All the time, full time photography business owners ask me how they can implement search engine optimization while also running their business.
You see, not all business owners have employees to handle their blogging, content creation, finances and so on. In fact, I would guestimate that a large portion of full time photographers are either on their own or have only a couple employees.
So when I get asked how to implement search engine optimization technique when also running a business, I try to stress the importance of the basics.
Using an audit checklist, it is easy to find out how much work is needed to improve the website’s SEO. I usually recommend spending one day going through the entire website and taking care of the bulk of the optimization. Majority of what needs to be done, doesn’t get changed often.
In addition, the there are ways to help streamline the SEO process for the future. After going through the initial audit, I recommend installing WordPress SEO by Yoast. It is a free plugin in the WordPress.org directoy. There are a lot of SEO plugins out there, many of which are free, but this plugin is by far the best. In it, you can implement and optimize items that other plugins do not do. That means you are reducing the amount of plugins needed for a whole site optimization just by using WordPress SEO by Yoast.
- Post titles and meta descriptions – manually adjust your post titles per page/post
- Canonical – Add Canonical automatically if you duplicate content is used
- Breadcrumbs – Easily add Breadcrumbs if you want
- Permalink clean up – Clean up strange links or remove the Category from a link
- XML Sitemaps – Modern sitemaps with a lot of features
- Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess – An advanced feature for those needing to edit these files
- Open Graph – adds support for Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus social sharing meta data
Future Proof & Streamline Your SEO
Once you have the static content on your site optimized, it is time to future proof and streamline. Inside of the plugin there is a section called Titles & Metas. There you can set a template for how the meta tags of your page and blog post content will be optimized. There is also a Help tab with merge tags that will help make the process smooth and universal throughout your website. Having a template might be even more important if you are using WordPress gallery themes because they focus more on the images than text.
The following is my recommendation for settings up the meta titles and descriptions for automation.
- Meta Title
- New businesses needing branding: %%title%% | Company Name
- Existing businesses: %%title%%
- Meta Description: %%excerpt%%
- Meta Keywords: leave blank (do not use)
What happens from here is really interesting. You can go ahead writing and publishing blog articles and creating new pages. If you don’t ever think about manually optimizing for SEO, the plugin will handle some of the task for you.
If your blog article title is 5 Best Wedding Dresses Ever, then the plugin will create the meta title that matches the article title. If you went with the option for new businesses needing branding, then your meta title will show 5 Best Wedding Dresses Ever | Company Name. That result is what will show up on search engines.
The plugin will also grab for the first 156 characters of your text content to include as the meta description. That means if you start your blog article with your keyword towards the beginning, you’re automatically optimizing the meta description. For example:
The wedding dresses shown in this article are the best I have seen from the 1000 weddings I photographed.
With that, the meta description would be generated automatically, and if wedding dresses is your keyword then you’re article’s meta has been optimized.
So while this is an easy way to future proof and streamline your SEO without too much effort, it also has the ability to manually override the default settings. That means if you want to further optimize your content using the built-in page analysis tool you can do so.
No matter what wordpress themes you are using, WordPress SEO by Yoast is typically compatible. With it you can set a template to save you time publishing content. As a photography business owner you want to get back to what you do best… taking pictures and making money. So I urge you to take the time going through an initial SEO audit and setting up the plugin. Then if you have time or if you write a piece of content that is extremely important, then take the time to manually optimize more.
Do you have a method of streamlining your optimization? Please comment to share.
Thanks for reading.