How to Optimize Your Portfolio Website for Search

How to Optimize Your Portfolio Website for Search

Designers are a rare breed. They’re artists, they’re businesspeople, and they’re developers/thinkers. They have to work tirelessly to craft their skills while simultaneously growing a business and marketing their services to others. Since most designers started because of their love for the art form, the business/marketing side tends to be a bit harder to develop.

Luckily, marketing yourself doesn’t have to be that difficult. The key is to make sure you’ve created a website for your services that is focused on appealing to businesses, potential customers, and – of course – search engines.

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Creating an Optimized Website

SEO is old news by now. Most people that work online are aware of the importance of optimizing their websites for search engines. But in the past that used to be things like coding tricks, backlinks, and more. Nowadays, search engines and consumers care a lot more about the content of your site, and very little about what you did to market it.

The one mistake that a lot of designers make is forgetting that people search for words, not art. Your designs will impress them into working with you, but they can’t find you if you don’t create an optimized website. By “optimized” we’re talking about multiple pages that follow specific (but easy) search engine optimization principles:

Create a Page Per Service

Make sure you have a specific page of your website dedicated to every service you offer. People search for specific services, not just “designers.” Each page should be about 400 words and focused on selling people only your abilities within that service, like “Logo Design” with 400 words about why you’re a great logo designer. This will help you show up for that specific service in search engines, while also confirming to visitors that it is something you offer.

Create a Page Per Location

The even more important trick is to take advantage of local search. Many designers say something like “I work in New York, servicing Manhattan, Brooklyn…. Etc.” and that’s it. But a better strategy is to create page for each major location – a page for “Manhattan” a page for “Brooklyn” and so on. That’ll give you specific location pages that can appeal to search engines and to those within that location.

Create Helpful Articles

Incoming links are still valuable, but generating them is now more about creating great articles that people want to link to, not simply making random incoming links. The best way to develop them is to make incredibly valuable pieces of content that even other designers or businesses will want to link to. That’ll drive people to your site regularly, and show people that you’re a true expert.

Blog Your Process and Pieces

Finally, keep a regularly updating blog. The blog can be used to talk about services, specials, your process, your newest designs, your clients – anything you want that doesn’t deserve its own main website page. Some of these posts will be for search engines. Some will be for regular readers. Some will be for yourself. While they should be as professional as possible, they represent yet another day for you to be creative.

While some people struggle with writing, the topics of these pages are fairly straight forward which should make the process easier. You’ll want to add a couple of keywords (eg, “New York Designer,” “Designer in New York”) but you don’t need to do anything crazy. It’s something that, if you know how to write, you can complete in a few days and have a website that will appeal to search engines, businesses, and more.

Other Ways to Market

Obviously those are not the only ways to market your services. You still need a portfolio (obviously). You can really benefit from having your business on Google Places and asking your clients for reviews. You may also want to try giving away a set of stock imagery as an “email capture” where people get to download a set of 10 or so basic designs if they give you their email address (allowing you to send them newsletters and sales information).

But if you start with a website that’s fully optimized and regularly update your blog, you’re going to find that you start to attract local businesses in search engines quickly. You’ll be able to let your website run and still generate leads while you focus your time on your craft.

Micah Abraham is a content writer and marketer with Great Leap Studios, an SEO and online marketing company in New York. Learn more at

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