Corey Potter is a father of three, and has been a wedding photographer since 2008. He started learning SEO and WordPress before he ever thought about being a photographer. Then used it to grow a successful wedding photography business quickly. Corey started Fuel Your Photos because so much advice about SEO was misinterpreted or not specific for photographers. And Corey is one of the prominent SEO educators in the photography industry today.
WordPress/Photography Related News:
- WordPress 4.7.1 is out and it fixes 8 security issues
Imagely’s Lightroom plugin is out
Automattic’s Lightroom plugin is out
- Yoast SEO
- Squirrly SEO
- All in One SEO
- Social Warfare
- JPEGMini Pro
- WP Rocket Cache
- Google Mobile Friendly Tester
- Page Builder Review
- Elementor Pro
- Generate Press Pro
- SEO Framework
- Nested Pages
Where to find Corey:
Scott: Welcome to episode 32. My name is Scott Wyden Kivowitz and today I am not joined by my cohost, Rachel Conley from Fotoskribe. Rachel is out sick and so today it's just me and our guest. Today our guest is my friend Corey Potter. I got to meet Corey at WPPI in 2016, and now it's 2017 and WPPI is around the corner. I won't be there, will you be there Corey?
Corey: I haven't decided yet. I'm a last minute decider.
Scott: Yeah. Corey was telling Eric from Imagely, and I about what he was up to. It's been really fun to see his product, his brand, grow over the past year. We've collaborated on some things, and I'm sure there'll be more in the future. Let me tell you a little bit about Corey. Corey Potter is a father of three and has been a wedding photographer since 2008. If I'm correct, your wife is your partner in the business?
Corey: That's right.
Scott: They're a couple wedding photographer, which is a growing trend in the industry as well. He started learning SEO and WordPress even before he thought about being a photographer. He's been doing this quite some time. Then he used it to grow a successful wedding photography business quickly. Corey started Fuel Your Photos because so much advice about SEO was misinterpreted or not specific for photographers.
Corey is one of the prominent SEO educators in the photography industry today. Like I said, I've known him for now just over a year, I guess, and he definitely knows his stuff, and I'm glad to have him on the show and to share some of his knowledge with everybody. I'm sure this will not be the last episode that we talk about SEO because it kind of seems like Yost SEO comes up pretty much every episode of this podcast. SEO's a topic that we all know gets talked about a lot, and it's nice to have somebody on the show to be able to talk about it with great expertise on it. Welcome, Corey. It's great to have you.
Corey: Glad to be here.
Scott: Yeah. Before we dive into what's going on with you, let's talk a little bit about the WordPress photography related news going on. The big one, one of the big ones, there's actually three this week. One of the big ones is that WordPress version 4.7.1 was released a week ago from the recording of this episode. It's a minor update, because it's a point release. It's 4.7.1. However, it fixes eight security issues that were in the WordPress core. They're all minor issues, but it's nice to see the WordPress community going full speed on fixing important security issues. You don't want any security flaws in the software you're using for your business.
That's out, and as always, Rachel and I recommend doing backups and making sure that your site's backed up and then update. Maybe even give it a day or two. I guess by the time this is out, it'll be out now for two weeks, so it's probably time to update by the time this episode airs. Make sure you do that, and we'll link to the change log, the announcement post from the WordPress.org site in the show notes. The next bit is that Imagely released our own Lightroom plugin. This has been in the works since WPPI 2016.
Scott: We spent a lot of time on this on purpose. We could have pumped this out really quick and just gotten it out there and be done with it, but there's a major issue that we had to get past. We're going to actually do an article on Imagely's site about this, related to the next bit of news as well. This is going to be kind of technical, but there's something called XML-RPC, and that is what majority of Lightroom plugins for WordPress use. That is how, it's basically a remote talking, it's sort of like a walkie talkie for WordPress.
The problem with this is, it's made for tiny bits of data, for text. For you to approve or deny a comment, something like that. It's not intended for large chunks of data to be sent, like images. That's how a lot of these Lightroom plugins are working. To not be blocked by security plugins or by hosting companies, we decided to take a very different approach and that approach meant developing an actual desktop application to go along with the Lightroom plugin. That is now out, and it does not get blocked by any hosting company or security plugins, that we are aware of yet.
Corey: Is that because of the type of authorization you need?
Scott: You need to put in your WordPress credentials, so you put in your site and your WordPress credentials. Then you put in your FTP credentials. FTP is handled by Lightroom itself, and then the WordPress credentials is handled by us. Then the application component we built is what talks back and forth with Lightroom and your WordPress site. Our plugin requires a NextGEN Gallery. That's a big thing. It requires NextGEN Gallery. It's a publishing service, so it utilizes collections, collection sets, and organizes your photos into galleries and albums on the NextGEN Gallery side.
Corey: That's cool.
Scott: Yeah. This is available for anybody who purchased NextGEN Pro, the themes and plugins package or the lifetime package. It's great to see it out there, and then there's a lot of stuff we're going to add down the road. We want to do two-way sync down the road and things like that. Get proofing to go back to the Lightroom plugin and whatnot. Really cool to finally see it out there.
