A Gentle Introduction to SEO for Photographers
I never thought I’d be sharing info about SEO for Photographers… but here we are! As much as I love social media, there’s more than one way to reach your ideal client! Leveraging the full power of your website has never been more important than it is now! While talking about websites and SEO for photographers certainly isn’t in my normal wheelhouse of happy, my friends at the Photography Spark love to talk websites and SEO! Today, Dave is going to break it down for you and make it super simple to get started!
So you’ve built your photography website, picked the perfect theme, made the site look great. You open the (virtual) doors to the world and then… crickets. Visitors to the site are not what you expected.
Are you struggling with this problem?
There’s nothing wrong with your photography services, it’s simply that people may need help finding the website for your business. These days, many people seeking a photographer use a search engine to find them. That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is the catch-all phrase that means the all stuff you do to rank higher in Google. Since Google is the dominant search engine, ranking in Google = visibility, which leads to more sales.
And it’s more than sales. Search engine optimization can help you:
- Get more clients
- Attract the right clients
- Grow your business to a level where you can charge the fees you deserve
- Generate referrals from an increased client base
How a Google Search Works
Google’s computer systems scan the web, cataloging the billions of web pages that exist. It then analyses the contents of the pages and indexes the keywords and phrases that describe the page. The index is similar to the index of a book, just on a massive scale. When a user types in a search query, Google finds the pages in it’s index that match the search terms. The results are ranked then ordered by the pages importance and how closely it’s content matches the search terms.
Search Engine Optimization is a complicated subject, but I’ve broken it down in to 5 areas you can improve to help your Photography website rank higher in Google.
5 Improvements You Can Make to Help Your Site Rank Higher with SEO for Photographers
Google uses over 200 signals to determine how closely a webpage matches a particular search term, but here are 5 of the top factors that affect the results.
#1 Optimize the Page Title
The title tag is the main description for the content of the page. It is a very important element for SEO and appears in 3 key places:
- Title tags show up in at the top of the browser window.
- The title tag text appears in the search engine results list.
- Often, external websites (especially social media sites) will use the title text as the link text.
With these factors in mind, you should pick the title tags that concise and accurate description of the page. Try to keep the length to less than 55 characters, otherwise the text may appear truncated in the search results. Also keep in mind that the title tag may be the first impression a potential client has of your site (from a search), so you want to put your best foot forward.
#2 Provide Great Content that is Relevant to the Search Topic
The content on the page is a direct reflection of your brand. Make sure it is well written and free of typographical or grammatical errors. Also make sure the content is focused on the topics for which you want to be found. It is better to have several in depth pages with a more narrow focus, rather than 1 page with broad focus.
Images on the page can also help boost rankings. But more is not necessarily better. It’s better to have a photo gallery of your work as separate page that visitors can access, but don’t make it the home page.
One factor that can negatively affect search results is duplicate content (or slight variations) on the site. Avoid having multiple pages that contain substantially the same text and structure. It’s ok to have the same information presented in different ways, what we’re talking about here is exact or nearly exact pages.
#3 Get Other Relevant Sites to Link to Your Site
This is an important one!
Links from other websites are one of the top factors that contribute to ranking highly in search engines. All other things being equal, an site or webpage with better links to it will outrank one with poorer links. It’s not necessarily about quantity of links, it’s the quality that matters.
Links from other respected web sites are considered and ‘endorsement’. The higher the reputation of the site, the more weight it carries.
But remember, link building is more of a marathon than a sprint. It takes time. Reach out contacts you have in the industry to see if there is an opportunity for them to link to your site. Also keep in mind, link building is not a zero sum game. If you discover a valuable resource on the web that is related to your area of photography, link to it from your site if it makes sense. Helping another site today may pay off for you tomorrow. Gradually building links in this way will help improve your rankings over time.
Also build links internally to your site. What I mean by that is: when appropriate, link to other pages on your site to help visitors navigate the site to find useful information and resources like a pricing page, references/testimonials, description of your photography services. These internal links help users, but also help search engines understand the content of your website.
There are also a couple of things that can harm your search rankings, thus should be avoided. Avoid links buying links, or links from ‘webspam’ sites consisting of pages which contain hundreds of links to unrelated websites. If a website’s sole purpose is to provide links out to many unrelated sites (other than reputable web directory websites), these links will not help rank your site, in fact they can cause you to rank lower.
#4 Make your Website User Friendly
Your website is essentially your business card, this is why you need to understand basic SEO for photographers! You want it to look professional and make a great first impression. First, try to make sure the pages load quickly by using a good web host. Optimize the size of images on the page to the size they will appear on the web, which will help them load faster. The speed that your webpages load is considered when determining search engine rankings.
Avoid things like splash pages and Flash, which can slow down the site and make it harder for a search engine to understand the content and index it.
Google rankings also take into account mobile friendliness. Make sure your website design or theme displays correctly on mobile devices and is easy to use. You can perform a quick check by using the Google Search Console Mobile Friendly check .
#5 Get Found in Local Search
Most photography businesses are local businesses. It is extremely valuable to have your business seen when a person performs a local search – is using SEO for photographers starting to make sense yet?! Google displays ‘Google MyBusiness’ listings at the top of the page (before the search results) for searches that have a local context. These listings are based on distance, search term relevance, and prominence of your business.
To make sure your business is found in local search, you should first claim your business at https://www.google.com/business/. This is where you register the Name, Address and Phone Number for your business with Google. It is very important that when you list your business online, the Name, Address, Phone Number should be consistent across the web.
Make sure the name, address and phone number of your photography business is the same across the web.
To learn more check out how Google uses business information.
Let’s wrap it up
This beginners guide to SEO for Photographers is just the starting point! Increasing the visibility of your photography website in Google is a great way to bring clients to your business. Remember to follow these simple guidelines:
- Publish great content
- Secure great endorsements (links)
- Provide a great user experience
- Be visible in local search
Using some of the tips I’ve outlined, you can get started today improving your site’s results in Google search. For more in depth information, check out the Search Engine Cookbook for Photographers at Photography Spark. The Cookbook contains 25 ‘recipes’ to help teach photographers everything they need to know to about search and SEO.