Wordpress Tips

2014 Marketing Guide for Photographers

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Marketing, SEO Tips, Social Media, Wordpress Tips 2 Comments

From full-time photographers to those who just got a camera for Christmas and have already opened a new business, this marketing guide for photographers has you covered.  We are going to look at the main ways to market your photo business in 2013 and help all the clients belong to you.

First, a bit of background (and bragging):

Who is behind High on SEO?  Why should I listen to you?

I was a full-time professional photographer for almost 7+ years from 2003-2010.  You can still see my work at Best Day Photo, although I’m not actively seeking clients.  I’ve been #1 on my city name for SEO, I’ve participated in many types of bridal shows, used Facebook and Google ads, listed on most of the major sites and done guest blogging for WeddingBee and other wedding sites.  I’ve also been a full time digital marketer for almost two years.  Our photo business was tremendously successful for years.  SImply:  I know what I’m talking about, I know how to succeed and now I want to share some of that info with you.  You’re welcome to learn how to market your photography business from anyone but hopefully I can help you.

With that said, let’s talk about marketing.  These are not in order because every market and every region is different.  Marketing exists where and when you say it exists.  Let’s talk about your ideal clients another day.  We can discuss how you should find what makes you different, yet appealing.  We can talk all day about what type of competition you have.   Where can you promote yourself?  What marketing works for photographers?

Look at this marketing plan graphic.  We will focus on the “Promotion” arm of this today.

marketing-plan

 

1) Your website

Why: Your website is probably the most important piece of digital marketing collateral you will own.  You control the site. You control your site speed, the branding, content, your image galleries, and every aspect of the site.  On-page SEO comes directly from your site so you control another marketing device simply by what you put on your pages.  Your website represents you to a client who has never met you. It has to tell a story: your story.

How to market your website:  Think first.  Who is your target audience?  Who has booked you in the past?  You are likely thinking “22-35 year old educated female who spends her days on Pinterest.”  Maybe you want to target working women who are too busy to interview 10 other photographers and want to hire someone sight-unseen.  Or you could be targeting second marriages.  Maybe you have a nationality or religion you photograph frequently (Indian weddings, Jewish weddings, etc.)  Your target client may be older – 29-40 year olds who had careers first and now have children.  Or maybe you will book anyone with a check that has the right dollar figure attached.

Once you know who you are targeting with your site, figure out what they like.  What other websites are they on?  Pinterest’s audience is vastly 25-34 year old females with a college education.  Check the Alexa data.  What other sites fit your demographic?  What other sites should you look at for inspiration?  Try SimilarSites.com for Pinterest.  (That’s a link, click it.)  Ah, Etsy.  And what is similar to Etsy?  What is Etsy’s demographic on Alexa?

These are the type of thoughts you should be having when thinking about your own web design.  Yes, you can put up a page that looks like everyone else’s but you know that won’t create much interest.  Sure, it’s safe.  ProPhoto Blog theme, great for SEO, and clients will see it 100 times during their search.  Stand out.  Do something interesting.  Offer them something new, or at least something extremely well-done.

What to focus on:  Most photographers will add: galleries, pricing, blog, contact and maybe an about/info page to their site.  Do that.  Then do more than that.  How will you stand out?  What is special about your photography?  Make sure you have a “reviews” page (not raves, not testimonials, not “what our clients say” or any other BS.)  Reviews. Period.  Make this page yoursite.com/reviews  It’s pretty simple – people search for brands + reviews.  Control the discussion.  Google “highonseo reviews”  and you’ll see.  It’s full of pages I control.  ”Like, duh.”

Also, make sure your blog contains microdata (schema.org) so you have connected your Google+ profile to your posts.  Go back to that review search.  See my mug looking back at you?  Do that.  Most photographers don’t and you will gain a huge advantage by having your pretty face directly on SERP pages.  If you can’t figure it out, start here and let Yoast try to help you.  Still can’t figure it out?  Throw a few bucks my way on Paypal and I’ll help you.  It’s important. Put it on your to do list, now.

melbourne wedding photography

2) Blogging

Why: Blogging improves your SEO for many, many long tail keywords. It also keeps your website fresh. It also gives you a personal voice to your clients in a way your pricing and services page can’t use.  Blogging lets you show off recent work without updating your entire website.  Blogging lets you create a landing page for a vast array of topics at your whim.  Blogging gives you something to talk about on social media.  It gives you content to promote.  Blogging lets you reach your audience directly, without paid ads, on any topic of your choice.

You probably get the idea.  Blogging is important.  Let’s make 2013 the year we stop with the excuses, stop with the lame blogging schedule and stop saying “I don’t know what to blog about” or “blogging’s too hard!” or “I don’t know how to blog for SEO” blah, blah, blah.  Be as tired of the excuses as we are.

If you hate blogging, hate updating your website, hate writing about your clients, and hate trying to come up with things to talk about with people who are super excited to get married, you’re in the wrong business anyway   Go get a job, quit pretending you enjoy weddings and just save yourself the effort. Wedding photography is for someone else.  It’s for people who are excited about what gowns are in style. It’s for people who care about their clients and after spending their wedding day with them can’t wait to go home and edit photos, write the story and basically tell everyone what a cool couple chose them as their wedding photographer.

Seriously, if you hate blogging, remove the blog from your site and market your portfolio instead.  A blog that hasn’t been updated in a year looks like you are out of business. Sure, removing the blog will reduce your chances of SEO helping you, or being found for long tail keywords, it will reduce the number of pages you can promote on other channels, you should also then remove your entire social media presence and probably focus on how you are going to spend money instead.  Paid ads are the price you pay for being boring, right?

Sorry for the rant – let’s move on.  Blogging is important.  Here you can see just a few of our results for “success.”

seo success blog posts

 

How to market your blogging:

“I don’t know what to blog about other than photo sessions!” – how about bridal shows that are coming up in your area.  Go Google 2012 Melbourne bridal shows.  We show up page 1.  Brides search for shows to attend.  Help them out, tell them which ones you’ll be at, link everything, and be a resource.  One thing you should focus on with your blogging is giving brides what they are looking for so they come to you, not Pinterest, Etsy or your competition.  Do a post about 2013′s most popular wedding hair accessories or bridal dresses.  If you’re out of ideas, also see our Planning Blog Topics  with plenty of info on how to blog and what to write about.

