How To Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly, According To Google

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As you’re probably aware, Google is preparing to launch an algorithm change that includes a signal telling Google sites that are mobile-friendly should get a rankings boost. This will remain just one of many signals Google takes into account when ranking content, but it’s going to be an important one.

For one, if it were not important, Google probably wouldn’t have taken the time to pre-announce it on multiple occasions. It probably also wouldn’t be sending webmasters messages about their sites when they’re not mobile friendly. Even forgetting Google’s own messaging, it’s just common sense that this is an important signal. Many, many people spend the majority of their Internet time on their mobile devices, and many others still spend some of it that way. Mobile is not going away. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re doing yourself and your potential customers a disservice, regardless of how Google is ranking your content.

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” Google says.

The mobile-friendliness ranking signal will take effect starting April 21. Yes, Google has even given a date. That’s how serious they are about this one. They say it will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide, and have “a significant impact” in search results.

So you have less than two months to make sure your site is ready to go before the update starts to roll out. How should you go about doing that? Well, you might want to start by utilizing Google’s Mobile-Friendly test tool. Use this to test individual URLs. If you have a basic template that’s used for the majority of your site’s content, that will probably help a great deal, but use it to test as much of your site as is realistic.

First, go here. You may want to bookmark it if you have some work to do.

Enter your URL, and hit “analyze”. Hopefully you’ll get something that looks like this, telling you your page is mobile-friendly:

If the page is deemed mobile-friendly, Google tell you how Googlebot sees the page. It might say something like, “This page uses 9 resources which are blocked by robots.txt. The results and screenshot may be incorrect.”

It will give you a link to expand such resources and get a look at what they actually are. It also gives you a link to learn how to unblock them for Googlebot.

If your URL is not deemed mobile-friendly, Google will tell you specific reasons, as well as info about how Googlebot sees it, and resources to help you fix issues. Reasons a page isn’t mobile friendly might include things like: “content wider than screen,” “uses incompatible plugins,” “links too close together,” “text too small to read,” “mobile viewport not set,” etc.

Google recommends the following platforms for creating new sites, and chances are you’re already using one of them: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Blogger, vBulletin, Tumblr, DataLife Engine, Magento, Prestashop, Bitrix, and Google Sites. Google provides a dedicated guide for each one of these platforms for making your site mobile-friendly. You can find each of these here.

Google also gives the general guidelines of backing up your site before making any changes, updating your CMS to the latest version, making sure any custom themes you’re using are mobile-friendly, and reviewing support forums for the CMS to see what issues people might be having with the mobile versions of their sites

To make sure a custom theme is mobile-friendly, view the theme from the admin panel of your CMS and look for words like “mobile” or “responsive” in the documentation, and if there’s a demo template available, put the URL into Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. Google also suggests making sure the template is fast by checking the Speed section of PageSpeed Insights and making sure the Speed section has no issues marked as “should fix”.

To get into the technical details of making a site mobile-friendly, you’re going to want to take a look at the documentation on Google’s Web Fundamentals site. Here, you’ll find options for your first multi-device site and starting your site with the Web Starter kit.

The former delves into creating your content and structure and making it responsive. The TL;DR of content creation as Google breaks it down, is: Identify the content you need first; Sketch out information architecture for narrow and wide viewports; and Create a skeleton view of the page with content but without styling. The TL;DR for making it responsive is as follows: Always use a viewport; Always start with a narrow viewport first and scale out; Base your breakpoints off when you need to adapt the content; and Create a high-level vision of your layout across major breakpoints.

The Web Starter Kit section is broken into three parts: Set Up Web Starter Kit, Development Phases, and How to Use the Style Guide.

Of course even though these documents are long, you’re probably still going to want to read them.

Then there’s the Mobile SEO guide. This is separated into four parts: Choose your mobile configuration; Signal your configuration to search engines; Avoid common mistakes; and Configure for other devices.

The “Choose your mobile configuration” section deals with understanding different devices and key points in going mobile, selecting mobile configuration, and answers frequently asked questions. The “Signal your configuration to search engine” section talks about responsive web design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs.

