Category: Blogging

Using Links To Improve Your SEO

You’ve spent hours scratching your head trying to understand WordPress, spent another three days carefully curating the images for your website and finally, you are ready to go live!  You have built it so they will come, right?  Wrong.  If you want your website to actually generate leads and enquiries for you so you see some reward for your efforts, you need to make sure the right people can find it.

A simple google search will show you tons of ways to optimise your site so that you appear high enough in search engine results, that prospects will find you.  There are loads of ways you can help yourself at no cost other than your time, or you can choose to enlist an expert to help you.  However, there is one really powerful DIY way you can help your SEO that can’t be overlooked – Link building.  Now, I’m no SEO expert but I used to be a partner in a business whose success was hinged on link building so it’s an area of SEO that I do have experience in.

What Are Links?

For the purpose of this blog if I refer to a ‘link’ I mean an external link.  In other words a url link to your website from somewhere other than your own domain – a genuine third party linking to your website.

Why Are Links Important?

Search engines crawl the web continually and links are the map they use to do that. Links show search engines how pages are related and they use complex algorithms to decide how valuable those links are.  In other words external links are 3rd parties endorsing your website – they’re saying to their visitors ‘hey this is a cool site we think you’ll love, go take a peek’.  And when you think about it, that’s a pretty big deal.   Who we refer customers to is a reflection on ourselves so we want to make sure we’re sending people to someone who will look after them. So although no-one is actually sure of the black magic, ever changing recipe that search engines use to determine how far up the results they will place you, SEO experts believe that external links are the most important source of ranking power.

Not All Links Are The Same

The more popular and important a website is deemed, the more valuable the links from it are. In addition to this, it is generally thought that sites linking to you where there is a theme or topic in common for both sites, is ranked higher than a general link with no relevance.  If your site is about newborn photography, a link to you from BANPAS matters much more than a link from a site about fashion!

Follow / No Follow???

I don’t want to get technical but as we’re talking about links, I have to mention that there are two types of link – follow or no-follow.  Follow links basically count for more than no-follow links.  A no follow link is the webmaster telling google – take no notice of this link in your black magic algorithm calculations.  The url link still works and takes you to the web page it refers to – it just doesn’t help your seo.  BUT it’s still referral traffic so far from worthless!  You have no control over a website that decides to make it’s links no-follow ones but if you want to check, this is how you do it.

In Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively you can just right-click on a page and hit Inspect Element. For Firefox, do Right-Click>View Page Source.

From there, do an Edit>Find and search for “nofollow” in the search box. All instances of the nofollow tag will be highlighted.

 

3 Types of Links

There are typically 3 kinds of external links and it’s a wise idea to have a mixture of all three. Of course, depending on your budget and the time you have allocated to this task you might want to centre your efforts where you think you’ll see the best returns.

Editorial Links

Editorial links are included naturally in articles, blogs and web copy.  These types of links are generally considered the most powerful as they usually occur naturally as part of an endorsement or reference to the original source of the material or topic being discussed.  You can generate more of these types of links by creating brilliant content that people want to share.

Manual Links

These are links you engineer and might be free or paid for.   You can see how guest blogging with relevant business can really help your SEO.  If you work closely a with businesses who has a similar audience to you, you may even feel comfortable dedicating a page to each other on your website with each of you linking to the other.  This increases trust in the eyes of the search engine who sees this as a valuable endorsement and rewards you with higher rankings. Including your details on a trusted and relevant directory such as our directory of newborn photographers (the search facility on this page generates around 10,000 visits per month) will also assist your own site in moving up the rankings.  Other places you might look at paying for links in could be Netmums, or local baby related directories.

Self Created Links

These are usually links that are included in your signature when you comment on blogs, articles or guest books.  They have the lowest value and if you systematically post too many of these types of links (read spam), then search engines will penalise you rather than reward you, so beware!

 

Check Who Links To You Already

You can use this handy free tool to check the inbound links to your website.  If you find a link you didn’t know about it’s always nice to drop and email thank them for the mention – maybe this could lead to some guest blogging.  If you have very few quality links, it’s time to start creating a plan.

Content is KING

I can’t write an article on SEO without reminding you that managing your links is wasted effort if your content is poor.  Google in particular, will reward interesting and relevant content with higher rankings but the longer term effect is that more links will naturally be built as others want to link to your content.  If you are time short, opt for content creation over link building!

I really hope you’ve found this article useful and as usual, would love your feedback in the comments.

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Blog Topics for Photographers

The most common stumbling block I see from photographers who don’t blog is that they can’t think of enough topics.  Lots will blog sessions, using the same basic format and changing the images.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t really wash with Mr Google who wants to see fresh, interesting and relevant content – and who rewards you handsomely for delivering it!

