Five Step Approach To Search Engine Optimize a Photography Website
Search engine optimization (SEO) for photographer, is quite unique from other industries. We have refined the steps it takes 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 wedding photographer, family photographers, newborn photographer to pet photographers can benefit from SEO.
Photography SEO Step 1: Keyword Research
It is important to have goals and a SEO strategy. You 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 and content keywords. 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. 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. 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.
Photography SEO Step 2: Onsite Implementation
When performing onsite implementation there are specific elements that impact your SEO. These elements need to be formatted in a very specific way. 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
When it comes to ‘Blogging for SEO’ starting with the mechanics of how blogging can help your SEO can help you plan, write and optimize your blogging. Not only does optimizing your blogging for search engines help you get found, but it also help your user experience. Google is trying to find the BEST most relevant content and blog post to put on page one of their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Fortunately for us, Google has published their Webmaster Guidelines that tells us what good and relevant content is. In fact it is the main purpose of Googles mystical algorithm to determine what is good and relevant 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.
For 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 the
Permalink 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.
Now 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.
For the tags, you want to use these sparingly. You want to make sure that there are al least two post per tag. If you start repeating words a lot in different orders then google can see that as keyword stuffing and can be bad for you. So keep it clean and simple.
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!
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.
Photography SEO Step 4: Link Building
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
Photography SEO Step 5: Tracking and Measurement
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