The “common mistakes” part talks about blocking JavaScript, CSS and image files, unplayable content, faulty redirects, mobile-only 404s, app download interstitials, irrelevant cross-links, and slow mobile pages. That last part talks about configuring for tablets and feature phones (when Google says mobile, it’s referring to smartphones).

This whole mobile SEO guide is far too extensive to get into here, but you do need to know about it, and you’re going to want to go through it and make sure you’re not overlooking anything.

“Design your site to help make it easier for your customer to complete their most common tasks: from task conception, to visiting your site, to task completion,” Google says. “Outline the potential steps in your customers’ journey to make sure the steps are easy to complete on a mobile device. Try to streamline the experience and reduce the number of user interactions.”

“Making a mobile site requires prioritization,” it says. “Start by working out what the most important and common tasks are for your customers on mobile. Being able to support these tasks is critical and this is why the measure of your mobile site is how well customers can complete their objectives. There are ways to make the design of your site support ease of use too. Focus on consistency in your interface and providing an unified experience across platforms.”

Many site owners are simply going to have to get outside help. Google knows this, and also offers advice for working with developers. While Google elaborates here, it recommends asking to see your developer’s references and portfolio of mobile sites, making sure they understand your mobile customer, asking them to make a commitment to speed, having them install web analytics, making sure they’re aware of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and making sure the contract includes improving the mobile site after the initial launch.

It’s entirely possible to make a site mobile-friendly for no extra money. This is the case if you have skills required to implement the steps from Google’s guides discussed above or if you are able to use a responsive theme. Things can get more expensive if you have to hire the developer, so some sites are going to have to make a big choice.

Google says the top three mistakes beginners will want to avoid when it comes to creating a mobile-friendly site, are: forgetting their mobile customer; implementing the mobile site on a different domain, subdomain, or subdirectory from the desktop site; and working in isolation rather than looking around for inspiration. In other words, keep an eye on what others are doing.

Google has additional resources available with its Mobile Playbook, Think with Google for the Mobile Platform, and its Multi-Screen Success Stories.

Having a mobile-friendly site is good for more than just Google rankings. It’s good for your site visitors, and could mean the difference in getting a conversion or not. The search visibility will also help in that area, and it’s also likely that it will end up helping you in other search engines besides Google. None of them are going to want to point their users to inefficient pages.

Images via Google

February 28th 2015 Design, Google, Mobile, Search, SEO

Unprecedented Google Announcement of a Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Change

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Unprecedented Google Announcement of a Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Change was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

This is a huge announcement, guys. Circle your calendars — April 21, 2015.

Google made an announcement today regarding their mobile search algorithm. In an unprecedented move, they have announced the exact date that they intend to change their mobile organic SERP algorithm to more heavily weigh “mobile friendliness” as a ranking signal. That date is April 21.

Here’s an excerpt from the Feb. 26 announcement on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, with emphasis in red (mine):

Google blog about mobile friendly search

Update from Feb. 27: Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller addressed questions about the mobile friendliness announcement in a live, hour-long “office hours” Hangout On Air this morning. Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch the full video.

In Google’s history, I can NEVER remember them naming a DAY that they WILL be making an algorithm change. Unprecedented. Their language is also telling: “have a significant impact in our search results.”

This is a game-changing announcement. We need to treat it as such.

What Is Changing?

Prior to this, the mobile rankings for a website were usually tied to the ranking strength of the desktop site. If you ranked well on the desktop SERP, you usually ranked well on the mobile SERP as well. Google has always alluded to the fact, however, that the mobile-friendliness of your website could (would?) impact your organic rankings. This is Google definitively following through with that promise.

Starting on April 21, we can assume that mobile-friendly sites will see a dramatic boost in rankings, especially in spaces where their competition has not taken the time to get their “mobile houses” in order and do not enjoy the mobile-friendly distinction. To be clear, this blog article specifically talks about mobile search rankings — NOT desktop rankings.

What We Don’t Know (Yet)

Although the language of this announcement indicates that this is a change to mobile search results, there has been speculation that mobile friendliness will also impact desktop rankings in the future. (Some believe it already does to a small degree.) While this announcement stops short of indicating that this will occur on April 21, if mobile usability doesn’t begin to effect desktop rankings on that date, one day soon, I expect it definitely will.

