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When it comes to SEO, there are a lot of opinions out there about what is best for your site, how to improve your ranking, and move up on SERPs. Now if you are like me, you just Googled what SERPs was. It stands for search engine results pages. There are so many different opinions on how to maximize your SEO for page ranking that it can make your head spin. I’m not going to sell you on all the ways to improve your ranking, instead we’ll go through the crucial aspects of SEO and how to get started improving your ranking. It is important to note that there are absolutely NO quick fixes, no cheats, and no way to guarantee ranking on certain pages in Google. Most things to be done for SEO are small incremental jumps.
The absolute best possible thing for your sites SEO is to have link backs to your site, from sites that have a larger viewing audience and better google ranking than yours. We will cover what that means and how to accomplish that under Optimizing Pages 🙂
It is hard to know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been. 99.9% of the time when any human on the planet mentions SEO they are really talking about Google search results and rankings. Isn’t that crazy? Almost everything we do to be found is for the sole enjoyment of Google, poor Askjeeves just hanging out with no traffic.
Setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console are going to help you track what is and isn’t working in your user experience on your site. Luckily the experts (actual experts) have walkthroughs to help you set up their tools!.
Google Analytics will help you see who is actually visiting your site! Not like, their name and info, but other important demographic information. What type of device they are viewing from. Which pages they view, how long they stay there, etc. Basically gathering data that can be used by YOU to run ads to your potential customers.
In addition to that potential money grab, the Analytics will help you see what pages on your site are actually working, and which aren’t. You’ll be able to see where people bounce (leave your site), and therefore help you better create a site that gets you money.
Google Search Console will allow you to see what people search for when they actually find your site! This can help you understand how people are finding you from search results. You can utilize this info to help you better create content that will drive results for your keywords (more on that later).
SEO is more than just buzz words (letters… letter words?), it is a crucial part of getting your business moving in the right direction. When it comes to SEO it is important to understand how search engines gather content, and more importantly, what you want that specific page to be found for.
Back in the olden days (think late 90’s early-mid 00’s) search engines like askjeeves, AOL search, yahoo and the like, used keywords nearly exclusively to understand the content that is on a site. This was a highly inefficient way to rank sites, and it led to a great deal of people trying to “hack” search engines algorithms to gain higher rankings. Luckily for all of us they evolved to a near creepy state where search engines like Google now read your site as a human would read it. (This is basically how Terminator starts)
You may be thinking, how does a robot reading my site like a human make this easier for me? All that means is that it is up to you to provide well written and helpful content to any of your potential clients. When you create well written and helpful content, Google reads it as such, and therefore is more likely to put it in front of others in search results. There are multiple benefits to this.
The more relevant content you create that is well written and helpful, the more of an authority you become in the eyes of the “Google”.
As we get into optimizing your pages it is important to understand that Google does not rank your “site”. Instead of ranking sites, Google ranks pages. Now to the seemingly difficult, but kinda easy part. You need to know what you want to be found for. a.k.a. Keywords
Ace & Whim started by shooting weddings in Arizona, and we (at the time) wanted to be found for Arizona Wedding Photographers, because it meant more out of town business, the likelihood of shooting in a variety of locations, and a slew of other advantages for our company. Therefore the keywords we would use would reference to Arizona as a whole. However some of our dear friends in the industry wanted to be known as Scottsdale (a “luxury” city in AZ) wedding photographers, and therefore they would produce content (and use keywords) relevant to Scottsdale wedding photographers.
If you are a restaurant, use the city you are in, if you service users in a metropolitan area, use that. Others use smaller regions e.g. Northern Arizona, Orange County, Great Lakes, Tampa, Vancouver, etc. We also had a specific bride in mind, one who would want film photography, a husband/wife team, etc. and found keywords to use with those things in mind.
To help you find what Keywords you want to be found for, think of yourself as your target/ideal client. What words would you use to find services similar to yours? Go into an incognito or private browser (to prevent use of your cookies) and type in those terms. If you scroll to the bottom of your Google search you will see “Searches related to”. Those are other terms that people would use to find the same thing! Brilliant! There is even a FREE tool from Google to help you find what is trending in the search world. If you go to https://trends.google.com/ you can see how often people search for T-Swift, superfoods, or even the best top knots. This is also a great tool to help you find what possible keywords to use on your site and in the content you create on a regular basis.
Now that you have your keywords, make sure that you are using those words on the pages of your site where they seem relevant. Don’t just sprinkle them everywhere, because that’s weird. On your About page, put your address, on your services page explain the area you serve, etc. Just incorporate the keywords where they would naturally fit. If you are writing about a recent client, use the location in the post to help add relevance to the location. Keywords should also appear in your titles and headings when applicable, and even the url when appropriate.
Image optimization for search engines is a great way to get a little bump in SEO, and for your images to actually appear in search results!
Having relevant files names is a great place to start, and will be used for display among search results. So a nice “emotionally descriptive” word or phrase will do nicely. Think “Ethereal bride getting ready to walk down the aisle” or “Two all beef patties on a sesame seed bun”.
But what is most important in terms of optimizing images is the “alt text” or descriptive text. This is the text that Google predominantly will use to find relevance among the image. For alt text, you will want more of a keyword driven transactional description of the photo. “Bride in Arizona with ethereal style, sits on a leather chair waiting for her father to walk her down the aisle”. Pretend you are describing the picture to someone over the phone.
As stated above, content is King when it comes to SEO. So creating blog content is a very critical and controllable part of helping you SEO rankings. Apart from good link backs to your site, consistent blogging is your best friend. But you don’t want to just write about anything, for any length, and then call it good. There are some best practices to continue to follow with your blog content. There are even tools such as YOAST to help you stay consistent in your efforts. Make sure each blog post is well written and contains at least 300 words. Make sure some of those 300 words relate to your keywords (location, client or service type, etc.), and make sure your title includes relevant keywords when appropriate.
The main part of blogging comes down to the hardest part about blogging. Consistency. Create a schedule and stick to it. I have talked to hundreds of creative entrepreneurs who don’t think they have anything to write about, anything to share. So let me leave you with this. No one expects you to be perfect. If they are on your site, they are there for you and your business. You can go back and make changes as you see fit, but you can never go back and begin earlier.
Saving the best and most important for last. I had mentioned before that all the things you can do for SEO are small incremental jumps. While this post is not all inclusive, link backs to your site are the only things that attribute to more than a small incremental jump.
A link back is when another site links specifically to a page on your site. Whether that is your home page, or another page on your site, this is a huge opportunity for moving up SERPs (search engine results pages). Why is this important? It is another site that is adding “authority” to your site. The more unique traffic that a site receives the more of an authority Google views them as. If a site has more traffic (is a bigger authority) than you and they link to your site, they are adding authority to your site. In the Photography industry this is being featured on The Knot and having them link to your site. For other industries, its being featured on a media outlet, or a review on a site that gets tons of views.
You may think that this is out of your hands, however here are a couple of quick things you can do to help link backs work in your favor.
The impact of either depends on the unique visitors that go to that site on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
For in depth looks into all things Google, check out Googles free source loaded with all the best tips, how too’s and more importantly “why’s”. Go to Googles very own Webmaster Youtube channel to stay current on all things SEO.
If you read this far, then your mind be ready to explode from information overload. We know this is a lot to take in and even more to put into action. Just tackle one part at a time. The most important thing is that you make a plan you can stick to. We have broken down the most important parts of this post in a FREE DOWNLOAD you can save a review as needed-it even includes a monthly SEO planning calendar.