Photographers have the following main goals with their blog if they are going to be effective in attracting paying customers:
- Draw in visitors
- Generate interest
- Demonstrate professional ability
- Communicate personality
- Build towards action
As you can tell from this list, it’s not as simple as slapping a blog onto your site and watching the search juice kick in.
Rob has done a good job of putting his photography front and center, and his photographic ability shines out of his work. That said, there are a number of ways he can make his site work harder for him.
Design and Usability
When a visitor arrives you need to tell them where they are, why they should care, and what they can look at. You want them to know certain things, such as that you are a “Destination Wedding Photographer” (according to your keywords) and so on.
Make sure that you actually explain what those phrases mean. Not only will explaining help you with searchers, but you need to describe the benefits. Why should a visitor care? Is there any reason to pick you, or your category of photographer, over any other?
I think you need to select a theme that better shows off your photographs. As they are currently displayed your beautiful pictures practically need a magnifying glass to appreciate them. Remember blog readers will initially skim, make an impact. Even better, get a custom design that really prioritizes and displays your work. You might want to consider incorporating some sort of gallery + post combination so your most recent work is always displayed, magazine style.
There are some important pages you really need to have at a minimum, either create them or pull them out and put in your navigation:
- About – Right now your about isn’t about much at all. Who are you? What do you do? Is that important? Necessary? Valuable? Why would someone choose you over someone else? What do you have to offer and why should we believe you?
- Contact – Your current about is more like a contact, but I prefer to provide a contact form rather than an email address. If you are going to show your telephone number, have a think about what it is you have missed off. I will give you a clue. I live in the UK, how do I call your number? When should I call you? You might think you are only looking for local business, and that is fine … until a journalist from the BBC tries to get in touch and gives up in favor of your friend down the road who lists his country code and time zone 😉 List your country code and say what times and timezone you are available in.
- Services – Where do you describe what you do? How much does it cost? How do you go about booking you? Remember many people are going to land deep in your blog, they are not going to even see your flash based site because there is no way to get there, especially if they have clicked a link or arrived via a search engine.
As I always always say, allow your readers to subscribe with email along with RSS and explain why someone would want to! Right now you have tucked away an RSS button, while 90% of your visitors won’t know what that represents.
Use categories sparingly, in fact both for your users and your search rankings you are normally better off one category per post. Make them meaningful to visitors, don’t prioritize search phrases over usability.
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First SEO tweak is the old favorite, www and non-www URLs both work. Redirect one to the other.
Next, because the commercial site is flash and popups, neither of which are particularly search friendly (I will leave the discussion for if those tactics are human-friendly), the SEO last-resort has been brought into play …
Instead of a block of keyword-laden copy, instead create actual content intended for humans on that page. Search engines are designed to do a good job of promoting good stuff and downgrading the less useful stuff, so if you build for human beings you don’t need this kind of thing.
While we are on the topic, don’t let others do the same thing and leach off your comment area either!
When embedding photographs, describe them well. Think like a stock photographer, what could you tag your photographs with that both explains the picture for non-sighted users and search engines, but would also attract people in using, say, Google Image search. Currently Prince Charles is called “wedding photography”. Now, I am not a monarchist, but even I see the celebrity value in these pictures. Be proud of them, show them off, you don’t often get credibility building content like this!
Finally on the SEO side, and also thinking about usability, connect your site and your blog with links. Right now to both search engines and people the two are separate sites. I recommend putting a link in your main navigation, but don’t hesitate to deep link to important content both ways.
Rob has a talent, and the blog is an excellent start. I think the main thing to take away from this critique is that the emphasis has to come back to the human needs, what will most please, benefit and assist human visitors. How can you meet their needs and encourage a deeper connection? Right now the bias seems to be on SEO?
Find some friendly non-webby people, print off the blog and site homepages, and ask your volunteers to describe what they see, how they would navigate, and what they would do if they were interested in your services. You might gain some insights into the sorts of welcoming content and navigation you need.
Please check out Humbled Eyes Photography and make your own suggestions and thoughts in the comments?