Knowledge is power. Knowing how many people hit your website and which pages they are viewing is one thing, but actually seeing which links are being clicked and having a set of statistics for each link – that’s pretty useful!
Today I want to talk about the power of Bitly – a link shortening service that offers you so much more than just a shorter URL.
Bitly Link Shortening
First and foremost Bitly is a link shortening service, which in itself is very useful for use with Twitter. A URL such as http://readysteadypro.co.uk/2014/02/17/seo-tips-photographers-blogging/ is 71 characters long – it’s huge! So, when you’ve got a limit of 140 characters this URL is just too long (It takes up over half your character limit!). It would only leave you 69 characters to compose your tweet. So, take your URL and paste it into Bitly and you end up a far more Twitter-Friendly URL: http://bit.ly/MrG7PW. This is 20 characters long.
Okay Okay, so Twitter does actually perform some shortening on your URL – but with Bitly it will save all of your shortened URL’s for you to re-use. This means that rather than pasting odd and random URL;s over and over you can delve back into Bitly, grab the shortened URL you made before and paste that to your blog, tiwtter, facebook, Google+ etc. Re-using the same link also gives you some wonderful advantages:
More than just a shorter link
Having access to re-use the same shortened URL means you can track the clicks and the source of those clicks. So, when you write a new blog post and share it all over the internet on all of your social media presences, rather than scratching your head, wandering where all the traffic comes from, all you need to do it take a look at the clear and coherent analytics on Bitly:
Clicks on a link
See below: You can see here how many clicks each link got and on which days. Beneath that it will even tell you how the link is performing on various, connected Social Media accounts.
In this screen grab you can see how my links have been performing. As a bonus it also shows where the links were clicked in terms of Geography.
A Powerful Tool
So, in conjunction with Google Webmaster tools and the in-built analytics for your website (such as Squarespace) you can easily get a feel for exactly how each link you share, is performing.
SEO can seem like a mystery to some. You may find that some of your more generic posts are climbing up the results ladder, whilst others are sitting in an abyss, getting only a few seldom visitors.
Well, there is a science to SEO. It’s not guess work at all. So today I want to share with you Part 1 of my top SEO tips for photographers that blog! (and let’s face it, we all blog!).
If truth be told these SEO tips are applicable to all, but we’re going to use photographers as our example, as that’s what Ready Steady Pro is all about!
1: Post Titles – What are people searching for?
Where possible, it’s important that the title of your post has some of the keywords in it. This very post for example has the words ‘SEO’, ‘tips’, ‘photographers‘ and ‘Blogging‘ in it. Already Google know that this post is giving SEO tips to photographers. More than that though, you should look for a title that people are searching for. Again, this post is likely to be found by photographers searching for tips on how to boost their SEO when blogging. It may sound obvious, but if I had called this post something like ‘Get blog posts found on the internet’ it’s not as likely to have the same success rate. Sure that title may still be relevant to you and I, but we’re writing posts not just for consumption by the reader (by humans!) but we’re also writing for Google too. Remember that.
2: Keywords in Post URL
Keywords are of, erm…Key…importance. Not just in your post title, but also in your URL too! By actually including the keywords in your URL it helps Google to find your post. I’m not talking about just listing your keywords or as many keywords as you can. For a bad example: “readysteadypro.co.uk/blog/Post104-photography-business-weddings-tips-seo-photographers-berkshire-marriage”…I’m talking about an actual readable post URL, much like your actual post title. A URL such as this would be far better: “readysteadypro.co.uk/blog/SEO-Tips-Photographers-Blogging”. Remember, we’re writing for Google as well as the human readers. This URL is digestible, understandable and clear.
3: Title Tags and Heading Tags
Have you ever seen the <h1> & <h2> tags in html?Or in WordPress blogging you may have seen the ‘Heading 1‘ & ‘Heading 2‘ options in the font format section in the toolbar:
Well, these heading options are more than just a convenient way to consistently format your headings and sections. Google Search Robots scan through your post and pay particular attention to these <h> tags (the heading option in the drop down sorts out the html-behind for you). Imagine if you were looking at someone else’s screen and they scrolled quickly down the post are your eyes more likely to catch one of the larger titles or are you more likely to pick out a random piece of text from one of the many paragraphs? Okay, some may say random text from a paragraph, but the point I’m making here is that Google loves these headings. The headings represent another opportunity to highlight your keywords. Don’t go formatting your entire post as a heading, but instead use the headings throughout your post to throw in a few keywords here and there.
