Not Ranking Yet? How a simple change to your WordPress Categories could help you rank higher.
On site optimization of your photography website is one of one of those tasks that seems easy to some, yet difficult for others.
But here’s a quick reminder of the basics:-
Step number one involves text and lots of it – and yet it amazes me that photographers will try to rank their home page number 1 on Google with little to no text on it.
Sure, there will be the occasional exception, but let’s all just agree that we needs lots of text.
Next are keywords obviously and we do have to be careful with these. You see the Google ‘bots are not stupid and if you stuff your website page with “on site optimization techniques for photographers” twenty times, they will soon realise you are out to somehow game the system. So use keywords carefully and keep it natural – and if you focus on that last phrase I highlighted in quotes you can see how I will have actually optimized this page for that particular phrase. So you have a direct example to reference. (You can thank me later ;-))
Now clients love images of course – so whenever you write a blog post include some images. Not too many though! – Some photographers tend to think that “yes our blog post really should include all 634 images from that wedding” – Trust me it shouldn’t!
So rather than showing the full session, include just a subset of your images – treat every blog page as a mini portfolio and only feature your best images from a wedding or portrait shoot. And unless you are Jerry Ghionis or Jeff Ascough you honestly won’t have 300 “best” images from a wedding – about twenty is plenty.
To optimize these images you will name them to match your target keyword – so for this blog post I am targeting the keyword relating to on site optimization techniques for photographers, so my images will be named the same, replacing spaces with a “-“ character and adding a numeric suffix at the end of the file name to keep the filenames unique. You will also add “alt” tags to those images as well.
Now if you can do that for every blog post, you’re a good bit ahead of most photographers when it comes to on site optimization – I’ve even created a special ten point checklist that you can download here to ensure you remember to follow these guidelines. But how do we take things a little bit further? How do we optimize our site better than the next guy?
Kick things up a gear with WordPress Category optimization
I now want to cover something that many of you overlook, or indeed over-use on your blog posts – WordPress Categories.
Proper use of WordPress Categories is one of the easiest ways to optimize your WordPress website and it’s so simple that once you get the concept you will kick yourself.
Let’s discuss firstly how WordPress Categories work.
At their most simple level categories allow you to group blog posts together under a specific heading – WordPress Categories have a description and they also have an associated URL to access them.
So for example if I have a WordPress Category called “Destination Weddings” the url will by default be www.myblogname.com/destination-weddings
Now if I access that page, a list of all the blog posts that have been assigned to that category will be listed – depending on your choice of WordPress theme, you can usually make a nice job of formatting this page, turning it into a mini “landing page” for that category description.
So far so good.
But this is where a lot of photographers go a little crazy – they take this hierarchy and decide to use it for wedding venues – so they create a category for each and every venue – initially this sounds sensible doesn’t it – I mean we all probably have more than a few venues we photograph at regularly, so why not?
So let’s say I end up with 30 different categories for 30 of my favourite local venues each with one or two blog posts for each of the weddings you have done there.
So my clients visit the home page – they see the categories (aka venues) listed on that page, so they can then drill down to the blog post – excellent.
All good so far, right?
Never ever ever use WordPress Categories for Wedding Venue names
To explain why this structure is wrong, I need to introduce you to the concept of pagerank and how pagerank flows though a website.
Pagerank is how websites gain “authority” – If a website with a high pagerank links to you it passes part of that pagerank through to your site.
Now I can hear you all say, “Yes but Pagerank is dead isn’t it?” – Well pagerank, as a public website measure, was publicly abandoned by Google a couple of years ago – so we don’t nowadays know the true pagerank of a website – but the concept still applies.
So to illustrate the point I am about to make let’s just think of pagerank as some sort of measure of Google “Juice”.
So let’s say we had a website link to us and let’s take the analogy that it passes 1000ml of Google Juice to our site.
Pour some sugar on me – Def Leppard’s explanation of pagerank circa 1987
So we pour this juice into our home page and where does it go?
Well some of it is going to stay on the home page – so let’s say 400ml stays there leaving 600ml to go somewhere else.
The remaining 600ml pours down the holes of our internal links and passes the Google Juice through our site.
Let’s say my home page features links to 30 different categories – so if I share that 600ml of Google Juice between each category I get just 20ml per category page.
So my home page keeps 400ml and my category pages each get 20ml
If you think of that Google Juice as a potential measure of how well a site or page can rank, you can see that our home page has lots of juice but the categories have very little.
So let’s revisit our categories – what if we only had 6 instead of 30?
Let’s pour that 1000ml of juice through the site again.
Remember it’s 400 ml staying on the home page and 600 ml shared between by 6 category pages, so this time they get 100ml each.
So now can you see what is happening here?
Previously my categories had little Google Juice – now they have a lot more (400% more) – and in turn they potentially have a lot more chance to rank individually as powerful pages on the Google search results.
This is what is known within the industry as a “Silo Structure” – keeping the organisational structure of your site narrow with only a few categories so that the pagerank distributed from the home page remains strong.
So instead of using your categories for Venues, why not use them for Geographic Regions for example? – e.g. North Florida Weddings, Central Florida Weddings, South Florida Weddings, Wedding in the Keys and Destination Weddings.
Now this also gives you the opportunity to further optimize those Category descriptions and url’s to match the best keywords for those geographic areas.
So there you have it – one of the simplest ways around to optimize your website, but which also just happens to be one of the more difficult to explain LOL
I hope you got it!
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