SEO Tips for Photographers
In the modern world of professional photography, a photographer has to consider many more factors of their business than they have ever had to. The internet and social media, in particular, have given photographers a whole new world of opportunity. As the internet is awash with other photographers and competition, however, it is important to capitalize on SEO – this article looks at what SEO is, why it is essential for your photography business, and how you can improve it.
What is SEO and why is it important?
SEO = Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the process of improving your website and digital media to ensure that it is optimized for search engines. Ok, still confused? Most likely! By search engines, we mean websites such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Websites you can use to search for anything and everything. These search engines use automated software/algorithms to crawl through content on the web to catalog it and add it to their search index.
The indexing process has to have some form of order and ranking – imagine if websites were just randomly added and given no order? We would have search engines that provide irrelevant information or poor quality results. To that end, search engines rank websites based on many different factors such as content, keywords, backlinks, relevance, and activity among others. This is where SEO comes into play – SEO is the process of making your own website look favorable to a search engine so that in return it is ranked higher in its index.
For example, we have two photography businesses – Business A and Business B. Business A has strong SEO and has followed the basic guidelines to improve their website. Business B, on the other hand, has not. If someone searched for a photography term such as “Premium quality travel photography” for example; Business A might appear on the first page of Google’s results whereas Business B might not show until the 5th page, if at all.
You can hopefully now see the importance of SEO – ranking high on search engines results pages gives you a higher chance of exposure and probably more custom. It is a well-known fact that people rarely look past the second page of Google search at a push; and in most cases, they only consider results shown on the first page. This is why SEO is an important tool for a photographer to use – to gain a competitive edge and to gain more exposure to potential customers.
How can you improve your SEO as a photographer?
It is important to remember that improving your SEO takes time – you can’t simply wave a magic rand and suddenly rank No. 1 on Google – it doesn’t work like that. What you can do however is consider the six steps listed below and work hard to optimize your website and online content. By doing this, you should be able to improve your SEO rankings organically.
Step 1 – Choose the Right Web Development Platform
Web development today has progressed immensely – in years past you needed a specialized web developer to create a site from scratch. You can now use a variety of web development platforms however that has drag and drop features that let you create a website in a matter of minutes. Whilst this is perfectly fine, you must choose a development platform that has great SEO features.
WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and Weebly are all platforms that have SEO facilities and have a solid basic compliant code. These platforms will allow you to sort the basic SEO of your website, such as metadata and alt tags. WordPress is possibly one of the best platforms as it has a host of plugins you can use that can help boost your SEO.
Step 2 – Create a Blog
Traditionally, blogs were used as personal journals – a space we could use to share our thoughts, feelings, and adventures with the internet. Fast forward to the modern age however and blogs have transformed into something else. Blogs now mean big business and are an important marketing tool as well as a means of generating content. If you look at the top business in the world you will see that they all virtually run a blog – do you think they are doing this simply to share their ideas with you? No, they are not! A blog can actually help improve your SEO!
It is long believed that search engines now take into account blogs when ranking websites. If a company or individual has a blog, it will look favorable and help improve their SEO. It’s not a simple case of just creating a blog and writing a couple of articles though.
You must create consistent, useful and interesting content on a regular basis – consider creating a couple of blog posts per month as a minimum. Furthermore, you must try and share your blog posts on social media and try to solicit user engagement such as in the comments section. Interact with your readers – reply to their comments and keep your blog active and interesting. A photography blog should be simple – you can write about your equipment, techniques, or even your adventures.
Step 3 – Ensure the Basics are in Place
Many people fail to improve their SEO as they neglect the basics – there are several simple steps you can take to improve the organic SEO of your website that can make a huge difference straight away. If you have basic web development knowledge then you should have some idea of these steps already, but if not then fear not – we can talk you through them!
Metadata is essential data that search engines read to help categorize and index your website. Important Metadata includes the Title, Description, and Keywords. The title tag is a brief description of a web page – this should be kept short and have a maximum of 35 characters. Furthermore, it should be relevant to the page content and not packed with keyword spam.
The description tag is almost like an intro to your page – it provides your readers with a summary of the page. Again this tag should be kept concise and relevant, and each page must have a unique description and title. Finally, we have the keywords tag – this is not as important and search engines don’t factor this in but it is still a good idea to fill out the keywords meta tag.