“Ok, I wrote my post, now what?  Nobody viewed it.”  - Promotion is the name of this game. How did you promote your post?  Did you put it on your Facebook page and your Facebook profile?  Send it to some wedding-industry Twitter users and ask for a tweet?  Did you post it to Pinterest and then follow up by commenting on a bunch of other people’s pins so they come view yours?  Social media is give and take so make sure after you give them something to talk about, you take the time to help others, as well.

Do you use social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Stumble, Reddit?  Now may be the time to drop one of your new posts on there.  Are you a part of a referral network, a vendor network, a blog circle, a Google+ group for self promotion?  Have you gone and left relevant comments on other people’s blogs lately?  Blog commenting is a trade off. You must do something for someone to get them to do what you want.  What are you doing and how often are you doing it?  Do it more – and do it now!

What to focus on: We have a video on Youtube all about the Perfect Blogging for SEO below so check that out.  Try to follow the guidelines and just write good content.  It is more important that you write regularly, update often and write about things other people want to share than writing “photography, photographer, photographers, pictures, photo” on every blog post you ever write.  Focus on quality and the links will come.

3) SEO & Local SEO for photographers

Why:  Read what Marketing Charts had to say:  “63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget online.”   Yes, we’re a bit biased because we are an SEO agency.  But realistically speaking, your business should be on page 1 of Google if you want to get as much money as possible.  Local searches are a powerful and accessible medium you should definitely be using in your photographer’s marketing plan..

How to market with SEO for photographers: We could talk about what makes great SEO all day but you need to be familiar with the basic structure of SEO.  You can optimize the on-page SEO stuff, such as the content you’re writing about, the usefulness of that content to brides, how long they stay on your site, etc.  You can also optimize the off-page stuff such as where you are found by other sites, how your listing appears on niche directories such as WeddingWire, TheKnot, etc.

Blogging will help your SEO, as will promotion of those blog posts.

What to focus on: Overall, what you need to remember is that you are focused on writing great content, promoting it well and being helpful to your audience.  You should focus your energy on creating something worth sharing.  You should make sure other sites link to it.  And you should make sure you read as much of the High on SEO blog as possible.

4) Paid Ads on Facebook and Google Adwords

Why: Adwords are effective.  For most businesses, Facebook is not.  This doesn’t make sense so people keep mindlessly throwing money at Facebook.  Let’s look at why Facebook usually falls flat.

Ads found through Google’s Adwords program are found on the sidebar during a search and relate to the terms you search for.  You are looking for an answer and hey! There’s one possible answer.  So you are likely to check it out.

Facebook Ads show up on the side of your social media homepage.  You are having a chat with your friends and being asked if you want to join Zoosk or buy a new car.  You aren’t in the right mindset when the ad is delivered.

The biggest difference between Google and Facebook is intent.  Good Google ads promote your business because your audience is in the right frame of mind to find you.  Facebook ads are (mostly) a waste of marketing money because you target people when they don’t want or expect an ad in their face.  There are exceptions.  It makes sense for game companies to advertise on Facebook.  You are there to waste time.  Why not click an ad for CastleRock2?  But are you ever just randomly reading friends posts thinking “I should book a photographer for my wedding now!”  It’s unlikely.

How to market using paid ads:  Focus on Adwords.  Build lists of keywords and negative keywords (such as “how to become a wedding photographer” or “how much are Kansas wedding photographers paid?”)  You don’t want to show up on those searches when you’re advertising to brides.  Test your Adwords and learn as much online as you can about Adword campaigns and what makes for a successful ad.  A/B test (2 different ads) for awhile and find out which one gets higher conversions and which leads to more clients calling you.  Adwords, done right, are an extremely powerful way to find new clients.  Many photographers have no problem with paying $250+ per month for a Knot ad but don’t use Adwords at all or spend $3-5 a day.

It doesn’t hurt to test as many ads as you want.  Set a budget and Adwords will follow it.  Run 4, 8, 12 ads – whatever you feel you need to test.  Then test, test, and test again.  Don’t just assume your ad works.  Run it against another variation and be scientific about it.  Run it using different options such as accelerated delivery, etc.  Maybe you want to test on the Content Network (weddingwire, etc.) but maybe you want to stick with Search Network only.  Your tests are the only way to know what is best for your business, in your market.  (For our photo business, we stuck to Search Network, accelerated delivery, usually 6-10 ads at a time, almost no budget 6 months a year and a heavy Adwords budget from Dec 1 through April 30.  But you may get different results.)

What to focus on: Focus on what’s in it for your client.  Why do they care?  You’re a nice, sweet person with a great “eye” for photography, blahblah everyone else is too, blah!  There are very, very talented photographers in almost every market.  I know most of them. Stop bullshitting yourself that you are super unique and special because you aren’t competing with the 1980s websites and the 1980s hairstyles wedding photographers any more.  Everyone has nearly the same gear, nearly the same blogs they’ve ready for 3 years, and nearly every Photoshop action the same.  We know you all get your books from Millers, Asuka, Apollo, or Graphistudio.  So does everyone else.  You print at Mpix, Millers, SmugMug or some local shop.

So how do you differentiate?  Be specific and be a real business.  How do you decide which tablet or PC or phone or car to buy?  You compare facts. How do you decide which plumber or gardener to hire?  Or tax accountant?  Figure out what matters and sell that.  Does every photographer in your market sell the high resolution DVD?  Then stop bragging about it.  Businesses should have a USP – unique sales (or selling) proposition.  What separates you from the crowd?  Write ads based on that and you will succeed.  And use Adwords – unless you know Facebook makes sense for you.  (Side note: Facebook Ads are great for promoting your page and getting new fans.  They just suck for selling services.  Don’t mistake the two.  I’m talking about service sales here.)

Compare these two screenshots.  Tell me why Facebook Ads underperform again?  (Click for larger size.)

Facebook ads - wtf?

 

Google ads - relevancy

 

5) Paid Listings (Knot, WeddingWire, etc.)

Why: Paying for any type of ad – Adwords, Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. gives you “instant credibility.”  Oh, you’re on The Knot – surely you must be a professional photographer.  Only professional photographers are on the Knot.  Your ads show that you belong, right?  Maybe.  They do get you in front of brides.  It then becomes your job to close those brides and create revenue.

Knot, WeddingWire, PartyPop, WedPlan/Alert, MarketingTool, WeDJ – these are all listing sites that make you pay for the best listing spaces in your local region.  The problem is, they’re often not cheap.  I looked at this type of ad one year and we easily spent $700 per month on listing sites.  That’s $8400 for the year.  We booked 3 or 4 weddings from it so most people would say “they paid for themselves!” right?  No!

