Creating Your SEO Strategy
Creating your SEO strategy. It's really kind of a three-step process. First, you want to research and define the people to reach your website and what's really helpful is if you fill out your customer profile. And that helps in this situation. You want to fix the technical issues and optimize your content. And you want to write content that will drive people to your website. And we talk about that can be kind of scary. I'm not a write, I don't know what to blog about. Now I have to start becoming a resource. There's other things that you can do that's going to help with that. So keywords. This is an area I am sure people have heard of like what do I do with keywords? What are they exactly? So keywords are basically just phrases people type into a search engine to find you. And it's not keywords in a sense it's like single words like photographer or wedding or bride. Keywords now are more of a searcher's intent, like best photographer in Seattle, or best wedding photographer or even lon...
ger type keywords that or more or less like, where could I find pricing on wedding photography? People are starting to search in Google more like they speak especially considering that voice search is becoming more and more popular so people are talking directly into Google and into their phone and that's how they're searching for things. So understanding what phrases and keywords people search for help to map out your content strategy and drive people to your site. So if you have more of an understanding of this, you go okay I can write an article about this, I can talk a little bit more about tips for brides or tips for posing and styling and it really helps in the end of what you should do to begin with instead of just guessing like we've said, we used to guess also like I don't know what should we write about, fashion stuff or? This helps you do it. So how do you want your ideal customer to find you? You start with your core keyword list. Your core keyword list is basically what do I do? What do I specialize in? What areas do I serve? And what's something specific that makes me unique? It's kinda the same thing that we talked about earlier but it's like customer profile in reverse. So here's a couple examples. Core keyword examples are fashion photographer New York City, affordable wedding photographer Seattle, newborn family photographer, so on and so forth, so this kinda gives you an idea and they're not short little things.
This is like the obvious. The core just means the obvious things that people would search but--
But you need the core keyword because we'll get into why that's important. You create your core keyword variations too. People don't just search exactly how you think they search. The way that it comes up in Google is very different if you make the slightest of little changes, whether it's plural, whether you add an A in front of it, whether it's an abbreviated version, so...
So my site, for each one of these you search, I have a different ranking. Which seems like obviously they're looking for the same thing but it doesn't work that way so you have to think of variations.
Especially for plural because if you type in best wedding photographers you may get a site like Wedding Wire which is like a list versus best wedding photographer which will show a single person. So those are different variations and just write that down like it could be an affordable wedding photographer in greater Seattle area or abbreviations of the state, things like that, so write a couple of those and that's helpful for establishing your core keyword list. So the next step is to perform keyword research and what this does is it helps you discover additional opportunities. We talked about, well the one thing I wanna rank for, the one thing I wanna be found for is being a boudoir photographer in Seattle or being a fashion photographer in New York so that could be a little difficult because you're competing with everybody else, so you find additional keyword opportunities. So keyword research tools. We'll talk about a few of these. The go-to one that everybody who's ever done keyword research, they use the Google Keyword Planner. It's not great anymore because it was originally designed for people who wanted to do paid advertising through Google AdWords. So it kind of doesn't give you all the opportunities and it isn't the most helpful in the world but it's free and you can get a little bit of a baseline for establishing keywords.
So what is it telling you?
You put in basically your core keyword, I'm gonna put in Seattle based wedding photographer, it's gonna give you some additional options, what other people are searching for.
Pricing, wedding albums, things like that, so it's similar content. Google Auto Suggest and related. So basically what this is if you've ever typed in Google and it completes a sentence for you, those are actual things people are searching for. It's not just like Google's randomly saying it, it's something that people are searching for so that's perfectly what, yes?
So when I, kay whatever, I did it, I typed in my name and then I typed in my name and then I put different letters in to see what it would suggest. People search weird stuff about me, okay? (audience laughter) I was like, well like if you type in Lindsay Adler and then M, it suggests married, so people wanna know if I'm married.
Oh yeah I remember.
