Search engine optimization, or SEO, has been around for a long time. As new techniques are developed and new strategies are put into place, people question the effectiveness of SEO. Is it still something you should work for, or are there better ways to spend your time and energy?

The short answer to this is, of course, yes. SEO will always be in place in some manner, though the strategies and the way we approach it may change over time. But SEO ultimately is about creating the best content to attract the right people when they perform a search. And not matter how you do that, the ultimate goal is traffic. Its about getting people to find you, click through, and connect up with you for the possibility of becoming a client at some point in the future.

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Essentially, SEO is about ranking well in the search engines. The higher you rank under specific search terms, the more likely you will connect up with people that want to do business with you. And the way you rank well is to provide quality and optimized content. While different search engines and directories have different ways of ranking, there are key strategies that work well across the board.

On Page SEO

On page SEO is the items we can control. It’s the content we use to develop a new page on our site, and the way we use key strategies within that page. It’s the factors we control ourselves, such as keywords, tags and links.

Keywords – When you are writing and creating a new page of content, it will invariably be about one topic. That is the keyword you are trying to rank well for. It can be one word such as “photography” or a phrase such as “wedding photography in Colorado”.

As you write your content, remember you are writing for two – the search engines and for your readers. If you fill your page with keywords, your reader will get bored and tune you out. Strike a balance between the two, and as you write over time, you’ll come out a winner.

You should also use other SEO strategies with your keywords. Use your keyword in your title, your title tags, within the first 100 words of your starting paragraph, anchor text, image tags, and even in comment tags.

Title – Your title is the single most important part of your on page SEO. Using your keyword is important, but again don’t make it dull and boring. “Wedding Photography: John and Sarah” may seem appropriate because your keywords are the first words in the title. Yet when a visitor comes in and sees page after page where only the names change they will back out as quickly as possible. Use attention grabbing headlines and make them unique. Use different combinations of words, and focus in on how your prospects might type them into the search engines.

Links – Linking is a great way to show your appreciation to others, and also to prove your expertise and share more in depth resources about your photography niche. While a few years ago it was common to see resource pages with dozens of related links to other sites, now its better to place them within the content itself. For instance, if you work at a wedding on Saturday and loved the cake company, create a post on cakes. You can showcase the cake from a variety of angles, and talk about how well you worked with “abc cake company”. Put a link back to their site, and you may create a relationship that will work well into the future.

Off Page SEO

Off page SEO is the stuff we can’t control completely, that tends to work by itself based on relationships you build with those around you.

Backlinks – Different search engines have different strategies for ranking. Bing, for instance, ranks well with exact match domain names, content and good title tags. Google relies heavily on backlinks, which are quality links pointing back to your site. If you want to rank well in Google, you will have to focus on quality backlinks. This includes high authority domain sites (trusted, popular, high PR, etc) and keyword focused anchor text.

Social Media – Social media has changed everything about the way we look for information. Head over to Google, and you’ve probably noticed the results changing on a regular basis. In their quest for providing more relevant information, they are now including social media in the results, based on who you are, how you search, and who you are connected to. Your results for a search term will be different from mine, even if we search for the exact same keyword, simply because our methods of search are different. I may prefer watching YouTube videos; you may prefer Facebook. We will each have results showing based on our preferred methods.

Mobile – Yes, mobile is changing the way we search. While it may be easy to grasp how people search sitting at their desks, how they search from a mobile device is completely different. Mobile is portable, and therefore shorter answers are common place. While everyone wants results fast, its even more prevalent when searching from a mobile. Traditional sites won’t cut it if they can’t be opened on a mobile. Which is one of the reasons I highly recommend WordPress for site development.

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Domain Name – Domain names matter in a couple of ways. If you’ve had your domain name for years, you will be rewarded for your longevity. You can also be rewarded if your domain name is paid up for several years instead of one year at a time. If you are choosing a domain, you may want to include at least one of your keywords. It will ensure you have at least one keyword in every post you create, and give you a beginning boost towards achieving higher rankings.

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