In this Marketing Challenge post, I'll be covering a blogging and SEO question submitted by Nicole of Nicole Chan Photography. If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming Marketing Challenge, you can sign up here.
She asks: "What's the best way to SEO-juice up my blogpost and images in my blogpost?" Well, let's take a look. But before we dive in, it's important to understand Google's mission statement, taken directly from their website:
"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
Before even considering what keywords to include in your content and how to juice up SEO, it's crucial to appreciate Google's mission. The team over in California (and other places in the world) is embarking on a journey to take the information everyone is publishing on the web and be able to serve up the most helpful information when someone enters a search query. I'm trying to come up with a Lord of The Rings analogy here, but I got nothing.
At the end of the day, Google wants useful content. You can stress over keywords (and I would recommend doing so to a certain degree), but nothing replaces useful content. And if it's useful content, Google will find it. So how is useful content defined? I like to attribute it to two characteristics of a website:
- On Page Optimization: I refer to this as the "physical" optimization of a webpage (keywords on the page such as copy, Header Tags, Title Tag, URL, etc.). This is about 25% of a web page's search ranking.
- Off Page Optimization: The authority of a webpage (other websites linking to the site, social media sharing, referral traffic, etc.) This is about 75% of a web page's search ranking.
Basically, a website can be considered useful if it's correctly optimized with a keyword (On Page SEO) and has other outside sources linking to it, vouching for its credibility (Off Page SEO).
So now that we've covered the reason for producing useful content, let's tackle Nicole's question about tactics to bolster up blog post SEO juice. Here are the steps I would take, Nicole:
- Blogging Domain: Ensure that your blog is on a part of your main domain (ex. http://www.example.com/blog or http://blog.example.com). If it's on a Wordpress or Blogger site (ex. http://exampleblog.wordpress.com) that's no good! Your blogging efforts won't make an impact on your domain. So if it's not a part of your main domain, I'd recommend migrating it over ASAP.
- Define Your Blogging Goals: What's the goal of your website? I know you're in the photography business so I'm guessing blogging for you would be to a.) showcase your work to entice website visitors to hire you and b.) drive new visitors to your site organically so they can see this work. If those are the goals, good! If not, I'd recommend focusing on those as you blog. Also, for the purpose of this post, I'm going to continue with this assumption. Please don't be mad.
- Make Sure You're Tracking Progress: Once you've established the goals of your blogging, I'd recommend installing a web application that helps you track the progress of your efforts. If you want to invest the money in a professional product to track keyword progress, I'd recommend something like SEOMoz (it makes sense to spend the money on something like this if you're seriously about your website's growth--paid services not only track the progress, but also help you with actionable insight). If you can't afford the extra buck, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools can both help you assess your website's keyword progress. Better yet, they're both free.
- Research Your Target Persona & Keywords: Continuing with the assumption that we want to attract more business for wedding photography, I recommend doing a bit of keyword research to see where your opportunities lie. You can use a tool like SEMRush to start doing some preliminary investigations: Above is a chart I snagged from SEMRush that looks at the keyword "boston wedding photographer." I recommend compiling a running list of keywords that have over 100 "exact volume" and are under 0.70 Com. These keywords are less competitive and easier to get found for, providing you optimize a blog post correctly with them.
- Write Well Optimized, Useful Content: Once you've got a good list of keywords going, you'll want to start thinking how you'll incorporate them into blog posts that you write. It's part art, part science. You'll want to be sure you're picking keywords that have low-competition metrics and figure out creative ways to incorporate them into a blog post. For example, the keyword "boston wedding photographer" could be incorporated into a blog post entitled "Three Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Boston Wedding Photographer." It incorporates the keyword and is (presumingly) a topic that would interest your target audience.
- Have a Call to Action: Once blog readers start coming in to read your blog, you'll want them to do something, right? In your case Nicole, it might be best to have a "Talk to Nicole" button, a Wedding Photography Planning Guide or a PDF photography brochure they can download in exchange for an email address. You want to take these visitors to the next stage of the marketing process, so don't be afraid to have them opt-in for something.
- Rinse and Repeat: I would then repeat steps #4-6, researching keywords on a monthly basis, planning out blog content around it, publishing the articles and incorporating creative, value-added ways for your readers to opt-in. You can then start growing a potential database of folks with upcoming weddings.
Hope that helps Nicole. For the record, anyone reading this blog post, Nicole does awesome photography projects. Go check her out and give her a shout if you have an upcoming event you need professionally photographed!