As photographers we all would love to have our website be on the first page of results when potential clients Google photographers in their area. The best to help your website move up the ranks in Google is to optimize the SEO for your website and I have 5 SEO tips for photographers that will help get them started in the right direction. The tips below won’t catapult you to the top of results in Google over night or even in 3 months, but with constant monitoring of your SEO effort and creating quality content you can reach the first page of results.
Home Page Title
When the Google spiders crawl your website and see that your Home Page Title says, “Welcome” or “Index”, how does Google know exactly what kind of website you have? Your title should be something like “Portland Wedding Photographer – John Doe.” What looks better? Having the location you’re from and what type of photographer you are is a lot better than just saying, “Welcome.” It’s also important that the title shouldn’t exceed 70 characters otherwise your title will get truncated in the search results.
Image Name and ALT Tags
Naming your images appropriately and adding ALT tags are extremely important if you want your images to show up in Google images. You don’t want your images to be named _DSC0009.jpg. How does that tell Google or a user/client looking for photographs what it is? Try something like 1970-Ford-Mustang-Boss.jpg If a person is looking for image of a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss guess whose results are more likely to appear? Don’t forget to populate the ALT tag as well with a description of the image. It’s not enough to name the image properly, you also need to have a description as well:
<img src="1970-Ford-Mustang-Boss.jpg" ALT="1970 Ford Mustang Boss">
Incorporating a Blog
Having an online portfolio with your best images is important but for SEO purposes having a blog with quality content is even more important. You may update your portfolio once every 3 months. That is not a lot of new content for search engines to process. Having a blog where you blog about photography tips, ideas and your photo shoots picks up the slack where your portfolio ends. WordPress is the popular choice for blogging. WordPress has tons of customizable themes, some free, some not, where you can change the look and feel of your blog. WordPress also offers the use of plugins which help with additional functionality for your blog post. If you don’t know where to start in looking for plugins I have already created a list of essential WordPress plugins for photographers.
If you really want SEO juice to flow to your website then you need to make your WordPress blog a sub-directory off of your main website. For instance having you as a sub-directory like this www.mywebsite.com/blog is better than having a sub-domain for your blog blog.mywebsite.com. The reason is that your blog under your main website is still part of your website while having a different sub-domain for your blog means you need to double up your SEO efforts. Why work twice as hard for the same results?
If you want your photos to be seen by potential clients and then have those same potential clients hire you then you need to have specific keywords to associate with your website so Google knows where to place your website in the search results. For instance if you’re a child photographer in Oakland some keywords you may want on your webpage are: Oakland photographer for children, children’s photographer in Oakland, children’s photographer in the Bay area etc. Those are very specific keywords and being specific will land you higher than just be general and adding keywords like, Oakland, photographer, kid’s photographer etc. Google has a keyword tool that helps you find the right keywords for you and your website. It lists keywords and similar keywords based of a keyword term you enter or a website URL. In the results from the keyword tool there is a column called Competition. This is an extremely useful column to pay attention to. This will tell you which keyword has the highest competition meaning if you use Oakland photographer and the competition is high that means there are tons of other photographers competing with you to use that same keyword. If that is the case, the chances of you being ranked high in the search results is low. You want to find low competition keywords and “own” them. Children’s photographer in East Oakland has low competition so you would have a better chance of landing on the first page of the Google results if you use that keyword.
If you have a blog, keywords in your post are also very important. If your blog post is about “Using Reflectors Outdoors” make sure to mention that keywords a few times in your post that way search engines can key in on it. It also helps if your title is the same as the keyword. Just remember not to stuff your keyword into a million different places in your blog post. Google likes to see your keyword a few times here and there but if your keyword is every other word Google is smart enough to know you’re trying to outsmart them and they will penalize you for it. Remember the folks working at Google with all their algorithms and formulas are more than likely smarter than us photographers when it comes to SEO and how search engine spiders crawl our sites.
What is backlinking? Backlinking refers to links that point to a website from another website. How does one go about getting backlinks to their website? The easiest way is to comment in forums and blogs and add your website where it asks for it. Seems simple enough right? Backlinking gets more complicated though. Google looks to see which websites are pointing back to yours. If your website is only on link farms or sites full of ads that have nothing to do with photography, Google will penalize you based on the belief that these links are just pointint back to your website to help your SEO efforts. Google looks for reputable and quality backlinks. Another way to get backlinks is to be a guest blogger on another site and add a link back to your website after your post. Backlinking is one of the harder aspects of SEO and it takes time to cultivate quality backlinks to your website.
There are a lot of “SEO” companies out there claiming they can get your website on the first page of Google within a month etc. Don’t believe them. It takes an average of 3-6 months just to see a little movement in your SEO rankings. Why you ask? Well there are tons of websites that have been doing SEO for longer than you and just because you just started SEO optimizing your site that doesn’t mean you will over take other photographers who have been SEO optimizing their site for years. The 5 SEO tips for photographers I mentioned above will serve as starting point but it is up to you to continue to optimize your site with quality keywords and try to get quality backlinks. If you have any other tips please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.