SEO For Photographers: A Complete Guide to Search Engine Optimize a Photography Website
Updated: April 21, 2017 by Ben Turner
Search engine optimization (SEO) for photographers, is the act or practice of optimizing your website and online presence to best reflect your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness on a specific topic your target client is searching for online. Performing photography SEO is quite unique from other industries. To get an idea of how SEO works, check out this great infographic from Google on how search works.
We have refined the steps into a 5-step process to successfully optimize photography business websites. As a key online marketing channel, SEO can add extra lead generation streams to your photography business. Every type of professional photographer from a wedding photographer, family photographers, portrait photographer, commercial photographer, newborn photographer to pet photographers can benefit from SEO. This can be a key element to getting you in front of a potential client. There are many ways to add SEO to a photographer website. Below are the 5-steps we have used for over 700 photographer clients presented to you in this beginners guide.
5-Steps of SEO Table Of Contents:
Photography SEO Step 1: Keyword Research
It is important to have goals and a SEO strategy. Photographers need to understand what you want to be found for and what your ideal client is searching for. There are two main areas of keywords we want to focus on: main site keywords (aka ‘Head Terms’) and content keywords (aka ‘Long-Tail Terms’). Main site keywords will be what we set up all the main pages to be. We want to have a consistency across our site that Google and users can resonate with. SEO for photographers is primarily local SEO. Local SEO means that you want to rank your head terms or keyword phrases for local or location based terms. The content keywords (also known as long-tail keywords) are those keywords that we will blog about and drive traffic to our site through our blog when people do specific searches related to your product or services. For example, with wedding photography you may blog about venues or other wedding vendors as they tend to get more searches by brides during their wedding planning process. This will become the most valuable and profitable part of your site.
There are several ways to discover this info. Google tells us what keywords are searched the most in their free Adwords Keyword Planner Tool (https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/Home). Here is a video covering how to use this tool (See VIDEO: Keyword Determination). Use this tool to discover the best keywords with the highest volume to attract the most traffic to your site. This tool will also give you ideas on what people are searching for and how they are phrasing it. This tool will also give you ideas for blogging topics. Generally, if you are a location based business your will have your city or region + your product or service as your main site keyword (Ex: Seattle Life Coach). If your business is all online like an online shop your main site keyword will be focused around your products (Ex: Wedding Party Gift Ideas).
Video: Keyword Determination
Once you have a few keywords figured out, you need to look at the competition. The best way to discover your true SEO competition is to search for the keywords you just found. The websites on page one for those target keywords are the competition. They have the coveted spot that you want. To really analyze the competition we need another tool. I recommend using the Mox Bar (https://moz.com/tools/seo-toolbar). It’s a free tool that uncovers the SEO aspects of any website. Here is a video covering how to use this tool (See VIDEO: Set Up and Use The Moz Bar).
The key elements we want to compare are:
Domain Authority – (DA) is a website metric developed by Moz. It is one of the most important numbers known to SEOs. The greater your DA, the more likely you are to have strong traffic and high rank.
Use of Meta Tags (more on this in the onsite optimization)
Page Title and Meta Description
Schema – markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about. Here’s an example of a local business that has markup on its event schedule page.
Video: Set Up and Use The Moz Bar
You will also look at their blog and determine their blogging history, frequency, average blog post length, use of images, URL structure, post title, and linking. Understanding their blog will help you understand what Google is rewarding. This will help sculpt your blogging strategy.
Gathering this info is a critical part of understanding and determining what your website’s settings will be. Additionally this info will help you understand how much you will have to blog, how many links you will need, and overall how much effort you will need to put into your SEO to be successful. Now that you have an idea of your keywords and how competitive each of them are, you can determine which ones you want to focus on.[/text_block]
When performing onsite implementation there are specific elements that impact your SEO. These elements need to be formatted in a very specific way. There are many platforms available with varying pr0s and cons when it comes to SEO. Here is a guide to the most popular website platforms used by photographers.
Here’s a list of these elements and their required formatting.