Related news is Automatic, the company behind WordPress.com and company founded by Matt Mullenweg, who was the original developer of the WordPress software, they make the Jetpack plugin. Very popular, used by over 2 million sites. As Rachel and I told you last episode, we talked about that. They just released a Lightroom plugin. The article that I'm going to be writing for the Imagely site is to compare the two because you actually can't really compare the two. They're very different, yet complimentary.
The Automatic Lightroom plugin is a simple export plugin. It's not a publishing service. It's just a way for you to get your photo to your WordPress site through Lightroom. What they do is they require Jetpack. They're not using XML-RPC. They're using Jetpack to do this for you. If you're not using Jetpack, you can't use the Lightroom plugin. If you are using Jetpack, you can, but again it's just a simple way for you to get the photo from Lightroom to WordPress in your media library and that's it. Not organized, nothing, it's just in your media library.
The next thing is, your metadata will go with it. If you have a description, it could become your alt text and things like that. You could get ahead of the curve, as far as SEO goes, with the Lightroom plugin. There you go. That's the bit of news. Any thoughts on that Corey, that you have on any of that news?
Corey: No. You know we saw some people talking earlier about problems that people have been having with some caching issues. It's been across multiple hosting companies. I haven't figured out the culprit yet, but something interesting, I think it must be related to this recent 4.7.1 or some other plugin that's really popular that's causing issues. I think with that issue, probably a good idea to reach out to your hosting company and get resolved.
Scott: Yeah. For sure. Okay, so we got through the news. What's going on with you? What's going on with your wedding business? With Fuel Your Photos? What are you up to?
Corey: Well with the wedding business, it's been really kind of quiet, especially just because of the season right now, but also because I've scaled back some targeted business just to have time to focus on search engine optimization and WordPress. All kinds of things like that. I'm doing a few weddings here coming up in the spring, so I'm excited to kind of stay active as a wedding photographer but not have it be the only source of income for the family so that we don't have to be working all the time.
We were doing 40 plus weddings a year for several years in a row. It was just, whenever we started to get ... When we had three kids, it was like, well I don't know if we want to do that many weddings anymore, so we scaled it back. Last year we only did like 15 and this year I'll probably only do around ten. Still trying to stay active because I do love wedding photography. It's nice to be connected to what's going on in the photography industry as well.
Scott: Yeah, I definitely find it important, as someone who is a photographer but is not doing it full time, I definitely find it very important to take jobs every so often just so that I'm still in the loop on things, on the processes that I'm re-educating myself on the business side while I'm actually with the client. The preparations, and making sure that you just always know, so that when you're teaching it or talking about it with somebody, you're certain that you're telling them the right thing.
Corey: Yeah, and I do have some interesting ideas on things I'd like to try with the photography business in the future. Right now it's just, I've been full force working on trying to grow the Fueling Photos community and kind of delve head first into search engine optimization and learning as much as I can and offering some services there. That's been kind of the bulk of my time. You know, as that levels out I think I will kind of get back into it. I want to learn more about mirrorless cameras. I want to try some things like same day edits at weddings and crazy things like that, just for the fun of it.
Scott: Oh yeah. It's always interesting, I live very close to Vanessa Joy, and whenever I hear her talk about same day edits I think like, "Why do you put yourself through that?" At the same time, it's like brilliant business. Your brides are so happy. The bride's parents are so happy. It's a cool thing. It's a really cool thing. You definitely have to have a system in place to do it.
Corey: Exactly. That's probably, that's why I've been thinking about doing it, because I'm all about systems with what I do.
Scott: Yeah. Awesome. Let's talk about SEO. We have three different things that we want to talk about here. The first is, now we're calling this episode Photography SEO in 2017, so I want to make sure that we get some juicy stuff for photographers to take away from this episode so that they can really think about and analyze what they're doing on their own site and make sure that they're doing it really well this year. We know that Google changes quite often, so with that, let's talk about three overlooked SEO items that photographers forget. This is on average, what do you see photographers forgetting when you work with them?
Corey: Right, and that's one of the things that's really interesting. I always have a hard time balancing finding the juicy things that are really interesting, and also kind of hitting the things that, I might say something that sounds obvious to some people but other people aren't [seeing 00:12:18]. I look at hundreds of photography sites, and I can tell you these things are missed on more than 50% of them. I'm like, how do you miss these things? I think that kind of fits well in this overlooked category.
The first one I think of is having an address or location on your site, because most photographers are trying to rank for location modified keywords. Like wedding photographers in Columbia, South Carolina, or wherever you're located. If you want to rank for a local keyword like that, it helps a lot to have, well, first of all, you need to mention those locations on your site. If you're not mentioning it at all, then it's very unlikely for you to show up for that kind of search term because you're not relevant to it.
