I do a fair share of my photography business online and sell in a lot of different venues, and one of the things I've really had to do my homework on is keywording my photography listings and website in order for them to be found by a customer. Every site is different in how they handle their keywords. If you're not sure what I mean by keywords (or tags), they are the words assigned to items, blog posts, websites, or pretty much anything else on the internet that helps tie what is being posted to what a searcher is looking for.
Each site has their own algorithm that brings back results in what is believed to be most relevant to the person who is searching. Google has their own, Fine Art America has theirs, Yahoo, Zazzle...you name it. Each has their own way of optimizing the search of an item. It's up to the photographer, seller, or blogger to figure out the best keywords that will get their item seen amongst millions and millions of other listings.
So what can you do? There are no magic keywords that will be a one size fits all, so here are some steps to help navigate the SEO waters.
1. Be your customer. - If you were purchasing the item you are selling, how would you search for it? If you were selling a large print of a thunderstorm, would you search "large print"? Maybe more specifically you would be searching for a "thunderstorm print", or even more specifically "24 x 36 thunderstorm print".
2. Don't be afraid to be specific. - In the thunderstorm print example above, maybe you captured the photograph in Oklahoma and there is a sunset on the horizon. So being more specific with your keywords would be "24 x 36 thunderstorm print, Oklahoma, sunset". The more specific and creative you are with your keywords, the more likely it will be that someone searching specifically for the item your are offering will find you. Chances are someone isn't searching "large print" and buying the first thing that comes up. Most people already have an idea of what they are looking for. It's up to you to make sure yours is what they see..
3. Learn your venue's SEO strategy. - This is perhaps the most challenging because each site has their own strategy and won't be posting exactly what needs to be done. Google may prefer phrases, Smugmug may put emphasis on two word phrases in the titles, etc. Take time to study each site and knowledge of others to develop a strategy to be found on the specific site you are selling.
4. Tweak and Re-Tweak. - Watch your stats and see what works well and what doesn't. Make changes to the weakest items and see what gets results and what doesn't. You should see steady increases in views if you are making the right changes.
5. Change with the times. - What you used for keywords five years ago may not be relevant now. If a site used single words back in the day, they may have moved on to phrases, two word combinations, or even full content to make sure the most relevant results are returned to the user. Don't just set your keywords and let them rot, keep working and updating them as you go.
I'm still learning, and I spend plenty of time working on how to be found in the sea of photography. It's a never ending job. But, when someone finds my photography and buys it I know that my hard work is paying off, and I'm going to give my photographs every chance they can to be the choice of the next customer.
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