You would be correct that they were paid for – but they were bad investments.  We spend $8400 to make $10,000.  In that $10,000 are gear costs, overhead, cost of albums and products, time spent, taxes and insurance.  We probably made $100 on four weddings.  We spent a good 10 hours at each, 20 hours pre & post … so for 30×4 = 120 hours we got $100.  Yes, flopping Whoppers would pay much, much more.  We paid the advertisers.  They made money.  We did not.

How to market with paid listings:  Keep your listing updated. Add as much content as the site allows, then try to add more.  Make every contact a good one and do your best to book any inquiries from expensive sources.  You likely need to book 10+ weddings from TheKnot or WeddingWire and 5+ from others to make them worthwhile.  Keep that in mind and just focus on enhancing your listing as much as possible.  Note: If you are going to pay for a listing, get the best.  Don’t muck around with these mid-tier listings that everyone else has because it’s cheap.  If you’re going to throw money at a problem, throw enough to make a difference.  Go Gold, go Platinum.  Don’t sit in the muck with everyone.  Be a star!

What to focus on: Focus on your goals.  Know that you need to book X number of weddings for an ad source to be profitable.  Know your numbers, keep your goals in mind, and don’t forget to ask people where they first saw you so you can give proper attribution when you are making next year’s marketing budget.   I know it sounds like I’m “down” on paid listings but there is a valid reason for that.  It’s expensive and most people do not make their money back on these sites.  It’s mathematically impossible for most Knot photographers to book the required number of weddings – even if EVERY wedding in a market booked through the Knot, the math would be close.  And not even remotely close to “all” brides do use the Knot or WeddingWire.  If you know your goals, you can easily evaluate how profitable these sources were for you.

And yes, we definitely recommend spending your budget in other places.  We would love to run a comparison test for any photographer on a $250 per month Knot listing vs. our $225 per month SEO package.  We know we are very biased but I would bet my entire business that I could get a photographer more weddings through $225 per month SEO than any paid listing for the same price.  So yes, watch your spend here very closely.  (If I had to pick one paid source for wedding photography, I would take WeddingWire every day and twice on Tuesdays.  Your ad appears on Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings, Project Wedding, WeddingBee, and more of the top wedding planning sites.)

6) Social Networking with: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Why: Social media marketing (SMM) has grown up over the past two to three years.  We have evolved from random business success to tools dedicated to getting your message out.  People listen – we know social can sell and social can provide all the “proof” a client needs about your business.  You want to compete with the people who just started their wedding photography business after getting a camera for Christmas?  Point out your 1400 fans vs. their 24.  Point out the 50 weddings on your blog and in your Facebook photo albums.  This type of positive reinforcement for your longevity and professionalism is called “Social Proof.”  Having 5000 fans means you aren’t a new kid with a camera.

Social media also enables you to have conversations with vendors, potential clients, and their friends.  Use social media to network and “show off” your talent.  You can also answer questions about wedding planning, direct people to the resources they need, and generally be helpful to stressed out brides.  They appreciate that.

How to market on social media: Choose the right networks to play on!  Twitter is not a playground for wedding planning.  Facebook can be.  Pinterest and Etsy are.  If you’re a wedding photographer and you’re not on Pinterest but you are on Twitter, you’re lying to yourself.  You are lying that you spent your time wisely in the past, and you’re lying that you know what needs to be done in the future.  Brides have pushed Pinterest to be one of the fastest growing sites on the whole Internet.  What are you waiting for, next year?  It’s almost next year now.  Forget next year – join now.

Once you are on the right networks, learn about them.  Tailor your content to those who want to receive it.  Follow and you shall be followed.  You know the Golden Rule – do unto others?  Well do!  If you want interaction on your pins, interact on someone else’s.  If you want to have a conversation, start a conversation.  Social media is like friendship in that if you don’t return your friend’s calls, you never make the first move to initiate plans, and you generally treat them like a pawn to be played, they’ll dump you faster than that girl you fell in love with in 7th grade.  Make the effort.

What to focus on: Be useful. Nobody cares about you or your motivations until you care about them and theirs.  You want to start a conversation with the top wedding planner in your area?  So does every photographer within 100 miles.  And some within 250 miles. Why you?  Well, you commented on her post and taught her how to use Hootsuite.  You showed her your favorite 3 Pinterest groups and where to find affordable centerpieces on Ebay and Etsy.  You are being social.  Who doesn’t get the “featured vendor” listing?  ”Hey, I saw you are a wedding planner. Can I take you to lunch?”  That’s not social.  That’s bribery.  Everyone knows what comes next.  ”So, can you add me to your list?”  At the best, “Here’s some of my work, I think I’m a good value, can you add me to your list?”

How about you take a vendor out to get to know them?  Find out what they did over the holidays, take an interest in their life.  Find out what they need and how you can help them (legitimately help, not just help enough to get them to help you.)  My best wedding vendor friends were always friends first.  Send me 10 weddings or send me 1. I’m still going to ask about your business and care when you say you need help.  I will offer some ideas and suggestions if you want, or a shoulder to cry on if you just need to complain about a problem client.  Yeah, some photographer took you out to lunch.  Fine by me.  There are a lot of photographers in our town. If you only like me because I was the last one to give you a sample album, it will only last until someone else does anyway.

Also, learn to use social media wisely.  Trudge through our Twitter tools list and find out how to automate some of your post schedule and spend more time on the conversations and replies that need personal attention.  Don’t beg, don’t whine, and remember, tell people what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you.  (These Twitter searches are always good if you need to throw up.  ”Please, please, PLEASE LIKE ME ON TWITTER! And follow me.  You can help me by following and tweeting and doing lots of crap for me.”  G A G.  H U R L!)

social media ugh wtf

7) Bridal shows & Lists

Why: Bridal shows tell you everything you need to know about you and your business in about 4 to 8 hours.  You will meet a few hundred brides, get instant feedback through facial expressions and body language, and immediately know whether your marketing was successful.  Bridal shows give you the opportunity to show off your stellar personality and all that unique quirkiness you think makes you awesome.  You can explain your portfolio and talk about their weddings.  You will get a fair shot at most couples and you can often win people over who may have chosen someone else a day before or a day later.

How to market at bridal shows:  Stick to the biggest shows.  Everyone who goes to a small (50-150 bride) show will go to a big show. Don’t let the marketers fool you – you won’t be the only photographer, you won’t be booking 50 brides at a “small” show – fewer people walk by to show your stuff to and the bottom line is numbers.