Even if you're mentioning it, a lot of people do not include their address; they do not include their phone number. That's kind of, I kind of put a second thing, just contact information. I have been shocked recently. I saw this kind of come in and out, and now it's back to a trend, I would even call it, where people are not including any contact information on their site. Just a contact form. Not even an email address. No phone number. No address. Nothing, just a contact form. I've seen it a lot recently. If you are doing that then not only are your visitors potentially not able to find the method that they prefer to contact you, but search engines can't verify that you're a local business if you're not using location words and you don't have an address or a phone number with an area code that they can say, "Oh yeah this is definitely a legitimate business in that area." That's kind of the biggest thing.
Scott: You know I saw a website this weekend. The name of the photographer is one that everybody hopefully will recognize, Pete Souza. He is the official White House photographer during the Obama administration. He was also the White House photographer during the Reagan administration. I was looking at his website just enjoying his past work. His website's very minimal. It's a white site. A side menu on the left of the different categories of images, and then a little menu at the top with his name.
I go to his contact page, because I'm curious to see what he put on his contact page. Now remind you, this is a very minimal site, very white. When you go to a page, there's nothing on the left; it's just the menu at the top with his name. You go to his contact page, and all it says is his email address in big font, centered, vertically centered and horizontally centered. It's just his name in the menu and then his email address, and that's it. Now he makes it very obvious of how he wants people to contact him. You don't have to put everything of how to contact you, but you need to make sure that there is a way that, if you have a contact form, make sure you give another way for people to contact you. Whether it is the email address to go with it. Not clickable, just in text, or your phone number, or something.
Corey: The more you provide, the better for search engines, but I think you need to have a fallback for your visitors because I've seen a lot of times where one can't use a form on mobile or something's blocking the form, whenever they click submit it doesn't, the ajax or Java Script isn't submitting or something like that. In those cases, you need to have some sort of fallback plan.
Scott: Right. Totally. Cool. What's the third?
Corey: The third thing was alt text. I've heard y'all talk about this on the show several times, even recently. It is probably the number one thing that I see missing when I do SEO audits, and I look; I would say probably 90% of photographers are not putting unique alt text on every image. Maybe more than that. Very, very few photographers who actually use alt text correctly. They may put something, and often it's the file name, especially for a long time when WordPress was doing that automatically, just using the file name as the alt text. They may put one keyword and just repeat it over and over for the alt text. Using unique alt text for every photo is something that I almost never see on photography sites.
Scott: Yeah. For sure. We can talk for, we can do a whole episode on just alt text, and maybe we will have one day. Maybe what we need to do one day is do a submission, and we get everybody to submit, we get listeners to submit photos, and we create alt text for themfirst-pageso that they actually get a [crosstalk 00:16:57] good idea. What was that?
Corey: A lot of times what I'll do is, if I'm trying to explain this I'll tell people like theoretically what you're supposed to do for alt text and they'll be like, "Uh, I don't get it." Then I'll pull up their site, and I'll just start going down the list, and I'll say, "Here's what you would do for this photo and this photo." Then they'd be like, "Oh, okay. Well, that's easy." It's actually not hard at all. Just really quick, the best way to do it is to describe the photo as if someone were blind or sitting across the room not looking and you wanted them to know exactly what's in the photo, but they can only hear it through words. How do you describe a photo?
As far as SEO, a lot of people are like, "Well shouldn't I be using my keywords?" I'm like, well yes, if it makes sense to use your keywords, then use them and try to be intentional about it. That's the thing about SEOs. Often it's not about just stuffing in things where they're not natural. It's about thinking about your keywords and using them intentionally whenever the opportunity arises. With alt text what really happens often is photographers, they do like these minimal sites that don't have very much on them, and so there's not much content. There's not much text content on the page, but alt text is [credible 00:18:05] like text, and so it can add to the content of the page. It also adds a lot of semantic keywords, so other related things.
If you have a blog post about a wedding, then Google is going to say, "What clues do we have that this blog post is about a wedding?" If you don't have much text, then it's going to look in the photos and the alt text and it's going to say, "Do I see things like dress, rings, cake, bride, groom?" These words that are obviously wedding words. If it sees those, then it says, "Yup check, this is definitely a wedding post." It's kind of a way to verify the subject.
Scott: Totally. It's so important. Hopefully, 2017 is the year that photographers get it in their heads that they need to do this.
Corey: I do it all the time. It's very tedious, but it's worth it.
Scott: Totally is. As I said before, Google is changing their algorithms so often. By the time that this episode airs, which is in like three days, it's going to have another change, it's inevitable. What that change is, we won't know. That's how often it changes. Let's talk about ... As a preface to this, I can't stand it when I see websites, whether the photographer did it or their web designer did it when they're trying to mask text using white colored text that's spanned with keywords on a white background. Now this is something that Google has frowned upon, and Bing has frowned upon for years.
Corey: Yeah. The more we talk, we'll see people doing that.
Scott: Oh man, I can't stand it when I see it. Sometimes they get away with it, which is crazy. Let's talk about things that photographers should not be doing in 2017. What I just mentioned is something that's been going on for years, like I said. Let's talk about 2017. What should photographers not do?