Page Title (Title Tag)
Like the Title of a college paper
Unique for each page
Dallas Newborn Photographer | Jane Doe Photo | Home
Or: Jane Doe Photo: Dallas Newborn Photographer | Home
30 – 65 Characters
Like the Abstract of a college paper
Unique for each page
Keyword, complete sentence, business name, page info, compelling to click
70 -156 Characters or less
Look at competitors. Which would you click?
Alt Text or Alt Tag (Image SEO)
Like the Image Description of a college paper
“Alt” means Alternative
Unique for each image…mostly
Dallas Newborn [ADJ] Photograph
Link to similar content
Look for logical places to link
Get users to click through your site
4:1 | External:Inbound
Link to Authoritative sites
Don’t keyword stuff
Keep it natural
Main Pages Content
Use keyword(s) sparingly
1 H1 per page (congruent w/ Title and Meta Desc)
Make it natural
Keep is consistent – Google learns
Create content for your new clients
Page Speed – https://youtu.be/CymONf_jodI
Video: Writing your Main Page Titles and Meta Descriptions:
Video: Writing your Sub/Blog Page Titles and Meta Descriptions:
Photography SEO Step 3: Blogging and Content
To save you from drudging through the webmaster guidelines and Google documentation, I’ve summed up some of the best practices for photographers to blog for SEO.Post TitleFor local based businesses, you want to make sure you list the actual city that the venue is in and not just the closest big city. It is good to try to rank for the little cities as well. Also if you are doing another type of service, like an engagement for example, you simply switch out the keywords of “Wedding” to the type of service and make sure you put the particular location or venue even if it is just “Grassy You can divide out the three sections with whatever you like, Pipe | Slash / Dash – etc. and if you are putting the bride and groom’s name it is best to spell out the word “and” and not use an ampersand or plus sign as the symbols can get lost in thePermalink or Slug (URL)Next is the permalink also known as the slug or URL. Automatically the entire title is put as the permalink but you can customize it to be whatever you want. I’m going to simply copy and paste these first two sections of the title and once you click “OK” it automatically formats it taking out the spaces and caps and whatnot. The reason we take out the third section is don’t want it to be too long and also people are not likely going to be googling for the bride and groom’s name, they will be searching by the venue or city so it’s important to have those keywords included.Body Copy (Text)Taking a look at your body copy, you want to make sure you always have a minimum of 300 words. The more the better, but if you can just get that minimum 300 then you are doing well. Be intentional and descriptive in your copy. A rule of thumb that I’ve noticed is that it just takes three good paragraphs to get the 300-word count. So for example, you could do a paragraph about the Bride and Groom, The Venue, and The Wedding. Also, google wants to be able to read the first couple of sentences of your post and know exactly what it is going to be about. So it is good to type up a brief summary paragraph in the beginning integrating in all your keywords. The type of session, some form of the word photo (photography, photographer, etc), the venue, city, state.H2 TagsNow with these paragraphs you want to have H2 Tags. What this does is it is you titling each paragraph so that way your reader can easily navigate your post and know what each section is and decide what they want to read. It also add it in the coding so it’s another way to get some keywords in for google to recognize. If at all possible you always want to integrate in the venue name into an H2 tag. To do an H2 tag you just highlight the text you want, make sure that the “toolbar toggle” is clicked and this drop down here, everything is automatically set to “paragraph” format, change it to “Heading 2” and that’s it!
Next, you want links. Both internal and external or inbound and outbound links. External or outbound links are links to another website. You can simply read through your text and look for keywords that might have a website and link up to them. For example, most cities have their own website you can link to. Or if you are talking about how the bride and groom met and they met at a college, you can link up to the website for that college. You can even get creative and a lot of things might have a wiki page if nothing else. Another great option is to create a “Vendors” list linking up to all the different vendors that were used at this wedding. The florist, DJ, Planner, even the Photographer and list yourself, etc.
Then there are internal or inbound links. These are links within your own site. You can type out a little sentence referencing to take a look at other similar posts whether they were at the same venue or maybe the engagement session of the same couple, or even if you did another wedding with same colors, etc. Link up to them by selection the text you want, clicking to add link, then do the drop down “Link to existing content” and select the post or page you want to link to. If you are linking to the engagement session of the same couple, make sure you go back to that post and also add a link back to this new wedding post so they go back and forth.