Be prepared for the show.  Have handouts and promotional materials they can take home.  Make sure you are memorable without being annoying, pesty or generally anything bad.  You’re a photographer so show photos – don’t show them video unless you do it.  Don’t show them a slideshow – it looks too much like video.  Show what you want to sell because brides buy what they’re shown.  One year we brought only flushmounts and sold more flushmounts (but fewer overall albums) than any other year.  The next year we brought a mix and sold a mix.  Bring what you wish to sell.  Don’t bring 15-20 page albums hoping you can upsell them on a bigger size and three times the pages later.  It sucks.  How do you feel if you go to the car dealership, buy the new car, go back to pick it up and they say “well, your car isn’t here … but we found you one that’s exactly what you wanted, just $3000 more”?  You feel like crap.  Wedding photography is an emotional business.  Do not make your potential clients feel like crap.  Do not make your clients feel like crap after the wedding, either.

What to focus on: Them.  You probably get the theme of this Marketing Guide for Photographers by now, right?  What is in it for the client?  What do they get, what should they expect, how does it solve their problems or make their life better?  What do you do so amazingly well that nobody else does?

Also, focus on the medium.  With any of these marketing tactics, make sure you tailor your message to where the audience sees it.  They are seeing you – so be professional, smile, be happy and fairly upbeat.  Don’t expect to book a lot of weddings at a bridal show if you sit on your butt and hand out flyers while the photographer 8 booths down is standing up, giving presentations, smiling, and frankly, a lot hotter looking than you.   She did her makeup, she cares about her appearance and she is offering something they want – a connection.  Too often, people sit in their seats, answer a few questions, go home and don’t book much of anything.  Then they think “well, we’re better photographers than her so why did that happen?!  Brides must be stupid if they can’t see how awesome our work is.”

You are selling a service and a product.  How you market and present those in a face-to-face setting matters very much.  Every other method will get you an interview.  Bridal shows ARE interviews.  You must be able to close sales to be in business.  Practice your spiel before the show to your family & friends, coworkers, and your mirror.  Make it professional, helpful and direct.  Don’t be afraid to sell because that girl 8 booths down just said “If you book us today you get $250 off and a free engagement session.”  That’s going to tempt these people … and now they’re headed your way.  Change their minds.

This is my old team setting up for a bridal show.  I am not telling you these things because I read them in books.  I have stood where you will stand.

bridal show

8) Get Referrals, Reviews and WOM

Why: Reviews, referrals and word of mouth recommendations of your business are easily the single most important piece of marketing you can do in photography or any other small business.  It’s free, it’s powerful and it’s direct to a potential client.  You should encourage word of mouth marketing and reviews at any possible stage.  Most of our own (SEO) business is based on referrals.  I am currently working with FIVE clients in one region in the US, all in different businesses.  One photographer found us, sent us another business friend, who referred us to two clients, one of whom referred us to another.  The process works when you are referable.

How to market for referrals and word of mouth: I wish you could plan and promote this stuff.  All you can do is either a) ask for referrals or b) be so amazing at your job that people refer you naturally.  Or both.  I often ask for reviews – I’ll do it again soon, too.  I usually do it when someone has already complimented us, though.  My client the other day said “you are absolutely the best thing that has happened to my business this year!”  I said “I should make you write that in a testimonial!”  And he will – I will add that to our reviews page soon, as a matter of fact.  So if you see the opportunity, take it.

Let’s be honest – in wedding photography, referrals aren’t what they used to be.  Sisters don’t want to use the same photographer.  They want to be unique.  Friends want to plan “their own” wedding, not have the same vendors a friend had.  Word of mouth used to mean “you’re getting a wedding photographer you can rely on.”  Now, it just means “nah, I probably won’t use yours.  I can see these other 100 are pretty good.  I’ll have my  photographer.”

What to focus on: So how do you drive word of mouth?  Some photographers run contests.  We did this with disastrous results twice.  Nobody likes to lose.  ”They cheated!” “I won, didn’t I? I was winning yesterday!”  ”What does second place get?”  Oh, stop me before I continue.  Contests can be fine but be careful about running them on Facebook (there are rules!)  and people misunderstand the rules.  (Yes, again, those are links.  View them, come back.)

Just remind people (who you have already performed for, helped, and otherwise already gave to) that you could use a referral or a review if they would like to give you one.  If you did everything right, booked the client, kept them happy, fulfilled your obligations, and were pleasant to them, most likely you just got a great review for your website and possibly WeddingWire or your Google Plus Page.

9) Wedding Site Submissions

Why: Many other websites want your great photos to show off on their site.  Examples include: TwoBrightLights, Junebug Weddings. Elizabeth Anne Designs. Southern Weddings, WeddingGawker and WeddingBee.  By submitting your weddings, you are promoting your website, giving the couple some (usually fun) exposure, and broadening your chances of getting links back to your site, follow up pins on Pinterest, and other marketing benefits.  You are also reusing content so the creation time is nearly zero and the return is possibly high.  WeddingGawker is a fantastic site to start with if you want to get your feet wet on “wedding submissions.”  They only require one image and the guidelines are quite easy to understand.

How to market for site submissions: Volume.  Don’t leave any posts out.  Some submission sites require exclusivity so submit to the best ones first and work your way down the line – but never have content that hasn’t been submitted.  Go back and submit all your old posts, one every third day, to WeddingGawker.  Then submit a few weddings to your favorite “real weddings” sites.  See what sites work best for you and stick with those.

Remember to market your absolute best work on these sites.  You get *one* photo for WeddingGawker and the better it is, the higher on the page it will show up when it’s approved.  So make it amazing and clickable.

What to focus on: Again, just get it done.  This is work but it’s good work.  You can build links (SEO), make great social connections with those who run the sites (social media), advertise on these sites if they use Google (content network, partners) and generally get more eyes on your work.  None of this is ever bad so just do a lot of it.

10) Other ways to market your photography business

Brainstorm this.  Press releases, email lists, referral programs, commenting on other photographers blogs, become a valuable forum member for a local forum, join the BBB or Chamber of Commerce and participate in their events.  Go to Meetups, network at church.  Really, your imagination is the limit as far as marketing.  I won’t rehash every other way to market but I will give you a great direction.  Jodi at MCP Actions created a list of 50 Marketing Tips for Photographers so check that out, too.

You should also view some of our old posts about marketing.  Try these:

 

Remember give & take?  I am giving you this guide to promote your wedding photography businesses and improve your digital marketing skills.  I would love it if you would take the time to push a couple of the social media buttons to share this Marketing Guide with your social media circles.  You don’t *have* to and most of you won’t, but you’d gain my appreciation – which may help you get a great answer if you ask me a question about marketing or SEO later.  (See how this all works together?  I love marketing!)