What Google doesn’t indicate in their announcement is if the mobile-friendly ranking shift will apply on a site-wide or page-by-page basis. This distinction is especially important for websites using dynamic serving or separate mobile sites that contain mobile versions of some (but not all) content. We do know that the “mobile-friendly” label in SERPs is awarded to individual pages on a domain. It is not an all-or-nothing annotation. So the question is this: can we assume (always dangerous with Google) that the mobile search algorithm will judge website pages on their individual merits as well? Or, if the percentage of mobile-friendly pages on a domain is too low, will the entire domain see a demotion after April 21?

What This Means for YOU

We’ve expanded on the advantages of responsive design in the past. Responsively designed websites have a one-to-one relationship between desktop and mobile pages because they are one in the same. As Google’s preferred method of serving content to mobile users, we can assume that responsive sites will be favored by Google in search results going forward, and this is the first real step in that process.

If going responsive before April 21 is not an option for you, it is of vital importance that you consider the mobile solution you have in place and address its deficiencies as soon as possible. Google has gone to great lengths to help webmasters identify mobile site pitfalls and issues by adding things like the Mobile Usability Report to Google Webmaster Tools. That report details mobile usability errors that are specific to your domain. Google has also released the Mobile Friendly Testing Tool, which will analyze a URL and report if the specific page has a mobile-friendly design. Use the tools and resources available to earn the mobile-friendly badge across your website.

Here are more articles to help you along the way:

February 27th 2015 Google, SEO

Google Launches New Ranking Signal, Sets Date For Another

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Google announced that it will be expanding its use of “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal beginning on April 21. That gives you a little less than two months to make sure your site fits the bill. The change will go into effect across all languages, and Google says it will have a “significant impact” in its search results.

You know if Google is saying the impact is going to be “significant,” it’s probably not something to take lightly. As a result of the change, Google says users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results optimized for their devices.

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps,” says Google in a blog post. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps.”

Now, they’re getting ready to implement the expanded ranking signal and also, starting today, they’re using information from indexed apps as a ranking signal for signed-in users who have said apps installed. Users may start seeing more content from apps they use displayed more prominently in search results.

With regard to mobile-friendliness, Google notes that it has talked about such an algorithm update in the past, but that this is the first time it’s attached a date to it.

Throughout 2014, Google made quite a few moves showing it was focusing on improving the mobile search experience for users. In November, they added a mobile-friendly label to mobile search results for sites that meet the criteria. The company mentioned that it was experimenting with using the same criteria for a ranking signal.

Last month, webmasters were getting warnings from Google when their sites weren’t mobile-friendly, suggesting that that ranking signal might be creeping up. It’s not a surprise that Google is about to implement it, though it is somewhat of a surprise that they gave a launch date. They’re not usually so kind in announcing these things.

Here’s what the webmaster warnings look like:

When Google announced the labels, it also laid out some criteria for earning them. For one, a site should avoid software that isn’t common on mobile devices. It specifically mentioned Flash, following its previous shaming of Flash sites in mobile search results when it started showing messages in mobile search results for sites that may not work. Messages said things such as “Uses Flash. May not work on your device.”

Google says sites should use text that is readable without zooming, and should size content to the screen so that users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom. Links should also be placed far enough apart so that the correct one can be tapped easily.

Google has a Mobile-Friendly Test tool here. You can enter a URL, and Google will analyze it and report if it has a mobile-friendly design.

If a URL passes the test, it will tell you that the page is mobile-friendly, and give you some additional resources, including information about how Googlebot sees the page.

If the URL fails the test, you’ll get reasons why the page isn’t mobile-friendly, as well as info about how Googlebot sees it, and resources to help you fix issues.

Last fall, Google Webmaster Tools added mobile usability tracking. This includes graphs that look at mobile issues over time, so you can see any progress you’ve made.

“A mobile-friendly site is one that you can easily read & use on a smartphone, by only having to scroll up or down,” said Google’s John Mueller at the time. “Swiping left/right to search for content, zooming to read text and use UI elements, or not being able to see the content at all make a site harder to use for users on mobile phones. To help, the Mobile Usability reports show the following issues: Flash content, missing viewport (a critical meta-tag for mobile pages), tiny fonts, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links/buttons too close to each other.”