Yeah, well people clearly wanna know my relationship status 'cause B brings up blog and then boyfriend and then H is husband so like I don't know what you're all curious about. Just kidding, but no so I thought that was really interesting because I saw it all the time where I would type in something and it suggests it but I never thought of it as a research tool 'cause it's actually saying people are looking for this so go do that related to your core words and variations of your core words and it's going to suggest similar so it's giving you more ideas of what to optimize for. It's really obvious and easy and free.
And there's also at the very bottom of the search results it says related. And some of it is what's in the search at the top but then there's also other ones so that's another useful tool because that's what people are actually searching for too. A tool that I recommend is keywordtool.io and it's free for 750 keywords. It doesn't give you-- All these services they give you a little bit and then they want you to pay for it but this'll give you kind of some more information what people are searching for so if you type in Seattle wedding photographer you might see terms you didn't think of like engagement photo pricing or wedding album pricing or best Seattle wedding photographer so it covers these extra keywords and just put this in an Excel sheet, get your core keywords in there, get your extra opportunities in there, the extra keyword opportunities and then we'll start figuring out which ones are even worth going after.
And I want to clarify something I was confused about. I used to think that you'd pick, like let's say New York fashion photographer or whatever it is, I used to think you'd pick your core keywords and then you'd have to optimize, you'd have to make your whole site be optimized for that keyword. Or I thought that okay well so if I wanna optimize I've gotta have it on the homepage only, the homepage has to be New York fashion photographer. And so an example that I think he gave that was great is when we were doing this research we did, because we were in Seattle we did Seattle wedding photographer. One of things that people search for was Seattle wedding photographer pricing. But I don't really wanna optimize my whole site for pricing, that doesn't make any sense, that's what I thought you had to do, no you're actually just, you optimize your whole site in general but then for specific words you can optimize a page. So someone would find your pricing page if you optimize for that word and it doesn't matter if it's not your homepage, they go and they look and then they can click around to other things so you're optimizing your page as a whole so that Google ranks you in general higher because you're doing things correctly, you're doing the content correctly, you're doing your ICO correctly, the technical part. So that raises the ranks of your site in general but then specific pages or specific sections you pick specific words or phrases. So it lets you get more specific. I just never kinda understood how that worked and so it actually lets you get real targeted especially with obscure things like one of the things is, if it's pricing that's only gonna be applicable like one or two pages, you don't want it for your whole site.
And the more keywords you rank for, the more opportunity there are for people to come to your site so you don't wanna just think I wanna really just be found for boudoir photographer or headshot photographer, no you wanna be found for multiple variations of that. And if it's only a couple of searches a month, 10, 15, 20 searches a month that people are doing, multiply that times all these different keywords you could rank for and you have a good amount of traffic coming in your site organically for a certain keyword. Another tool is kwfinder.com, really cool, really useful, we use it a lot. It basically will tell you-- The last two aggregate information from Google Keyword Planner, Google Auto Suggest and related but it shows you more than what you would see in the regular Google suggest fields, it'll show you like a lot more. That's why it's useful because it's combining all this different information especially the keyword tool, the keywordtool.io. So another one is Ahrefs that we showed as part of the power tools.
And how much is this one? 'Cause you said it's cheap.
Ahrefs isn't cheap 'cause it's like 100 bucks a month.
So the point is--
Basically it has multiple things that you can use for competitor analysis, it'll tell you what you're ranking for currently which is very very helpful because there are certain things that we discover for people and then I have a conversation with them, I had no idea I was ranking for that. And knowing that information you can optimize your site even more or you can start writing content for that or you can start going after that specific audience if you had no idea what was bringing those people to your site to begin with.
So these three are free and those two are paid.
More or less, yeah, yeah. There's also Ubersuggest. This is another one that givse you keyword suggestions. And one of my favorite ones is called Answerthepublic.
Is that free?
Yeah it's free. It's a really interesting--
I didn't know I'm spending 100 a month on this Ahrefs thing, we'll talk, no I'm just kidding.
We're spending more than that. (laughs)
I didn't know. I'm like I'm paying 100 bucks a month for this?