Corey: Okay, so some of these things that I have written down are still kind of general and have been for awhile, but I think some of these are very relevant to right now. I'll start with; the first one is attempting to do advanced moves or changes without help from either someone who really understands SEO or your hosting company or something like that. I say that's relevant right now, especially because of this big deal that's kind of going on with SSL and HTTPS. A lot of people are switching by using some kind of plugin, or they're just checking a box somewhere. They don't have the guidance that they need to do the proper redirects, or to go into search console and to change the way that the URLs are displayed in Google. They don't realize that there's going to be broken links or broken tracking. All these things that can happen whenever you switch.
Not only, I mean SSL is one example, but there's any time you switch from one platform to another. When you're doing anything that changes a lot of pages or you have to have redirects in place. A lot of people are trying to do this because there's a plugin out there that says, "Oh we'll do it for you." They just check a box. Even some hosting companies that I've seen have like fallen to this kind of thing. Even whenever you have someone who is doing it, it can be good to have some verification from either someone that you trust who knows SEO, or read some articles out there and see what the process is currently. Then ask questions whenever someone is helping you do it. Say, "Well how are you going to do this?" That you know what's going to happen before everything gets started. I would say that's a big deal in 2017. I think you're going to see more and more people breaking their sites.
I saw actually where someone today, who was on Square Space. I know we're not supposed to talk about Square Space, but they did a bid switch to HTTPS on all their sites. He didn't go in and fix the things that he needed to do in Google and it was causing mismatched results and it was just a reporting problem and potentially a ranking problem. There's a lot of that stuff going on.
Scott: Yeah. You know I, just last week I finished up a migration from Square Space to the Imagely hosting platform. This was a big project because it was, the photographer had two different sites. One was on Square Space, and one was on WordPress, but the WordPress was a very outdated blog with about 400 articles. When you're moving from WordPress to WordPress, it's very easy. Very easy. For a hosting company, it's very easy, I should say.
Scott: Not for the average photographer. However, Square Space is not an easy migration. We've talked about this many times on the podcast. The URL structure that Square Space was using was very odd for this site. I don't know if it was intentional if the photographer chose it or what. I had to do a lot of redirects, not only did I have to do redirects from Square Space, the URL, from the Square Space URL to the WordPress URL, but I also had to switch from HTTP to HTTPS.
There was a whole bunch of, again this is going to be technical, there's an HD access file that is a hidden file that your server looks at to determine if there's, what certain tasks that should be done, like redirects. There's a really crazy looking, super technical redirect that is using something called Regex. Sorry if this is going a little over your head people who are listening. Basically, this is converting that one URL that was on Square Space to the new URL without any issues. It was doing it dynamically. I only had to do the script once, and every URL was migrated. That's just one of a good example of, if this person tried to do this on her own, it would have been a fail, because that was difficult, big time.
Corey: I know I've seen you talking about that before. That's one of the reasons I feel so comfortable recommending Imagely because I know that you're going to pay attention to those kinds of things. I'm not going to name names. I had several recently who have some other hosting company, and they've moved it, and I went back and checked, and I'm like, what happened here? They didn't do this right at all. I think it's one of those potentially trust but verify, kind of things. Go back in afterward, any time you do a move, and check the URLs. Go back and Google and do site:search and see what's indexed. Click on things and see if they are redirecting to where they're supposed to be, and those kinds of things.
Scott: Yeah. Cool. What else? What else should photographers not be doing this year?
Corey: Maybe this was in 2012 instead of 2017, but having multiple domains or platforms or sites, and you just talked about one where they had WordPress and Square Space. Even right now I'm still seeing quite a few people who still have a WordPress site and a separate WordPress blog. They're either separate WordPress installs on the same domain or a separate domain for the blog, or people have, and this can potentially be legit, like they could need this, but sometimes people have multiple websites for different specialties. If they have like a boudoir and wedding and children, they might have three separate websites. I usually don't recommend that kind of thing either.
Scott: I usually only recommend doing different when it's drastically different. Like I have a friend who is going to start, bring back graphic design back into his business, so he's going to make a separate graphic design from his photography. That's a whole other business.
Corey: I mean, I've seen it. You're in the south. There are some people who, if you're doing wedding photography and you do very traditional wedding photography, and you started putting boudoir up on your site, you would have some mothers of brides who wouldn't even think about calling you. There are some taboo issues, and I think that's going away more and more. I've seen things like that. There's even some SEO advantages sometimes in very specific cases, where you might have a really big advantage if you set up a new site. It's very rare though. In most cases, it's best to kind of build your authority under one brand, one name, one website.
Scott: Yeah, there's, and I've said this before, there's a lot of people who have a SmugMugs site for their galleries and then a WordPress site and blog for the rest. Beyond just the SEO issues that could arise from that, there's complexity of; now you have multiple places to log into. That adds more complexity for your business, but then there's also the branding aspect. You could hire somebody to make your SmugMug site, or your ZenFolio site or your PhotoShelter site, look similar to your WordPress site, but it will never be exact. There's a branding issue that comes up as well, beyond just the SEO. There's, you know ...
Corey: Consistency of brand, but also consistency of navigation. Having slightly different navigation can be very disorienting to people.
