If keywords get you on Google’s guest list, then links get you a VIP all-access pass to search engines. Why are links important? Google wants to rank popular sites and there is no better measure of popularity than how many other websites are promoting you (with links) to their audiences. Here’s an example. One wedding photographer is mentioned on sites like the New York Times, Oprah, and the Today show and another wedding photographer only has links from friend’s blogs or Facebook accounts. When someone asks Google for help finding a good wedding photographer, which one do you think Google will refer?
Google gives the majority of rank weight to these 3 link attributes:
- Quantity of links (how many links does the site have from other sources?)
- Quality of links (who is the link from?)
- Anchor text of the link (what does the link say?)
Your task will be to get several links from quality sites, where the text of the link includes main phrases you’d like to rank. The problem is that search engines prefer natural links, as opposed to manual ones that trick it into a high rank, so it’s important to keep these factors in mind when creating links:
- Link to different pages (100% of links going to a homepage is not natural)
- Link sporadically instead of all at once (otherwise down the road Google might doubt you are still popular since there has been no linking activity)
- Use different text in the link names (it’s not plausible that lots of different websites would use the exact same name in a link to you)
The total quantity and quality of links to a site tell Google the overall site is important, helping it to rank for any number of phrases talked about on that site. Links to individual pages tell Google importance of individual content, like a page about a ‘Golden Gate Park portrait session’. Your pages can rank quickly and easily when you have links to your primary domain (like your homepage) as well as the individual page or blog post.
This post teaches you tactics for building up links to your overall blog and individual pages/posts at the same time. That way, your posts can rank well now while you build up overall prominence to rank well for anything later (6 months or a year from now). Most photography and vendor sites only need links from about 100 different sites to achieve this power. The #1 ranked site typically has the most inbound links, #2 the second most, and so on. For a general estimate of rank ability (there are many other factors of course), compare the number of inbound links for your site with other sites ranking in the top 10. You can use backlink checkers to see who is linking to the competition. If you can get similar links, you should rank similarly in search engines.
The best links come from a page that’s all about you, on a site that’s already well known to Google. I’m talking about interviews, contests, and articles you’ve written for other websites. These types of stories can link to your site (you only need one link) from the main body of the article and mimics what search engines would view as popularity. In this case, another site is featuring you, and the search engine machine doesn’t know that you were the author. Look for sites that have lots of contributors and offer to write something of value for their audience. It doesn’t matter if people read the article or click your link, only that Google sees another site mentioning you.
Now, Get The Links!
We covered the importance of links and a couple ideas on the types of links you’ll need to rank well. Here are some steps to get you there:
- Review your latest 10 projects, browsing for photos that you can give to someone for use on their website. For example, if the birthday cake in the family photo was custom made, find out who made it and let them use the photo on their blog (as long as it links to you). If the newborn was wearing a hand-sewn beanie, send the photo to the company that made it. If you caught photos of the bride’s flowers, send those to the florist.
- Jot down a list of partners and consider which ones you can collaborate with for an interview. For example, have a wedding coordinator email you questions about how choice of venue affects photography. They can turn that content into an article for their website (that features you with a link).
- Make note of your favorite photography blogs. Look at the latest few posts to see if any of them were written by contributors. If so, contact the blog owner and ask if they’d like an article submission from you and what topics they’re looking for. Link back to your site from the About Me section of the post (like I do below).
About Zach Prez
I like helping photographers, watching the Tour De France, and reading books about food. Learn more about SEO in my Photography Web Marketing Guide and on my Facebook page. With a little investment your newly found ranks will more than payoff.