New Website SEO

Published on 04 March 2009 by in Articles, Website and Blog

orangeblob Photography old

I’m going to split this into two parts… the first part for those who couldn’t give two hoots about SEO, and the second part for those who could…

I’ve redesigned my orangeblob Travel Photography Website, and enabled the new version now! There’s an updated Travel Gallery as well as an easier navigation system on every page of the site.

So that’s pretty much it for part one. Please take a look at the new site design and new photographs, and let me know what you think!

On to part two…

There’s a couple of reasons that the redesign came about. Back about 4 months ago-ish, I started the overhaul of the site, and only got halfway through. That half was spent doing all of the SEO and ‘background’ changes which seemed to take ages, and had absolutely zero impact on the visible design of the site.

I’d been reading up on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) at the time, and decided that I needed to make a load of changes to the website in order to take advantage of what people were telling me for free, and what hopefully would start to have an impact on search-engine-sourced hits on my website.

There’s a bunch of sites that I used, but the main one that got me started was this ‘Yoast.com’ article about SEO for WordPress. Sure, there’s some stuff in there which is specifically for the WordPress blogging tool, like the plugin recommendations, but a whole load of it really applies to any blog or website that you create.

Someone also then recommended Google Analytics as a tool to start analysing all the data, and collecting the site-hits data. I follow the Google Analytics blog, and they actually recently did a post about installing the tracking code and getting started. Well worth a read if you’re thinking of setting it up.

So after a bunch of reading, and signing up to Google Analytics, I made a load of ‘back-end’ changes…

Back-end Changes:

1. Install the Google Analytics code – see above for a link on how to do it. It’ll drive you mad unless you think ‘templates’. Otherwise you’ll be trying to add this to every single page you ever create.

2. Re-jigged all my headings and subheadings – These were a bit of a pain because of the way that the theme that I’m using with WordPress was set up. That, and my (at the time) not-so-great knowledge of css! Anyway, got them re-hashed so that H1 is meaningful on all pages – for the front page it’s the title of the blog, for blog posts it’s the heading of the blog post etc. And most importantly there’s only one H1 on a specific page!

3. Links – I’m now more careful about how I use my links – I used to always fall into the ‘click here’ trap, but now realise that it’s a whole lot more meaningful (both to users and to search engines) to put what you’re linking to, in the link. See the above link to the SEO for WordPress article to see my new-found knowledge in action!

4. Limited links – I also re-jigged links that were appearing on the site. I was overloaded with links taking you to the same pages over and over again – like the posts-by-date listing, the categories pages, the ‘tags’ pages etc etc. All of these different routes eventually take you to a blog post which is linked to by a bunch of other routes. I eventually made the decision to keep only the categories links and the by-date links.

5. Plugins – I installed and then configured the Robots Meta Plugin for WordPress (lets you stop engines from indexing stuff twice – e.g. once through the date links, and once through the category links – which can affect your rating as a site), and also the Headspace plugin for WordPress which lets you add more useful information for the ‘title’ and ‘description’ tags for your posts.

Since doing the initial changes, I noticed a few more useful articles on SEO in general which are also worth a look. Like the 12 Easy Mistakes that Plague Newcomers to the SEO Field, or a pretty good article and Webinar from PhotoShelter, on ‘Why SEO Matters to Photographers’, which also touches on using keyword identification in the video.

So after all that, I began to feel more comfortable about the tags, the headers, the links, etc which my site was built on. Now time to focus on the front end. Again, taking some of the hints from the Yoast article, and also taking into account a timely article from Photoshelter – Photoshelter’s Photo Buyer Website Survey 2009 – I decided to rebuild the front-end.

Incidentally – you know the best thing about those survey results? (they’re well worth a read by the way). It’s the fact that I no longer feel bad about all those times when I have been to someone’s website, and mouthed obscenities when it’s resized my window or opened another full screen window. I can’t help but politely reason with the window that if I had wanted you resized, then I’d have resized you myself.

Anyway. Onto the ‘front-end’ stuff…

Front-end Changes:

The Web Site:

1. Background colour – urm, no more reason than ‘I fancied a change…’, and my old website was based on a black background. So I decided to go with a clean white background for my website and archive, which also then fell in line with the white background that I was already using on my blog.

2. Created a template and re-used it throughout every page on the site, which includes the background faded-line thing at the top of the page, the navigation bar (on every page throughout the site), and the copyright information. Also kept everything ‘branded’ with the same orange/grey colour schemes.

3. Email address. This one was tricky. I’ve always hated the spam-aspect of emails displayed on web sites from the fact that there are crawlers roaming through internet pages looking to harvest email addresses. However, after seeing the PhotoShelter survey results (see above) regarding the fact that ‘email address always visible’ falls into the ‘do this’ section of website design, I decided to display it as an image. It can still get farmed etc… but it’s a no-win, no-win situation…

4. Keep the 4 links to the different sections of the site (blog, about, contact, portfolios) and also add one to the orangeblob Archive section, so that people don’t have to go into the portfolios menu, and then into the Archive option.

5. Added a search box to the front page so that visitors can easily search the archive for images by keyword.

The Blog:

1. Finally got rid of the useless ‘Portfolios‘ page, which was a page displaying a link, which you then had to click on to get to the actual Portfolios page. Yuck.

2. Added a few much-needed major links on the right hand side of the sidebar. Like the ‘Subscribe‘ link, the ‘Buy Images‘ link and the ‘Portfolios‘ link. If visitors come in directly to the blog area, I’d want them to be able to have access to all of these links at-a-glance.

3. Updated the Blog Post template so that at the end of every post is a link saying ‘Why not subscribe (linked) to the feed to get notified of other articles as they are posted…’. Again, in case someone comes in directly to a post, the reminder at the end of the post might nudge them in the subscription department.

4. As the Yoast article suggests, I changed the comments link from saying ’0 comments’ to a more friendly ‘Please leave a comment’ when there are 0 comments. When there’s 1 or more, then it displays the number of comments.

And that’s about it!

Please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are, or if you have any of your own SEO tips that you want to share!