Saturday, June 1, 2013

Search Engine Optimization

By Jim Goldstein Published in The Business of Photography
Search Engine Optimization
Sitemaps. One of the easiest ways to help search engines quickly index your website is to provide a sitemap detailing how each of the pages within your site interconnects. There are several tools and plug-ins available to help make this tedious task a breeze. While there are numerous sitemap automation tools available, the one that's right for you will vary depending on the technology powering your website.

Anchor Text. Simply put, anchor text is the descriptive text used to display where a link will take a user. "Click here," "here" and "link" are nondescriptive link anchor text. Anchor text such as "California Travel Destinations" or "California Travel Photography" will help better inform readers and search engines of the significance of these links and their content.

Avoid Flash. Flash websites, while great for presentation, aren't recommend when optimizing a page/site for SEO. There are workarounds, such as using a sniffer script to redirect search engine spiders to a non-Flash html page. Even still, this technique can create more headaches than it's worth given there are ample new technologies such as jQuery to create a similar interactive display without the SEO pains.

Social Widgets & Social Signals. What you and your social network like, share and read may be more of an influence to SEO in the future, and for this reason, it's recommended to include social media share buttons on your web page/site. Increasingly, social signals are now being used in personalized search results and are sure to have their weighting increased over time in search overall.

The Future

Beyond the nuts and bolts of on-page factors impacting SEO, there are other off-site factors that also can help. Many of these off-site factors revolve around the development and dissemination of content of value. The greater the value to your readers, the more likely they are to share your content, introducing it to others. Now that social media is ubiquitous online, it's incredibly important to focus heavily on value and make it easy for readers to inform their networks of your content and its location. To do this, it helps to have accounts on many of the biggest social-media sites (for example, Facebook, Twitter and Google+). Even if you're not an active user of these networks, having an account with a completed user profile gives you a means to have a virtual "business card" for people to find you and communicate with you in a manner of your choosing. The side benefit of this is that you create a new link back to your website, helping you create more overall backlinks. Having these accounts also can help you broadcast your content to larger audiences who may not currently know of you or your work's online location. Infusing these communities with your work can spur sharing and help build up social-signal rankings that may someday influence SEO. Other opportunities exist with video, as well. YouTube, if compared to all search engines, would rank #2 right behind Google itself. Creating video vignettes or image slideshows in video format, and providing links to your website in the description can help both with linkbacks and social signals.

The playing field for SEO is constantly evolving. Once your website has been tuned up, it's important to keep track of SEO trends and take advantage of new features and opportunities as they arise.

Jim Goldstein is a professional outdoor and travel photographer, and the VP of Marketing at Follow him on his blog (, Twitter (@jimgoldstein), Facebook ( and Google+
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