A downloadable PDF of the Marketing Guide is now available at: http://www.highonseo.com/resources/2013-Marketing-Guide-for-Photographers.pdf

 


A List of Lists: 46+ Useful List Posts You Can Use NOW

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Blog Roundup, High on SEO News, Marketing, SEO Tips, Social Media, Wordpress Tips 1 Comment

I read every day about SEO, PPC, SEM, conversion rate optimization, content marketing, Google Local, SPYW, Webmasters Tools and social media.  I spent the year learning about psychology and professional writing, influence and sales tactics.  I save everything I find useful either in our /social-media stream, Evernote, bookmarks, or sharing on Inbound.org   Remember how I said I read a LOT?  I do.

So I read a lot on a variety of topics.  What’s in it for you?  How about a comprehensive list of the top “list posts” of my reading year.  I scoured my bookmarks, searched my Evernotes, plundered Inbound.  Here are (over) 46 of the best, most useful, entertaining, functional, tool-laden list posts you could ever want.  

If you want to see these posts as I read them and share them, follow us on Twitter.

SEO & Link building

 

Marketing

 

Google (Local, SPYW, Adwords, Analytics)

 

Social Media

 

Writing & Blogging

 

General Business/ Other

 

If you got something useful from this post, please share it!  

If you know of great list posts I missed, link it in the comments and I’ll try to update this until 12/31.


Page slugs, Permalinks, and Page Titles

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Wordpress Tips 1 Comment

When you write a post in WordPress (and other blogging platforms) the software generates a link based on the title of your post.   The part of your link after the “template” is called the “page slug.”

Templates? Slugs?  What?

A permalink structure is essentially a template, or a set way of making something on your site.  For instance, on this blog, our template is /year/month/postname.   The previous post on 3 Types of SEO Backlinks, has this as its permanent URL:

http://www.highonseo.com/2012/08/backlinks-mentions-citations-listings/

You’ve seen thousands of links and probably dissected some so you may understand what this means.  Let’s take this one apart.

http://   This tells the browser the type of document you’re looking for.  You may not use other protocols (ftp://) but they exist.

www.highonseo.com  This is the domain – you know this.

/2012/08/  This is the permalink structure.   It’s based on a template in your WordPress Settings > Permalinks.

backlinks-mentions-citations-listings  This is the page slug for the post.  It identifies an individual post.

How are slugs created?

Wordpress will create your slug by using the post title.  For instance, the title of this post is:

Page slugs, Permalinks, and Page Titles 

And the default slug is:

page-slugs-permalinks-and-page-titles

Matchy-matchy, right?  This is how slugs are created.

So how can you control your page slugs and permalinks?

For SEO purposes, having the default page slug may not always be best.   For instance, you notice the default slug above contains the word “and” which is a waste of space as far as Google is concerned.   Also, we’ve been using the word “slug” in this post, not “page slug” so that is also somewhat wasted space.

Now, look in the address bar for this post.  You can see we’ve changed the slug from:

page-slugs-permalinks-and-page-titles

to

page-slugs-permalinks-titles

We haven’t been giving you information, we’re teaching you.  Do you understand why we’ve changed the slug?   Google has operating costs.  One of those costs is based on how many characters they store in their many databases.  Longer slugs would also allow the potential for more spam (think buy-cheap-viagra-while-gambling-at-casino-games-spam-spam-spam).    Short, accurate slugs are helpful when targeting keywords as well.  If your keywords are 25% of the slug (1 word in 4) that’s more powerful than if they’re 16% of the slug (1 in 6).

So should you change slugs or leave the default?  Does it matter?  Can you mess it up?

The answers seem to be:  change it if you know why and how.  Leave it if you still don’t understand it.  It does matter but it’s not absolutely necessary.   If you change the slug to be completely unrelated to your post that is a problem.  Google wants your slug to match your content so don’t try to change every slug to syracuse-wedding-photographer-1, syracuse-wedding-photographer-2, cny-wedding-photography14.   It will get your site into deep, deep trouble.

Change slugs to save space, better match your keywords and focus your keywords.  Don’t change them to create spam.  Remember: Google is always working to eliminate spam.  If you’re spam, you’re on the “to be eliminated” list.


Planning Blog Topics: Short Term vs. Long Term Strategy

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Wordpress Tips 2 Comments

Are you planning blog topics ahead?  Or do you blog from way behind on work?  Learn how to blog professionally and increase traffic, conversions and SEO for your blog.  

This post is written mainly for wedding photography SEO but can be adapted to fit any small business’ SEO needs.  The best way to see what we think are good blog topics for a small business is look at what we have written about for the past 3-6 months for this SEO blog.  We started our SEO career as photographers and with it, doing SEO for photographers.   We know what many of our photography clients are going through as they write blog posts for SEO because we were there doing it with them.   Now, as small business owners in another industry, we’ve discovered some professional tips for planning blog topics strategically for best results.

Planning Blog Topics:  Why are you blogging? 

Short term blogging strategy means looking at why you are blogging individual posts.  Why are you blogging that client’s images?  Why are you behind in blogging?  When you are blogging from behind, you are planning blog topics that cover what you’ve already done.  Your thinking may go like this:  

I shot 3 portraits, 2 weddings and 1 model session since I last blogged.  I should blog a portrait, a wedding, another portrait, then the model, another wedding and finish blogging the portraits.

When you plan blog topics based on what you’ve already done, it’s important to ask yourself what you gain from the posts.  Are you aiming at location keywords (“wedding photographer in Indianapolis”) or are you looking for image keywords?  Are you blogging for SEO?  Are you trying to sell new clients on your impressive photos?  Are you ego-blogging (yours or the clients)?   Until you understand the “why” of your blogging, you’ll find it difficult to improve your scheduling.

If you are blogging for SEO, keep in mind that SEO blogging is about  more than putting a keyword in the title of the post.  You need to focus on the keyword in the post as well as the secondary keyphrases (venue locations & names, “wedding reception photos at …” and other vendors).  If you blog for SEO purposes without getting all the SEO benefits you can, you’re wasting time.   Don’t waste 45 minutes writing a flowing, beautiful blog entry filled with 60 unkeyworded images and no keywords in the post because you focused on the couple.  Yes, you shot beautiful photos.  Now you said you’re blogging for SEO – finish up with image SEO (alt tags) and keywording within your post. 

