Are you a photographer who built your website, uploaded incredible images for the world to see, and then patiently waited to find your site ranking on the first page of google searches? Well, that was me, ten years ago. And as you may have guessed, you cannot just start ranking in google searches without a lot of behind-the-scenes magic. A kind of magic that prompts Google to recognize that your site is more important than your competitors site. That’s why it’s important to learn more about SEO for photographers.
Throughout the last decade, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in executing my own search engine optimization for my photography business. Even including the cardinal sin of letting a domain expire. But like everything in our lives, we learn from our mistakes and take steps to prevent ever repeating the errors. I wrote this blog to share some of the simple SEO tips a photographer can benefit from. Also, I hope to offer a little insight into the more complex and paid world of search engines.
Photography SEO Tips
There are a lot of photography SEO tips that I’m going to present in this blog. It’s important to keep in mind when reading that while they may sound simple, it will take persistent hard work and commitment on your part to implement these strategies and get satisfying results. You will need to apply these tips and techniques to your current and future site. In addition, to all previous blog posts as well. And still, after you have redone the onsite optimization of your site, you will have to be patient. You can expect to wait up to six months for the results sometimes to be seen. As you’ll learn in the world of SEO, nothing comes overnight. If you’ve gotten this far, you see and understand the importance of the long game. Now that you’re ready to step your game up, let’s go over some basic photography SEO tips.
Best SEO Domain Name for Photography
We’ve all been there. You have a great idea for a website but aren’t sure what is the best domain name. There are so many things to consider. How long is the name? Is it easy to read? Does it look good? Will people instantly know what this page is about? And now you must add the SEO implications as well. These factors create the headaches that make it so difficult to choose the best SEO domain name for photography websites.
The truth is that the most technically appropriate SEO domain should not be your first choice. Sure, it helps if there is a keyword in your domain name that matches the term you want to rank for. For example, if you want to rank on the first page in Google when someone searches “Phoenixville Photographer”, you may think the best domain for you is phoenixvillephotographer.com. However, there is nothing personal about this name and it won’t help you build a brand. And building a brand should be the goal for every photographer.
The best practice in SEO for photographers is to put your own name or the company name and add a photography-related keyword. That way people and google immediately know what your site is about. In my case, you can imagine that the domain sheawinter.com will not be as effective as sheawinterphoto.com. That is why I chose the latter. Also, be careful not to make your domain name too long or complex. Finally, be sure to buy a dot com domain since people consider it more prestigious and trusted.
Photography Keywords List and Why Make Them
Anytime you are working on a big project, it is important to start with a solid foundation. Proper keyword research is that foundation when you are creating content for the Internet. Since you are already investing a lot of time and money when creating images and posting on your website, the logical step is to invest a little more time upfront that will help you gain the exposure your work deserves. The art of keyword research is simple. Your goal is to create a photography keywords list that matches the specific topic of your future post.
As an example, if you’re going to be shooting a portfolio of food photography in Philadelphia to attract clients in the city of brotherly love, you’ll need to know what food-related keywords are searched for in Philadelphia. In addition to making sure that the keywords have regular search traffic, you also want to be sure you don’t only use keywords that are too competitive for you to rank. So back to our previous example, imagine you are a newly established photography company with a brand-new website. You will not be able to rank for such a competitive term as “Philadelphia food photographer” just yet. You’ll need to look for the food-related terms searched for that have less difficulty to rank for. That way you can capitalize on keywords that aren’t too competitive.
This is a process that takes time to figure out. You will probably need to use some paid software to help you along the way if you’re going to go at it alone. However, if you do keyword research properly, you’ll be more than excited about the results. I mean, you found this blog post, right?
This is probably the most complex topic to understand and the hardest for photographers to implement, especially if you have no background in website development. In layman’s terms, you need to ensure that your website meets all of Google’s criteria, satisfying their algorithm and SEO guidelines, which is needed to improve your search ranking results.
So with on-site optimization, you need to ensure you have the proper title tag, meta description tag, header tags, and tag structure. You will also need to look out for keyword consistency relating to the amount of content. Additionally, image optimization in the form of titles, descriptions, and alt tags is important. This part of website optimization requires a technical SEO specialist, and I can make a recommendation of Paradox Bay, the company I used to help optimize my websites. However, if you’ve got a good understanding of web development and would rather do it yourself, there are many on-page SEO classes online.