“We strongly recommend you take a look at these issues in Webmaster Tools, and think about how they might be resolved; sometimes it’s just a matter of tweaking your site’s template!” he said.

If you have a mobile app, don’t forget the app indexing signal. You can find a step-by-step guide on getting it set up here. This might be more motivation for some businesses to build mobile apps. On top of that, Google just announced paid search results in the Google Play store, so Android apps will get some new visibility opportunities there. This is only in the pilot phase for the time being, however.

Images via Google

February 27th 2015 Google, Mobile, Search, SEO

Enter Eric Enge’s World: Stone Temple Consulting CEO Talks SEO #SMX Series

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February 27th 2015 SEO

Fired Up for Links? So is Rae Hoffman #SMX Speaker Series

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February 26th 2015 SEO

The 5 Biggest SEO Benefits of Blogging

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by Jayson DeMers

Blogging has changed dramatically over the past
decade. What was once considered a niche hobby or small point of
differentiation has become a common practice in nearly every industry. It’s no
longer a rudimentary aspect of business, either. It’s a very strategic
mechanism with a wide range of benefits – enhanced SEO chief among them.

The
State of the Blogosphere

Blogs, bloggers and blogging; these are
heavily-discussed topics of conversation in the world of business and
marketing. Are you blogging, and do truly know what it entails? The facts will
astound you if you aren’t familiar with the pervasiveness of blogging.

According
to this infographic
, 61 percent of American consumers have
made a purchase based on a blog post. In total, 6.7 million people use formal
blogging sites, with another 12 million blogging via social networks like
Facebook. Nearly 77 percent of Internet users read blogs on a regular basis.

A massive 81 percent of consumers trust advice and
information they read on blogs, while 90 percent find the content useful. As
far as long-term benefits go, nearly two-thirds of consumers relate with a
company’s positivity, long after reading a post.

The business person inside of you is probably
starting to connect the dots. The same infographic further reports some
impressive statistics from organizations that participate in blogging. Research
shows that small businesses that blog generate 126 percent more leads, develop
more trust with consumers, and have 434 percent more indexed pages.

Why
People are Blogging

The fact that more than six million people blog is
incredible, but why are they blogging? From the high school student sharing her
thoughts to the budding entrepreneur building his business, people blog for all
different reasons. In the business world, however, it generally comes down to
three main motives. Sometimes it’s a combination of the three, other times the
focus is on only one of the reasons, but here they are:

  • Gain
    industry recognition.
    Many businesses and
    professionals are
    looking
    to gain recognition
    in their industry. They
    understand the powerful nature of blogs, the large potential audience, and
    hope to make a name for themselves. In fact, many blogs have grown from
    obscurity to national recognition in a matter of months – so the model for
    how to do it is certainly there.
  • Share
    expertise.
    Very closely related to the
    previous point is the desire to share expertise. Many people feel like
    they valuable insight to share, and blog for the purpose of building
    thought leadership in their respective niche or industry. The result is
    usually industry recognition and respect.
  • Generate
    traffic.
    Finally, people and organizations
    blog to generate traffic and attract new clients. As businesses become
    increasingly aware of the power of high quality blog content, more are
    choosing to blog. Not only does it generate traffic, but it also allows
    websites to charge a premium for ad space and increase revenues.

The
5 SEO Benefits of Blogging

Why people blog and what they actually get in return
are two different things. The statistics are certainly interesting, but what
tangible benefits does blogging provide to organizations? In many cases, the
SEO benefits bring the highest return. Here are a few of the top SEO benefits
of blogging for small businesses and large corporations alike:

·        Control
over content.
One of the top SEO benefits of blogging
is control. By producing original content, you essentially control your message
to the masses. Unless there’s some other source pushing out more content about
your own company than you are, your commitment to regular blogging will
overpower the rest of the content out there and allow you to position yourself
according to the keywords you desire to be ranked for.

·        
Quality
and variety.
Search engine algorithms have evolved
over time. They’ve steadily adapted to changing consumer demands, and now
reward pages able to provide valuable content that answers questions and adds
value to important topics and conversations. By developing blog posts that
answer questions and provide relevant information, you can naturally move up in
the rankings and drive traffic to your site. Once again, you’re in control.