Now let’s go into the settings of your images. You want to make sure all of your images have alt text. Alt text serves several different purposes, one is if the photo cannot load for some reason, the alt text is what will show up in its place to let the viewer know what is supposed to be loading. Also, it adds it into the coding of the image and google can pull from that for a google image search. Lastly, the Alt Text is automatically put as the description on Pinterest if someone was to pin this photo. So keep that in mind. At a bare minimum you want to put “(Venue Name) Wedding Photo” for all the photos. Or you can switch it up and put the “City, ST Wedding Photo” for the ones that are not specific of that venue. The next step up would be to add a couple words describing the subject of the photo “(Venue Name) Bride and Groom Wedding Photo” If you want to go all out, have the venue, city state, describe what is in the photo and also add in some descriptive words like the style and color for Pinterest. (Venue Name) in (City State) Rustic Purple Wedding Bouquet Photo” You just want to make the flow as natural of a sentence as possible.
Moving on to the side bar, there are the categories. You can have categories for the types of session it is, wedding, engagement, etc. We also recommend that you can have categories for the different venues or cities that you shoot at. It’s just another great way to organize the posts and get more of your keywords in there.
People often think of & use tags the way hashtags are used on Instagram where you have a post & add a lot of relevant hashtags in hopes someone will be searching one & happen to stumble on that post. This is the exact opposite of how tags work & what tagging strategy you need to use on your blog.
The point of using a tag is to tie similar pieces of content together in a way that helps the posts be able to be found. Here would be an ideal situation for using a tag on your blog:
Let’s say you have a blog post that talks about a dog at a wedding (maybe he’s walking down the aisle & you snapped some pictures or something) & you post about it. Now, say you go to another wedding six months later & they, too, have a dog that walks down the aisle, which you write about again. On both of these posts you could use the tag “dog at wedding”. Ideally this tag will be visible at the bottom of the blog post, in a tag cloud or somewhere relevant to that particular post. That way, whenever someone reads that post & gets to the bottom & they’ll see a link for “dog at wedding”. If they click that link it will open up a tag page with a URL like “website.com/tag/dog-at-wedding”. On that page would be a list of those two blog posts you tagged as “dog at wedding” as well as any others you may have tagged the same– ones that have pictures or a story about a dog at a wedding.
What you don’t want to do (that a lot of people end up doing): you don’t want to tag that first post “dog at wedding” then on the next post with similar content end up creating a whole new tag like “dogs at wedding” (making “dogs” plural,) thus creating an entirely separate tag page! The thing to remember is every time you’re making a new tag you’re creating a brand new tag page on your website.
Whenever you create a tag it’s meant to tie two or more posts of similar content together. That means for every tag you need to have at least two pieces of relevant content that are related & share a tagable element.
In some situations a blog post can have more than one tag. Here’s an example of that:
Let’s say that post with the “dog at wedding” tag also had something else special to it, such as the groom cake being made of cupcakes. So now you include “cupcake for groom cake” or whatever you want the tag to be. So that particular post would have “dog at wedding” and “cupcake for groom cake”, make the post have two tags. But be sure when you create the “cupcake for groom cake” tag you have at least one other post with the same tag! You want to avoid using multiple tags for one post that don’t have anything related to it. But, again, remember that the only time you should use a tag is if there’s more than one post of content that can share the same tag.
Another thing to consider is for each tag page you create you need to look at the URL structure in the same way you do everything else with your blog. You want it to be concise & use the target keyword. So if you’re a Chicago wedding photographer maybe you would use “Chicago weddings with dogs”. With that, you figure out what the search term around that would be & research that; there might be an entire search term that’s popular behind that & we could find out what that is. Google that term & see what other people are ranking. See what type of pages they are & what the elements & structure of that page are (what type of page title did they have? What kind of content did they have on their page relating to that dog?). This way you can get some ideas on content, structure, page title, URL structure, meta descriptions, internal linking & things like that. So that needs to have a unique page title & a unique meta description.