Perhaps if you’re blogging about the most recent wedding you photographed could have a paragraph about the venue with a heading tag to start. In that heading tag write the venue name so that searches for the venue could also return your post to the searcher. For example: “Wonderful Wedding at The Ritz Hotel”
4: Tag & Title all of your images (Alt Tags)
Google loves text! The more text you have the more Google can make sense of what it is you’re writing about. Photographs and images however can often present Google with a problem as it can’t crawl the pixels and deduce what the photograph is. However, you can help Google out by giving the pictures you insert into your posts proper titles and descriptions. Depending on the blogging platform you’re using, you should be able to look at the properties of the pictures once uploaded and give them a title and an alt tag and possibly a description or caption. If you can do this – be sure to do so! It really does help Google to make heads & tails of what the image is that you’ve just uploaded. You may also find that photograph will then be returned in Google’s Image search, which of course will link back to your site also.
5: Links, links, links!
Google Search robots are like Lemmings – they’ll just follow the paths you provide for them. So there are a few ways you can leverage links in a post to your advantage. First of all, be sure to include plenty of links to content on the same site as the post. That’s right – link to other pages and posts on your own site! Google robots will scan through your post, see that it points to your ‘contact me’ page, or links to another post and go off and have a look at that too. Think of it as self-promotion. There is nothing wrong with that.
Secondly, linking to other, reputable and popular websites is also another way of gaining kudos with Google. Websites that provide links to other places on the web are connected sites. Google loves this. If you’re linking off to an article you wrote on a wedding magazine’s blog, or linking to a florist or dress maker Google will look upon this favorably. So be sure to use links throughout your posts
Top Tip for Linking:
Use links within text and on appropriate words. For example: ‘It was a wonderful wedding at Grafton Manor‘
Do not use place links on generic text or on the words ‘Click here’. For example: ‘To contact me click here‘. (place the link on the words ‘Contact Me’ instead. It gives context to the link. Google likes context)
Do not link too many times to the same content: A few, well placed links in a blog post is sufficient. Google may think you’re a dodgy site if you just have articles filled with too many links. There is such a thing as too much.
Again this is all about keywords – if your links contain words that are key, such as ‘wedding‘ and ‘Grafton Manor‘ you’re doing yourself, Google and your reader a favour. First of all you’re not having to type extra, pointless words like ‘click here’. Secondly Google like to see the keywords in the link, as we’ve discussed. But thirdly, as mentioned, you’re writing for a human reader too: including the link within the text itself makes it a more natural read and cuts out those extra words. It’s just cleaner! And when it comes to linking too many times, those blue words that are underlined can also get annoying for the reader too. Remember who you’re writing for. Strike a balance between SEO-optimized and reader-optimized.
Bonus Tip 6: Post length is important!
As mentioned, Google looooves text. Google can get it’s little robots all over your post, picking out the heading tags, the links and the keywords and is able to form a profile of what it is you’ve written thus allowing Google to better return your post for matching search queries. Well, the more you can tell Google (or, the more you can write, rather) the better this whole process works. Articles of less than 500 words, even those that are pretty well setup for SEO, won’t perform quite as well as those with 1,000 words or more. So get writing. But as I’ve said throughout this article don’t forget you’re writing for the reader too, so don’t just write any old words down. It has to be all-killer and no-filler. You could try writing in a conversation style. You could add a summary to the end of the post for a little bulk, you could add quotes. There are lots of ways to increase the word count if you’re having a hard time, but don’t write for the sake of writing. 1,000 words of more would be nice though.
(Word press blogs have a little Word Count that updates as you go. I can’t say the same for every blogging platform out there, but another way to check your current word count is to copy all your text into a word document and use the word count function there too:
Well, that’s it for part 1 of this post. Next week I’ll be sharing another selection of top-tips with you, including:
Google Maps for business
Google Webmaster Tools
The importance of the ease of sharing and social media
Categorizing your posts on your blog
Try applying these top SEO tricks to your next blog post and see how you get on – do let us know if you implement any of these suggestions!
The Stitcher Awards are here! In celebration and recognition of another banner year in talk radio and podcasting, Stitcher is hosting the 2nd Annual Stitcher Awards
Ready Steady Pro needs your help! Since the start of September 2013 we’ve recorded 12 episodes, been downloaded over 4,000 times, provided over 15 hours of listening pleasure and as a result of all of that we’ve built a totally free library of over 35 amazing photography-related gems for you. Each and every week we talk photography, the business of photography and so much more on the show. So we’re asking you: “Vote for Ready Steady Pro!” in the Stitcher Awards 2013.
