Why SEO Matters to Photographers As a photographer in a very busy and crowded industry it is imperative that you position yourself so that you are easy to stumble upon in and amongst your competitors. One of the most successful ways to ensure your customers find your photography business is by implementing an SEO strategy, this is more than just making it to number 1 on Google, it means ensuring that a varied and steady stream of traffic is heading to your site, over and above that of your competitors. A successful SEO strategy will be made up of a combination of elements that ensure your site is trusted by both users and the search engines. This can include elements such as backlinking, SSL security and on-page optimization among other things. Getting SEO right can influence your business hugely as you begin to build organic traffic to your site that will naturally grow without the need for any underhanded SEO tactics or even spending a lot of money on perfectly effective but pricey solutions such as Pay Per Click or plush ads. There is a reason why large budgets are often allocated to digital marketing in successful businesses, because it works! The benefits of effective digital marketing plans are pretty much proven across the board but when it comes to businesses in the photography industry the SEO elements of the marketing strategy really do make all the difference to helping a photographer stand out from the crowd. As a photographer, demonstrating to your potential customers that you are an authority in the industry is priceless and SEO helps you do this by ensuring you are the first port of call in your service area. Additionally, it can have extremely positive effects with very little time wasted on those lengthy cold calling and email hunting admin tasks that can take precious time away from the actual photography. Once you have your SEO in place, alongside a great record of work, your photography business can thrive through the ability to charge higher rates, take on extra work and even new employees to help you out. Your SEO efforts will go hand in hand with a full marketing strategy so take a quick peak at the advice in the clip below if you’re looking for pointers on the rest of your strategy too. Having an SEO strategy that effectively promotes your photography business, driving new traffic and taking into consideration the needs of your site visitors whilst you concentrate on perfecting your art is a really powerful tool. Its power lies in it’s ability to ensure your photographs stand out from the crowd and are positioned at the web’s version of ‘Point of Sale’. As the photography is a particularly competitive industry, this positioning is crucial to ensure you don’t get lost amongst the other small business DIY websites out there. If you are just starting out and have already made steps in purchasing all the right equipment, created a website, built a stunning portfolio and done all the networking you can muster but still aren’t getting quite the results you are looking for, SEO might just be the reason more traffic isn’t reaching your photography site. The Basics of Photography SEO First things first, Google uses and an index of sites that it scans whenever a user performs a search, if your site is not on the index it won’t be scanned, and your site won’t show up in results. So an absolute priority in your first step is to get indexed. After this, there are an abundance of methods that can go into building your SEO plan, so it is time to start considering which methods will work best for your site and ensure it gets optimum attention. SEO trickery such as keyword ‘stuffing’ in irrelevant content simply won’t cut it in the current day, with Google’s algorithm taking over 200 factors to ensure that it’s rankings provide results with valid and authoritative sites, it is near on impossible to do anything other than work with the search engines to ensure top quality SEO results. Also, worth bearing in mind is that Google pay attention to trends and what their customers want, so if you want to stay ahead of the game and make sure your SEO is fit for a 2019 audience, it is worth making sure you also include SEO techniques that adopt newer trends such as voice searching. Competing with photographers who have been on the web scene for many years and already rank at the top already seems like a pretty big challenge and we have only just touched the surface. So, it is important to point out that you don’t need to implement everything immediately and you aren’t looking for quick wins, you are looking to implement a strategy that is effective and lasts through 2018 to 2019 and beyond. This can be achieved by ensuring you have a broad overview of your entire marketing strategy, keep an eye on your overall goals and then break this down to smaller goals set out in priority order. A great way to ensure that you can analyse the performance of the SEO on your photography website is to get to grips with some of the tools and software available built just for this purpose. Beware some of the pricier options that promise you the world and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. That being said, there are plenty of options out there that can give you a real step up to ensure your photography services have the best possible chance of being noticed. Start off the selection process by doing your research, there are lots of articles out there rating these kinds of tools that will help get you started. Despite not wanting to pay out a small fortune for something that doesn’t really deliver, it is likely that you will need to pay a out for a really good quality piece of software that does the job effectively, never fear though, most will have a free trial so take advantage of these to make sure you are getting a tool that really works for you before paying out. SpyFu, Mox, AWR Cloud and so forth all offer this kind of trial so might be a good place for you to start your search. Alternatively, consider Google Suite tools such as Analytics and Search Console that will give you some great insights and if you are already using other Google tools, such as Gmail or G Drive to send and store your photos then might be more intuitive to use. Your Photography Site’s Technical Setup If you don’t yet have a website then one of the first things you will need to consider is the platform you will use for your site. There are lots of options out there that are a good base for a photography website, such as Squarespace, Showit5 and so forth so, like your SEO analysis software, it’s really important to do your research to ensure you get a platform that fits all your needs in the best possible way. You should ensure that the SEO capabilities are one of the things that you look into when choosing you site platform as a top priority, so its certainly worth checking out WordPress. WordPress is the platform used by almost 28% of sites published on the web and it’s suggested that the reason for this is down to three main factors. One, it’s