3.b Image alt tags
Any image that you insert into your website will have an alt tag – this alt tag is used as alternative text if the image cannot load, or for screen readers etc. Every image you use should have an alt tag and this tag should describe what the image is in a concise manner.
Most web development platforms should have an alt tag tool, but if not, you can insert an alt tag into the HTML code yourself – simply find the image tag (<img src=””/>) and insert the following code – alt=”” – in-between the “” you write a description of the image. For example, you have an image of a sunset, the code might look like this: <img src=”images/portfolio/sunset-1.jpg” alt=”Sunset at St. Peters Squares in Rome”/>.
3.c Code compliance
If you are using a web development platform such as WordPress then code compliance shouldn’t be an issue. Most modern website builder’s produce code that is compliant with W3C standards. You should always check that this is the case however by using the official W3C validation service. The compliant code in an important part of SEO and it allows search engines to index your site easier.
3.e Missing URL’s
Broken links and missing URL’s do not help your search engine rankings at all. If a search engine bot tries to index your site and finds a broken URL it will cause issues. Most web development platforms will include a link checker, but there are many different services you can find on Google too. Periodically check your links and remove any links that are outdated or not working.
Step 4 – Identify and Incorporate Keywords
Keywords are one of the most important aspects of SEO. A keyword is a certain word or phrase that has relevance to your business i.e. photography. Furthermore, a keyword is a word that people are likely to use when searching on the web. Let’s say you are a wedding photographer – a keyword combination could be “affordable wedding photography” or “outdoor wedding photography” for example.
You must first research appropriate keywords that will benefit you the most. There are many different tools you can use to research keywords and one of the best is Google AdWords keyword planner – you can use this to research which keywords are popular or niche keywords that could serve you well. If you want to up your keyword research game a notch you should give KWFinder by Mangools a try.
Once you have researched keywords, you must incorporate them into your website naturally in places such as your metadata and written content.
Step 5 – Build backlinks to your Website
A backlink is a link to your website from another source. A backlink could be anything from a link to one of your photos on social media, to a link to your portfolio in an e-magazine or third-party blog. Backlinks are an important aspect of SEO – one of the most important after keywords and basics in fact.
Search engines look at what backlinks you have and use it to ascertain the quality and popularity of your website. If your website has plenty of quality backlinks, for example, a search engine will deem it to be popular and relevant.
We must stress the importance of the quality of backlinks, however – a backlink just for backlink’s sake is never a good idea. Your backlinks should come from reputable sources that are also relevant to the photography industry or complementary industries. Consider trying to create backlinks from photography blogs, camera equipment stores, and other associated websites from your industry. Furthermore, you could consider hiring a freelance web designer to specifically work on crafting quality backlinks for you if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself.
Once you have created a catalog of backlinks you must then periodically check them to make sure they still exist. There are many SEO tools you can use such as Link Miner to do this. Always look out for new backlink opportunities too.
Step 6 – Maintain your Social Media Accounts
Social media is another area of the internet and marketing that you must attend to as a photographer. Maintaining a handful of active social media accounts can help boost your SEO and also create backlinks to your website, blog, and eCommerce store. In a similar manner to blogs, it is believed that being active on social media can work wonders for your SEO. Not only this but maintaining active social media accounts can also help expose your photography to a wider audience and also promote your business.
As with blogging, it’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality. Don’t simply spam social media posts on Facebook and Twitter just to create content – this will often have a counter effect and prove detrimental to your SEO and business. Your social media posts should be informative, useful, engaging and exciting.
Furthermore, they should also use call to actions, and contain backlinks to your website, blog, and photos. Try to build up a following on social media and a network of contacts. Create a daily posting schedule to help you plan your work, and use unique content that will appeal to your audience. All of this should provide positivity to your business and help boost your SEO rankings.
Photography SEO – Be in it for the Long Haul
Hopefully, you have found this information useful – as you can see, there is a great deal involved with SEO and it is not something that can just happen overnight. SEO takes time and you must work hard to create a website and digital content that is SEO friendly – start with the basics first, and then work on the other pointers suggested.
Ensure that you check search engines regularly for phrases including your keywords – you can see how your website is ranking and if you are making progress. Don’t become obsessed with checking search engines however as it can have a negative effect on your work and concentration.
Once you have optimized your website and improved your SEO, you should hopefully see an increase in business and in website traffic. As a photographer, you must capitalize on things such as SEO, social media and digital marketing in order to gain a competitive edge and shine above the rest.
Related Post: Best Cameras for Blogging in 2018