SEO: What we've learned about getting a photo based business found

It has been two years since we started this website and it is only just now that we're coming to terms with all that is involved in running an online business and what we need to do to be found by search engines.

When we first started this business we had no idea about search engine optimisation (seo) or how their algorithms worked or even more fundamentally how a search engine such as Google interprets your website.

It is not enough to have a great website that sells fantastic products like our calendars, canvas prints, greeting cards, tee shirts, hoodies, and chocolate.  When we first started we were so naive and just thought having great photos that showcased the New Zealand landscape was all that we needed (we learned that  using the initials NZ is potentially of more use to you than using the words New Zealand).

But no, it doesn't work like that, search engines such as Google  work on words not images or photos.

What's more it is in fact a pretty unsophisticated system that works on  identifying single words (which explains why using a phrase like New Zealand may not actually be that much use because  it treats "New" and "Zealand" a separate entities whereas NZ is treated as a single entity) and then playing word association games,  I'll give you an example.

If the word "new" occurs a lot on your website, then Google will associate it with other words that appear on your website a lot as well, in this example I will use the word "photos". Therefore, search engines will interpret your website as being about "new photos" even if the words are not being used together a lot on your website.

So even if "new" has not been used in the same sentence with the word "photos", if they have both been used a lot on your website search engines will interpret your website as being about new photos, even if your focus is actually on other things such as canvas prints, calendars, greeting cards, Tee-shirts, hoodies  and chocolate.

The thing is you cannot just write down a particular word that you want Google to focus on one million times in a row for a couple reasons. Firstly, no one but no one wants to visit a website with the words "photo" or "landscape" reoccurring one million times, it just wouldn't be a very nice experience for anyone visiting your website, not to mention,it wouldn't be very practical for someone trying to get hold of your products.

Secondly, Google and other search engines are aware that people deliberately try to flout the system by word dumping  so when a word is unnaturally occurring on a particular website, they penalise the website. In other words, the search engines are encouraging you to produce good content  for the people using search engines  and having a website where one word is repetitive used is not considered high-quality content. 

This means if there are words that you want the search engines to focus on, you need to include them in original pieces of writing, giving the people using the various search engines useful and informative pieces of writing. This means that for a website like ours which is predominantly about iconic and landscape photos from NZ we actually need to produce a lot of writing rather than just producing a lot of stunning photos. 

There is also something else that we now know, but wish we had known when we first set up FreshTake Publishers and this website.

Search engines also rank your website by how much authority you have (in other words if other websites that search engines rate highly such as government websites or websites from well established media outlets link to your website then the search engines consider you to have a lot of authority and subject expertise, and will rate your website ahead of others). 

While you can improve your authority by linking up with other websites and doing guest blogs and the like (by linking to your website from someone else 's website in your guest blog; in return for Blogging on someone else's website there are likely to expect the opportunity to do a guest blog on your website).

Actually, the best way to improve your authority in the online world is actually to do a lot of off-line work developing relationships in the real world and eventually  through these off-line relationships having website links created as you are viewed as an authority in your particular area of expertise and people are prepared to lend to you  from their sites

So we have learned over the last two years that we need more than stunning  landscape images and photos  for our calendars, greeting cards, tee shirts and hoodies, canvas prints and chocolate art to get found by search engines. 

Getting found online has very little to do with the photography.

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