“Winners and finalists will be featured at the show and on a special Stitcher Station and will enjoy featured placements across social media and press. Finalists will be announced on December 31st. There will be 6 finalists in each category. Selections will be based on the total number of nominations and Stitcher List ranking…Nominations will be open until December 24th, 2013“
You can vote for Ready Steady Pro in of any of the categories that Stitcher have open for this years awards. You can submit a vote for each category too, so you can mention Ready Steady Pro in more than one way. Why not vote for RSP as ‘Best Overall Show’, ‘Most Original Show’, ‘Best Interview of the year’ and even ‘Best new show’? All you have to do is visit the Awards page and type ‘Ready Steady Pro’ into each box. It should automatically appear for you to select and then click ‘Submit’. That’s it. That’s your vote done! (Pssst…you can also vote for the show more than once! But…not on the same day). So, if you really love what we’ve got going here you can head over to the vote page and submit as many times as you like!
I’ve always said if we can grow the show and get more listeners we can improve the content, get bigger and better guests and give more back to you guys: The Listeners. That’s what it’s all about.
We’ve been very fortunate so far to have great guests on the show for interviews, such as Andrew Hellmich and world-famous photographer Frank Doorhoff .W’re not stopping there though: we’ve also got David DuChemin (See CreativeLive and Craft & Vision) and Martin Bailey lined up for appearances in the new year too. Those guys and so many more are going to be coming on the show in 2014 in what will surely be a huge year for the Podcast.
So, vote for Ready Steady Pro in the Stitcher awards. Help us get our message out there to help and inspire more new photographers coming into the industry. Help us to grow the show. Your time is much appreciated. These votes, comments and reviews on other platforms is forever appreciated.
If you vote for the show let me know using a comment below, or by sending me an email (email@example.com). Everyone who votes for the show will get a mention on the Podcast (even if we get hundreds of votes! I’ll mention you all!)
So, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but there is a new App on the block and it goes by the name of OKDOTHIS.
OKDOTHIS is the brainchild of Jeremy Cowart – Entertainment, Music & Celebrity Photographer (among other things).
OKDOTHIS is effectively a social-media network of sorts. The idea being that people post ‘Do’s’ and you do them. The Do’s are inspirational Idea’s, suggestions, phrases, words, questions etc. Think of them like a brief. Have you ever done one of those ‘Photo-a-Day’ challenges where each day for a month you get a new word and then you have to make a photograph based on the word? Well, OKDOTHIS is like that, but on steroids, with a social element attached. Oh, and of course you can post Do’s for others to do as well.
I’ve heard OKDOTHIS likened to Instagram a few times now, but I personally don’t think it’s entirely fair of people to compare it to Instagram. The only similarities they share is that you have the option to apply a filter before you upload your photograph and that this app is (just like Instagram used to be) is currently mostly mobile-phone-only with no real full-web browser experience. Those things and the fact that you can like and comment on other people’s photographs. To that extent OKDOTHIS is no more like Instagram than it is like Facebook or other social networks.
Whereas Instragram has no purpose, goal or target and no ‘central’ community as such, OKDOTHIS is based on the idea of briefs, inspiring quotes and suggested idea’s to shoot for. The app also features an iTunes-esque home area of sorts, showing what DO’s are popular, what DO’s are recent, ‘Featured’ DO’s and also DO’s from featured & notorious photographers as well.
I’ve been using OKDOTHIS for about 3 weeks and I must say I’m thoroughly enjoying it. If I’m waiting for a train, or, I’m in the passenger seat whilst my wife is driving, it’s so easy to pull out my phone, check out OKDOTHIS and shoot a few things around me and post them to brief’s. The idea is that you don’t have to be feeling inspired to want to pull out your phone or camera and make a photograph – OKDOTHIS will inspire you to do so.
Sure, at the moment OKDOTHIS is almost exclusively a community of photographers (or, at least it seems this way), but that’s great as far as I’m concerned – Photographers are some of the most interesting and creative people around. It’s most certainly worth a try.
Right now it’s available on the iPhone for $1.99 (or £1.49). You may be asking why on earth a social media app isn’t free, after all, isn’t Facebook free? Well, sure Facebook doesn’t cost you a penny to download however you do have to put up with a whole load of ads that aren’t relevant to you, despite Facebook’s best efforts. With OKDOTHIS it’s currently totally ad-free!! How cool is that?!. It’s all about the interface and the cool screens. (Here, check out this extremely ironic screen grab I made of a Facebook Post from Neil Graham…see, far too many ads):
So, in summary this is a must-have app, especially if you’re a photographer. There is a Google+ like feel when it comes to the way the community is growing, but I think that will be the same with any new social media platforms we see ‘launched’ into the market in this way. I for one have taken to it and you can follow me as @RammellPhoto. I’ve added a fair few DO’s now so be sure to take part in a few 😉
For now, here’s a quick run-down of what OKDOTHIS is all about, Q & A Style:
What’s the point? Open the app. Find a category you like such as “Long Shadows”, “Look Up”, “What are you up to right now?”