Scott: Yeah, or if your site has let's say Typekit font, but your Smug Mug site only has standard web fonts. Now your whole font system is going to change. Your typography is going to change. That's going to look odd. There's a lot of things, a lot of downsides having cross platform.
Corey: Yeah. Something else that I've been seeing that is kind of, I think it's really important to 2017 because of all of the options out there. I've seen people trying to install multiple plugins that do the same job. I think like I said, that happens because there are a plethora of options for every kind. You just talked about how y'all made the LightRoom plugin. At the same time, Jetpacks were releasing a Lightroom plugin. Sometimes they can be complimentary, but in most cases that I'm seeing, especially for things like SEO or for caching or for image compression, I've seen people put on ...
Scott: Oh god.
Corey: [crosstalk 00:28:17] on one site. I'm like, this is terrible for SEO. It's terrible for your site, and it's going to cause problems. That's especially, when we're talking about SEO, I've seen people trying to use something like All in One and Yost, or they might involve something like Squirrely. There are several others that are out there and people are trying to install multiples at the same time. Because honestly, some of them do have some cool little features. That you might like one little thing that Yost does and one little thing that Squirrly does.
I'm mentioning Squirrly, probably most people have never even heard of it, but it's got some cool things. I just can't stress enough; it's so important. Even some themes have built in SEO options that need to be disabled, especially like Pro Photo has, on the pre version 6, they would leave SEO options enabled even with something like Yost, and you have a lot of conflicts and stuff like that.
Scott: Yeah. On that note, it's worth mentioning that usually a well-coded theme or plugin will adapt to when a popular plugin is installed that does something that's complimentary or identical. For example, the Genesis theme, which has SEO features built in, will hide and disable the SEO features when Yost SEO is active.
Corey: Yup. They do the same thing in Pro Photo 6. Now when you go to it it'll say, "Oh, we detected Yost." It'll disable it, which is how it should work.
Scott: Another thing that is nice is the social sharing plugin that I use, which is called Social Warfare, has open graph features just like Yost SEO has open graph features.
Scott: What Social Warfare does, and they say this in their marketing materials, is they will not hide their open graph. What they do is they utilize what Yost, they don't override Yost. They will just not do anything if Yost is in action, but if you manually replace, let's say the Twitter image being used, then in Social Warfare it will then override the Yost one.
Scott: It compliments. It doesn't butt heads; it works together with Yost, which is a really nice thing.
Scott: As far as caching plugins go, that could be actually dangerous territory. That could be a site breaking thing.
Corey: Yup, for sure.
Scott: If you, so this is way beyond SEO at this point. This is like, you could crash your site and cause damage if you install caching plugins on top of caching plugins.
Corey: Yeah. You know it's funny. I had a guy just a couple days ago who had two caching plugins and nothing was wrong with his site. It all worked like he thought it should be working. Then he disabled one of them, and it crashed the site. If it happens often, is it like going back to the HT access. Actually this was in wp-config, both had written something there, and one overrode the other. Whenever he disabled one, the old settings came back. Just weird stuff like that can happen when you try to install and uninstall multiple plugins.
Scott: You mentioned image compression. One thing that I've seen time and time again is I'm constantly recommending JPEG Mini Pro to photographers because I love the fact that I can just use it in my workflow and it's actually the most powerful image compression algorithm out there. There is none that's better.
Corey: Well have you seen the new thing Google put out recently? It's not fully released yet, but it was looking really good, whenever it comes. If they ever release it for us, we'll see.
Scott: I haven't seen it yet. The reason why I brought this up is because there are a lot of image compression plugins that will over optimize, will over compress. If you compress in JPEG Mini, for example, or anything on your desktop, and then upload it to your website, a lot of these image compression plugins will actually re-compress what's already compressed and wind up yes saving you file size, which is great for SEO, but it'll make your image potentially look horrible.
Corey: Yeah, could be at that point you're saving a few kilobytes, if that. Google will usually even still tell you that you should, or maybe that you should consider optimizing images if you only have a couple of kilobytes, if you've already done it in JPEG Mini, they'll still recommend optimizing. I had someone ask me that. "Should I re-optimize?" Usually the answer is no if you've already gone through JPEG Mini.
Scott: Exactly. Exactly. I have tested a lot of the image compression plugins and the one that I've seen that will not compress beyond JPEG Mini is actually Imageify. It's made by the people who make WP Rocket Cache. I actually use it on my site alongside using JPEG Mini Pro on my desktop. Just because I know that if I happen to miss an image it'll compress it nicely, but it won't destroy a photo of mine that has already gone through JPEG Mini Pro.
Scott: That's another thing. Don't overdo it with that. Great. There's a lot of stuff that photographers should not be doing. Let's talk about some of the things that photographers should be doing in 2017, because there's a lot and Google is changing. There are a few things that are super important now, that have started becoming on the phone in 2016, and 2017's going to be almost crucial.