 

Where Do I Start?

As is the answer to most marketing questions – start with your Ideal Client.  The more you know and understand your ideal client, the more chance you have of writing content that engages and interest her.  If you are a newborn photographer, the chances are you’ll be looking for a pregnant woman.  But you need to know so much more than that – her location, career, marital status, where she shops, what she does in her spare time, and that’s just for starters.  You need to know her as well as you know your sister.  She holds the answer to almost everything.  When you know where she hangs out, how and when she likes to make purchases and how she likes to be treated – you’ve hit the jackpot.

 

Take Inspiration

Once you have a detailed description of your ideal client, it’s a good idea to start subscribing to the type of newsletters and blogs that she reads.  Think about where she shops and take a good look at their blogs or magazines – yes you’ll find them plugging their products wherever possible, but it’s more important that they provide an entertaining read.  That is exactly what you should be aiming for.  Look at the language they use – is it casual or more formal.   What topics do they cover and can you identify the lateral ways they plug their products.  A travel piece from a fashion store will always show a capsule wardrobe – think about how you could incorporate portraits into pieces on travel, decor, fashion, or lifestyle.

 

Mind Map

My best weapon in fighting writer block is mind mapping.   It’s an effective way to brain dump and come up with huge lists of things that will interest and excite your client.  As well as being incredibly simple to get started on, it’s very difficult to stop – a perfect recipe for generating lots of relevant content.

I have created a short video showing you exactly how I mindmap – I use free online software called mindmup to do this… Read the rest

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Why Bother Blogging?

Blogging.  You think you should be doing it but when you don’t, it’s not like your business grinds to a halt.  And when you do, it’s not like you’re flooded with enquiries.  In addition to that, writing is time consuming and it hurts your head to constantly think of new topics.  It’s little wonder blogging comes low on the list of marketing activites for  lots of us.

I Don’t Think I Get A Good ROI (Return On Investment)

I totally get this one.  Blogging can seem like a dead end activity if you’re not measuring the right factors.  Here’s some blogging facts you might find surprising:

Blogging Drives Traffic To Your Website Even If People Don’t Read Your Blogs.

Google is a sucker for new and relevant content and a blog is the perfect vehicle for that.  There are not many areas of your website you are able to update on a regular basis but writing new content for your blog on a weekly basis tells search engines you have something new and relevant to say – and they reward you with higher search rankings.

Blog Posts Have Longevity

If it takes you an hour to write and publish a blog, that blog sticks around forever.  The keywords you use in it will be used in google searches by your target market forever. If you write interesting and relevant blogs, your target market will continue to find your website long after the post has been written.

Not quite the same power as an hour spent on Facebook!

But I Don’t Have The Time To Blog

I hear this aaaaaall the time.  A blog might take you an hour to write and you might aim to write one or two blogs a week.  That’s a maximum of two and a half hours including the time spent choosing images, uploading everything and posting the links on social media.  Ask yourself how many hours a week you spend on facebook.  I’ll bet you spend more than that in a single day on facebook, scrolling through groups you’re a member of, offering advice where you can or browsing your favourite prop sellers page.  I’m not saying don’t enjoy doing these things – just spend half an hour a day less on facebook and you easily have time to blog.

Fair Enough, But My Main Issue Is Topics – I Don’t Know What To Write About

I hear this a lot too.  Creating content is a lot easier than you think – you already have all of the answers.  If you don’t have a very detailed description of your ideal client, then you need to do that first.  I’m talking age, gender, career, marital status, number of children and more importantly, her hopes, dreams, interests, hobbies – the stuff she wants to spend time on. Once you marry this up with some local knowledge you have a brilliant resource that your prospective clients want to read.  Mind map to get down all the areas or topics your ideal client is interested in and the articles will just flow.  If you’re really stuck, here’s a few ideas:

  • The 5 Items You Can’t Live Without During Pregnancy
  • Birth Stories (Interview previous clients for these – pregnant women LOVE birth stories)
  • Top Toddler Activites in [Your Area] (this is a great way to link to other businesses and build relationships too)
  • Popular Baby Names for 2018
  • Pushchair Friendly Walks
  • Baby Friendly Excercise Classes (A great one to include a guest blogger on)
  • Best Family Holiday Destinations in the UK

And if you really, really don’t have the time, skills or energy to blog, it’s well worth paying someone else to do it.  You can outsource blogging from as little as £30 per article.  If you add in a few guest bloggers and manage to write some yourself, this can be an economical way to keep your content fresh and your SEO in shape.

As usual we’d love your feedback on this blog in the comments below.