We use a couple of these tools so it's a little more expensive because they all have their own different--
I'm saving for a house, so. (laughs) (audience member speaking off microphone)
Fair, fair, he's doing a good job with it.
So Answer the Public is cool because it does the Google auto suggest but it does a lot more. It shows an expanded version of what people are searching for and I think we have a screenshot of it in a couple.
Yeah so let's go through the shots of them.
So this is Google Keyword Planner, this is, it says Google AdWords, this is the free one.
Part of Google AdWords.
You type in, we have Seattle wedding photographer, it gives you your average monthly searches which it gives you an approximation, it used to tell you the exact ones. Some people, if you're spending a lot of money with Google, they'll give you the actual how many people are searching for it, otherwise it's an approximation. You don't have to really worry about the competition or the suggested bids, that's more or less for the paid advertising.
Tell me why we care about the average monthly searches.
Okay so if something has no monthly searches then why are you gonna target that? If something has a very small amount you might not wanna waste the time writing content or optimizing a page for it. But we see for Seattle wedding photographer, we can't fit everything on this screen but there's Seattle photographers, there's Seattle photography, there's photographers in Seattle, wedding photography Seattle, you start to see the variations that you can start ranking for and possibly going after and what's useful about that is you might have Seattle wedding photographer slash name of your business on your homepage and then your about page says wedding photographer Seattle. So that's kind of how you mix those variations into your approach. So this is a screenshot of Answer the Public which is really really cool because--
I think it's super cool.
Yeah so you put in wedding photographer and this is just a small part, it says, it's got all this different intermingle, what is wedding photography, what every wedding photographer should know--
It says who was Kim Kardashian's wedding photographer.
Yeah there's all sorts of crazy stuff. (audience laughs)
I just missed that one, oh man.
It tells you, it basically is used for content ideas. And keyword research. You don't wanna do all of these but if it's something that's useful that you're like I could write something about that or I could rank about that or I talk about wedding dresses or I have a niche that's relating to one of these, this is really useful and cool. It's free, it's answerthepublic.com, check it out, you can put in a longer keyword or you can put something short like wedding photographer just to get some ideas. Boudoir photographer, headshots, headshot photographer, it'll uncover some ideas, it gets you thinking which is useful. So this is my list of keywords for Seattle wedding photographer. You don't have to come up with a list this large but this is my list in general. I have Seattle wedding photography locations, pre-wedding photographer Seattle. And these are all things people have searched for. Seattle wedding photographer rates, Russian wedding photographer in Seattle. So there's a lot of different things in here yeah so it's interesting. So the next thing is what do I do with all these things? You want to determine what keywords are worth pursuing because I can't optimize my page for all these things. Using a tool such as kwfinder you can determine the search volume and difficulty, so what does that mean? The difficulty means how hard it's gonna be for you to rank in Google for that phrase and it gives approximations because you're constantly jumping up and down unless you're a Wikipedia or something like that and you're staying in the ame position but we fluctuate in our results on a weekly basis so she'll be number 14 or something and then number two the next week so it fluctuates but the purpose of getting the search volume and the difficulty is should I go after this keyword, is somebody really searching for Russian wedding photography, only five people a month. You might wanna go after it 'cause it's called low hanging fruit. Low hanging fruit is like these are the opportunities you can use to rank easily for. So this is a screenshot of kwfinder. So we typed in best wedding photographers in Seattle. And you can change the location which is interesting so anybody's ever used Google which I'm sure everyone in the room has, you notice how it will tailor your results based on where you're at. It gets really annoying because you can't necessarily stop it in certain instances from doing that so you can change the location so you can see different results so if I was searching from New York or I was searching from Seattle. So this gives me an approximation of how many searches a month for Seattle wedding photographer, there's about 480 and it gives you a scale of the difficulty of how difficult it'll be to actually rank for that. It'll kinda tell you also the different sites that are currently ranking for. So for example June bug weddings, best wedding, The Knot, Yelp, things like that it's like well I'm probably not gonna outrank The Knot or Yelp so you might not wanna go after that. But it does show you other opportunities so engagement photos. But because it's in Seattle, it's not so generic that you're trying to rank for engagement photos across the whole world. These are just what people are searching in Seattle. It's got a pretty low keyword difficulty and a good amount of searches a month so that might be something that if you additionally do engagement photos, you wanna write some more content about. You wanna start blogging about your engagement photo sessions, you wanna start blogging about tips for your engagement photo sessions, you can write a lot of content surrounding that. And that's what I would call low hanging fruit because that keyword difficulty on that's not that bad and it's something that I could probably rank for. Additional opportunity found engagement photos decent search volume difficulty is not bad. Now you have your keyword list, where do I put these things? So keywords are used in various places. In your page, your post, your meta title. And we'll talk about what these are. In your meta description, in your site's URL, so site.com/weddings, that's a keyword at the end. Throughout your content, and there's no spot, and we talked about this earlier, where you just put keywords like a field that says keyword you put it in there and then like you wouldn't Google--
When I started doing this it was, way back when.
