A digital portfolio is the most underused type of sites. As a rule, web designers and developers create portfolios to showcase their works to recruiters, and nothing else. But the truth is your web presence can bring you more benefits, especially if you’re a freelancer searching for lucrative job offers.
Just like a blog or any other website type, your digital portfolio can put your projects in view of an unlimited number of people. Some of them may get so impressed with your work that they’ll want to hire you in the end. But it won’t happen if your portfolio doesn’t rank high in Google search (the higher, the better). Learn what SEO tactics you should employ to optimize your digital portfolio for organic traffic.
Choose specific keywords for your digital portfolio
As users google words rather than pictures, your portfolio must have some text optimized with profitable keywords. The question is how to find out which keywords can bring you visitors and which of them aren’t worth your time.
First of all, keywords like “hire a designer” won’t bring you any traffic at all. They are too broad to compete for, and popular freelance platforms like Upwork already rank in the Top 10 for such queries. Google treats those platforms as credible resources due to millions of visitors and powerful backlink profiles. Your individual portfolio won’t be able to push giants like Upwork out of the top.
Instead, you should opt for more specific, long-tail keywords. For example, there are many modifiers to make the broad phrase “design services” more specific. They include the product you design, the audience it’s meant for, your location, cost, etc:
- professional website design services (quality + product type);
- web design services in New York (service type + location);
- cheap website design services (cost + product type).
The trick is a single long-tail keyword can make your portfolio rank for many queries. As you can see, the top-ranking page for “cheap web design services” also gets traffic for similar keywords, in which synonyms “affordable,” “inexpensive,” and “low cost” are used instead of “cheap.”
The days when word-for-word match mattered are long gone. Today, Google understands that the search intent is the same behind similar queries. That’s why the engine ranks a single piece of content for multiple terms that are alike.
While most people choose keywords based on their search volume only, this metric doesn’t tell anything about the traffic potential. Learn what metrics you should additionally check to identify juicy keywords that will result in a steady traffic flow to your digital portfolio.
Add Linkbait to Your Portfolio
Keyword research is only the first part of the story. Unless you build links to your portfolio, Google won’t see it credible enough for high rankings, no matter how well-chosen your keywords are. Only backlinks from third-party resources can prove its worth to the engine. This is a universal rule for any website type, be it an individual portfolio or a corporate portal.
Besides showing off your projects, try to publish articles on your site once in a while. Check out content types that can pay off with more backlinks:
- freebies (as a designer, you can share some of your artworks at no cost);
- case studies with stats and target audience surveys;
- infographics and other visuals like charts with stats, pics with thought-provoking quotes, etc.
People willingly link to this content because it can improve their own writings – support their statements with arguments, add more details on the problem briefly mentioned, etc. Additionally, you can check what content brings backlinks to your competitors and try to outperform them.
Optimize your portfolio images for the web
Being a designer, you will surely have a lot of images in your portfolio. With high-resolution files, you can present your projects professionally, but they will slow down your site. On the other hand, low-quality pics will speed it up but spoil your project presentation. The question is how to take the best of both cases and avoid their drawbacks. For this, use special tools like Optimizilla that can downsize pictures but keep their good looks.
Also, change auto-generated image names like “img1234567” for something descriptive like “business-logo-designs.” When uploading pictures to your site, add your target keyword as an alt tag to each.
Stick to Google SERP limits
The way your portfolio looks in SERP is equal to your business card in the physical world. If the engine truncates your SERP snippet, most likely it’ll affect your click-through rate. Make sure your SEO title and meta description don’t go beyond the following limits: 60 characters and 160 characters respectively.
Use pop-up forms reasonably
According to Google policies, pages that don’t give easy access to the content on mobile devices won’t rank high. Here are the main UI elements that can be the reason for such an outcome.
However, it doesn’t mean your portfolio can’t have pop-ups at all, especially since they are efficient tools for converting random visitors into hirers. The key here is the time when they come into view. Don’t enable them straight away. Wait until visitors browse your portfolio for a while or decide to leave.
Link to internal pages and external resources
Links make a big difference in modern SEO. Internal links can give Google a better idea about your portfolio structure. With their help, visitors will also be able to dig deeper into your projects or any other stuff you share.
As for linking to external pages, it can give the engine a better understanding of your content and prove its relevance to the target topic. Note that you should link mostly to authoritative sites. Too many links to resources with a minimum DR and no traffic may harm your portfolio rankings.
Also, make sure you don’t link to 404 pages, as your site will have broken links. They create barriers for Googlebot to understanding your content. Try to keep your portfolio’s link profile clean.
Keep your anchor texts in balance
This is where you must play safe to avoid a penalty from Google. The engine analyzes link anchors to understand what keywords the page should rank for. As many website owners started stuffing keywords into anchors to rise in SERP, Google rolled out Penguin to penalize manipulators.
But there’s no absolute ban on using anchors that match keywords, both partially or fully. Just balance them out with other anchor types like natural, branded, etc. Studies prove that the higher pages rank, the more keyword-rich anchors they have.
Update old project pages of your portfolio
If your portfolio site has been up and running for years, it may include outdated projects that aren’t worth showing anymore. Instead of deleting them, you can update their pages with some new content, especially if they still drive monthly traffic or have backlinks. Google loves fresh content, so you’ll have a good chance of getting more page visits when the engine re-crawls those pages.
Creating a digital portfolio just for the sake of it can hardly help you. But if you SEO-optimize it in line with Google policies, you’ll get on the radar of more potential employers. Posting thought-out content, you’ll also prove yourself to be a worthy candidate for an open position. Who doesn’t want to hire someone who knows their stuff? If you employ any other SEO tactics for your portfolio optimization, mention them in the comments, please.
About the Author
Nick Campbell is a content marketer and outreach manager at Ahrefs. He is passionate about technology, SEO, and blogging trends. When Nick is not researching a new topic, he’s probably at some tech event.