So, you have a nice-looking site for your portfolio, now how are potential clients going to find it? Why SEO important.
I often come across production company or individual filmmakers/music video director’s websites that I find links to from music video related websites like http://www.videostatic.com and they mostly have a very high end look and feel and look very professional and have very contemporary functionality, many have full screen videos on the main page of a demo reel and highly interactive navigation elements.
They have beautiful imagery however I see a trend of people putting little to no effort into Search engine optimization. This might be ok for a big established company that might not necessarily need to be found via a search term like “Music Video Director” as they get traffic via word of mouth, paid display and search ads. What about the individual that is just getting off the ground? These are the people including myself that need SEO the most.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization or SEO in short, is a set of rules that can be followed by website owners to optimize their websites for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings.
Why is SEO important?
In today’s competitive market, SEO is more important than ever. Search engines serve millions of users per day looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems.
When you perform a search on Google (or any other search engine) the order by which the returning results are displayed, is based on complex algorithms.
These algorithms take many factors into account to decide which web page should be shown in the first place, second place etc.
Optimizing your web site for search engines will give you an advantage over non-optimized sites and you increase your chances to rank higher.
Search engine optimization is essential because:
The majority of search engines users are more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the results pages (SERPS), so to take advantage of this and gain visitors to your web site or customers to your site you need to in the top positions.
Users trust search engines and having a presence in the top positions for the keywords the user is searching, increases the web site’s trust.
SEO is good for the social promotion of your web site. People who find your web site by searching Google or Yahoo are more likely to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media channels.
Constantly Changing SEO
When search marketing began in the mid-1990s, manual submission, the meta keywords tag, and keyword stuffing were all regular parts of the tactics necessary to rank well. In 2004, link bombing with anchor text, buying hordes of links from automated blog comment spam injectors, and the construction of inter-linking farms of websites could all be leveraged for traffic. In 2011, social media marketing and vertical search inclusion are mainstream methods for conducting search engine optimization. The search engines have refined their algorithms along with this evolution, so many of the tactics that worked in 2004 can hurt your SEO today.
The whole process of SEO is to:
- Learn which pertinent keywords to include.
- Create content that is relevant and meaningful.
- Get the attention of search engines.
- If your site is contains the services users hope to find when they enter a search phrase into a browser, then you have a very good chance of finding your site at least on the first page of the search results. When you have done a great job with SEO, your site will show up in the top three results, something that will drastically increase visits to the site.
There are many factors that affect rankings and I will try and cover the basics.
Google recommends the following to get better rankings in their search engine:
Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, a practice commonly referred to as “cloaking.”
Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
Use keywords to create descriptive, human-friendly URLs. Provide one version of a URL to reach a document, using 301 redirects or the rel=”canonical” attribute to address duplicate content.
Keyword usage and targeting are still a part of the search engines’ ranking algorithms, and we can apply some effective techniques for keyword usage to help create pages that are well-optimized. When working with one of your own sites, this is the process I recommend. Use the keyword phrase In the title tag at least once. Try to keep the keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible.
Once prominently near the top of the page.
At least two or three times, including variations, in the body copy on the page. Perhaps a few more times if there’s a lot of text content.
At least once in the alt attribute of an image on the page. This not only helps with web search, but also image search, which can occasionally bring valuable traffic.
At least once in the meta description tag. Note that the meta description tag does not get used by the engines for rankings, but rather helps to attract clicks by searchers reading the results page, as the meta description becomes the snippet of text used by the search engines.
The title element of a page is meant to be an accurate, concise description of a page’s content. It is critical to both user experience and search engine optimization.
Search engines display only the first 65-75 characters of a title tag in the search results (after that, the engines show an ellipsis – “…” – to indicate when a title tag has been cut off). This is also the general limit allowed by most social media sites, so sticking to this limit is generally wise. However, if you’re targeting multiple keywords (or an especially long keyword phrase), and having them in the title tag is essential to ranking, it may be advisable to go longer.
Title tags should be descriptive and readable. The title tag is a new visitor’s first interaction with your brand and should convey the most positive impression possible. Creating a compelling title tag will help grab attention on the search results page, and attract more visitors to your site. This underscores that SEO is about not only optimization and strategic keyword usage, but the entire user experience.
The meta description tag exists as a short description of a page’s content. Search engines do not use the keywords or phrases in this tag for rankings, but meta descriptions are the primary source for the snippet of text displayed beneath a listing in the results.
The meta description tag serves the function of advertising copy, drawing readers to your site from the results. It is an extremely important part of search marketing. Crafting a readable, compelling description using important keywords (notice how Google bolds the searched keywords in the description) can draw a much higher click-through rate of searchers to your page.
Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally will cut snippets longer than 160 characters, so it’s generally wise to stay within in these limits.
In the absence of meta descriptions, search engines will create the search snippet from other elements of the page. For pages that target multiple keywords and topics, this is a perfectly valid tactic.
How to Judge the Value of a Keyword
How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you are a filmmaker, do you get more visitors searching for “Director” or “Cinematographer”? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula
Is the keyword relevant to your website’s content? Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when they search using these keywords? Will they be happy with what they find? Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other organizational goals? If the answer to all of these questions is a clear “Yes!” then proceed …
Search for the term/phrase in the major engines
Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
Keyword Research Resources
Where do we get all of this knowledge about keyword demand and keyword referrals? From research sources like these:
Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool
Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence
Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand
Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner tool is a common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet
Below are some examples. I like to use a great free Chrome plugin to analyze a sites SEO data. Its name is SEOquake you can find it at https://www.seoquake.com
Here is the SEO data on a few sites mentioned above.
Title: HOME | Partos Co.
Meta description: None
Unless you were searching for Partos Co. it’s unlikely you would find this site.
Title: LUCIDMEDIA | ARE YOU LUCID?
Meta description: None
Again, if your searching for LUCIDMEDIA it will be first. Otherwise finding them with another search word would be difficult.
Title: Music Video and Commercial Director -Nino Del Padre
Meta description: Music Video and Commercial Director who’s been shooting music videos, commercials, shorts and promotional spots professionally for over twenty-five years
This is my personal site. I have all the correct Title and description info but the site is a one page site that has little to no copy on it so I get very little traffic to this site unless you were searching for “Nino Del Padre” I wouldn’t be found.
Now my company’s website is much better optimized for SEO http://www.delpadre.com
Title: Digital Marketing Agency | Video Production | Website Design
Meta description: Digital Marketing Agency offering website design, web video production, custom WordPress website design, 3D product rendering and social media marketing
For the search term “video production company”
As you can see after the paid placement ads I am about the 8th search result on the first page of Google.
For the search term “video production for digital marketing”
As you can see after the paid placement ads I am about the 2nd search result on the first page of Google.
Now the most traffic I get and the most requests for work happen to be related to 2D product rendering. You will notice this is not the main page of my site rather a sub page of the site that is highly optimized for anything related to product rendering.
Title: Product Rendering, Product Visualization, Rendering Services
Meta keywords: Rendering Services, 3d product rendering, product rendering, 3d product rendering services, 3d environments, architectural 3d product design and 3d product visualization
Meta description: We specialize in in 3d product rendering Services, Rendering Services and 3d product visualization
For the search term “3d rendering product visualization”
As you can see after the paid placement ads I am about the 1st search result on the first page of Google as well as two of the image results displaying my work.
For the search term “what is product rendering”
As you can see after the paid placement ads I am the 1st search result on the first page of Google as well as an expiation and sample image of my work taken from my page.