 

·        
Developing
backlinks. 
Google
pays attention to many factors when procuring search results, but one of the
primary factors is backlinking. The search engines look at backlinks as
recommendations and referrals. A site that only has 20 or 30 backlinks doesn’t
look reputable or valuable. On the other hand, a website with thousands of
backlinks to quality websites and industry sources is obviously reliable. By
consistently producing high-quality, engaging blogs, you increase your chances
of building backlinks and improving your search engine rankings.

 

·        
Increased
social signals.
While nobody outside of Google knows how
their search algorithms specifically function, it’s pretty clear that social
signals impact search rankings. As a result, blogging is that much more
powerful. When you publish a blog post and people share it via social media, it
appears the search engines consider that to be a social statement about the
validity of the content and nudges the page up the rankings.

 

·        
Humanizes
your organization.
Albert Scaglione, CEO of Park West Gallery,
knows a thing or two about passion and believes it’s important for everyone,
everywhere to do what they love. And while he cautions that the “road to
success is a road strewn with failure,” he firmly believes that you should
share your ups and downs with those around you. A blog is an ideal channel for
revealing your organization’s passion and sharing both successes and failures. It humanizes your brand and provides a nice
alternative to typically stale SEO copy and salesy content.

Make
Blogging a Priority

There are plenty of other advantages to be found in
business blogging, but these are five of the most important SEO-related
benefits you’ll find. While you may find yourself strapped for time and short
on resources, don’t make the mistake of ignoring the power of blogging; it has
the potential to greatly benefit your organization. Start small, aim big, and
always remain true to your brand. 

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

February 21st 2015 blogging, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Bada BING, Bada Boom! Man at Center of Microsoft Backtrack Heard ‘Round the Search World: Exclusive Duane Forrester Interview

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February 21st 2015 bing, SEO

Hiring Someone To Do SEO – What Questions To Ask

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Early in my career with Microsoft, I helped run the search engine optimization (SEO) program at MSN. A challenge faced by all businesses at some point is a common one – who to trust. This pops up with almost every facet within an operation in a variety of forms. Which hosting provider should we use? Which Internet Service Provider should we use? What bank? Which image on our corporate checks? OK, that last one…you’re on your own.
But when it comes to an important question –…(read more)

February 21st 2015 bing, SEO

Photography SEO

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Photography SEOHave you read my post on image SEO? On that post, I got this comment from Jerry, a professional photographer:

In galleries, do you have any suggestions about what the ALT text should look like? The main concern is that we don’t want to be perceived as keyword spamming; using the same keyword in all the images of a given gallery.

That’s a good question about photography SEO. When thinking about the optimization of photo galleries for Google, I could actually only come up with one main comment: write more text to accompany these photos. In this post, I will go over a number of random photos and explain what direction I’d go with that text and photography SEO. There might be some personal preference in this, but I’m sure this will help you to find a way that will allow you to easily add that text yourself as well. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be a copywriter to write appealing text ;)

Why would a photographer want to rank with images

Recently, a friend of mine received a claim for using an apparently copyright protected image. This photographer stuffed his website with copyright warnings, but also exposed all of his photos of very common objects on Flickr.com (although using an ‘All rights reserved’ status). I’m curious what the outcome will be. We all know an image will be used at some point if you don’t make sure it’s useless unless bought. Watermark your photos if you don’t want people to use them. Otherwise, people will find your photo and use it on a blog or whatever. If you’re not watermarking, that could be one reason to make ‘em rank: making money of people stealing your photo. But I think that’s an odd business model ;-)

I think the main reason you want your images to rank is because you are proud of your photos. And you want people to notice these, so they will hire you. That should be the main reason to invest in photography SEO in my book anyway. Your photos sell you as a photographer.

In the sections below, I’ll go over five common photography cases and explain how I would optimize these for Google.

