SEO FAQ

How do I rank #1 in search engine results?

Let’s be honest, this is what everyone wants to know, right? :)  We’ll get there!  But we’ve got just a few other things to address first, which may help in understanding this question, and it’s answer better.

Google Home Page

What does SEO stand for?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”  Most folks (including us and this tutorial) use the term “SEO” generally for anything related to search engines and getting a site to rank higher in a search engine’s results listing.

Are ProPhoto sites SEO friendly? What about mobile?

Yes! WordPress is somewhat SEO friendly, right “out of the box”, but ProPhoto enhances your content automatically to make your site even more SEO friendly. And if you use the Mobile Layout in ProPhoto, your site will pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test as well.

WordPress and ProPhoto create the HTML code of your site in a manner that is easily read by search engines.  This DOES NOT mean that having a ProPhoto site will automatically place you at the top of search engine rankings.  It simply means that your site has an excellent foundation for search engines to find and read the content from your site; which in turn can result in better ranking results.  Search engines like sites where the code is easy to read.

Source Code

The way ProPhoto creates your site’s HTML code is the ‘how’, but your content is the ‘what’ that search engines look for.

Does ProPhoto include any SEO options if I want to make tweaks?

It sure does!  Within the “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Advanced” > “SEO” area, you’ll see a number of options where you can control the following:

  • Title Tagging
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Meta Keywords (no longer an SEO factor)
  • Prevent Duplicate Content

Read more about ProPhoto’s SEO Options in our site’s help area.

If you don’t feel comfortable making any changes in this area though, don’t worry, the default setup is great and is used by thousands of ProPhoto sites to great effect – we’ve fine-tuned them for you.

What if I don’t like ProPhoto’s SEO options and I want to use an SEO plugin, can I do that?

Absolutely! (although make sure to read the next section, below) You are free to use a WordPress plugin to manage SEO yourself if you’d like, even though it’s more complicated and time consuming. Two plugins that are very popular and seem to work well with ProPhoto are:

Just be aware, if you do use a plugin, make sure to disable the ProPhoto SEO options under “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Advanced” > “SEO”, since running more than one SEO solution on one site can lead to duplicate tags or content in your source code, which search engines don’t like. It can also break some ProPhoto features like Facebook integration.

Also, if you are using the ProPhoto Caching feature, (on by default) please disable the “Force Rewrites” feature in All in One SEO, which is found in that plugin under the “Performance” area, seen here:

All In One SEO's "Performance" settings area

All In One SEO’s “Performance” settings area: disable the Force Rewrites option

Will (fill in the blank) help me rank higher in search results?

Although certainly not exhaustive, here is a common list of “fill in the blank” options that customers ask us about:

  • “using an SEO plugin”
  • “adding alt text to all of my images”
  • “adding categories, tags, etc to my posts”
  • “using header tags inside posts/pages”

In general, the answer is: potentially, yes. It’s possible that you might be able to eek out a bit more SEO benefit for your ProPhoto site by doing any of the above. However, the actual benefit to your site is likely to be pretty small or negligible. In most cases, the tiny benefit can require a lot of additional work for you. (e.g. applying a number of different SEO options to every post/page you create using a plugin, adding tags/keywords/descriptions to every image, etc.)

So if you are the type of person who wants to get every little bit of SEO benefit that you can out of your site, and you don’t mind doing the extra work to get it, go for it! But, be aware that you’re most likely not going to see huge SEO benefit from doing all of this extra work, and your energies might be better spent promoting your site or creating content on your site. Chasing search engines instead of actual visitors is not a long-term strategy for your site anyway. Which brings us to the question we’ve all been waiting for…..

So, how do I rank #1 in search engine result rankings?

Worst Music Videos Search

No matter what type of competition you’re talking about — Survivor, March Madness, the Worst Music Video of All Time — there can only be one #1. And being #1 at anything usually requires a great deal of hard work, and possibly a little bit of luck. The same generally applies to websites and search engine rankings. A website doesn’t become #1 in search results because of some “secret magic code” hidden in the bowels of the site. You’ve got to work at it.