Meta description for photographers
Experts consider the meta title one of the most important ranking factors. You should put a lot of effort into writing descriptive and relevant titles for your website. On the other hand, meta descriptions, which is different, do not influence your ranking. They do however help you get more clicks and organic traffic is important. If you want to come up with the best meta description for photographers, you should think of an enticing description that will increase your click-through rate and encourage people to visit your website.
Link building for photographers
In order to improve the rankings for your website, you need to get relevant backlinks. Right off the bat, the process of link building for photographers may sound difficult and timely. However, for those who are more skilled in SEO, there are few handy tricks. And, even if you are not so skilled, you just need to be creative and think outside the box on how you can get your domain name featured on a higher-ranking website. The first thing you can do is begin shooting paid jobs for companies that will be posting your work online with a photo credit and link to your website.
Also spending time introducing yourself to editors and building relationships with industry-relevant websites may result in features with high-quality backlinks. One approach for getting backlinks would be to submit your work to competitions for popular photography blogs and magazines. Getting featured is not easy, so if you don’t get accepted the first time you apply, get back behind the lens and keep shooting. It’s just a matter of time before a photo editor will recognize and choose your content to publish.
Image SEO for Photographers
Image SEO represents a set of rules which will help you to optimize your images. The primary goal of image optimization is to get more traffic from image search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and platforms such as Pinterest. Images are the lifeline of every photographer, and that is why you must ensure that people can find them online in simple searches, which will direct them to your portfolio. This makes Image SEO for Photographers an important skill to have.
When your potential client runs a search on Google for a particular keyword, you’ll get a chance to rank for it if you use proper titles, descriptions, and alt tags. Google recognizes and rewards you for this, with your images visible in most searches if done perfectly.
How to optimize images before uploading?
Optimizing images before uploading them online is crucial for photography sites. Perfectly optimized images will help you to keep your performance score high. Now you may be wondering, what is performance score? The performance score is a metric that calculates the load time and page size of your website. Most photography-related websites are heavy with images, which is problematic from the start. Because of that, it’s critical to have your page’s server response time reasonably fast with load speed. This is a key factor in meeting Google’s algorithm. It can help both with user experience as well as with search engine rankings. If the load time of your website is slow, visitors will eventually get frustrated and leave your site. With this in mind, optimizing your images before uploading them to your website is mandatory.
How to optimize images after uploading?
After your images are properly optimized and uploaded, the next thing that you will need to consider is the image file name, description and alt tags relevant for photographers. If you want your photos to rank, Alt tags for photographers are mandatory since search engines can’t understand the image without alt tags to serve as the description. Alt tags will provide context to your images so search engines can understand what they are about. You can set them in your CMS like WordPress and they should reflect the content of the photo. One more important thing is the image file name which needs to be similar to the alt tags. For example, if you uploaded a photo of Allen Iverson dunking, you would not use an alt tag like “basketball-photography” but something more on the lines of “allen-iverson-philadelphila-sixers-dunking-home-game”.
While SEO is our primary focus here, digital marketing for photographers plays into the final results of your website’s performance and affects your search engine optimization. The more exposure you get with new clients, the more assignments, the more time your name pops up in a photo credit, the more backlinks, etc. Surely you can see how creating a photography marketing plan will be beneficial to you and your business. Regardless of whether you’re creating the most beautiful and inventive images on earth, it won’t matter if no one ever sees them. Following are a few ideas to consider when promoting your business. Keep in mind that these are just a few that come to mind. You’ll also want to drum up some custom ideas to make sure your photography business stands out.
Photography Marketing Calendar
Creating a photography marketing calendar is a great way to keep yourself organized and on time. Schedule the dates when you need to post new photos on social media. Do it also when you need to publish that new blog or update your portfolio. Give yourself clear deadlines that can be met, and you’ll get in the habit of spending that extra 30 minutes a night to make sure you’ve completed all pending tasks.