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5 Of The Best Free Graphics and Image Tools

If you are regularly posting on social media or blogs then you will find that the most successful formula is a mix of 3 things: your own self-serving posts, your own content that your audience finds interesting and sharing of other people’s interesting content. (Your self-serving posts should be the fewest of these three, but that’s for another post!).  This means that you are likely to need to use images and graphics that you don’t own.  We’ve pulled together our favourite resources to help.

Canva

Canva is a really cool online tool that allows you to create professional looking memes, facebook adverts, blog headers – their catalogue of templates is literally endless.  You can upload your own images or use the ones in Canva’s large library (some of these have a small $1 charge to use) and you can overlay various banners and text designs over the images to create your graphic.

Pic Monkey

Pic Monkey is also a web-based tool but you upload your own images from facebook or your computer to create your graphics.  You can add text overlays and a variety of editing filters and use their correctly sized canvasses for popular social media.  You can also create photo collages which are fabulous for blogs.

Adobe Post

Sadly not available on Android but if you use iOS you can download Adobe Post from the app store and create amazing graphics from your phone.  It’s really simple to use and if you’re a business who has the opportunity to take lots of pictures while you work, being able to create and upload directly from an app is an added bonus.

Pexels

This is a fabulous stock library of images that are free even for commercial use.  There is definitely less volume than the paid for sites and quality can be questionable but there are some gems sitting on this website that will transform your blog posts.

Free Images

This is another free stock image library but they do require that you link back to them with any images you use.  However, this is a small price to pay for usage which includes commercial online and print.  They have a larger stock of images than Pexels but are similar in that you need to have a good root around to find the gems.

Make sure you bookmark this page so that you can easily find free images and graphics software next time you need it.

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Should You Delete Old Online Images?

I see this question popping up a lot on photography forums, so I’m going to give you my take on this and hopefully help you avoid issues in the future.

As photographers, we are on a creative journey.  We are constantly growing and developing, refining our style.  It’s a source of satisfaction to look back on work from the beginning of the journey and see how far we’ve come.

A trip down memory lane and a large pat on the back is all well and good, but what happens when your old images that are definitely not representative of your current style are still in the public domain?

Why Post Online?

There are many reasons but popular ones include; to raise your profile, to attract customers, to advertise or to improve.  And now be really honest – how many times do you post an image online just because you’re proud of it?  You see how far you’ve come and working alone means you’re entirely lacking in praise from the boss.  The next best thing is praise from your peers or clients.  There are occasions when you give no thought to the work you want the image to do – just the feel good factor it gives you.

I highly recommend taking a business approach to which images you post and for which reasons, with the following suggestions.

Find Critics You Respect

If you’re proud of an image there’s no better feeling than a fellow photographer whom you respect, commenting on how great it is.  If you do this, I find honesty is the best policy so an ‘I shot this today and I’m so pleased I pulled it off, I’m delighted how it turned out’ is preferable to ‘is my lighting ok here?’.  Asking for cc on an image you love and are proud of is a risky business – don’t say I didn’t warn you!  If you truly want critique on your images to help you grow, find a group whose purpose is just that.  If you only want critique from people you respect, create your own trusted circle of critics.

Banish The Facebook Fear

We’ve all had the sinking feeling that can only be caused by a Facebook ‘memory’.  Oh yes, happy days for your client, a cherished moment in time, reappearing on their timeline from 3 years and 2 expensive photography training courses ago.  I recommend that you have your facebook privacy settings so that you can’t be tagged in an image without your consent.

You might also want to consider only using Facebook to showcase your WOW images so that your page becomes a portfolio rather than a diary of your working life or a catalogue of sneak peeks.  It can be time-consuming, but time well spent, to go back through your Facebook posts and remove any images that are not in line with your current style (or that now make you cringe!).

As a general rule of thumb for social media, you need to have a good mix of your own images and external articles and items of interest.  Try the 80/20 rule – there should be far more engaging and interesting  content than promotional posts.

Tidy Up Your Blog

Your blog should be far more than a vehicle for sneak peeks.  The reality is the only people who are interested enough to visit and read that blog post are the clients featured in the post. And maybe their immediate family, if you’re lucky.   Assuming you want your blog to attract more paying clients, the content needs to speak to them directly.  You need to solve THEIR problems.  Using your blog for sneak peeks creates far more issues than it solves.  A couple of years down the line you have pages of posts that are outdated and are not representative of your work now.  You actually don’t want anyone to read them now.  It’s highly unlikely that simply deleting those old blog posts would harm your seo or google ranking. Highly unlikely because the content is old and probably does not contain enough relevant search terms to even matter to google.  I see lots of sneak peek blog posts with less than 100 words (I mean it is pretty difficult to write much more than that about a session) and Google likes blogs to be between 300 and 800 words.

Take some time to have a good look at your online presence and have peace of mind that updating old posts with new images or deleting dated blog posts will only have a positive effect.

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