So instead of focusing on #1, it’s best to focus on what is known about search engines and how they rank sites. In the end, search engines rank sites based on their own determinations, which change over time. Here are some time-tested, practical things you can do for good ranking:

Create Quality Site Content on a Regular Basis

It may sound silly, but one of the biggest things you can do to help your site’s SEO ranking is to simply create good quality content (posts/pages) on a regular basis. The more often you post new content to your site, the more content search engines will see when they index your site. When you create the content, make sure that it reads naturally for potential visitors to your site. Don’t use a bunch of garbled text that is meant to trick search engines – they’re wise to this technique and have been known to penalize sites for going off the deep end with keyword stuffing.

seo-lightbulb

Search engine companies themselves say that the best long-term SEO strategy is to create content geared towards real visitors to the site, not search engines. Search engines are constantly getting smarter and changing how they collect information from sites and rank them. So if you spam your site with a cluster of keywords in a way that doesn’t make sense to normal people just to try chasing search engines, you’ll be chasing a moving target.

Instead, make content that you’d want to read if you visited your own site. In the end, if it looks nice and reads well, search engines will reward you. Chances are that you’re a photographer posting images in your posts. The title of your blog post is an important bit of text for that post, but don’t forget about your content, too! If you can, write something for your visitors to read inside your post, and search engines will have some text to index for search.

Remember to write content for people, making natural use of any locations, words, or phrases that might be important to readers and relevant to the post you’re working on. It doesn’t make much sense placing the words “wedding photographer” in a post about a newborn you photographed… put phrases like those in your wedding posts, and in normal sentences.

One of the biggest things that will affect how well you rank has to do with how many other reputable websites link to your website. Search engines count links from other websites kind of like “votes” (Google calls this “PageRank”) and often, sites with a lot of links pointing back to them will rank higher. Think of this as being popular.

Try to get other sites to link to your site. If you have other websites, or friends with other websites, try to build links pointing at your site from them. Get active on social media and share your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. so that others can share and link your posts. Maybe issue a press release for your local newspaper site featuring your business. Get active in photography forums online or wedding services sites, linking to your site when appropriate. Setup advertising on other websites so your site is linked from theirs, e.g. paid linking through Google AdWords.
This is simple promotion of your site – get your name out there.

Specific Site Title/Tagline

The “Site Title” is the best place to feature the name of your business, since it ends up integrated into pretty much every page of your site. Your Site Title should almost always be (or include) your business name, so fill that in here in WordPress:

“Settings” > “General” > “Site Title”

For example, Jared Henderson Photography would be a short, descriptive Site Title. This isn’t a place to pack a bunch of keywords or complicated phrases – short and sweet.

Then, Tagline is a great place for a short description of where you are or what your business is about. Fill in a short description here:

“Settings” > “General” > “Tagline”

How long should this text be? No greater than 160 characters. (including spaces) Google and other search engines will cut off your text after about 160 characters, so going long here is a bad idea.

It’s important to have 2 or 3 of your most important key words/phrases in your site’s Tagline. Again, resist the urge to stuff this area with keywords, it’s supposed to help people figure out what the page/site is about before they click in. Make them interested to see what you’re site is about!

It’s a good idea to mention your location here. For example, you might want to rank for something specific like “Holland Michigan Wedding Photographer” rather than “Holland Photographer” or “Wedding Photographer” or just “Photographer”. Search engines are smart and will figure out the location and match it when nearby areas are searched. Also, consider adding your business to Google so you have control over your listing in Google Maps.

As an example of description text: Twenty years of experience specializing in modern wedding and newborn photography for Holland Michigan sets the business apart from the competition, mentions your specialties, and features the geographical location in one short sentence.

Use a mobile-friendly layout

Google will boost the ranking of mobile-friendly sites when people are searching on their phones, so it’s important for your website to work well on small screens. Zooming in/out to read text or see images ruins the user experience for your site, so ProPhoto uses a specialized layout just for phones. You can turn on this feature and customize it’s appearance separately from the desktop site layout. Learn more in our tutorial:

Patience

Search engines sometimes take days, even weeks to crawl and index a site. Be aware that any changes made to your site aren’t going to instantly change your ranking. (see below for indexing your changes with Google Search Console) Also, the longer a site has been around, and the more frequently people visit the site after searching a certain term, the more likely a search engine will respect it. It takes time to build up a bunch of quality content, too. Long story short, you probably won’t be the #1 ranked site for highly competitive terms like “New York Wedding Photography” the day after you start a new site – it takes time! :)


How do I rank #1 in search engine results?