Yeah and they stopped that because people were gaming the system by keyword stuffing and putting it in these fields and they had nothing to do with the--
By the way all this information if you do buy the class it comes with a keynote so if you just-- So I think all you people in the audience, you get it, so, just so you know.
You mentioned how you can link certain keywords to certain pages.
On your site. How do you do that?
Okay so we'll talk a little bit more through where you would do that. So Lindsay, we were talking about the pricing page. So if you're a wedding photographer in Seattle, you wanna rank for Seattle wedding photographer prices, Seattle wedding photographer wedding album prices. So your pricing page basically you just write those keywords in there. You talk about your pricing, you talk about wedding albums, and that's where you would kind of put it. It lives on that pricing page or if it's on your homepage you could talk about like I'm one of the most affordable wedding photographers in Seattle. You wanna use synonyms and related phrases to that and Google gets the idea, it goes okay I understand, you're talking about pricing now.
So what you'll see here too is you can work it into like the title, the title of that page, you should work it in. So pricing would go into that. You could also, if you had a photo of roughly what your price sheet is there you could also work it into something called an alt tag so you work it into many things but the first and most important is that you're talking about it so instead of pricing and then just saying album cost blah blah blah, you have to actually talk about it. The people that we reviewed for case studies that tended to do the best is they talked about the experience of hiring them as a photographer because it gave them an opportunity to talk about the planning and the day of the shoot and locations but also pricing and so it allowed you to walk through that experience but also made it very keyword and SEO friendly.
And there's only so much you can do obviously, how much can you write about pricing on your pricing page? And I'm not just talking about the numbers, just in relation to that so it's not something you would go crazy doing but it's worth optimizing your page for that and we'll talk a little bit more about where and show actual examples of where you would use and put those keywords so I said earlier don't keyword stuff, that basically means repeating the same keywords over and over again on a page. So wedding photographer, brides, groom, weddings, bridal, that's keyword stuffing and Google stopped that a long time ago and they penalize you for that now so if you think that that's how you should have your alt text, you need to change that.
And if you're writing, one of the points that we'll make is that you always have to think about the actual user experience and so if it looks real forced, I've read people's where it's like when I shot Susan and Tim's wedding and this wedding venue the bride and groom and they really like their wedding photographer, and it like made no sense and Google actually can pick up on that and they're like alright this is not-- But also, someone's gonna read that and it's gonna give them bad user experience so you gotta think of it, it should occur naturally like a conversation just think about the keywords you wanna work into that conversation smoothly.
So you wanna strive to optimize one keyword or phrase per page. It doesn't mean your website or that page can't rank for multiple ones but it's easier if you say to yourself okay I wanna rank for family photographer and a lot of people think that it's just their homepage that they're trying to get people to land on. People come into your site from all sorts of different locations, they come in from your blog, they land on your pricing page, they land on your about page, they land on one of your galleries if they were searching something specific especially if say for example you had a gallery that referenced a wedding venue and a specific location they wanted to get their wedding shot at and you're ranking well for that, they may land on your page through that. So there's, you don't have to go crazy going what if I shoot weddings and engagements and children and head shots and fashion, how am I supposed to rank one page for that? You're gonna, basically you separate your pages out. So the more content that you have related to those separate sections, the better. Because it's difficult to put all that on your homepage which you're not gonna, that's not your entrance point. If you look at some of your goal analytics you might see that that's 1% of your overall entrance point for organic traffic.