pretty adaptable, two it’s relatively user friendly and three, it does have great SEO capabilities. Once you have chosen your platform there are a few aesthetics that you will need to consider ensuring that your site doesn’t send your potential customers packing before they have even got to your photo gallery and services. Structure: the structure of your site is a key element in ensuring it is user friendly, there is no point in showcasing fantastic photography portfolios in a page within a page that no one will eve find on your site map. Everything that is important, a USP or eye catching to your potential customers needs to be easily found. Originality: Yes, the structure and content need to be clear, but you are a photography, you make things look good in your trade, so you still want to show some creativity and unique selling points you can offer your clients. Centralised: You are trying to expand your client base and build a photography business, so concentrate on the photography, don’t make things difficult for yourself by having a complicated web of blogs, info sites, separate galleries. Instead, create one clean clear site that homes everything you want your clients to know about you. In short, you are looking to create something that is; attractive, accessible, easy to navigate and informative as well as showing a little bit of you to your customer whilst not veering to far ‘out of the box’. On-page Optimisation for Photography Sites Because your site, due to the nature of your business is going to be more image orientated than text heavy, you will be at a slight disadvantage when it comes to employing SEO techniques such as keywords, backlinking and so forth. However, never fear, there are some excellent methods that can help put your site images to work to achieve results when it comes to your SEO and rankings. It is important to boost ranking and minimise your site’s bounce rate by implementing a responsive design that works quickly on desktop, mobile and tablets. To do this on a site that is going to home a lot of your photography images, it is key to minimise the size of them to around 500kb (or less) per image to ensure the impact on your site speed is not detrimental. With a smart phone in nearly every pocket, all more powerful and accessible than before, it is no wonder that the majority of people now browse sites and have queries answered via their mobile than they do their desktops. Your site must be optimised for mobile browsing if you don’t want it to be left in the dark ages. Despite your main content having little text, implementing a key word strategy will still be highly effective and can be used in a few key areas but mainly within your site blog. To do this you will need to consider searcher intent, draw up an effective key word strategy and then develop content that is fit for purpose. Getting this right is highly dependent on your research, the selection of long-tail words and ensuring you make the most of key words that are not being utilised effectively by competitors. By selecting, niche, long-tailed keywords, you target a smaller area but more successfully than other similar photography sites and therefore have more chance of getting the traffic you seek. A quick Google search will help you identify online tools that can help you out with this research. When you do a Google search, you will notice a little ‘blurb’ under the site links, this is the meta description and its key aim is to tell the users what they can expect to find on the site itself. It helps your SEO efforts to ensure that your keywords are added to the meta description and it will give you a ranking boost if your specific terms are visible in this area. An added bonus for your on-page SEO would be to make use of your headings by adding key words wherever possible, without making it look too forced. Google will crawl the H1-H6 headings tags as part of its analysis of if a site is relevant to the search being performed, so it’s another good way to get a little boost. Image Optimisation Getting Google to take notice of images on your site as well as or in place of text is a key for a photography based website and it isn’t something that has as many ‘How to’ articles published online for but it’s not an impossible task. Keep loading time to a minimum by ensuring your image sizes don’t get in the way (under 500kb wherever possible) Use key word research to name your photos before uploading. A descriptive file name as well as a lot of variety between each image that is uploaded provides a great opportunity for text to be crawled by the search engines without it having to be visible to your users As with point 2, adding text behind the image is extremely effective in getting keyword on your site that search engines then crawl to help boost your rankings so pay special attention to Alt Text (or alternative text) when you have uploaded your images to the sites platform, it will add value Embrace social media and link your images or text under images to social media wherever possible It will be a combination of these techniques that ensure that the largest proportion of your site doesn’t get brushed past by the search engines and ensure that your stunning photos are not only eye catching once users visit your site, but also catch the attention of the search engines. Backlink Building for Photographers Back links are a great way to drive traffic by showing that other sites find your content useful and giving users a quick and easy route to finding your site. Effectively suggesting to the search engines that you are not only trusted but an authoritative site, giving you a little boost in the rankings. Don’t forget though that the key here is building trust, your backlinks won’t mean a thing if they are from low quality, low traffic sites and having lots of links on ‘dodgy’ sites might even get you a Google penalty. So, keep the end goal in sight when choosing what sites to get your links on to in order to ensure quality results. Beware of anything that might look like ‘black-hat’ SEO trickery and link ‘stuffing’ by providing excellent quality articles that are relevant to the site you have chosen to back link on and make sure you link to other high authority sites other than your own. Grow your Photography Business with SEO The recommendations above are great for building your SEO plan but they also work together to create a website that stands out as being more professional than some competitor sites. This helps build on your potential client’s overall image of your business and helps boost not only traffic but client trust in your brand. Having a trusted brand, increasing site traffic and providing a wonderfully attractive space to showcase your portfolio can only work in your favour when it comes to growing your business. All of these elements work together to ensure that you end up with a photography site that really stands out from the crowd and an SEO strategy that stands you in excellent stead for the future.