And you thought selling photo-based products was all about the photos!

In the last couple of blog posts, I talked about our experiences of starting up an online photographic business and what we've learned about getting found by search engines.

Today I'm going to talk about how the writing needs to linkup and integrate on a particular web page. While we have a range of products, I think our “Canvas Prints NZ” is probably the best example of what not to do.

As artists, we loved giving our print really cool titles. Unfortunately, calling something “undiscovered beauty” as the title of your webpage is not a good idea as we discovered.

This is because by giving our page title for this particular canvas print as “undiscovered beauty” we were now signalling to Google and the other search engines that this particular web page was about undiscovered beauty (which, when you think about it could be about a plethora of things totally unrelated to a really cool photo from an isolated spot in the Far North of NZ).

What we learned is that the title should be descriptive and easy for Google and other search engines to interpret. And that the title of the webpage should link to a term that people are searching for, such as “Canvas Prints NZ”. And you might very well ask, well why not “NZ Canvas Prints” or “New Zealand Canvas Prints”.

There is a really good reason for that; believe it or not there are more people using the search term “Canvas Prints NZ” than the other two terms and this particular search term has limited competition (you can find out which terms people searching for and how competitive it is by using a tool in Google ad words; even if you have no intention of using Google ad words to advertise I would encourage you to set up an account so that you can find out what search terms are competitive).

So by putting the term “Canvas prints NZ” in the title of the webpage you are telling the search engines this webpage was about Canvas prints in NZ.

As I mentioned in my earlier post two days ago search engines interpret NZ as being New Zealand whereas if you use the full spelling the words get interpreted as separate entities. And the words could then be separately associated with other keywords on the site (or for that matter very unimportant words that just happen to be used on a lot) and is something you want to avoid.

Secondly, after we use the term Canvas prints NZ we needed further information on the page title. So we used a geographic location. This enabled the search engines to be able to interpret a particular canvas print as being about a certain location.

Having established, the title of the page we needed to provide some information on the body of the page. Again, we were extremely naive about this, and wrote some excellent prose about a particular photo and why we had taken it. Unfortunately, this prose did not link to the title very well at all.

What we discovered is that the first few words should link back to the title of the page. Ideally, mentioning both the words Canvas prints and the location. Search engines compare the information in the title of the page with the first few lines of the page. This information needs to match up, otherwise the search engines will interpret your page as not being about what the title of your page says it is about (however good your writing is).

This will result in your page being ranked lower by the various search engines.

Not only should the first few words link back to the page title but the rest of the commentary on the page should attempt to intersperse the commentary with synonyms for some of the words used in the web page title. This is so search engines such as Google can confirm that your page really is talking what your page title says the page is about.

So, in our case we might talk about words like photos, photography, image, images, picture, shot, and shoot. If it's about a particular location, we might include any alternatives a particular location is known by.

Or if it is about a particular plant or animal we might include the Latin spelling or the Māori spelling as another sign post to the search engines that while the web page title refers to is, in fact, what the web page is about.

The big thing about adding these synonyms is that they need to be added to the text in a natural way. So that your writing flows and is not forced. If it looks as though it is being forced search engines such as Google are likely to pick up on it and lower your ranking.

This means aiming to write good-quality prose and then adding the synonyms at the appropriate times. In other words, you need to be subtle and thoughtful about it, so that anyone reading the page gets great content which in turn means the search engines will rate your information.

And you thought selling photo-based products was all about the pictures! (Trust me, that's what we naïvely thought at the start of FreshTake Publishers).

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