Corey: When you say that, the first thing that comes to my mind is mobile. It's been a big deal for years now, well you know at least a few years where they've been talking about it. I believe 2017's going to be the year when the scale tips with mobile. They've already started with Mobile First Index, and this is kind of the biggest thing, a change ... A lot of people talk about Google changing a lot. For the most part, if you are doing the right core things, not that many changes because Google's point is always to try to optimize for the best user experience. Their algorithms change to always try to present the results that people want to see the most, but sometimes there are major changes, and mobile first is one of them.
Even that, they're saying, they say, the Google reps who are willing to talk about this, or who are allowed to talk about this, have said things like, "Well it probably won't be that much of a big deal for most sites." Remember when you were doing the introduction you said that some things are misinterpreted or not specifically for photographers. This is one of the times where I'm going to make a prediction that this Mobile First Index is going to be a big deal inside of the photography industry. Across all sites, it might not be quite as big of a deal. What's going to happen in the photography industry is that there are still so many sites that are not mobile-friendly. Not even that are not responsive, but they're just not mobile friendly at all.
What I've seen is that sometimes these pages are still ranking on the first page, the second page of Google. They've just been king of hanging out there because they have so much authority backing them because they've been around for a long time or they have tons of links or they have lots of social signals or really strong local relevance, or something like that. I believe that the mobile friendly is going to, that factor is going to start to be strong enough to pull some of those sites back down if they don't update. That's a thought on that. Man, we could easily have two or three episodes on just talking about mobile friendly. The point is, your site, it has to be mobile friendly at least, and it really should be responsive. That's from Google; they say that they prefer responsive over like a separate mobile friendly version.
There's a lot of ways you can check. You can easily use the Google mobile-friendly test. I'm sure Scott's going to give the link to that. That's a great way to kind of get started, but I've even found that sometimes that you will pass the mobile-friendly test and still have a site that's really hard to use on mobile. Usually not. They'll check most of the things, but sometimes it happens, and so it's really important that you also look on a mobile device, and on several mobile devices. Have other people look on mobile devices and see not only, does my site load, but is it easy to use? Can people do the thing that they're trying to do on this site quickly and easily on a mobile device?
Scott: I usually tell people, go to an Apple store, go to a Microsoft store and go to a cell phone carrier. Test it on Android, Windows phones and iPhones.
Corey: Yeah. That's a good one.
Scott: Then of course if you have access to tablets there too, on tablets.
Scott: That way you're getting your hands dirty by actually testing it beyond just Google's mobile-friendly tester.
Corey: That's something interesting that just made me think about, you've mentioned tablets. Often tablets are kind of like the third; they're kind of like the red-headed stepchild. We think about desktop; we think about an iPhone or a small phone and we kind of leave out tablets. Every, I shouldn't say every, most of the photography sites that I have paid attention to the traffic on all different types of devices, tablets are usually really well performing traffic. They have really low bounce rates and more pages per site. For some reason people on tablets often really interact well with photographer's sites. I would say, I have theories on why that is and all that, but I would say it's important to look and see how your site looks on a tablet.
Scott: Yeah. I have some theories on that too, just from like just human experience with doing things on a phone versus a tablet. If you don't have a full computer around, I find that I don't want to do things on a phone, that it's just too small. That a tablet gives you that little bit more of a flexibility if you don't have a computer around to really have the full system.
Corey: It's that idea that I want to sit on the couch and watch TV while I look at this and I don't have to have a huge computer on me or whatever. It gives you, people want to look at pictures on a photographer's site, that's usually kind of the point, and so it makes it much easier. Maybe that's kind of; they're in that mindset of, "I want to look at pictures. I want to explore." That is why they're interacting. My sites are usually somewhere between like 5 and 8% tablet traffic, but that 5 to 8% usually has a higher conversion rate than the others, if you level it out.
Scott: Nice. Cool. What else should photographers be doing in the new year?
Corey: Okay so this is, it's kind of an interesting thing. I said pay attention to branded search. This is something that I am seeing more and more, where people are really researching photographers by typing in their brand. I think this has kind of had an uptick in the past few years because of Facebook groups. I think a lot of people are in Facebook groups and they ask for referrals. They'll get back 20 or 30 names of photographers, and then they'll type those names into Google to see where to contact that photographer, to learn more about that photographer.
Most of the time, whenever I look at, when I do an offsite audit, when I look at the search engine results for a photographer's name, if I just type their name in, they will show up in the first spot pretty regularly. A lot of photographers have business names that are commonly used, either they use their name and it's a very common name, like John Smith photography. You know there's going to be dozens, or they have some generic name like My Memories or My Special Moments. Something like that, where there are 10 or 15 photographers who have used that name. It's important that you pay attention to your name and what happens whenever someone searches for your name.
Scott: That's also sort of where local SEO comes into play as well, because if somebody's searching for a name and they happen to be in Columbia, South Carolina, that person's probably going to get a result from somebody with that John Smith Photography name local to where they're searching from.
Corey: Yup. That's very true. As long as there are local signals like I said earlier, make sure that you have those things on your site.
Scott: Exactly. Yup.