Single photos and SEO

Colorful Apiary

I mentioned optimizing single images / photos in my Image SEO post already. For photography SEO, obviously a lot is the same. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Pick the right file name for your image
  • Make sure image dimension match the image size as displayed
  • Reduce file size for faster loading
  • Add a caption for easier scanning of the page
  • Use an image alt text, title text is optional
  • Add OpenGraph and Twitter Card tags for the image
  • Don’t break the left reading line using an image
  • Use images in your XML sitemaps

In all this, it really helps to add text with that photo. The article mainly mentions images to make text richer, but it works the other way around as well. If you want to rank your image, you need to add relevant text.

Photo galleries and SEO

BMX Skate Park Gallery

You must have wondered how to rank all of these photos. They are pretty much the same. In the example, you see a BMX rider in a skate park. Jumping. I’m sorry if you are a BMX rider and know all the names and nick names of these jumps, for the larger part of the world it’s a BMX rider jumping. How to optimize your photography SEO for that?

Well, this is a great reason to add text! You have probably spent the day with these guys, tested a number of lenses, tried to play with white balance and perhaps even some ISO values. You have created great stills from dynamic poses. Changed Motion blur and shutter speed during the day (and that is where my photography knowledge ends). There is a story in this and that story shows your knowledge. It could show your passion for this niche of sports photography. It will tell the visitor in words that if they want great photos like that, they should contact you. The gallery page could already have a call-to-action for that reason.

In short: If you have created a gallery, write about it.

Back to Jerry’s specific question about the ALT text in galleries, as mentioned in the first paragraph of this article. In an ideal world, you would create unique ALT texts for all these images. Would that be keyword spamming? Not if you can use long tail keywords per photo, instead of repeating the same ALT text over and over again. Note that if your gallery is a hundred photos, you should ask yourself a) if that gallery isn’t too large, and b) if it wouldn’t be easier to set up a separate page to rank for the keyword (if any) and not try to rank that specific gallery page at all.

Wedding photography SEO

wedding day stealing a moment alone

Oh, the emotion on that wedding day. So beautifully captured in photos. A couple stealing a quiet moment with only the photographer as a witness. It’s just that, I think. What makes you a great wedding photographer? Are you the always present kind that parties along with the guests and is invisible for that reason? Or are you actively involved in the day and present photo moments along the way? I can’t be the judge of your USP, but your subjects, the bride and groom, probably can.

We have done a nice post on testimonials and increasing trust a while back, and I think it works the same with wedding photography. If your wedding couple doesn’t mind their photos used on the internet, these great images could lure people to your website looking for the same style of photography. It’s not per se SEO that is optimized this way, but if you add a genuine testimonial to the wedding gallery / photo(s), that would help your conversion, right?

Of course you will also write an additional text about how you ‘operated’ during the day.

Stockphotos and SEO

Couple in front of a Graffiti wall

If you’re a professional in the stock photo business, you have probably done some photography SEO already. There are some general guidelines:

  • You have probably chosen one or more niches;
  • you are doing all the right image optimization and more, as mentioned in our article on image seo;
  • of course, you are trying to rank watermarked images, not the originals.

There is one more issue to consider when thinking about photography SEO. If your main business is selling stock photos, you probably don’t want to do that via your own website. There are plenty of well visited websites that specialize in selling stock photos. Images in this article are from various photographers at YAY Images, a source for photos we like to use. Using websites like that, and for instance Shutterstock or iStockphoto will bring much more attention to people looking for these kind of photos.

If you want your photo do do well in these on-site search engines, you want to focus on the image description. Use the right keywords. The file name will probably be changed anyway. If you can tag the image, do so using the right tags, not a surplus of tags.

One more thing: most websites allow for a photographer’s bio as well. Tell me who you are. If I can relate to your story, it’s so much easier to spend money on your photos.

Food photography and SEO

Blueberry Muffins

Food photography SEO is a whole different ball game. The topic is so popular that you want to make sure all images are set for sharing. Yes, that means giving away (a number of) these for free. Especially for photos that have baked, cooked, or otherwise processed food, the recipe will help your rankings a lot. Even if it’s a magazine shoot, you can probably either use the recipe or come up with a related one.

Social platforms that help a lot with ‘spreading’ your image on the web are obviously Pinterest and Instagram. For for instance Pinterest, it pays to add OpenGraph data to your image. If you have never heard of that, you are probably new on this website. OpenGraph image tags look something like this:

<meta property="og:image" content="http://example.com/photo.jpg" />

Be sure to add at least that one. On a side note: for the recipe, you should use Schema.org markup to improve your photography SEO as well.

