Make my site SEO friendly

  • Updated

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.

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'll help you get an SEO boost.

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

Back to top

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 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.

Back to top

Homepage meta keywords.

While some search engines don't use these anymore, it can't hurt to add them as it gives the engines a way to classify your site. Just make sure the keywords are relevant to your site so you don't get flagged as spam. This information won't show up in search results like the above Homepage Meta Description.

Choose 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.

Back to top

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 it 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.

Back to top

Folder meta description and meta keywords.

You can add descriptions and keywords for each of the seven 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, too.

What you need to do: Log in and go to Organize, then select a folder, gallery, or page. Click on Settings Basics. Enter descriptive information about your gallery, folder, or page and click Save.

Back to top

Gallery titles.

Gallery titles 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 Gallery URLs are different than gallery titles. They are related in that it is beneficial for them to contain the same words. 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. 


A gallery title will be displayed to you in the browser tab and will often be used as a search result title. A custom URL can help improve SEO, but will only be seen in the browser's URL bar and as a search result URL, but won't be displayed as a title.

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 in the Gallery Settings on the Basics tab.  Go to Organize, select a gallery then select Settings Basics, then customize the Custom URL field.

Back to top

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.

Gallery descriptions and keywords should follow the same rules as site descriptions and keywords. The description should be a brief and a relevant description of what searchers will see in the gallery, because it will typically be displayed under search results. The gallery description will also be shown when a gallery link is shared on social media. 

What you need to do: Log in and go to Organizechoose a gallery then select Settings Basics. Enter descriptive information about your gallery and click Save.

Back to top

Titles, captions, and keywords.

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

You can add titles, captions, and keywords to any individual photo or multiple photos at one time. You'll find places to enter titles, captions, and keywords in your Photo Details or the tools button in the Organizer. From Organize, choose the gallery you want to update, click on a photo to open in Lightbox. Click on the Photo Details button, upper left, Add/Edit Photo Details

To add titles, captions, and keywords to multiple photos at once, while in the Organizer select multiple photos then select the wrench tool Title, Captions, and Keywords. Keywords can also be entered on images before upload via programs like Lightroom.

Filename Keywords: If you rename your photo files from DSC4836.jpg to a more descriptive Castro-Theater-San-Francisco.jpg before uploading, we'll automatically include those words as keywords in your SmugMug gallery as well. 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 in-links, relevance of the page as a whole, etc.) are similar. So be sure you're not just jamming lots of words in there that aren't specific to what describe you.

Image keywords should describe the contents of a photo or relevant information about what kind of photo it is. For example, a picture of Mount St. Helens at sunset, then the keywords, "mount st. helens, sunset, mount, volcano, landscape, Washington", would all be relevant because someone searching for such a photo might include any of those keywords in their search.

Keywords such as, "photography, mountain photography or Washington sunset photography" would be less relevant because they contain the irrelevant word, "photography" and/or combine multiple unrelated concepts that are better represented by individual keywords, like "Washington, or sunset"

What you need to do: Be sure that you assign keywords to all your photos and galleries. 

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.

Back to top

Create and maintain a blog. 

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

What you need to do: The best way to improve the SEO of a SmugMug site would be to create a relevant blog and then link from the blog to your SmugMug site. Linking from SmugMug to the blog is good too, but that won't help boost the SmugMug site's SEO. In-links from other relevant sites, like a blog, will boost SEO.

However, it's very important not to fill a blog with spammy or irrelevant content or content that's just stuffed full of keywords. Google is very good at sniffing out spam, and links from a blog that appears spammy to a SmugMug site might actually hurt your SEO of your site.

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.

Back to top

Was this article helpful?

7 out of 12 found this helpful

Have more questions? Submit a request