I'm gonna do nerd translation. So what he's saying is if you actually look at it, if you're actually looking at how people are getting to your site a lot of times it's not your homepage. It's because of search engines too it might be optimizing for one thing so yeah they're gonna come through specific content but that's good because it was what was relevant to them so it's fine and they'll get to the homepage if they wanna get to the homepage.
Okay so putting this into action. We talked about where you actually do this. So in your page title for example.
Hold on before you say this. By the way the reason we chose this guy, he was actually on, we're using him as an example, he was on a previous slide when we were looking at the results for best Seattle wedding photographer and it had The Knot and Wedding Wire, things that it's gonna be really hard to beat, and he was the first photographer result there so we're actually using this real life example and we've spoken to him so we'll have some of his screen grabs in this presentation so it's a real life example.
We'll use Ryan a lot and he ranked for Seattle wedding photographer, he also ranks a lot for just wedding photographer or Seattle photographer so he was a good example. This is an example of your page title, so it's Ryan Flynn Photography dash Seattle Wedding Photographer. In purple is the keyword we would wanna rank for. Your page description, Seattle wedding photographer Ryan Flynn's portfolio and blog. Top Pacific Northwest photographer known for his fresh, modern imagery. So that's a good meta description and just as an aside and I think we talked about this also, the meta description or the page description of your site and each page has it's own description no longer has weight SEO wise. It however has weight because it's what people see in Google and we'll show you a slide of that, exactly what it is and you wanna make it click worthy. He's got a pretty decent meta description, it explains, he's a top Pacific Northwest photographer, he's known for his fresh, modern imagery. Okay that's appealing to me, I'm gonna click through to that.
I have a question.
Related-- Just so you know, when we interact this is how he actually usually talks to me is I'll say but can you do whatever for my-- He's like, "No." Always. And I'm like okay so--
You ask a lot of stuff all the time, that's why. (laughs)
Anyway so related to your question about pricing. So for this for a title, would each page have a different title in there or would you put a pricing title differently on the pricing page and then would that help you with the SEO for pricing? Like this.
Yeah absolutely so you wanna have unique page titles and that's one of the best practices that we'll talk about also so you can put Ryan Flynn photography pricing or Ryan Flynn photography wedding album pricing or something like that and then your description you can put I offer certain pricing for wedding albums and prints and canvas prints. Something that's gonna entice people to click through to that. You might not rank for pricing but it's worth having a click worthy description.
My example too I was talking about before is I decided my particular brides they might be at these expensive wedding venues. Well if I wanna rank for wedding photography at that wedding venue, I can also work it into the title. Because that's going to help my SEO so I'm thinking also in the content, also in the photo, we'll talk about what's called photo alt tags, also in the title. So there's kind of, I think of it as those three main places on the page that if I know that that, yep Genesee Grande Hotel I wanna rank for. And this is a wedding shoot that I did at the Genesee Grande, I'm gonna describe it, I'm gonna put it in my alt tags, I'm gonna put it in the title. That's the things I'm checking off to make sure it shows up for Google.
So couple keyword tips. Put your desired keyword phrase closer to the beginning of the title. So top Seattle wedding photographer instead of maybe the other way around 'cause that's what I wanna rank for. Put your keyword within the first 100 words of your page. So whether that's you have a lot of content in the page or if you're running a blog post, try to repeat the keyword that you wanna rank for. Don't repeat it throughout the content consistently because Google, that's another thing that Google doesn't like and we talked about that keyword stuffing so if you mention top Seattle wedding photographer it's not like they're going to put you at page zero but just be aware of it. That you can do variations of that like we had said. Maybe best wedding photographer in Seattle instead of top Seattle wedding photographer. Google understands what top and best means. So it's gonna inter relate that. Consider the usefulness of any content you write based on your keywords, the visitor comes first. So we talked about how Google ranks content now as one of their most important factors, how useful is it? So when you're thinking about this keyword stuff and you go alright I gotta craft a strategy now for this, I have to do this, but think of it more about your users, how is this gonna help your users? How is it gon-- Your visitors I should say. How is this gonna be of use for them? Am I gonna put some comprehensive information about pricing or am I gonna withhold all my pricing or I'm not gonna tell them what I offer? You could probably rank your pricing page pretty high if you have nice pictures of what you offer, canvas prints, a couple of different things that people are gonna stay on that site longer, they're gonna stay on that page longer which goes back to another ranking signal.