Post a photo for that brief. Share with others. Receive comments, feedback, ‘OK’s’ (like’s/+1’s)
Gain a following of people who like what you do
Comment on other people’s DO’s
Who’s it for?
Mostly, anyone with a phone that has a built in camera (everyone, right?).
In all seriousness it’s for those people looking for a little bit of shooting inspiration, it’s not just for photographers, anyone can use it. I’d hate to say that it’s looking mostly like photographers are going to use this app, because if it does go a little more ‘mainstream’, like Instagram, we’ll have everyone using it. Which is fine: more people, more content & better community.
But hey, just because it’s an app for your phone doesn’t mean you can’t post photographs from your Big Camera’s too! Lots of people in the community upload their best work taken with their serious equipment too.
How much does it cost?
Brace yourself… It costs a huge…$1.99 or £1.49. Can’t speak for other locations such as Europe. But, for that price it keeps the app add free!
Hang on, do I have to put up with ads? No, I just said it’s App Free.
I can’t speak on behalf of Jeremy or OKDOTHIS, but right now no there are no ads. I guess if you pay for the app it should be Ad free though, right? Ad-fee is better, that’s for sure!
For Episode 8 I am once again sitting around the virtual kitchen table with my guest photographers to discuss the matter of Knowing exactly who it is you’re aiming your services at – Your Target Market.
As a wedding photographer are your marketing efforts aimed at a specific age-range, to men or to women? What about pet photographers, portrait photographers and head shot photographers? Does your approach, brand and website appeal to the people looking for you? Well, for this episode I’m joined by Simon Dewey, Neil Graham and Lel Hurst to find out what they do to market themselves towards potential paying clients.
Be sure to keep an ear out for the part quite early on in the show where Simon talks about seeking clients that are ‘Visually Educated’. That’s a phrase that really struck me; it’s not something I’ve heard before but all by itself sums up the exact kind of client I’m looking for.
In addition to the usual chat we’ve also got some extended after-show chat about printing. We talk in more detail about ICC Profiles, Monitor Calibration, which print house to use and how to proof prints.
Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.
Episode 7 see’s us interviewing Rob Grimes – a member of the British Army and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent years Rob has found a deep and addicting passion for photography and is now following that passion.
Back in 2010 Rob was asked by a friend in the military to photograph a wedding. Since then, as they say, the rest is history. Rob as since photographed many more weddings, second shot for other photographers, has declined a book deal (listen to find out more) and has been on shooting assignments in Paris and Barcelona.
Something you often hear about with Rob is his Social Media Presence. People have said that they almost feel as if they know Rob, even if they’ve never met him before. Rob’s way of sharing his life and what he’s up to on Social Media is a real insight into the daily life of a man planning a career in photography for when he retires from the army in or around 2017.
Rob is an extremely friendly guy and a rare breed in that he seizes opportunities when they come his way. Rob is humble, intelligent, driven and disciplined. Add to that a very talented and fun photographer and you’ve got a perfect formula for success in the wedding photography industry.
So, sit back and enjoy this interview, with Rob Grimes.
Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.
For episode 6 we’re back to the Round Table discussion and this week we talk about Social Media for Photographers.
There’s no doubt that social media is a great avenue to advertise your work, to drum-up interest and make people aware you even exist. Problem is: everyone is doing it (even Uncle Bob!). So, we discuss ways you can be different to increase your social media footprint and help you to get your message to more of the clients you’re looking for! Should you be everywhere all the time, or is a more focussed and measured approach the way to go? We leave you with a quick Social Media Strategy and as always each guest will have a little gem as a gift to you; the listeners.
Rob’s Gem was his OODA Loop – a graphical means to show the circle of improvement and maintenance of standards if you will. By continuously focussing on the things in the OODA Loop you’re surely on a path to success
Tracey was kind enough to share the magic of PhotoMechanic from CameraBits.com – a piece of software for Mac and PC that speeds up your culling and editing process no end. It’s available for just $150!
Neil’s Gem today was Martin Bailey – the brains behind Martin Bailey Photography. Martin is a Landscape and Wildlife Photographer, eBook author and workshop leader & teacher. Check out Martin here and join the G+ Community too.
Michael’s Gem for episode 6 was Rosh Sillars. Rosh is an SEO and Google Guru and is always on top of the latest SEO trends. If you’re looking to keep on top of your SEO then Rosh’s weekly podcast is a great, bitesize listen that will help you do just this.