Friday, February 12, 2010

Website Updates

Yikes, my website and blog are long-since overdue for some updates! This blog desperately needed a new (and more cheerful) entry, and my website just plain needed some changes.

To start with, I have been studying SEO (Search Engine Optimization) over the past few months, and as I discovered new tips I've been slowly integrating them into my website. So far, I seem to be getting a few more hits a month because of it, and it's been steadily increasing. Basically, I'm adding keywords that I'd like to be targeted for into my information. Not only does this help to improve my search rankings, but it should also help inform potential clients about me as well.

For example, what used to read:

"Hello, and welcome to Photographic Phantasy! I hope that you enjoy my galleries of photographs, and perhaps even request photography from me. I have a lot of great services to offer you! Mostly I do portrait and pet photography, but I can do commercial as well! If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! I'm always willing to answer any questions about things you might be unsure of."

Now reads:

"Hello, and welcome to Photographic Phantasy! My specialty lies in people and pet portrait photography, but I am also skilled in more commercial areas as well. Along with my traveling studio, I can work at any location--indoors or outdoors, or even in your own home! I am currently located in Saratoga County, New York State. I hope that you enjoy my photography, and I look forward to working with you! "

I changed it for two reasons.

1. This sounds a bit more professional, and is much more informative about what I do. And it doesn't sound like I'm begging anymore. I really have to remember not to make site updates at 5am and tired, which is how the begging sound came about the first time. At that point, I thought it might sound appealing, but it does not.

2. By including "people and pet portrait photography", Google can now pick up on that phrase after their robots crawl my site, and by including "Saratoga County, New York State", Google can add a location to the search. Informative keywords for both potential clients and search engines.

I also went through my services section, and reworded things. This has to do a bit with marketing ideals, and with trying to appeal to my audience. I was taught that a good photographer never shares their pricing on their website, and so for a long time I didn't include prices. However, I'm in an area that doesn't lend well to that tactic, because people here are on a budget of both time and money. They don't have the time to be emailing me about how much I am going to cost them, and they don't have the money to afford someone expensive; which they might think I am if I don't include some form of pricing on my website. As such, I've included the very basics of pricing, just to give people an idea. This helps put me in the running with my local competition, I'll only get serious inquiries most likely, and people won't feel like I'm miles out of their budget.

On the topic of contacting me, I finally added a quick form for people to use as well. It's nothing special; but since most people don't want to take the time to open up their email to send you something, not to mention most people wouldn't know what to say anyways, this should be more client-friendly. All I ask for is a name, email address, and phone number (which is optional), and then I give them a drop-down menu to select a main subject. Below all this is a final text field that will let them tell me any additional information they might want to, and voila, pressing the send button will email me all that information.

Personally, I'm annoyed by these kinds of forms, but I know I'm also in the minority. And the big thing some website creators forget is that the website isn't necessarily for yourself, it's to reach out to a specific audience. So instead of catering to your own needs, you have to cater to theirs.

In the future, I'm going to be adding a site map to the bottom of my website to make it just a bit more user-friendly as well, and rework some of the links. But since what I've done today has taken a few hours already, I'm going to give it a rest and work on some actual photography--since that has also been lacking lately.

So please take a look at my website and let me know what you think!

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