Author: Tony Colangelo
TC: You mentioned “trust” earlier in the interview. I’m assuming you’re talking about Google being able to trust the legitimacy of your site. Is that correct?
DZ: Yes, there are tons of places out there for you to put your images and talk about your business. You've got your social websites, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ve also got other websites where you can place some info about your business, like Yext or on Yelp. You should have a business listing on all of those places, and your name, address, and phone number should be consistent between each one of them. Doing this allows Google to connect you to places outside of your own website. You should include your business with your website anywhere you can. You can go to https://moz.com/products/local to check the main directory listings. Many of these sites are free to add your listing, but Moz will do it for you for a fee. Yext has a similar service.
TC: So having your website connected somehow to other sites is how Google learns to trust your site, yes?
DZ: That’s definitely part of it. Google notes other websites that are pointing back to your website. It begins to trust your website as being legitimate because it has so many other legitimate websites pointing back at you. Your name, address, and phone number need to be consistent between these different sites.
TC: Why is having lots of websites pointing back to your own so important?
DZ: Okay, let’s say your website is roughly equivalent to a main competitor’s website in terms of the things we’ve been talking about but you've got 70 links pointing back to your website, and they have 50. Google is going to place you higher in the rankings. So you’ve got to focus on both--the content piece and the trust piece. They work together in Google. If you don’t have good content, then having quality links pointing back at your site doesn’t have the same impact. Same thing if you’ve got good content and no quality links pointing back.
TC: Dee, could I ask you to talk about “keywords” and why they’re so important.
DZ: For sure. A keyword is just a word or even a few words put together that describe what your site is about, like services that you’re offering. Keywords help potential customers find you. So, you need to be thinking about what your client is searching for and the words they’d be using to find your service. You may like that you take photos with a tilt-shift lens but none of your customers would know to do a search using the words, “tilt-shift lens”. So you’ve got to be thinking about what your client is looking for and the words they’d use to search for something. If you use some of those same “keywords” that they’re using in their search, then they’re more likely to find you.
TC: What are some of the things we should be thinking about when coming up with keywords?
DZ: You can use Google Ad Words to do keyword research for your website, and there are several guides online to help you through that process. First, you should select the primary service and geography to focus on and not try to add all of your services to your first page. So, let’s say that you want to be known for doing luxury real estate in Austin and you also offer drone work. Your first page should be focused on “Austin luxury real estate photography” not “luxury real estate and drone photography”. Without the geography in your keywords, Google will include you in generic searches, and not necessarily in the Austin related searches. You also are showing 2 keywords, so Google is not sure to include you in drone photography or luxury real estate photography, and fewer people will use both keywords at the same time. You can add other geographies or services on separate service pages. As you add pages or blog posts for different services, be careful not to duplicate the information from other pages on your site.
You also have to ask yourself, “What’s the one most important word or words that my customers would use to find me?” You have to put yourself in the customer’s head; not yours. What would your customer use to find your service?
TC: If PFRE readers wanted to find out more about SEO optimization, what resources would you suggest?
DZ: I follow Search Engine Land because it has tons of information. Another one of the SEO blogs that I follow is moz.com and they've got tons of information there. If you go to https://moz.com/free-seo-tools , it will do a free SEO check for you and it'll show you what your business looks like in terms of Google. It's going to list a whole bunch of things that you can do yourself to improve SEO. I’d also suggest listing your business on Yelp. You can do this for free, but being on Yelp is a pain from the standpoint of they will drive you nuts trying to sell you advertising. But they are a very important listing to have in order to rank higher on Bing. I get about 10% of my traffic from Bing. The other thing that’s important is to have reviews on these listings, as that has a dramatic impact on your SEO as well. So once you get your Google listing or your Yelp listing, get reviews on them. That will play a huge factor in driving SEO as well.
TC: Any final thoughts or advice?
DZ: The last thing that I want to mention is to keep your content current and to have new things on your site. Updating your galleries is important. You can insert a new photo, every month, let’s say, to replace another one that you don’t like as much. Another great way to keep your stuff current is to blog. I know nobody likes to do it but if you just do it monthly, you've got something new up there. In terms of Google ranking, somebody who updates their website every few weeks is going to be ranked higher than someone who updates it every few months. So updating your site is important too.
TC: Thank you so much, Dee... you’ve covered a lot. I know people will get value from your suggestions.
DZ: My pleasure. I appreciate you reaching out and asking me to speak about SEO.