As a photographer trying to expand your reach online, you have probably heard the term SEO or Search Engine Optimization. You may have even started doing some Google searches looking for articles and blog posts with SEO tips for photographers (just like this one!). But where do you begin and what exactly does it mean to optimize your website? Figuring out SEO on your own can feel pretty daunting, which is why I am here to help break it down for you.
Why is SEO optimization so important for your photography business? Imagine your ideal client is searching Google for a photographer and your business shows up on the first page. The chances of them clicking on your website and looking into your services are pretty high, in fact, 70% of all clicks are made on results that show up on page one of Google, compared to less than 10% on page 2 (source: Advanced Web Rankings, Dec 2022). Being on the first page of Google means that you can expect sustainable, long-term traffic to your site.
The best part of SEO? Once you have established your website rankings using SEO strategies, that organic traffic is 100% free! If you are searching for how to better optimize your website and increase your traffic, I am sharing a list of the best SEO tips for photographers below.
1. Set Up a Google Search Console
First up is signing up for a Google Search Console account. If you haven’t heard of Google Search Console, it is a free tool that allows you to track and measure your website’s search traffic and performance. Using GSC, you can see exactly what keywords your site is showing up for and the amount of clicks it receives from those keywords.
Once you have gone through your website and implemented the SEO tips for photographers shared below, a Google Seach Console account will allow you to track your progress and help guide your future content by showing you which keywords are giving you the most traffic.
Pro Tip: Once you have set up your GSC account don’t forget to submit your sitemap. This tells Google to crawl your website and index your content. Here is a quick guide to submitting your sitemap:
How to Submit Your Sitemap to Google
Step 1: Log in to Google Search Console
- Your first step is to log in to your Google Search Console account.
- If you have more than one property under the same account, click in the top left corner and select the website for which you want to submit a sitemap.
Step 2: Go to the ‘Sitemaps’ section
- In the left sidebar, click on “Sitemaps” in the “Indexing” section.
- In this section, you will find any “Submitted sitemaps” and a section to “Add a new sitemap”
Step 3: Find the URL of your sitemap
- Here are some effective ways to find your XML sitemap:
- Try the most common site. There’s a high chance your XML sitemap will be located at https://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
- Use a search operator. If you search Google for “site:yourdomain.com filetype:xml,” you should find the location of your sitemap
- Check your robots.txt file. Your robots.txt file (located at https://yourdomain.com/robots.txt) may contain a link to your sitemap
- Here are some effective ways to find your XML sitemap:
Step 4: Add a new sitemap
- Now, you can add your sitemap to the “Add a new sitemap” section. Just paste in the URL and click “Submit.”
2. Create a Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is what shows up when people are searching on Google Maps or making a location based search on Google.
It’s crucial to have a Google Business Profile set up and well optimized for your photography business because it will increase your visibility on Google Maps and in local search results. This will help clients find you when they are searching for photographers in your local area, for example when someone searches “photographers near me” or “photographers in Denver” etc. you want your Google business profile to show up at the top of the results. Once this is set up you can also use the dashboard to track how many views and clicks your profile receives and optimize with your chosen keywords. Make sure to check out this other blog about how to add keywords to your Google Business Profile to find out how to optimize your profile.
Pro Tip: You can add updates and photos frequently to your Google Business Profile which helps tell Google that you are active and increases your chances of showing up in results.
3. Choose Your Keywords Wisely
Think about any time you open Google to search for something, whether it is a recipe, a coffee shop nearby, or what is playing at the movies- the words you choose to type into the search bar are all called keywords. These are the terms that your clients are searching for when they are looking for your services. The whole purpose of SEO optimization is to determine what these keywords are and make sure your website is what shows up when they are searched.
The process of figuring out what these keywords are is what we in the industry like to call “keyword research”. If you aren’t sure where to begin with keyword research, I would recommend looking into Ubersuggest. It’s a free tool that can help you find keyword ideas based on your website and niche. You can type in your main keyword and it will give you related keywords along with their search volume and difficulty level.
When choosing your MOST important keyword, you will most likely use a location-based keyword with your primary location followed by your primary service or title. Here are some examples:
- minneapolis photographer
- portland or wedding photographer
- colorado branding photography
- shenandoah valley photographer
This is the keyword you want to target on your home page. For your other important pages, you can choose other related keywords.
Pro Tip: You want to only choose one keyword per page and make sure that the keyword is relevant to the page.
4. Put Your Chosen Keywords in the Correct Places
Once you have chosen your keywords you want to make sure you are adding them to the appropriate places on the page. These are the places you want to make sure you include your keyword for that specific page.
- In the meta title (also called SEO title) – this is the title that shows up in search results.
- In the meta description (also called SEO description) – this is the preview text that shows up under the meta title in search results.
- Into an H1 Header – this is the main header at the top of the page.
- PRO TIP: Make sure you only have ONE H1 header per page.
- Include the keywords within the text of the page at least once, but ideally, a few more times depending on the length of the text.
5. Write High Quality and Valuable Content
You can add all the keywords in the world, but one of the best SEO tips for photographers I have is to write high-quality and valuable content for searchers and potential clients. Your most important pages, even the home page, need to have a high word count in order to rank highly on Google.
The best way to provide valuable information to your audience is in the form of blog posts. It has been shown that businesses that utilize blogs have 434% more indexed pages than those that don’t (Source: Hubspot), so writing high-quality blogs exponentially increases your chances of ranking for your keywords.
As a photographer, you want to make sure all of your blog posts are well-written, have a high word count, use beautiful photos (that part should be easy!), and include optimization with a keyword.
Pro Tip: To increase your word count on each important page, add client testimonials throughout your website instead of on their own separate page. People are more likely to see them as they scroll and want to work with you!
6. Don’t Forget About Off-Site SEO
We have covered the basics of improving your SEO on your website, but you can’t forget about your off-site SEO. To rank you highly Google wants to know that other people and websites think that your content is valuable, and they do that by looking for mentions of your brand and website throughout the internet.
The best way for photographers to improve their off-site SEO is with backlinks. This means other websites are sharing links to your photography business website. One way to gain backlinks as a photographer is through wedding listing websites such as The Knot, Wedding Wire, Style Me Pretty, or other venue or vendors’ sites. When developing your SEO strategy part of it should be seeking opportunities for your photography business to be listed in relative online directories.
Pro Tip: As a photographer, you should also make sure that you are always requesting that other vendors link back to your website when using your photos.
7. Monitor Your Website Performance
Once you have followed all of these SEO tips for photographers and your website is well-optimized, it’s time to sit back and monitor your website’s performance.
As mentioned in step 1, Google Search Console will show you exactly what keywords your website is ranking for and how many clicks they are receiving. GSC is also great for finding missed opportunities for keywords. These are keywords or pages that are getting lots of impressions but no clicks. This will help guide your SEO strategy moving forward and give you keywords to focus on and pages to optimize further.
Google Analytics (now GA4) is another tool to help track organic search traffic. As opposed to Google Search Console which provides the search terms leading to your site, Google Analytics gives you insight into your website’s visitors and how they landed on your pages.
Implementing These SEO Tips For Photographers
These are the steps to implement if you are wanting to take your SEO up a notch and improve your organic traffic. Getting your website to rank for multiple search terms can be difficult, but it is not impossible if you are following these SEO tips. The most important thing to remember is that Google loves a highly optimized site that provides high-quality content.
If you aren’t up to the DIY route and want someone to take SEO off your plate, Cheyenne Creative can do all of this and more for you. We can provide varying levels of support based on your needs, reach out and see how we can work together!