If you are blogging for sales to new clients, are you giving them an easy way to contact you at the end of each post?  Are you pushing them to your galleries, pricing page or contact information?  Your stated goal is conversions from new clients.  What words are you using to sell them?  Be direct at the end of your post.  If you’re blogging for sales, try “We would love to be your wedding photographer.  Please contact us today at x@y.com to learn more about our wedding photography packages!”  Once you get text you feel is working, keep it and use it on all blog posts.  Keep in mind small changes may affect your sales.  Try new ideas for your posts – more images, fewer images, more text, less text, call to action email address, phone number, maybe a colorful button – vary it.  See what brings more work and then repeat the best solutions often.

If you are egoblogging for you or your clients, ask yourself why.  Are you gaining new sales?  Probably not.  Do your clients send you a ton of referral work?  Maybe, maybe not.   Are you focused on SEO?  Not if you’re egoblogging.  Ego blogging is all about images and flowery, fun language written as if you’re talking to your best friend, not your potential clients.  It’s not informative about your services and is not SEO copywriting – at least enough to warrant search engine attention.  Ego blogging is fantastic if you have the time and clientele without blogging for marketing purposes.  These type of blogs are not our focus here.  Repeatedly posting nothing but client sessions with “We loved Jamie & John’s wedding.  It was beautiful!” neither sells you nor helps your SEO.  ”We loved being Jamie & John’s Chicago wedding photographers for their beautiful ceremony at St. Something’s Church” tells what you do again (repetition is key!) and it helps your SEO.  

Planning Blog Topics: Long term strategy

To do lists and blogging share similar strategy.  You must do the short-term tasks.  You have to edit that wedding, blog that portrait session, design that album.   But you understand you also need to be doing long-term planning as well. You need to be marketing for 2013 wedding photography.  You need to be planning blog topics that don’t just show off what you can do but help your potential clients plan their weddings, show off your product and tell more about you personally, if that’s a reason you’re blogging.

Long term blog posts for SEO - If you never blog about your products, it’s hard to link potential clients to those products.  Imagine your blog in 2 years.  Don’t you want a collection of outdoor weddings to show up on Google?  Or maybe your index of all 2012 weddings?  Among the most important would be your products.  In 2 years if you have a collection of blog posts like “Buying a flushmount album for your wedding” and “Why full resolution images on a dvd cost so much” and “Quick tips for planning your Memphis wedding in 2013″ do you think this would result in traffic that may lead to future clients?  We have booked weddings off our “Affordable Wedding Photography in Melbourne” post as well as our “Melbourne Bridal Shows 2012” post.  Both regularly appear on page 1 of Google for related searches.   

What posts should you have on your site that aren’t there now?  Some of our favorites are Year Weddings.  Post all of your 2011 weddings with a link, date, ceremony & reception venue, as well as city & state.

Marta & Rich | July 2, 2011 | Wedding photography at Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park

How will this help your SEO?  In addition to creating an internal link to the post, you’re creating context for your year.  You can link a potential client to this index post, push that link harder on social media so you know it’s been seen by a large audience and have it as a go-to for future posts where you need the link for a particular client.  It’s organizational, SEO-building and self-referential as far as potential clients.  It also keeps people on your site.  If they view one wedding, they may go back to the post and view 2, 3 or 4 – all of which help your SEO metrics such as time on site & bounce rate, which affect SEO as we talked about last week. 

Our Bubble Pond post currently sits 4th on Google for the term bubble pond acadia wedding photos.  How do we know?  We had a web visitor come via that keyword this morning.  They stayed on site for almost 4 minutes, visited our gallery, pricing page, then contact page, before leaving.  Maybe if we were still in Maine they would have contacted us.   When people are searching for photos that represent their venue or reception site they want photographers experienced in these venues.  We’ve shown them photos from their venue; now they know what to expect from us in that very location.

When you are planning blog topics for the future (and you should be planning a month ahead), remember these tips.  Focus on long-term posts as well as short-term quick hits. 


Manage Blog Spam | SEO Quick Tips

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Wordpress Tips 3 Comments

Should you manage blog spam or just let it through to show more comments on your blog?  Does it matter?

Should you manage blog spam?

Think like Google.  Remember, that’s our mantra.  What does Google want?  The best websites with the best content which searchers love to stay on, right?

What does it tell Google if you say “I let all the spam through”?  It says “I’m not really paying attention, I don’t care, or I don’t know how to manage my site.  Maybe I have abandoned it.”

Do you want to tell Google these things?  If you were sitting down at the table with Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, and he asks “why would a real buyer want to visit a page full of links to viagra?”  What could you say?  Could you honestly tell him it’s in their customer (searcher)’s best interest to see those spam and sometimes virus filled links?

Of course not.  To create the best experience for your end user you want to manage blog spam.  Yes, it’s a pain in your buttookas.  Let’s see how we can simplify managing comment spam.

WordPress plugins & settings

We use two WordPress fixes to manage blog spam on all of our sites and they work together very well.  The first is under Settings > Discussion > Blacklist.  We have implemented our own blacklist with IPs that regularly spam along with some of the blacklists on SpamLinks.net  This is the first level of comment elimination.  You can’t really post too many bad things in our comment section.

The best plugin I have found for WordPress is the basic Akismet plugin.  With Akismet charging new business users, many of my colleagues use GASP or just Bad Behavior.   Bad Behavior can keep spammers from even seeing your site (beautiful for preventing some of them from dropping virus/hack attacks as well.)

Whatever plugin you use, check the settings after installing and make sure it’s doing what you want.  Then you’ll be (mostly) spam free.

Manage blog spam manually

Sometimes spam slips through.  Other times legitimate comments are marked spam by these plugins.  Your job is to filter out the bad, keep every good comment you get and keep up in a timely way.   Manual management of your comments in WordPress is fairly straightforward (approve, deny, spam it) and every “spam” you mark helps WordPress keep future spammers out so the time is an investment in the future of your blog.

 


Website Speed Affects SEO & How to Speed Up

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips, Wordpress Tips 5 Comments

Google announced over 2 years ago that website speed is a factor in SEO rankings.  Since then many sets of data have come out to tell us how to determine what relevance website speed has on the overall Google algorithm.  Some say “not much at all” and others say “some but don’t make it your focus” and others say “it’s extremely relevant!”

We think you should focus on Google’s goals and ultimately, the data.

How much does website speed matter in SEO?

We think the value in having a fast website is increasing every year.  Five years ago it didn’t matter at all as far as SERPs were concerned.  3 years ago it may have started to be an issue.  Obviously Google’s announcement two years ago set the bar to say at least that it mattered a little.   Now?  We think it’s relevance has increased.