Not all platforms allow for this, but ideally that tag page should contain a bit of unique content (maybe 250 words) about the topic of the tag, like dogs at weddings in Chicago. So what that might look like is mentioning some of the pet laws in Chicago (if talking about the dogs) or maybe listing some vendors that sell cupcakes (if referring to the tag about the groom cake made of cupcakes) as well as some trends or popular ideas people are doing for wedding cakes. Just think of a way to incorporate some content on that tag page that will contain the posts below it. The reason we do this is that the tag pages themselves can actually rank. If someone Googles “weddings with dogs in Chicago” your link “website.com/tags/Chicago-weddings-with-dogs” you made will rank & that should be in the mini silo in ways to collect pages.
So when you’re putting together your tag strategy, keep these facts in mind:
- A tag page can rank.
- You want to make sure you’re it’s findable.
- If you’re using tags, they need to be visible on your page so the visitor of your site can see them & ultimately so Google can as well.
- Google uses those links to be able to have that searchability & to be able to go through & find content on your website.
If you’re not using tags this way & you’ve gone awry, you can always go back through & delete them. If you want to use them for your own findability & you don’t necessarily want to take all the time to optimise every post (like writing all page titles & meta descriptions) & you’re ok with the tag strategy you already have in place, you can always “no index” them. This allows you to have the functionality of them being searchable on your site. To do this, make sure to mark them “no index” & Google will not include the tags in the search results & it will not take away from other content.
One other thing you don’t want to do is have a tag match a category. So if you were to have “website.com/categories/dogs-at-weddings” & you also have the tag “dogs at weddings” that matches, the two will compete. You’ll be cannibalising the SEO & the value for that. You want to be able to use those tags in such a way that will be a lot less categorical in structure. Categories, as we’ve talked about before, are going to be a lot higher level & a lot more broad in terms of topics. With tags you can get a lot more specific. You will use them sparingly & consider them a page on your website. Remember, if you can add unique content to that page that is great.
What we want to avoid is the overuse of tags. You can have too many tags! Having too many will very much dilute the page-quality-to-page-count ratio. What you should have for every page on your site is a certain level of unique content for that page. That being said, if you have a bunch of tag pages that hardly have any content (if any at all,) it’s not going to serve you very well. Being able to provide the quality content-to-tag ratio will help you rank for a lot of those long tail keywords, & that will have a lot more power than regular blog posts when you’re able to have multiple blog posts with that special content to it.
All of this will be your tag strategy. I’m going to provide you with a workbook & a system to go through & audit (we have a content audit section coming up & you can use that to go through & be able to weed out the tags that are good from the ones that are bad & really figure that out. From there you can dive into connecting those posts in order to attain a strong tag strategy!
Yoast SEO Plugin (WordPress only)
Lastly, we are going to take a look at the Yoast seo plugin (https://yoast.com). First, you have to save the draft as Yoast won’t recognize any changes in the post unless saved first. A trick I’ve learned to quickly get down past all the images to get to Yoast is to go to “Text” view in the post so each image is only a line of text instead of a big image and you can The snippet preview is what your post will look like if it was to show up on a google For the focus keyword, you want to have this set as just the “Venue Name” since that is the main thing you want to try to rank for with this post. So people can find your blog when searching for that venue. Yoast looks for the keyword in all the places listed. With the count, you want to keep it at 2-3 times in the body copy, max of 5 times. Too many times can be seen as keyword stuffing, so keep an eye on that.
Here you can customize the title to be different than your actual blog post title. What you want to do is to simply copy and paste the first two sections of the title that we made. The title cannot be any longer that 70 characters. If it is too long, the word “Photographer” sometimes gets cut off mid-word which we don’t want. So if this is the case because maybe the venue or city name is particularly long, you can just take out the word “photographer”. It is better for it to not be there than for it to be there cut off. You still have the word “Photos” in the title so it is ok. But if the Meta description you want to keep it under 156 characters. Use complete sentences. Include call to action, venue name, city, and state, the word “wedding” and some iteration of the word photograph (i.e. photo, photography, photographer, photos, etc…) “Take a look at these beautiful wedding photos at (venue name) in (city, st).” And then you can put whatever else you want with the extra space. Just make it romantic and enticing for viewers to want to click over to this post. Save the draft one more time so we can look at the page analysis with Yoast! If it is green then that means you have done that task and if it is yellow, orange or red then you might be missing something. A few things to go over: Ignore the Flesch reading ease test, we don’t follow that. Ignore the Keyword Density, we don’t follow that, and you’ll notice that the number here might be higher than the number listed under the “focus keyword” The reason for that is the page analysis numbers also include alt text. I’ve noticed it’s a glitch with Yoast right now that even if you have your keyword in the first paragraph, Yoast does not recognize it and that task will show up red. As long as you know you’ve done this, you can ignore the red dot. Everything else should be green and you are good to go!
