Make my site SEO friendly

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Do you Google yourself? Having your site show on Page 1 of search results is something we all wish to have. Search Engine Ranking is an ever-evolving, constantly changing, mystifyingly inexact science, but the secret to it has always been BE RELEVANT.
Photo by animallens

Here at SmugMug, you have many ways to add a little search mojo to your site and get a great search engine results page (SERP). Your Folder/Page/Gallery titles, gallery descriptions, photo captions, and photo keywords all feed searches, so it's important that you use meaningful, descriptive, and relevant words for these fields.

Here's more info about those features, and others that will help you get a boost.

1. Site Maps

Site Maps are field guides for search engines, allowing them to get an idea of what you have on your SmugMug site. We automatically feed lots of up-to-date information about your pages to help you get listed and show up in search results.

What you need to do do: Log in and set your Account Settings > Discovery > Search > Google Search Visibility to Yes. Save your changes, and we do the rest!

2. Homepage Meta Description

This is the text that shows next to your site name in a search result, or when you’ve shared your SmugMug site on a site like Facebook. You want to look professional when found on search engines, so make sure that this is a short, descriptive, well-written blurb about your photography.

Your viewers should know what your webpage is about in 7 seconds or less. Leaving the Homepage Meta Description field blank will cause the default SmugMug description to show in SERPs—it won't be empty, but it won't be unique.

What you need to do: Log in and visit your Account Settings > Discovery > Search tab. Enter a few descriptive words in the Homepage Meta Description about the kind of photography you do, or what your website is all about.

3. Homepage Meta Keywords

These give search engines a way to classify your site. This information won't show up in search results like the above Homepage Meta Description, but they're still a very important tool to help your website show up when people search for terms in Google.

The key is to be unique:
 How many folks will put "photographer" or "photography" here? Be different! Choose really descriptive keywords. Include your location if you’re looking for local customers. Include your specific genre if you’re selling fine art prints, portraits of puppies, or if you specialize in macro flower photography. 

Tip: Use the same rules for page titles. Having search terms in your page titles is another useful way to get better SEO. On SmugMug, page titles are your Folder/Page/Gallery names, so be sure to think about good keywords to use when thinking up these titles.

What you need to do: In your Account Settings > Discover > Search tab, enter specific, descriptive keywords that describe what you do. Avoid repeating terms and general terms that everyone else will probably use.

4. Page Title Bar

Open your site in a browser and look at the title at the top of the window. What do you see? The text that shows up there is important to viewers and search engines, and should be customized just like everything else we've described above.

What you need to do: Enter descriptive information about you and your website in your Account Settings > Discovery > Search. Once you save your changes, the browser title will reflect your custom text, followed by the Custom URL you’ve given to your Folder, Page, or Gallery. If you leave the Browser Title blank, the only thing shown will be your site name.

5. Folder Meta Description and Meta Keywords

You can add descriptions and keywords for each of the 7 levels of hierarchy on your SmugMug site to increase your total SEO juice. Be sure that in addition to your Site and Folders, you do this for Galleries and Pages.

What you need to do: Log in and go to Customize > Folder Settings (or Gallery or Page) > Basics. Enter descriptive information about your gallery, folder, or page and click Save.

6. Gallery Titles

Gallery titles (we call them Custom URLs) are the page titles for your site. Page titles are the kings of SERP, and custom URLs are your way to use specific keyword targeting for the important pages on your site. 

Custom URLs give your gallery (or folder, or page) an easy-to-remember name, while also helping feed the search engines. If you don’t like the URL we automagically generate from your gallery title, you can create your own custom URL, up to 30 characters in length. 

Example: // 

What you need to do: Give your galleries good, descriptive, specific names when you create them. You can edit or customize the URL for the gallery on the New Gallery page in the "Gallery URL" field, or edit an existing gallery's Custom URL via the Gallery Settings page. 

7. Gallery Descriptions and Meta Keywords

This bit of text is also revealed during searches, and when you link to galleries on external sites like Facebook. This is another opportunity to tell your audience (search engines as well as people who search for you) what you do: talk about your photography and be sure to include relevant descriptions like photo locations and a description of what you shoot.

Example: If you’re an event or wedding photographer, you can type in links to the venues and other vendors that were used in your event, in addition to informative text that welcomes and helps the people searching for you. This text can be formatted with HTML to include headings (semantic mark up), which in turn can/will be ranked by search spiders.

What you need to do: Log in and go to Customize > Gallery Settings > Basics. Enter descriptive information about your gallery and click Save.

8. Keywords, Filenames, and Captions

These three things are magical for getting your site listed in search results.

Keywords and Captions: You can add keywords and captions at the gallery or photo level, and we recommend that you do both. You'll find places to enter both keywords and captions in your Gallery Settings and in your gallery Tools button > Title and Captions or Keywords, as well as underneath your individual photos when you're logged in as the owner and viewing your gallery.

Filename Keywords: If you rename your photo files from DSC4836.jpg to a more descriptive Castro-Theater-San-Francisco.jpg before uploading, we will automatically include those words as keywords in your SmugMug gallery. Prefer that we don't do this? There's a toggle in your Account Settings > Discovery > Search tab where you can turn it off.

In general, a photo with more relevant keywords should rank higher than a photo with fewer or no relevant keywords, assuming other factors (number of inlinks, relevance of the page as a whole, etc.) are similar. So be sure that you're not just jamming lots of words in there that aren't specific to what describes you.
  • Poor keywords: landscape, photography, photos, wedding

  • Great keywords: mount st helens sunset, oregon landscape photography, sunnyvale newborn photography

What you need to do: Be sure that you assign keywords to all of your photos and galleries. Keywords can be entered before upload via programs like Lightroom, or after upload from the Organizer.  

Read all about keywords and captions here. Also, don't leave the default filenames on your images -- change them before you upload them to something descriptive and relevant.

9. Create and Maintain a Blog 

Blog posts that contain good, useful information for your audience helps to build and retain a human following, which results in your fans sharing your posts and link back to your website. 

What you need to do: We recommend you choose your favorite blogging service, then link to it from your SmugMug site via a subdomain name or an outside domain name. Blog posts generate additional traffic through ‘long tail’ keywords, or unexpected or unpredictable search terms, created automatically by the varied, everyday content that you'll post.

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