Let’s be honest, this is what everyone wants to know, right? :)  We’ll get there!  But we’ve got just a few other things to address first, which may help in understanding this question, and it’s answer better.

Google Home Page

What does SEO stand for?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”  Most folks (including us and this tutorial) use the term “SEO” generally for anything related to search engines and getting a site to rank higher in a search engine’s results listing.

Are ProPhoto sites SEO friendly? What about mobile?

Yes! WordPress is somewhat SEO friendly, right “out of the box”, but ProPhoto enhances your content automatically to make your site even more SEO friendly. And if you use the Mobile Layout in ProPhoto, your site will pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test as well.

WordPress and ProPhoto create the HTML code of your site in a manner that is easily read by search engines.  This DOES NOT mean that having a ProPhoto site will automatically place you at the top of search engine rankings.  It simply means that your site has an excellent foundation for search engines to find and read the content from your site; which in turn can result in better ranking results.  Search engines like sites where the code is easy to read.

Source Code

The way ProPhoto creates your site’s HTML code is the ‘how’, but your content is the ‘what’ that search engines look for.

Does ProPhoto include any SEO options if I want to make tweaks?

It sure does!  Within the “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Advanced” > “SEO” area, you’ll see a number of options where you can control the following:

  • Title Tagging
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Meta Keywords (no longer an SEO factor)
  • Prevent Duplicate Content

Read more about ProPhoto’s SEO Options in our site’s help area.

If you don’t feel comfortable making any changes in this area though, don’t worry, the default setup is great and is used by thousands of ProPhoto sites to great effect – we’ve fine-tuned them for you.

What if I don’t like ProPhoto’s SEO options and I want to use an SEO plugin, can I do that?

Absolutely! (although make sure to read the next section, below) You are free to use a WordPress plugin to manage SEO yourself if you’d like, even though it’s more complicated and time consuming. Two plugins that are very popular and seem to work well with ProPhoto are:

Just be aware, if you do use a plugin, make sure to disable the ProPhoto SEO options under “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Advanced” > “SEO”, since running more than one SEO solution on one site can lead to duplicate tags or content in your source code, which search engines don’t like. It can also break some ProPhoto features like Facebook integration.

Also, if you are using the ProPhoto Caching feature, (on by default) please disable the “Force Rewrites” feature in All in One SEO, which is found in that plugin under the “Performance” area, seen here:

All In One SEO's "Performance" settings area

All In One SEO’s “Performance” settings area: disable the Force Rewrites option

Will (fill in the blank) help me rank higher in search results?

Although certainly not exhaustive, here is a common list of “fill in the blank” options that customers ask us about:

  • “using an SEO plugin”
  • “adding alt text to all of my images”
  • “adding categories, tags, etc to my posts”
  • “using header tags inside posts/pages”

In general, the answer is: potentially, yes. It’s possible that you might be able to eek out a bit more SEO benefit for your ProPhoto site by doing any of the above. However, the actual benefit to your site is likely to be pretty small or negligible. In most cases, the tiny benefit can require a lot of additional work for you. (e.g. applying a number of different SEO options to every post/page you create using a plugin, adding tags/keywords/descriptions to every image, etc.)

So if you are the type of person who wants to get every little bit of SEO benefit that you can out of your site, and you don’t mind doing the extra work to get it, go for it! But, be aware that you’re most likely not going to see huge SEO benefit from doing all of this extra work, and your energies might be better spent promoting your site or creating content on your site. Chasing search engines instead of actual visitors is not a long-term strategy for your site anyway. Which brings us to the question we’ve all been waiting for…..

So, how do I rank #1 in search engine result rankings?

Worst Music Videos Search

No matter what type of competition you’re talking about — Survivor, March Madness, the Worst Music Video of All Time — there can only be one #1. And being #1 at anything usually requires a great deal of hard work, and possibly a little bit of luck. The same generally applies to websites and search engine rankings. A website doesn’t become #1 in search results because of some “secret magic code” hidden in the bowels of the site. You’ve got to work at it.