Your post is now optimized for SEO! A quick summary: we did the title, permalink, body copy, H2 tags, links, alt text, categories, tags, and the Yoast plugin. If you want to go back and update any of your old posts, you can, just do not change the post title or permalink as that can throw off any links and google since it is already in the system. But you are welcome to update the Yoast plugin, add links, alt text, tags, etc. If you have any questions or want expansion on anything we talked about, please don’t hesitate to ask and happy blogging!
The concept of a silo is to be able to put specific information in a certain area or “silo” of your website so that it can rank independently of what your main site is ranking for.
How Silos Work
Your main website you are going after a specific target keyword but let’s say now you want to go after another city, another type of photography or something else all together. Now, you want to be able to include this on your website but you still want to kind of isolate it. So what you do is create different bodies of work, different pieces of content, blogs or galleries (whatever it is you have) that will contribute to this “silo” concept.
Example of When to Create a Silo
Let’s say your main head term on your main page that you’re going for is “Dallas wedding photographer”. Immediately north of Dallas there’s a town called Frisco (Frisco has a population of about 160,000.) So let’s say you want to also rank for the term “Frisco wedding photographer because of its close proximity to Dallas or because you have many clients from there. Frisco itself doesn’t have a whole lot of search volume– maybe 100-150 searches a month– but you still want to try to rank for it even though your main site doesn’t really have any ranking on the city. So instead of simply putting out a blog post that’s just called “Frisco Wedding Photographer”, you want to create a silo of information. This is going to start off with what we call a silo page.
Making Your Silo Page
The silo page is going to include a kind of “landing page” that is going to be optimized for the main term/keyword “Frisco wedding photographer. In this case the URL structure and the H1 is going to be “Frisco wedding photographer”. Maybe right off the bat you put a gallery in there with images; the images will contain alt text talking about Frisco, they will be pictures of maybe weddings that took place in Frisco. You can talk about venues or different things that contribute to that particular keyword as long as it’s congruent with what you’re trying to achieve. Then, maybe you add some verbage/body copy (maybe 300-500 words, whatever you want.) My suggestion is to always look at who is ranking for that term and see how many words they have. You’ve got to outdo the competition, right? So you want to make sure to check that out. Perhaps then you can add some links to relevant blog posts that you’ve shot of weddings or engagements that were in Frisco. Or maybe you featured vendors &/or venues that are in Frisco, so you can say “check out these Frisco vendors,” “check out these shoots we had in Frisco,” or “check out these other facts about Frisco.” Maybe you can even write a blog post about wedding photographers in Frisco.
So now you have a page that’s optimized for that term. The URL is going to be something like website.com/frisco-wedding-photographer.
Silo: The End Result
You have now built a pretty body of content and you have an entire new silo. Whenever someone enters into that page from Google– or it’s shared on Facebook or however they get to it– they can enter the page & have at their fingertips this table of content (in kind of a “Wikipedia style”) of information that they can go through. It contains authoritative, comprehensive and in-depth pieces of content related to the subject of the silo.
Now, in terms of actually making this happen, there are different ways to do it. We will be going through the actual technical implementation of this for WordPress, Showit and Squarespace in the future.
So that’s essentially what a silo is. A few more things to know:
- There are “mini silos”
- Some people call silos “custom category pages”
- Tags can become silos if you use them properly
Basically: it’s just a group of information that is all around one topic that you are trying to rank for. So that’s going to be it for silos; if you have any questions contact me & let me know!