First, let’s look at what a “fast website” looks like.  This is the data brought to us by SEOMoz  last year:

  • If your site loads in 5 seconds it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  • If your site loads in 2.9 seconds it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  • If your site loads in 1.7 seconds it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  • If your site loads in 0.8 seconds it is faster than approximately 94% of the web1
Moz argued that website speed would only matter if you were excruciatingly slow.  You remember our theory on Google’s thinking, right?  Every second counts when you’re processing nearly 700 BILLION search requests per year.
We believe if Google could just write a sentence that summed up SEO it would say “Provide exceptional on-page content in the best user experience possible then label it appropriately so we can find it.”   Now, let’s dissect the Google algorithm just a bit from that.
“Provide exceptional on page content” = write good articles.  Don’t spin the same crap over & over again.  Create useful pages that visitors love to stay on.
“in the best user experience possible” = Google is ABSOLUTELY focused on the aspects of your site that make searchers stay.  We have statistics for “time on site” and “bounce rate” because of Google’s obsession with sending people to the right page.   The “right” page is the one searchers stay on.  Website speed is ultimately a huge factor in bounce rate, time on site, stickiness of a page, number of pages visited per domain, etc.

How else can website speed affect your business?

The most important thing we’re always carrying on about on this blog is CRO – conversion rate optimization.  Do you expect to convert 100% of your search traffic?  Of course not.  But how can website speed make it impossible to convert anyone?
The last site speed test we did was on the SEO for a photographer in Indiana. (details removed)  Her site took almost 16 seconds to load including over 60 seconds on first load.  That puts her slower than 98% of the internet.  Do you think Google wants to reward her site with high SERPs?  According to KissMetrics, page abandonment increases with loading time.  Websites that take 10 seconds to load have lost 1/3 of their traffic.   At 16 seconds, you would expect this number to top 50%.  You may lose HALF of your traffic before they even see the content of your page.   Some sources report that as much as 40% of your traffic could be lost if nothing has loaded in 3 seconds.
website speed affects SEO
Now, factor in how many of your visitors are on mobile devices.  In the last 3 months, nearly 12% of our traffic for HighonSEO.com has come from mobile visitors.  Mobile networks are much slower on average than home services.  Now your site that took 16 seconds to load takes 30.  99% of your traffic will be gone in 30 seconds.  The other 1% is sticking around just because they want to see if it ever loads.
Our site speed at HighonSEO is currently 4.95 seconds.  We are always striving to improve this.  Our new Melbourne wedding photography website clocks in at a brisk 1.96 seconds.   This is essentially how your report should look.  (Yes, photographers.  You will have more image and thus slower loading sites.  Your goal is to be faster than all of the photography sites around you.)
melbourne seo business

How do you increase your website speed?

First, use the site speed tool at Pingdom.   Find out which pieces of your site are slowing you down.   We use Pingdom on every SEO client to see how their site is responding.
What is causing your issue?  Can you cache the page (WordPress users: WP Supercache plugin) ?  Can you use gzip or wp minify to compress files or javascript?  Are huge images (over 250 kb per image) taking visitors minutes to load?  Or maybe you have too many photos per page?  Any more than 4 MB of data is likely to be way too much data for your typical visitor.
This is a segment of the report for that photographer’s website speed.  Take a look at the size of the images.
large images affecting website speed
Photoshop has a command called “save for web” and if you do it correctly, you can save a lot of image kb size while retaining quality and optimizing for the internet.  Clearly a site that takes this long to load is going to be penalized by Google – likely very harshly.
Once you know what is causing your problem (slow web hosting, large images, uncompressed javascript files) you can search for solutions.  Make your website speed up and you’ll watch your search engine rankings go up as well.

Yoast’s WordPress SEO Setup

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Wordpress Tips 3 Comments

Two weeks ago we said we would be converting our sites to Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin and we have.  Now some data is back on a few configurations we tested and we can hopefully guide you a bit in your  Wordpress SEO setup.

Install and activate Yoast’s WordPress SEO

We chose to upload the files for WordPress SEO using Plugins > Add New and then searching for WordPress SEO.  You are looking for WordPress SEO by Yoast  Adding plugins through WordPress itself is the simplest way  - no FTP download or upload required.

Once you’ve clicked “install now” and confirmed, you need to activate the plugin.   Then you’ll see a new menu item called “SEO” so let’s go there.

Moving from Headspace or AIOSEO (All In One SEO) to WordPress SEO

If you are moving from Headspace or AIOSEO to Yoast’s WordPress SEO, start at the “import & export” section of SEO settings.   Check the right box, import your old data.  Also, you can import settings from Robots Meta, RSS Footer or Yoast’s Breadcrumbs’ plugins.  

WordPress SEO setup: Dashboard

Simple options here.  If you have authors who you don’t trust to do the SEO for their posts, check the box under Security.  If not, leave it alone.  

Under webmaster tools, if you haven’t verified your sites enter your details.  If you have, leave these alone.  If you’d rather move your verification to here, we have done it and it seems to work but it’s an unnecessary step for most of you.

If you need to reset your WordPress SEO settings for any reason, you do it in dashboard, here.

WordPress SEO setup: Titles & Meta

 This is the heart of WordPress SEO and also where you may stumble the most setting it up yourself.   Just bear with us and if you want to do something another way, go for it.  These are tested settings that we know work.

General tab: 

  • Do not force rewrite titles unless you understand why.  We do not force on our sites.
  • Check Add noodp and noydir so Google doesn’t use “other” titles for your pages any more than they already do.
  • Check all four boxes for “clean up the <head>”  These create a better overall SEO experience and shorter code (higher density for your keywords).
  • We left noindex archives unchecked.  We want our archives indexed, but no other pages.  We’ll turn those off in the coming sections.

Home tab:

For Title and Description, enter the title and description you want on the homepage.  Author highlighting should default to your primary author or “Don’t Show” if you don’t have a primary author.

Posts Types tab:

We prefer to use the title template of Post title | Sitename so our Title Template is %%title%% | %%sitename%%

This results in a post like “Think Like Google, Genius | High on SEO”

Title is pulled from the  SEO Title you set on each post.  Sitename is pulled from your Settings > General > Site Title.  

Copy similar title template settings to pages and media, then click “noindex, follow” on Media only.

Taxonomies tab:

We used the defaults here.  Then click “noindex, follow” on all 3 sections (categories, tags, format).  We want Google following our archives, not our categories (since we post some posts to 2 categories it would create duplicate content.)  