Email Marketing Ideas for Photographers
Email marketing can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. It helps you connect with your clients directly, opening the doors to conversation and ultimately building trust. This customized emailing to photo editors and art directors has a key advantage over social media, since direct messaging an Instagram account will not connect you with the person who may actually hire you for a future photography assignment. Some email marketing ideas include:
- Sending a newsletter with your personal work or photography packages
- Sharing insider news from the industry or your own work
- Showcasing your latest commercial project
- Sharing viral content from your niche
- Providing value in the form of useful and free tutorials
Social Media Marketing for Photographers
As we all know, social media plays a key and critical role in the modern world. It connects people from all over the globe and enables you to share your work and passion on a wide scale. We as photographers must use Instagram to help promote our work and get recognized by brands we may not be able to reach otherwise. If you are not using social media to promote your work at this stage, you are missing out!
Here are a few tips for social media marketing for photographers. Open your Instagram account if you haven’t already. Just as a well-chosen domain name is essential, your Instagram name is also important. And in an ideal world, it will match your web domain name. My domain name is sheawinteprhoto.com so my Instagram handle is @sheawintephoto. The consistency helps build your brand and it’s easy to recognize over time. Instagram is the most vital platform for new photographers.
Photography SEO Services
While I’ve outlined some of the basic and most critical steps needed to optimize your photography website for the internet, there is always more that can be done. I hired a professional search engine optimization company to help fine-tune my existing website. I also made sure my site was running perfectly after several SEO audits. This helps you stay ahead of the curve and rank on Google, every photographer’s main goal.
I’ve mentioned Paradox Bay because out of all the companies I’ve worked with they were the most reasonably priced and transparent with everything they were doing to optimize my pages. They offer packages of monthly photography SEO services for those with the budget to get started immediately. Also, they offer project-based pricing for those that need help with any specific part of the on-site optimization. For example, if you’ve never written a blog post optimized for the web, you could hire them to help you create a strong photographer SEO blog post. SEO for photographers using WordPress will give you the quickest results.
Social Media Strategy for Photographers
Achieving the best results through social media requires understanding the platform and having a social media strategy for photographers. You must perfect the art of caption writing, tags, hashtag research, and strategy. You want to consider things such as optimal posting time, target audiences, competitor engagement, and more. Understanding and implementing a plan of social media management for photographers is just as important as implementing the SEO strategy for your website. In fact, when done together you can use Instagram to boost your SEO.
This is because after you’ve reached 10k followers you can upload links to your stories. That provides a simple way to direct people to your website. But, be careful. When you start with Instagram, it might look tempting to buy followers. However, this will backfire with your content having a non-existent engagement rate. Paid followers will never see your content, like your content, comment, save or share your content. And you can be sure that Instagram’s algorithm will quickly pick up on this. If you haven’t heard of the “Instagram shadowban”, it’s time to jump on Google and search.
Depending on what type of content you create, you may also find it advantageous to open accounts on different social media platforms for photographers. For example, if you shoot fine art photography, open a Pinterest account. And if you create video content, TikTok and YouTube will help you as well. All photography social media sites require a huge investment of time and energy, so choose wisely based on what will help your photography business the most. And once you’ve done that, create a posting schedule for each platform, research strategies, and put forth your best content.
Consistency is the key
Another critical factor with Instagram and all social media accounts is to be consistent. If you don’t post work consistently, if you don’t engage with your followers, you’ll never achieve the results you want. In my first year of using Instagram as a photography tool and purchasing a social media photography package from Paradox Bay, I’ve grown my following to 12K organically and with features on larger accounts. With proper hashtag research and strategy, I was able to get my images featured on three different National Geographic accounts and three different Canon accounts in the first year alone. You can do the same, and I’m happy to help you with some one-on-one sessions if you need to know how to elevate your Instagram status while following all community guidelines.
While overwhelming at first, once you’ve invested the time and resources to optimize your websites and social media accounts, you will find yourself reaping the benefits. The more traction your site gets, the more likely that people will find you for future assignments. The more growth your Instagram account has, the more various accounts will be interested in collaborating with you because it’s mutually beneficial to you both. An airline with 200k followers may not be interested in partnering with a travel photographer with only 1k followers, but if you reach 10k plus followers you have a lot more influence and have the chance of creating a synergy between these two incredible marketing tools.
I hope you found some of these free SEO tips for photographers helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly if you have any questions on how I can help you improve your website SEO and Instagram for photographers.