So instead of focusing on #1, it’s best to focus on what is known about search engines and how they rank sites. In the end, search engines rank sites based on their own determinations, which change over time. Here are some time-tested, practical things you can do for good ranking:

Create Quality Site Content on a Regular Basis

It may sound silly, but one of the biggest things you can do to help your site’s SEO ranking is to simply create good quality content (posts/pages) on a regular basis. The more often you post new content to your site, the more content search engines will see when they index your site. When you create the content, make sure that it reads naturally for potential visitors to your site. Don’t use a bunch of garbled text that is meant to trick search engines – they’re wise to this technique and have been known to penalize sites for going off the deep end with keyword stuffing.

seo-lightbulb

Search engine companies themselves say that the best long-term SEO strategy is to create content geared towards real visitors to the site, not search engines. Search engines are constantly getting smarter and changing how they collect information from sites and rank them. So if you spam your site with a cluster of keywords in a way that doesn’t make sense to normal people just to try chasing search engines, you’ll be chasing a moving target.

Instead, make content that you’d want to read if you visited your own site. In the end, if it looks nice and reads well, search engines will reward you. Chances are that you’re a photographer posting images in your posts. The title of your blog post is an important bit of text for that post, but don’t forget about your content, too! If you can, write something for your visitors to read inside your post, and search engines will have some text to index for search.

Remember to write content for people, making natural use of any locations, words, or phrases that might be important to readers and relevant to the post you’re working on. It doesn’t make much sense placing the words “wedding photographer” in a post about a newborn you photographed… put phrases like those in your wedding posts, and in normal sentences.

Links Pointing to Your Site

One of the biggest things that will affect how well you rank has to do with how many other reputable websites link to your website. Search engines count links from other websites kind of like “votes” (Google calls this “PageRank”) and often, sites with a lot of links pointing back to them will rank higher. Think of this as being popular.

Try to get other sites to link to your site. If you have other websites, or friends with other websites, try to build links pointing at your site from them. Get active on social media and share your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. so that others can share and link your posts. Maybe issue a press release for your local newspaper site featuring your business. Get active in photography forums online or wedding services sites, linking to your site when appropriate. Setup advertising on other websites so your site is linked from theirs, e.g. paid linking through Google AdWords.
This is simple promotion of your site – get your name out there.

Specific Site Title/Tagline

The “Site Title” is the best place to feature the name of your business, since it ends up integrated into pretty much every page of your site. Your Site Title should almost always be (or include) your business name, so fill that in here in WordPress:

“Settings” > “General” > “Site Title”

For example, Jared Henderson Photography would be a short, descriptive Site Title. This isn’t a place to pack a bunch of keywords or complicated phrases – short and sweet.

Then, Tagline is a great place for a short description of where you are or what your business is about. Fill in a short description here:

“Settings” > “General” > “Tagline”

How long should this text be? No greater than 160 characters. (including spaces) Google and other search engines will cut off your text after about 160 characters, so going long here is a bad idea.

It’s important to have 2 or 3 of your most important key words/phrases in your site’s Tagline. Again, resist the urge to stuff this area with keywords, it’s supposed to help people figure out what the page/site is about before they click in. Make them interested to see what you’re site is about!

It’s a good idea to mention your location here. For example, you might want to rank for something specific like “Holland Michigan Wedding Photographer” rather than “Holland Photographer” or “Wedding Photographer” or just “Photographer”. Search engines are smart and will figure out the location and match it when nearby areas are searched. Also, consider adding your business to Google so you have control over your listing in Google Maps.

As an example of description text: Twenty years of experience specializing in modern wedding and newborn photography for Holland Michigan sets the business apart from the competition, mentions your specialties, and features the geographical location in one short sentence.

Use a mobile-friendly layout

Google will boost the ranking of mobile-friendly sites when people are searching on their phones, so it’s important for your website to work well on small screens. Zooming in/out to read text or see images ruins the user experience for your site, so ProPhoto uses a specialized layout just for phones. You can turn on this feature and customize it’s appearance separately from the desktop site layout. Learn more in our tutorial:

Patience

Search engines sometimes take days, even weeks to crawl and index a site. Be aware that any changes made to your site aren’t going to instantly change your ranking. (see below for indexing your changes with Google Search Console) Also, the longer a site has been around, and the more frequently people visit the site after searching a certain term, the more likely a search engine will respect it. It takes time to build up a bunch of quality content, too. Long story short, you probably won’t be the #1 ranked site for highly competitive terms like “New York Wedding Photography” the day after you start a new site – it takes time! :)

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