Corey: I would say that it's extremely important right now to focus on your brand. That's another thing that I see a lot of people leaving out, is they don't mention their brand, their name in text on their site or in their titles. Most people do, but there's still quite a few that I see that don't. I think that's important. I've actually even seen examples where a photography brand is outranking the main term. I was looking in wedding photographers in Orlando, and there were more people who searched for one specific photographer than for one of the main hit terms that I was looking for. I was like, wow, that's incredible. It happens a lot.
Scott: That's interesting. That's really interesting. The next one I think is probably one of my favorites, because I always challenge photographers, when I talk about SEO in public in workshops and conferences and whatnot. I usually give this challenge to do exactly what you're about to say.
Corey: To write.
Scott: To write. To write more.
Corey: Yup. Photographers don't like that. They don't. A lot of photographers are just kind of in that mindset like, "I want to be creative, and I don't want to write." They just don't like the way it looks; it kind of ruins the aesthetic. The whole thing with Instagram and the hashtags, we like to drop them down with periods so people can't see them anymore because it's ugly. That's how people feel about their websites. They're like, "I don't want text on my site because that makes it look ugly." The fact is, it doesn't have to. If you're intentional about it, and you're smart with the text that you're using and where you're using it, it can be extremely helpful. I think your text needs to back up your photos, and your photos need to back up your text because different people are going to look at different elements, whenever they're looking at your site.
Something that I always talk about when I talk to photographers about this is like a print competition. If you've ever been to a print competition, especially like the PPA type or even what they do ... I haven't been to one at WPPI, but those types of print competitions where they put a print on a screen in front of a panel of judges. What happens during that competition is that they read the name of the print before it flips around. When you really start getting into competition and how to compete, the first element is impacted, and the name has an opportunity to change the mind of the viewer. What happens is whenever you say that name, and then you put that photo, it puts an idea in their head.
This is also true; I'm kind of talking about more like psychology and conversion and stuff like that. It's also so important for search engines. They need to be able to see text that can set the idea for what's on the page. I think that's extremely important. Not just like big titles at the top of your pages, but also in your blog post. I think that this, again it's for SEO, sure, but it's also for people.
If I can tell a story about ... I'll say I'm a wedding photographer. If I'm going to tell a story about a wedding in a compelling way that brings to light the connection between the couple in a way that maybe they didn't even realize on their wedding day, or their family and friends who went. They didn't see it when they went but now that I said it that way and I showed them the pictures to prove it, they're like, "Wow, that I connect with." Whenever people connect with something like that, that's what makes it interesting to share. I think that photos are so ... Words for your photos are so important for not just search engines but also for people actually connecting with your photos.
Scott: Whenever we talk about writing for blogs, and we talk about photographers who are scared of it or just don't feel like they can do it, or they don't have the time to do it, we usually recommend PhotoScribe, which is Rachel's company, because that's exactly what they do. They create content for photographers. They do it for a lot of photographers. They do it really well, and they have a really great system in place to make it easy on the photographer to get PhotoScribe started with the direction of the content, and they implement it for you. If you want to check it out we'll have that linked in the show notes as well; you can check out PhotoScribe.
Corey: Just one of the great things about on the home page, is that if you look at kind of the average across the photography industry, the average first page result, home page, has 500 to 1000 words. Just a little stat for you, because most people have, they have like a few hundred and they're like, "Well this is plenty, right?" It could be more.
Scott: Oh yeah, it could be. That's for sure. That's really great stuff. We now know a lot of things to look out for in 2017, both things you shouldn't be doing and should be doing. You now know some of the overlooked things that you might have on your site that you should address in this new year. Let's dive into the recommended WordPress plugins or themes. You can talk about whatever plugins or themes that you enjoy using for you, for your clients, and we'll get that linked up in the show notes. What do you like?
Corey: Okay so I'm going to actually, just for the sake of being different, because I know Yost gets mentioned pretty much every single time.
Scott: It does.
Corey: I'm going to actually bring up a different SEO plugin for anyone who might be a little bit more advanced, because I've actually been really enjoying a plugin called The SEO Framework. It does pretty much all the same things that Yost or All in One or any of the other plugins would do, it just is a more minimal interface and it makes it, if you already know what you're looking for and know what you're doing, it does all the same things and just makes it simpler. It still has kind of some lights to give you warnings on things, but not to the extent that Yost does. If you're kind of a basic, or a beginner with SEO, I still recommend Yost. If you're more advanced, it does potentially take some of the bulk out of your site and out of the back end as far as like making prettier and easier. Your things may load a little bit faster. I think Yost is really good, but it's just an interesting alternative.
Scott: Yeah, that's been talked a lot in the advanced WordPress groups. There's been some interesting debates about which actually is more efficient. Like you said, the feature set's very similar. Some of the tests that people have done has shown that Yost is actually faster on your site.
Scott: Others have found that they like the interface better, of SEO Framework, because it doesn't have all the advertisements that Yost has.
Corey: Right. I've actually seen a lot more people who have said that Yost was slower, but I'm sure it kind of depends on exactly which parts of it you're using.
