which is why WordPress is tempting and I’ very familiar with that.

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    • Stephen Jennings

      Cloudspot is a gallery tool that allows you to sell your images (no commission as well). But it’s not a full-site feature, only gallery. And I believe they only have 1 lab to choose from.

      The last time I made a wordpress site it was inundated with spammers.. I’ll probably go the old fashion route and develop my own site when I have the time.

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    • Max Bridge

      Hey James,

      Thanks for the comment. As I mentioned in my comment above, there are loads of third party client proofing and ordering services out there. I know that with some you can even set it up so it doesn’t appear to the client that you’ve ever left the main site.

      My problem with these integrated ordering services has always been that they do not offer all of their products. One of the biggest was not doing Giclee prints! Because of that I’ve always had to place the orders myself.

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  5. Edwin Sanchez

    I currently have my site on wordpress but I am trying out zenfolio because it offers a one stop solution for website, client proofing, web app maker and print sales. What plugins or services would you reccomend on wordpress to acomplish all of this?

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    • Max Bridge

      Hey Edwin. Thanks for the question. That was one the things I liked about my old site. However, I could only order a fraction of my labs offerings through the site as they didn’t offer it all. Due to that I never even used this part of the service and so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

      I’m currently trying to figure out which will be the best service for me. At the moment I’m leaning toward Shootproof which I believe does all of what you have mentioned. Their client galleries are ok and I can create self-fulfilled custom items, which I couldn’t do before. If was in the US I would definitely be going with Cloudspot. It sounds great but my business is not in the US so unfortunately I can’t use it in the way I would want.

      There are loads of third party client gallery and ordering services but as I said the new offering from us, Cloudspot, seems pretty good. In terms of Web app makers, I’m not certain on this so would not want to give you bad advice.

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  6. Mark C

    Nice article Max! I love WordPress too and agree that with the right plugins, WordPress is of the best platforms out there for bloggers, and arguably one of the best for simple SEO strategy implementation. After all, that’s why most of the spammy blogs on the Internet use it!

    One thing you didn’t mention that is key to setting off on the right foot with WordPress is defining the Permalink structure as soon as you install your WordPress blog. This basically means you end up with nice looking, search engine friendly links like yousite.com/london-photo-shoot rather than yoursite.com/blog/weddings/080415/londonphotoshoot or whatever it is.

    Without wanting to steal away your readers, I wrote a guide to setting up a WordPress blog for photographers. I think it complements your article, so I hope you don’t mind me posting it here!

    http://shotkit.com/how-to-make-a-photography-blog/

    Keep up the great articles!

    Cheers,
    Mark

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    • Max Bridge

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your article. I used to use your theme! I really like that theme but when I moved away from two separate sites (for blog and website) I deiced it worked better to unify it using something different.

      Themes aside, permalink structure is definitely important. To be honest, SEO is such a huge subject that there was no way I could cover everything in one article. Not even close! I’d just like to encourage people to dive in and begin to learn.

      I had a quick read of your article, which was very good by the way. It reminded me how important a decent host is. When I first switched I did not realise the importance and severely slowed myself down. The host I chose was dead slow and it was a pain to move. I now use Siteground and a CDN called CloudFlare (which is free). I’ve heard good things about Blue Host also.

      Thanks again for sharing

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  7. Stephen Jennings

    This is the one thing reallllyyyy tempting me to go with Cloudspot and building my own site. The SEO functionality of the Folio sites sucks.

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    • Max Bridge

      That’s a huge part of why I moved Stephen. My blog has taken a back seat recently but I’ll soon be getting back on that. I just couldn’t stomach that I was putting all this effort in (writing content) which was not reaping the full SEO benefits due to a site structure I forced to have.

      If you’ve got the time, I’d say go for it. One of the most annoying things, aside from the build itself, is 301 redirects but if you just check on Webmaster Tools regularly and use the WordPress Plugin “Redirection” it’s not too bad.

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  8. Kevin Liu

    Is there something that can be done to get rid of these bots that are posting these “my mom made $90234089423980234 dollars by doing nothing” comments?

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    • Stan Rogers

      The problem is that they’re probably NOT bots, but a mechanical Turk (people being paid to act like bots, which is probably what the entries are about as well). That gets past things like ReCAPTCHA. And while it’s easy for a real human to spot immediately what’s going on, it’s hard to train a Bayesian filter (or, at least, one that’ll run on a smallish web server, as opposed to, say, Watson) on the messages. That leaves double names, but some people actually HAVE double names (don’t get an old software developer started on the problem with names — it makes date formats in text look easy).

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    • Max Bridge

      Sorry, I know these comments are annoying. I’m not sure precisely what is being done about it or as Stan says what can be done about it, but I know some of the writers have been talking about it. As such, I’m certain that all that can be done is being done or soon will be. Apologies for the vague comment but I wanted to address this.

      Stan – Thank you for your input

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  9. Graham Curran

    Great read, Max. Thanks for the advice.

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  10. Rafael Steffen

    Great article! Thanks for sharing how much goes behind SEO so that we can reach our potential clients.

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    • Max Bridge

      Thanks Rafael. There really is a huge amount that goes into it. My biggest difficulty is trying to find a strategy where I can cover all that I need to and still be a photographer! Thankfully with all these great free and paid for resources it’s becoming a lot easier to map out a decent SEO strategy

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