Other tab: 

Noindex, follow the author archives.  Date based archives are what we’re letting be indexed so leave that alone.   You should setup your title similar to the default Yoast template or if you know what you want, include that here.

Leave “Special Pages” settings alone unless you have a specific reason to change them.

WordPress SEO setup: Social 

 If you want to be able to track insights in WordPress SEO, Add a Facebook Admin by authorizing the app on Facebook (click the link, follow instructions).   Once connected, you should see your display name from Facebook and an X next to it – this means it worked correctly.  Check the box to “Add OpenGraph meta data.”  

We found no reason to add Twitter card meta data to our site so we left this blank.  Unless you must have it, ignore this setting.

WordPress SEO setup: XML Sitemaps

  • Check the box to enable sitemap functionality.  If you have been using Google XML sitemaps plugin and submitted a sitemap to Webmasters Tools you will need to get your new link (sitemap-index.xml) and submit that to Webmasters but do that after we finish the settings.  
  • Ping Yahoo – yes.
  • Ping Ask – yes.
  • Exclude post types – only check Media.  We want a sitemap for posts and one for pages.  This is going to be our entire sitemap.
  • Exclude taxonomies – check all three boxes: categories, tags, format.   We don’t need duplicate content in our sitemap and all categories and tags are already found in posts, above.

WordPress SEO setup: Permalinks

We strongly recommend setting up your permalinks in Settings > Permalinks and then leaving this section alone entirely.  Stripping category tags may change old links you have built around the web.  Enforcing trailing slashes, redirecting, and cleaning ugly URLs – if your site is extremely new, do whatever you choose here but for older, established sites, leave permalinks alone.  

WordPress SEO setup: the rest

 Leave internal links, RSS and Edit files stay as they are by default unless you have a good (and known) reason for changing them.

 

Now what?  You’re ready to post with Yoast.  Tomorrow, we’ll finish the week with a short explanation of how to best post with the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.  


High on SEO Goes Mobile & So Should You

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Wordpress Tips Comments Off

Do you have a mobile version of your website?  How does it look on an iPhone or Blackberry or Droid?  iPad?  

Why we’ve gone mobile

Our main website for photography is a full screen, large image, large portfolio website with hundreds of 900px wide photos.   The site is nearly impossible to navigate on an iPhone.  When it accounted for 2-3 percent of traffic, we were more worried about optimizing the desktop browser experience for our users.  That’s changing, however.

We know from tracking our Google Analytics that mobile use is increasing across all of our sites and currently lands between 10 and 15% of our Best Day Photo traffic on any given day.  Here at High on SEO, it fluctuates dramatically.  On weekends it’s around 15% and on weekdays 5%.  We assume most tech pros and full time business professionals are still on desktops or laptops working with powerful Office suite software and proprietary programs that haven’t been ported to mobile yet.  Weekends, we know they are checking us out on an ipad, hopefully on the beach.

Check out your own traffic.  Is mobile use on the rise?  If your visitors are the type who are likely to use a mobile device to access your site, maybe you should be going mobile as well.

How we went mobile

You’ll love this.  We used one simple little WordPress plugin called WPTouch.  Login to your WordPress dashboard, go to plugins and search for WPTouch all one word.  You can also get it here.   Once it’s installed, simply work your way through the settings in Settings > WPTouch and then at the bottom of the settings you’ll see your pages.  Check the box for which pages you wish to see, setup the appropriate icon or upload one you’d rather have and save the changes.  Voila, you’re mobile! 

Simple, huh? 

Check out our mobile site by going to http://www.highonseo.com from your iPhone, Droid or other smartphone.


Feedback on our mobile website has been great so far.  These are a sample of our responses:

Just had a look on my phone ( windows) looks good was easy to navigate and I could see everything.

Looks good on ny Droid! Well done! I like the ease of navigation too.

Beautiful!  How did you do that?  I love the navigation and the pictures look great!



Technical Tuesday: Find Duplicate Content

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips, Wordpress Tips Comments Off

Technical Tuesday is a new series dedicated to fixing the coding or technical issues your site may be having.  Technical SEO accounts for a large portion of on-site SEO so make sure you check back every Tuesday for more.  Use the Technical Tuesday category on the right sidebar to find them all.

Use the “site:yoursite.com” operator to find on-site duplicate content

Type this into Google:  site:highonseo.com

Before this post, I have 96 results on this domain.  (Since the change from PhotoSEO.info)  

According to my WordPress Dashboard, I have

57 Posts
14 Pages
7 Categories
341 Tags

The issue is simple: 96 pages show up on Google while 57+14 (pages + posts) = 71.  Let’s find the problem links.  

What do I know?  I know that I eliminated duplicate content early in my blog’s history so I’m going to assume some of the problems are with early content.  One of my early posts on this blog is “Google, why do you vex us so?”  Since “vex” is an unlikely word, if I search the domain with this word, I’m likely to stumble on the pattern.

finding duplicate content

Bingo!  We nailed it first shot.  It’s an archive link (/2011/03)  I am betting a second search will nail the rest of my issues.

Ready to check it?  Use the same search but check for 2011 content.  site:highonseo.com 2011  Click the image for a full size version.  We did it!  Archives are being indexed.

finding duplicate content

Let’s stop that from happening.

Using All in one SEO plugin, it’s very simple.  

noindex

Use noindex for archives was, in fact, unchecked.  By checking that box, we’ve told Google not to index it.  We can fix their current indexing in our Webmasters tools but for now, let’s call that a step in the right direction.

You can utilize the site:yourdomain.com tag to find duplicate content fairly easily.  Most duplicate content comes from a couple of places: categories, tags, archives, especially for blogs.  Check site:yoursite.com tags to find out if you have 100s or 1000s of runaway links.  

Find off-site duplicate content

What is off site duplicate content?  The main one for our discussion today is “stolen content.”   

We use a site called Copyscape to protect our work.   The results of two copyscape searches can be seen below.  The first is a general search for my site.  I don’t have a lot of text so it always comes up 0 results.  The second shows what happens if you have content stolen.   We have a section of our vendor reviews called “in their own words” that summarizes a business.  We take this directly from their site as part of their review.  You can see 4 results – pages that have the same text in the same order in a high enough percentage to be considered “copies.”  

copyspace in use

vs.

copyspace in use

We’ve found many, many sites infringing on our articles, copyright, etc. using Copyscape and contacted webmasters to have those duplicates removed or changed.

Duplicate info may not hurt your SEO on your own domain – that’s up for debate – but duplicate content off your site does you no good.  Clean it up!  We’ll explore other ways to find duplicate content later but you have some homework now.