Corey: Also Yost had some big updates in the past year, and so a lot of people kind of got down on Yost because they dropped the ball one time. They fixed it quickly, within a few days. Crashed some people's sites and people got really, distrusted Yost. I've been impressed with [Juiced 00:48:35] and his comments in the groups, and in Yost, he's a really cool guy.
Scott: Yeah he is. Cool. What else do you like in the WordPress side?
Corey: Another really random plugin is called Nested Pages. It's something that I use for organizing my pages. It lets you kind of pull them down under other pages and organize what's a child of what, if you have that kind of thing. It lets you clone pages really fast, and if you even want to clone multiple pages at the same time. There's a lot of cool little features for, I guess that's also something that's helpful for someone like me who has sites that need to add multiple pages at the same time. Most photographers probably wouldn't, but its so nice on the back end. It just looks nice and it's easy to see where all your pages and posts are.
Scott: Awesome. Yeah, that's one I've never needed to use, but I've always been intrigued by it, so I might wind up installing it and just playing with it. Just to take a look. We'll link to that one in the show notes as well. What else? Any others you want to talk about?
Corey: Some other things, actually all because of you, Scott. I've been using Divi for a long time, and there are still things I really love about Divi. I'm still using it on a couple of my sites right now, but I also kind of know Divi very well and so I know some things I can turn off and ways that I can make it work well. There's some things I haven't liked about it, and I've really been thinking about the future of websites and how they're going, and even the future of WordPress and where it's going. That's led me to try out some new themes and plugins.
I've really been enjoying Elementor Pro, as a page builder. That was one of the top rated in the page builder plugin review that we worked on. It's still young. I still think, after putting it through its paces, that it's not as full featured as Divi for sure, but it can do a lot of the same things. A few things that it can do I think are even better than Divi, especially if you have a blog heavy site. Some of the blog layouts that it has built in are really nice. Some of the image slider things that it has built in are kind of cool, if you want really, really minimal images. Anyway, I am really liking Elementor Pro, and I've been using it with Generate Press, and I'm using the pro version of that as well.
You talk about Genesis a lot, and I actually do really like Genesis, I just ended up going with Generate Press because for one, they have a free version and it was easy for me to get in and kind of play with it. It's a very similar theme to Genesis, in the fact that it's built for developers, has lots of hooks and ways to customize it, but it is also very basic and you kind of have to build on it. I don't know if I would recommend it for most photographers, but if you want something really simple and lightweight, if you put those two together you can build a lot really easily.
Scott: Yeah. Yeah I would definitely say if you're going to use Generate Press Pro, unless you know how to create a trial theme, you're going to want to use that with a page builder.
Scott: It is, it's just like Genesis, if you're going to use Genesis it's either use it with a trial theme or use it with a page builder. It's great. Generate Press Pro is great. In fact it's actually a theme that whenever, in the Genesis community, because there's a lot of online communities for Genesis users and developers, it's actually recommended as, for people who want a similar theme that's free, Generate Press, the free version, is what a lot of the Genesis community recommends. It's a really good one. Awesome. Anything you want to, any final thought you want to share with the listeners? Any big takeaway you want to provide? Anything you want to close up with?
Corey: Well I think that we talked about some things, but SEO's one of those topics where you really could talk about it for a very long time. The technical things and all of the little pieces of SEO are important. I think I've been really kind of moving more towards trying to teach people the concepts that really focus on usability. I'm thinking about, how do I make my site, A, the most relevant result, and B, just kind of the best option that lets people do exactly what they came to do. People are usually trying to complete a to do list item when they're looking at a photography website. Thinking about just how your site works and how people use it, is the first thing that I want to drive home.
Then there are a lot of technical things. I try to write about those as well, on the Fueling Photos blog. The SEO guide that I wrote on the Fuel Your Photos site, has a lot of those kind of technical things. There's a lot out there. There's a lot to talk about. Because of the changes that are happening all the time, it's best to think about kind of the big picture. If you can think about how you make your site the most relevant and the best for the people who are trying to find it, you'll always come out on top. Then you start worrying about tweaking the little things.
Scott: Awesome. That's great stuff. We are definitely going to have you back on to talk about other stuff in the future, of course. I know that you're working on a lot of cool stuff that you'll be able to share down the road. We'll make sure that the community hears about that too. Be sure to, and we're going to link to Corey's Facebook group. I want to make sure that everybody who's listening joins that Facebook group because there's a lot of great discussions about so many different topics that will benefit your site, like SEO and conversion optimization and things like that.
Corey also is doing, here and there and I think you're ramping it up this year, right? You're doing a lot of website reviews and things like that?
Corey: I am. Yeah.
Scott: Live on Facebook too, right?
Corey: Yeah. Well, I'm doing them on YouTube right now, but yes. I have those available. You can find that link on the site or in the group.
Scott: Yeah, so you definitely want to make sure you join the group and try to get in on one of those, because you might learn some stuff about your site that you did not know before. Cool. Well, thank you, Corey, for joining us today. You've been a great guest and cohost, because Rachel's not here. You can find the show notes and where to find Corey at Imagely.com/podcast/32. Thank you again and until next time.
— Imagely (@imagely) January 19, 2017