If a website goes live and doesn’t show up on Google, does it really exist? This great philosophical discussion is probably best left for scholars, but what we do know for sure is that your portfolio needs to rank well on online search results. After all, most decisions we make today start with a quick consultation with our trusted friend, the search engine. If Googling your name only results in a mess of old Facebook pictures and late-night tweets, that’s definitely not a good sign. For that reason, your design portfolio could use a sprinkling of some SEO (or ‘Search Engine Optimization’) dust. SEO is the process of optimizing your online content in order for your website to appear higher up on search engine results on Google, Bing and the likes. These quick actionable tips are here to help:
1. Keep your text live, not flattened
True, your portfolio should first and foremost exude visual talent. But when it comes to optimizing your website’s positioning on search engines, it’s the written copy that matters most. Search engine algorithms are based on keywords, that help match the most relevant websites to certain queries. Hence, when it comes to making a good SEO impact, written content is crucial.
Many designers craft well-designed logos of their names and speciality for their portfolios. Yet as beautiful as these JPEG or PNG files may be, they can never replace live text typed straight into your website, as that’s the only kind of text that Google is able to recognize. Notice how lettering artist Nim Ben-Reuven enjoys the best of both worlds on his homepage. A moving typographical hero image wows visitors right as they enter the site, while his name remains Google-friendly in live text at the top of the screen – helping the bots and algorithms recognize what matters most (that is if we agree that anything matters at all, but that’s another philosophical discussion altogether).
2. Pick your keywords
Keywords are short phrases that, when typed into a search engine, could potentially direct visitors to your website. To find keywords that are most relevant for you, ask yourself what people would Google if they wanted to get to a website like yours. “Graphic designer” is a start, but broad terms such as this one are highly competitive, and ranking for those is an unlikely scenario. Therefore, aim to be as specific as possible with your keywords, keeping in mind your niche or speciality. “Freelance web designer”, “screen print artist in Melbourne”, or “3D motion graphics and illustration ” are much more likely to boost your site’s ranking. Think of what queries would narrow things down in your favor, and Google them to see what comes up – if it’s your competitors (or fellow designer friends) that you find, you’re probably on the right track.
Once you have two main keywords and three additional ones – make sure to spread them across the textual copy of your website. Start with your website header, which should include your name and expertise. Then, find a way to casually drop those keywords into the rest of your site’s pages, hopefully while targeting different keywords on different pages. For example, instead of naming your series of succulent posters against an orange gradient “Sunset Cacti”, why not go for something like “Sunset Cacti – Screen Print Illustrated Posters”, so that Google will categorize your content more accurately. Another golden opportunity to throw around relevant keywords is your ‘About page’, where you should briefly describe your work and bio.
3. Insert titles and descriptions
It’s time to let Google in on some inside information on your site – and provide it with metadata. Filling in your site’s title and description can ensure that you don’t show up on search results with a messy “project 01.png; project 02.mov; missing_link404”, but rather a brief, to the point description of who you are and what it is that you do. Here’s how illustrator Carissa Potter phrased her own SEO description on her Wix website: “Carissa Potter is an illustrator whose prints and small-scale objects reflect her hopeless romanticism by investigating intimacy. Check out her work.” See what she did there? Carissa created the perfect mix between a few important keywords (name, ‘illustrator’ and ‘prints’) and a descriptive and inviting copy. To fill in your metadata, consult with the Wix SEO Wiz or:
Fill in your title and description: Go to the Wix Editor → Select “Pages” → Click the icon with the 3 dots (more options) → Select “Page SEO” → Fill in the first two items.
4. Retain text hierarchy
Being the skilled designer that you are, who can appreciate the true value of working with saved typography styles, or themes, better than you? Not only do font themes simplify the design process and make your portfolio easier to edit, but they also work wonders for your SEO. With good textual hierarchy, the Google algorithms can navigate through your site and understand it in the correct way.
The Wix Editor offers six heading presets and three paragraph ones. Edit those presets to your heart’s content and change font, size and kerning all you like – but be sure to retain their correct order. Heading 1 (or h1) should only be used for the most important heading of each page, such as your name on the home page, or a project’s name on an inner page. The rest of the headings should go in chronological order – Heading 2 is second in hierarchy, Heading 3 is third, and so on. Use paragraph styles for the body text, and follow the same chronological order.
5. Start a blog
Since written copy is one of the most crucial aspects of your SEO, what can be better than enhancing your site with quality written content every so often? Not much, and that leads us to the only logical conclusion – you need to start a blog. Being visual creatures, most designers shy away from writing and prefer their creativity and self expression to shine with color and shape. But blogging can be a great opportunity for you to increase traffic to your site, while reaching out to your fans and clients at the same time. Write about anything that comes to mind relating to your art and business – from sharing your work process and methods, to giving tips on major lessons you’ve learned in your career. It can even be a platform for you to elaborate on what that rejected draft can teach us (and why you still love it so.)
6. Choose the right domain name
The web address that leads to your portfolio should look as sharp as your portfolio itself for two reasons. One, because it looks a lot better. And two, because what follows your ‘www’ can function as another indication for Google to learn more about your site. Your domain should be professional and short, and include your name and preferably one of your keywords, such as www.yournamedesigns.com. Once you have the right domain, go over each and every one of your site’s pages and take care of their individual URLs. For the inner pages, go for more specific and niche keywords, such as www.yournamedesigns.com/package-design/food-branding/.
Fill in your URL: Go to the Wix Editor → Select “Pages” → Click the icon with the 3 dots (more options) → Select “Page SEO” → Fill in the “What’s the page URL” section.
7. Add alt text
Now that your textual copy is optimized, time to return to what your portfolio is meant to showcase in the first place: your designs. Your visuals deserve to be SEO-friendly too, so that they can be found on Google images. Search engines can’t interpret the content of our visuals on their own (just yet). Until AI catches up with our brains, every picture on your website should have its alternative text (a.k.a. ‘alt text’) attribute filled out. Unlike a photo caption, your alt text won’t show up on your website but will be used by Google to index the image. Write a short sentence that describes your visual as clearly as possible, something along the lines of “Stationery design including a business card and a menu for a Mexican restaurant”.
Add alt text for your image: Go to the Wix Editor → Click on your image → Click the gear icon for “Settings” → Fill in the “What’s in the image? Tell Google” section.
Add alt text in the Wix Pro Gallery: Go to the Wix Editor → Click on your Gallery → Click “Manage Media” → Fill in the “Title” section.
8. Promote your site and get exposure
One of the elements that Google takes into consideration when evaluating a site, is the amount of clicks it’s getting. But how do you get traffic pouring in when your site has only just launched? One word: promotion. Spread the news of your new site on your social channels, and add your new and shiny link on your Instagram bio, your ‘about’ section on Facebook, and anywhere else you can think of. Make sure it’s easy for site visitors to share your work on their own social channels by making all of your images and blog posts shareable with social buttons. Lastly, submit your website to a few of your favorite online design publications, because being featured can jumpstart your traffic, as well as provide you with backlinks (links from external websites), another favorite of Google’s.
Your portfolio is now optimized and ready to be indexed by Google! If you have a domain, you can speed up the process by connecting with Google through the Wix SEO Wiz