I know that he just did this but this is the way I think about it. If it's good and the person's interacting with it well and they stay long, Google knows that. Google knows if what you put out there is of interest to the people visiting and if it's good then they push you up in search engine results so it's beneficial not just for you to put the words and the text it's like just do good interesting stuff. So then you gotta really think of, go back to your customer profile, get in their head, what would they find good interesting stuff? It's more than the technical stuff I thought it was. I thought it was just put words here.
Again you go back to what people are searching for because if you just do this by guessing, you might be doing an uphill battle. Stuttering over my own words but you're fighting an uphill battle because you might not ever outrank for something and then you're putting all that effort into it whereas if you find certain opportunities you go okay I could probably show up at number three or four on Google for that. It uncovers certain opportunities. So here's your keywords recap. You wanna create a list of 10 to 20 core keywords. Perform the keyword research to find easy opportunities and additional opportunities and then you wanna optimize your existing pages. If none of your pages on your site have anything for a title tag or they don't have clearly written meta descriptions, you wanna just go back and fix those and that doesn't take a ton of time. If you have a lot of pages on your site you might wanna use something like Screening Frog to kind of scan your site and say what's missing?
And we'll show you where to put those, it's coming, where that stuff gets put in your site.
The keywords are useful for researching new content. I might wanna write about, yeah I didn't know that Russian wedding photography was that popular in Seattle, maybe I can write about--
She's saying yes, I saw you nod your head.
So maybe I can write about my top 10 favorite spots to host a Russian wedding. And then that's content that's gonna get people to your site and then chances are hopefully convert. Time commitment, how much does this take, 'cause that's what everybody really cares about. So perform keyword research, maybe two to three hours.
You don't have to do it all at once but however much your brain can handle. (audience laughs) I told you he teases me, I've got goldfish style attention. (audience laughs) He was teasing me yesterday.
If her phone was right here like every two seconds.
It's like a nervous tic not really but I'll be like okay, just have to scroll on my phone. I know I'm not the only one, okay continue.
You wanna optimize your existing pages, it takes a couple hours for that depending on how many you have, if you only have 10 pages on your site it might take you 15 minutes. You wanna use the keywords to create new content and ideas. This is on the low end, it might not take you two to three hours unless you're really sitting there going okay I have my list of keywords, I could write some content about this. And again we're gonna get into the types of content so this isn't so confusing like what do I write about? 'Cause it can be as simple as just talking about a shoot that you did which you need to be really doing anyway. If you're shooting, talk about the experience. People wanna know that, they're not just buying the images, they're buying the experience, they wanna know what you provided that day, what was the inspiration behind your shoot especially if it's a themed shoot or why you chose that location because maybe it has great lighting. And that's educating your potential clients who go okay well I didn't know that that one was better than this or this is a great location to shoot at. So total hours, six to 10, this is an approximation again but at least getting something in your head you can know this is gonna take me a little bit of time to do.
This is why I say something like that I don't put it-- He did Lindsay hours, not Robert hours, for times, like he did average person time. I do it again where you put the little notification on your schedule. This is something I would say like okay so today I'm gonna spend 45 minutes doing my keyword research. Six to 10 hours sounds terrifying to me personally.
Yeah but you're doing it in bits.
So just do little bits, put it on your to-do list.
Again the whole point of doing the keyword research is to just uncover what people are actually searching for then using that on your site to get people to your site.