The Basics of WordPress SEO for Designers: How to Improve Your Portfolio

 This is a guest post by Dragan Nikolic. 
Website optimization is not only a merely technical thing. You can do all the tagging, do your meta descriptions, keyword research and other handy things that we are going to touch a bit deeper in the article, but it would mean so much more if it’s supported by content.

Your website is not supposed to be read by machines. They are here only to assist the transfer of information and knowledge between your WordPress blog or portfolio to your visitors. Following all the SEO guidelines for optimizing your portfolio must be accompanied with content. Visually appealing, informative, coherent and semantically correct content.

Focus for maximum effect

Even before you start creating the content for your website, the main thing you should keep thinking about is your target reader:

Who wants to know about what you are going to write?

If you plan on launching your idea, you must think that you have something to share with the world. The content needs to be aiming at a pretty narrow and particular sample of people.

You should picture a stage and you as the only performer on it. And down there, sitting in the hall is one single spectator. The material you are going to perform must be completely centered on that person. The same concept is valid for a website. Creating too diverse and heterogeneous content on your site will have poor conversion rate and not so great effect on your business.

Visual appeal to make it real

Design of your web content should be visualized as an enticing wrapping that will lure visitors’ attention to your content. However, this is a very tricky moment, because the wrapping needs to contain a tasty and easily digestible core.

Wasting time on high-class design will take you nowhere if the content itself is not relevant. On the border between your world of design and the realm of SEO lie your:

  • projects,
  • images,
  • video content,
  • templates,
  • case studies.

And among the must-have content, you definitely need text, images, inspiring videos and tutorials.

Eye-engaging done right

When it comes to visual appearance of your portfolio, it is important to be moderate and witty with images. The best and only option here is posting your own photos. Generic photos or the ones you buy on stock sites seem as if you’re cheating.

Original photos related to your field of interest would show the visitors that your content comes from your internal motivation. Although being a part of the technology niche, the matter of visual attractiveness of a website can be partially looked at through artistic glasses.

Inviting textual content and eye-engaging visual genuineness make a perfect match in creating a captivating website visual identity.

Now that you know what people are attracted to, you should optimize those same visual and text elements for search engines.

Images and SEO

Web pages are often shared through social sites. Images are often used in Twitter Cards and in Facebook Open Graph and using WordPress SEO plugin to set these parameters for your website will ensure better click-through rates.

In order for your photos and images to speak clearly to search engines, you need to use:

  • descriptive file names,
  • descriptive alt tags,
  • descriptive title tags,
  • descriptive captions.

The magic word here is “descriptive“. It’s the only way for search engines to know what they’re looking at.

I’ve never found it too difficult to spend an extra couple of minutes on doing this right, as I’ve noticed the websites that get my attention, get it from Google, too.

File names and alt tags will certainly be noticed by the robots and title tags and captions will, well… capture your visitors’ attention. You’ll see results, believe me.

Technicalities

Yes, you’ll find that file size matters and that it directly influences your website speed. But, having “overoptimized” images won’t look nice from your visitors’ perspective, so for designers dealing with WordPress, I suggest you turn off that automatic image compression.

When it comes to alignment, I don’t need to tell you about this one. Every designer and usability geek knows that images shouldn’t break text alignment.

Your portfolio will be image heavy, then you can and should include your media in your XML sitemap. Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin does this nicely. Even for images that reside in your custom post types and portfolios.

Projects, Portfolios and SEO

Search engines are getting better at figuring out what you’re on about, but they still get lost in translation. The universal translator called Schema is the one all search engines understand.

CreativeWork by Schema is a nice thing to add to your portfolios and aid search engines in understanding what benefits you can provide to people. They’ll thank you for helping them. You’ll get some nice traffic boost and better click-through rates once you implement it.

Schema and RDF breadcrumbs will show up in the search engine result pages and ensure better visibility and user experience of your WordPress website.

You can also try using ProfessionalService by Schema, which is a subset of Local Business vocabulary, in case you’d like to optimize your website locally, as well.

Content, keywords and SEO

Search engines will not be thrilled to notice an often recurring appearance of your keywords throughout the page, but this is sometimes unavoidable and you shouldn’t think too much about it. Just as you shouldn’t think too much about keywords when producing content for your designer’s portfolio or case studies.

The most moderate way of using them is in a few chosen sentences and in headlines. Also, every wise designer should know that the homepage is the SEO hub of their work, so make sure you’ve got enough text there explaining everyone what your services are.

This page has to give a concise but striking introduction to your site and the services you provide. Giving a title to every single page, as well as a short description will make the whole site more competitive and prominent. Your branding, which can be your name or your agency’s name, comes at the end of your title tags.

What users will see when a search engine points to your website is the description tag. That description should be the textual cherry on the top of your website. It will win over the internet users who see it when they come to your website and witness your unique and mind-opening content.

Recap

WordPress SEO for designers and creative agencies can be somewhat different, since you need to focus on visual content more than you do on your text. On-page SEO for these web elements will definitely help your portfolio get publicity via search engines. So get them right:

  • Always use descriptive Alt tags and File names to make your photos search engine friendly.
  • Always use descriptive Titles and Descriptions to make your photos user friendly.
  • Use relevant images and videos to match your project descriptions.
  • Use the best possible image quality.
  • Implement Open Graph and Twitter Cards using WordPress SEO plugin.
  • Use Image sitemaps (an XML sitemap generated by WordPress SEO plugin).
  • Use RDF breadcrumbs and Schema.org vocabulary for your articles, portfolios and other creative work.

Caring about these details is guaranteed to set some distance between you and your fellow WordPress designers, but remember that the visual flair of your site and the quality of the content is what will make people actually hire you.

About the author: Dragan Nikolic is a WordPress copywriter and blogger for hire passionate about startups and minimalism.

Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Great article. I’m facing that issue with SEO.
    I have about 30 portfolio items but many of them require the same descriptive title, making me worry about how that looks for Search Engines.

    Would you recommend setting the portfolio items as NoFollow?