EXIF and ImageObject

Although I wanted to write a post that would make photographers think about texts, I can’t leave out a bit of technical optimization. Especially for photographers, that understand EXIF and other data and would like to include that as well in their online images, please check http://schema.org/ImageObject.

There is another reason to include that EXIF data: for SEO. In the video below, Matt Cutts from Google clearly states that Google is very capable of reading this EXIF data and according to him, Google ‘reserves the right to use it as a ranking factor’. So make sure that your EXIF data is optimized for your keyword, or the subject of your photo, as well.

Besides exifData, you can also include things like copyrightHolder and copyrightYear. It will make it easier for search engines to grab that data. Will the copyright make you rank better? Probably not. But I would understand the wish to include that data.

One more thing regarding EXIF data: we frequently recommend using file size reducing software like JPEGMini and ImageOptim. Exif data is preserved in most of these applications, but  please check the FAQ or changelog on their websites, like here, to make sure of this.

Why Photographers hate SEO

I might be mistaken, but in my opinion most photographers hate SEO. Why do I think photographers hate SEO? Because it simply has less to do with photography, and loads to do with extra, textual content or code. Maintaining a website isn’t simple. You preferably need to know a bit of everything. We have reviewed a lot of photography websites over the past few years. To be honest, it would be a lot if two out of all these websites actually had decent content accompanying the images.

It all comes down to this: if you want your photo’s to tell a story, please tell that story to Google in writing.

Looking forward to your views and opinions on that.

Related posts

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

February 19th 2015 SEO

Free SEO Tool Tuesday: On-Page Optimization Tool Improves Organic Ranking Elements

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Free SEO Tool Tuesday: On-Page Optimization Tool Improves Organic Ranking Elements was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Did you know that in addition to our comprehensive SEOToolSet, Bruce Clay, Inc. also has a diverse collection of free SEO tools? To get you acquainted with our 10 free tools, we’ve created the Free SEO Tool Tuesday miniseries. Pop in on Tuesdays to learn more about how our free tools work, and how to apply the data given to your technical and organic SEO strategy. Enjoy!

Today’s Free SEO Tool: SEO Multi-Page Information Tool

Tool type: competitive research, on-page optimization

What you learn: Enter up to six pages and the tool pulls from each: page title, meta description, meta keywords tag and H1. You also learn each page’s canonical tag, should an analyzed page have one.

Why this matters: The metadata and Heading 1 are among the strongest on-page ranking factors. Collect this information for top-ranked pages in your space to understand the language and focus search engines deem relevant for your keywords.

Here’s the SEO Multi-Page Information tool; enter up to six URLs (one per line) and click Get Data below.


How to Use It

1. Enter up to six URLs (one per line) and click Get Data. Make sure to use fully qualified URLs such as http://www.bruceclay.com/blog.

The URLs you enter can be high-level competitor URLs, like your competitor’s home page, or deeper web page URLs, like a link to a specific landing page or blog post. You can also look at your own information by entering any of your own web page URLs.

2. The tool will return a list of pertinent information about each submitted web page, including:

  • Page title tag
  • Meta description
  • Meta keywords
  • H1 text
  • Canonical URL if one is indicated on a web page
Example results from the Bruce Clay, Inc. Multi-page Information Tool

Example results from the Bruce Clay, Inc. Multi-page Information Tool.

 

5 Ways to Use This Data

The SEO Multi-Page Information tool helps you analyze the effectiveness of high-value on-page elements like the meta tags and level-one heading tag.

Use the data supplied in this tool to:

1. Discover new niche-specific keywords: Using keywords in your title tag and H1 is SEO 101. As such, mining you competitor’s meta tags can be a great way to discover the market-specific keyword phrases also relevant to your business.

When you see phrases in your competitors’ H1 and metadata that look like keyword leads, add them to your keyword research spreadsheet and run them through a keyword research tool, like the free Bruce Clay, Inc. keyword research tool.

