In today’s digital world, there is so much to learn on the technology side. As a photographer, Search Engine Optimization may be far down on your list of what you give your time to.
However, good SEO is vital to your success, as it can help your website rank higher in searches on major search engines such as Google.
It may come as no surprise that studies show up to 80% of click traffic goes to the top three search results. People are more likely to refine a search than go on to the second page if they don’t immediately find what they’re looking for.
Strong SEO translates into ranking high in organic searches, which means more potential clients for your photography business.
Here are some best practices of SEO for photographers to get you started.
How search engines work
Search engines contain a huge database of all the content that they have discovered on the Internet called an “Index”. An estimated 35 trillion web pages across the Internet worldwide are indexed by Google alone. Google is the preferred search engine for about 90% of users.
Search engines scour the Internet for content, looking over the code and content for each URL found. It then stores and organizes the content found during this crawling process.
Once a page is in the index, it is available for display as a result. Finally, it “ranks” the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query, and orders them from most relevant to least relevant. Different search engines use different algorithms, such as showing results in a different order.
Search engines also pay attention to a lot of other “signals,” such as how often a domain is updated. There are more than 200 signals that can influence where your webpage shows up in any given search. No particular signal is likely to significantly affect your SEO on its own. There are “on-page” factors to SEO like URL structure, and “off-page” factors, such as social media presence.
While you can improve on-page factors right away, off-page factors are less tangible and take time to build. This is why marketing needs to be a big part of your overall SEO strategy.
How to improve your photography site’s SEO
Make sure your website is mobile-optimized
The first thing you need to do to improve your SEO is to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Not only are a far greater number of searches now taking place on mobile devices, but Google also gives preferential results toward websites optimized for mobile viewing. This means that your site must be responsive – that your webpage design is based on the device used to view the content.
Your site may rank number one for a search term from a desktop computer, but it won’t necessarily be number one in the same search on a phone or iPad.
Use relevant Keywords
Like hashtags used in social media, keywords are an important way to boost your SEO and ensure that your website comes up in search results. However, also like hashtags, you can’t use them willy-nilly and expect great results. Keywords must be relevant to your audience and your content. In other words, they must be researched and chosen with care.
In order to do this, you have to have an understanding of who your clients are and what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, is your potential client looking for a destination wedding? Where are they located? Are they looking for someone locally or internationally?
Ask yourself what terms and questions your potential client might be entering in their preferred search engine. How is your audience searching for the service you provide?
To help you, try using a keyword research tool like Moz or Wordstream. These applications can help you discover and export keywords and performance data for improved searches.
Update your content frequently
It’s very common for photographers to spend a lot of time developing their initial portfolio for their site and then neglect to update it. I’ve seen photography websites where even the copyright notation hasn’t been updated since 2015.
As a photographer, you want to appear working and busy. You may in fact be incredibly busy, but if you’re not updating your content you won’t seem to be. From an SEO perspective, you should know that Google will often factor in new content when ranking search results.
This is one more reason to make sure to regularly add content to your website to make sure you stay relevant in search results.
Use Social Media
Love it or hate it, social media is incredibly relevant to photographers, or anyone with an online presence. As mentioned earlier, social media is one of those on-page factors that act as a signal to drive SEO. Search engines look at social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram as a sign of what is influential on the Internet.
Social media is an important marketing tool and engaging in is will positively affect how you rank in search engine results.
Photography is a service-driven business. Relationships are the foundation. Customers are more likely to buy from you if they feel a rapport with you and feel like they can trust you. Social media is very helpful in putting your face to your business.
Write a blog
Most photographers I know are very visual people and don’t consider themselves good at writing. However, you don’t need to be the next Ernest Hemingway to write a photography blog. In fact, using simple language and short posts of around 300 words or so (though longer can be better too) can really help you in your SEO-boosting efforts.
You can post a series of images on your blog from a portrait shoot, or post some behind-the-scenes snaps of a commercial product shoot you executed with a team of people.
A bit of a description or your thoughts on the shoot or the process will suffice. Give readers an idea of what it will be like to work with you.
This is great from a marketing perspective, but having a blog linked to your photography website allows you to build good textual content and backlinks. On the other hand, having links to only your homepage will have limited effect.
In particular, having a WordPress site attached to your portfolio site can be incredible in helping you rank higher in search results.
Just be aware that when you do blog, be sure you post high-quality content. Search engines can penalize your domain for duplicate content or broken external links too.
Get others to link to you
Having other sites or blogs to link to you is a great way to boost your SEO. When your work is featured on a popular site, it creates a cascade of links from other sites. Links from other websites to yours are called backlinks and they’re important for good SEO.
Apply to have your work featured on relevant industry websites or published in magazines. Also, consider writing guest posts on other blogs where you’re not a direct competitor of the blog owner.
Getting featured in popular feeds on Instagram can lead to new followers on your own feed and potential, interested visitors to your site.
Create a free Google Business Listing
Creating a free Google Business listing will help increase your chances to be found in search results. It allows your company information to be output with high visibility in a variety of ways by Google.
A large percentage of searches are geography-specific, like “Vancouver food photographer.”
When Google returns results that have a geographic component, Google Maps pack prioritizes them over standard results. This is a set of results plotted on a clickable map as per the example below.
When you set up your business listing, you’ll also have access to Google My Business Insights. This provides you with detailed information on how and where consumers are searching for your business. Along with your website’s Google Analytics data, it creates an overview of how people find your website and business listing and the actions they take.
Note that to create a Google Business Listing, you need to be comfortable providing a physical address to your business, which may be your home address, if you don’t have a studio.
To sum up
As you may have gathered, success with SEO for photographers is a long-game. There are a variety of factors that are important in building good SEO for photographers, and they require consistency and analysis.
Be sure to sign up with Google Analytics to track your results. Information is power, and knowing how visitors are using your site will help you tweak your approach and get noticed in search results.
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with us? Please do so in the comments section below.