Also be sure to share your content on social media.
The key elements of Facebook are the bio sections of the ‘about’ portion of your profile. We recommend that your short description match the meta description for your homepage. The long description will match the text on your ‘about me’ or ‘about us’ portion of your website. Any opportunity to talk about yourself in the context of your target keyword(s), consider taking it. Avoid sounding spammy and self-aggrandizing.
The name of your profile should be an exact match to your business name. When listing your address and phone number, it is critical to have these match EXACTLY as it is on your website and all other web properties.
Your goal with posting on your business page (from an SEO perspective) is to get shares and clicks onto your website. Google sees those shares and clicks. These are called ‘social signals.’ A tactic to a accomplish this is to create post that encourages engagement. Ask open ended questions.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram has a bio section. This bio sections should contain the meta description for your homepage. Additionally, there should be a link to the homepage of your website. Another option is to update the bio link to your website to be a direct link to your latest blog post.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter has a bio section. This bio sections should contain the meta description for your homepage. Additionally, there should be a link to the homepage of your website. Twitter also offers the option to put your location (City/State) in your bio. This should match your keyword strategy. Just like Facebook, the goal is to get traffic to your website.[/text_block]
The largest part of how Google’s algorithm determines who out ranks who is the links to a website. The more relevant and authoritative links you have to your website, the better you will rank. I have five methods to build links to your website that are Google safe and evergreen.
Link is short for ‘hyperlink.’ It’s how people navigate the internet. Search Engines also use
links to navigate (or ‘crawl’). Search engines like Google, use links to discover new web pages, and to help determine how well a web page should rank in their results. Essentially links are a vote from the link source. Search Engines use them to determine authority. Additionally, links will also provide traffic to your site.
In the next 4 videos, we will define a link and their importance.
Video: Link Theory: What is a Link and Why do I Need Them?
Video: Link building vs. Authority Building
Video: Anatomy of a Link
Video: Links: Technical Aspects
Tracking and measurement of your websites performance in the SERPs is critical. The two tools we will use to track and measure SEO is Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Google Analytics (https://www.google.com/analytics/web)
Google Analytics tells you what people do after they come to your website.
Google Search Console (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home)
Google Search Console tells you what people did before they came to your website on Google during a search. This is the most accurate way to determine your search engine ranking.
Video: Google Tools
Seo Website For Photographers
From the early days of a Polaroid camera to today’s digital cameras that are essentially hand-held computers, photographers today can do more things than ever when they look through a lens. But to take photography to the next level, it’s imperative to utilize the very latest technological advances. For both professional and amateur photographers, a great SEO website for photographers is showit.co, which features the web design app known as Showit5.
No Code Necessary
If you’re like most people, unless you have a computer science degree you have no idea how to write code. That what makes Showit5 so popular with photographers of all skill levels, since no knowledge of code writing is required. Instead, it’s loaded with numerous free designs that can be used for a variety of applications, allowing users to create websites that will astound those who see them. With its drag-and-drop builder, it has the ability to make the web design process easier than ever. And along with being easy to use, it’s also designed to help create websites that will be easily formatted not only on desktops and laptops, but also mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Responsive Canvas Technology
As an SEO website for photographers that uses Responsive Canvas technology, Showit emphasizes high levels of interactivity among those who create a site and those who visit the site. Making the design process as simple as scroll, swipe, animate, and click, Showit5 can not only make a website look like a million bucks, but also play a big part in plenty of other online activities as well.
Blogs, Blogs, and More Blogs
In today’s online world, nothing gets the word out about a business more so than blog postings. However, many businesses find it hard to keep their blogs current, interesting, and eye-catching due to time constraints and other factors. But for those using Showit5, they can say goodbye to WordPress and hello to blog templates that make the process easy and fun. By using Showit5 for blogs as well as websites, photographers can make both their pictures and words captivating to everyone.
As an SEO website for photographers that emphasizes ease of use as well as fun, Showit and its Showit5 web design platform make the job of a photographer even more interesting. With features found nowhere else and a tech support team ready to answer any questions that may arise during the design process, Showit5 will be used by more and more photographers in the years ahead.