Stonetemple.com example results from the Bruce Clay, Inc. Multi-page Information Tool

Look for niche-specific keyword phrases in your competitor’s metadata.

2. Inspire the structure and style of your own meta tags: Since every single page of your website needs a meta title and description, it’s a wise idea to approach the meta tag writing process with a structure and style strategy.

Whether you’ve been tasked with an on-page SEO audit or you’re looking to improve your current approach you can learn a lot from analyzing your competitor’s meta.

  • What format are your competitor’s using? For instance, are they using pipes or dashes to break up their titles? How do they work in their brand name? Should your meta titles and descriptions take on a similar style and/or structure?
  • How many characters are they using?
  • What is their tone?
  • How and where are they using action words?
  • What’s their character count?
  • How are their keyword phrases incorporated into their meta tags?
  • Are they using keyword synonyms? (Learn more about semantic keywords.)

Think of this step as a part of your competitor analysis strategy. Observe what competitors are doing, feel out how successful their efforts are, then decide if you want to follow suite or try something new.

Zappos example results from the Bruce Clay, Inc. Multi-page Information Tool

Get inspired by the smart things your competitor’s are doing right. Here, Zappos uses the H1 tag in a thoughtful way.

3. Uncover weak spots (and ranking opportunities!): If your competitors are doing a good job, consider following their lead, but if they’re doing a bad job, their oversight may be a great opportunity to get one step ahead!

As you’re analyzing their metadata and Heading 1 tag, ask yourself:

  • Are there any keyword gaps? If they’re not optimizing for high-volume keywords on your list, they’re not ranking for those keywords — which could mean a big opportunity for you. Consider this a part of your competitive analysis.
  • Is the meta description style lacking? Your title tag is a high-value ranking factor and your meta description contributes to CTR. Do your competitor’s meta descriptions sound dry and formulaic? If so, this is a great opportunity for you to use your meta description to stand out with a personality-rich description that highlights your page benefits and makes a click-inspiring connection. 

4. Pretty data charts make it easy to present competitor metadata to stakeholders: If you are the person tasked with proposing a new meta tag structure/style guide, you may want to present some competitor analysis to your stakeholders at one point or another. The SEO Multi-Page Information tool is a great resource for this type of data collection and presentation; just run the tool and take a screenshot of your competitor information charts. (If you’re using Chrome, I really like the Full Page Screen Capture Chrome extension.) Using the SEO Multi-Page Information tool and screen captures is much easier and quicker than going to View Source on six separate websites and collecting the information into charts by hand.

5. Make sure your clients aren’t abusing the meta keywords tag: While Google and Bing do not consider the meta keywords tag a ranking factor, that doesn’t mean that they don’t consider it. The search engines do cache it with the page, and our research shows that they will refer to it in some cases. It is also publicly known that Bing is actually using the meta keywords tag to identify spammers and devalue websites that abuse the tag. Knowing this, the SEO Multi-Page Information tool can be used as a client metadata diagnostics tool; just plug in a few of your client’s web pages and the SEO Multi-Page Information tool will show you at-a-glance if there’s any keyword stuffing or other spammy abuse happening. [Updated: See Editor’s Note below]

Explore More Free SEO Tools

The SEO Multi-Page Information tool is a free on-page optimization tool that you can use for competitor research, or to scope out your own on-page meta data and H1 tags. If you find it useful, please bookmark this blog post and run the tool as many times as you want, with as many unique websites as you want. There is no limit; you can enter competitor websites all day long as long as you enter them six at a time. You can also find this tool embedded within the Content Optimization step of our (also free) online SEO tutorial.

If you would like to see more free SEO tools, keep an eye on our Free SEO Tool Tuesday blog series. Or, if you want to play with all 10 of the free tools now, you can access our free SEO tools from our SEO tutorial. All 10 free tools are embedded throughout the online tutorial, and they’re all free, all the time. (Seriously. They’re free.)

 

[Editor’s note: Item number 5 in the “5 Ways to Use This Data” section was added two days after publication in response to a blog comment that got us thinking. Thank you to reader kwojcie for reminding us that the SEO Multi-Page Information tool lends itself to a worthwhile conversation about when and how to use the meta keywords tag appropriately. — CA]

February 18th 2015 SEO