Remember the concept of naming your business "AAA Photography" so you could be the first one in the phone book under "photography?" While those days are gone, the concept of being the first on the list is still very much alive and well. Only now the list isn’t in alphabetical order—it’s dictated by search engine optimization, or SEO, and search engines like Google.
As a photographer, you already understand that positioning is everything, so the benefits of SEO for photographers are probably already very clear to you. It’s pretty simple, actually—people can’t call you if they don’t know you exist. So the more people you get to meet in person or online, the better. This means it’s more likely you will get a call and get the gig.
The issue you face is that a bride-to-be in Boston doesn’t know you. But if she is looking for someone like you, she isn’t very likely to come across your site if it’s on the 30th page of Google for "wedding photographers in Boston." This is exactly where SEO comes in to play for photographers.
Think of optimizing your website like calling up a potential client and introducing yourself. What you do when you introduce yourself? You explain that you’re trustworthy and why someone should send their friends to you. SEO isn’t really all that different—except instead of calling a client, you’re calling a search engine.
If you’ve been in business for more than a week, it’s very likely you’ve already been approached by SEO companies who promise to get your photography site ranking on the 1st page of Google tomorrow. The truth is, that’s not how it works. Proper search engine optimization, much like anything worthwhile, is a long-term investment. Changes don’t just happen overnight, so make sure you have realistic expectations before you start off on the journey of optimizing your site.
Initially, SEO can seem a bit daunting, especially if you’re trying to do it yourself. Don’t let that discourage you! It seems super technical, frustrating, and never-ending at times... but there was probably a point when photography felt that way, too. But look at you now! You can certainly start taking some fairly simple steps today to improve your SEO in the future.
Keep in mind that while you’re working to optimize your site, and even after you think you’re done, other photographers in your industry are doing the same thing. This means optimization should be prioritized as an ongoing task, and not made a once and done item on your to do list.
Here are some must-have SEO tips you should follow as you’re optimizing your website to attract new clients.
Confirm that Google Analytics is setup and tracking on your site. Google Analytics is a free web-based analytics service that collects detailed data about the visitors to your site. If you don’t have it running on your site already, stop reading this right now and go get it set up!
Annotate action items in Google Analytics. Making note of when you make changes to the site is very important because without those notes, you’ll have no way of to decipher which changes you made helped or potentially hurt your traffic or visitor engagement.
Keywords are a big part of SEO. Understanding how people search for you or services like yours as well as understanding how they don’t search for your services is the backbone of a successful SEO strategy.
When you’re thinking of terms you want to rank for in search engines, your first instinct might be, "photographer," but that wouldn’t be a good term to target because it would be very competitive, and there isn’t really any intent in that term. Someone searching for "photographer" could be looking for a service, but they could also be researching it as a career, or doing research for a project… so it’s likely it wouldn’t convert for you.
When thinking about keywords to add to your site, you want to think in terms of more specific phrases that are related to your business, services, and location. For example, "portrait photographer in Atlanta" might be a better fit for you, and might be how people are already getting to your website.
Once you have your keywords narrowed down you’ll want to use them to appropriately title the pages within your site when possible. Keep in mind that in addition to being found in the tab at the top of the browser when you’re on a page, the title tag is also the clickable link users will see in the search engine results page (SERP), so you want to make sure it makes sense and entices users to click on it.
A word of caution: do NOT stuff the keywords in the title tag. It should make sense, and ideally look like a legible sentence. Also, try to keep it under 70 characters in length, or else Google might cut it off.
It’s true, content is king. As a photographer, that’s probably difficult to hear, but when it comes to SEO, it’s true! Written content is more important to search engines than photos. The visitors to your site are likely going to be most interested in seeing your images, but you need to keep in mind that Google doesn’t see websites like you and I do. Search engines just see text and code.
One of the best ways to communicate to search engines as well as your visitors who you are and what you are about is through the content on your site. Write copy for each page on your site that you want users to land on. Make sure the copy you write is quality content and unique: having the same copy as another site or even another page on your site sends a bad signal to search engines.
If you only try one of the tips from the list, let it be this one. Content is crucial for improving the ranking of your website, and is the best way to get those important keywords on your website in places other than your title tags.
If you’ve done any research about SEO before reading this article, you’ve likely read about links and the importance of them. It’s true: links to your site from other sites are important. They can be either a good or a bad sign, however, so you have to be very careful when you acquire links.
Search engines look at links as a vote of confidence by the referring site. If you have a link from a well trusted and well known website, that’s a great sign. On the other hand if you have a link from a site that appears to search engines as spammy, or links to a lot of unrelated sites, that’s a bad sign because essentially the search engines determine that the link isn’t authentic. Those links will count against you.
It’s a good idea to reach out to your professional network and see if anyone you’ve worked with is willing to add a link from their site to yours. If you do wedding photography and you’ve worked with a caterer previously, consider asking them if they have a section of their site for vendors they’d be willing to add you to. Or if you do real estate photography, ask the real estate agent if they’ll link to your site in the credits of the photo.
Getting links is important, but no matter what, avoid paying for links! The links you acquire will likely be of very low quality, and Google could penalize you by removing your site from their search results entirely. If you think it’s hard to get clients when you’re on the 30th page, imagine not being there at all!
As a photographer, it’s likely that most of your work is done in the local area, which means you’re mostly concerned with local search results. If you haven’t already created a Google My Business page and claimed your listing, you’ll definitely want to do that to help with your rankings in the local search results.
Also, consider spending some time reviewing your citations on the web, and making sure that all the information like your business name, phone number, and address are correct. This not only helps potential customers get in touch with you, but also ensures that you are able to potentially outrank other local competitors and show up first in the SERPs.
If you’ve tried a one or all of these tips, and you find yourself frustrated with the process of optimizing your website for search—or if you just don’t have the time to both run your photography business and improve your SEO—we can help. As a leader in SEO services, WebpageFX can provide you with an affordable SEO plan that introduces your business to more local customers.
Get in touch with one of our SEO experts for a completely customized, no-obligation quote to find out how we can help you make your photography business more visible in search engines. We’d love to hear about your goals and offer you some tips and solutions to meet them. A quote from us is free, so send us an email today! We look forward to hearing from you!
Call 888.449.3239 or contact us online today to see how WebpageFX can improve your online performance.