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SEO for Photographers: Your Ultimate Guide

Paige Newberry

Dec 13, 2021
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SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the most valuable strategies you can learn as a photographer when it comes to marketing your business. SEO for photographers, if done correctly, can drive more traffic to your portfolio or website, increase your rank in search engines, and bring your desired audience to your online doorstep.

You’ve likely spent years perfecting your eye and capturing life’s best moments in stillness. You’ve worked hard to build out your website, decorated with the images you’re most proud to bring in new clients. Your expertise is photography, but you might be experiencing the challenge of getting your desired online audience to actually see those images.

What Is SEO for Photographers?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is the process of increasing visitors to your website by appearing high in the results listed by search engines when users search for specific keywords. For example, if someone types into Google the term “New York food and beverage photographer,” the search results on the first search engine results page (SERP) have worked hard to improve their SEO and have strong keywords, including food and beverage, photographer, and New York.

However, just simply using keywords won’t improve your SEO alone. First, you’ll want to ensure that Google has indexed your website content, including any new content you add, such as blog posts. Indexing is the process in which Google discovers your page or new content and adds it to the Google database. Once indexed, your page can then be ranked.

Google ranks your website by a multitude of factors, including the searcher’s keywords, location, preferences, and previous searches. While you can’t control the searcher’s preferences or previous searches, there are things you can do to ensure you show up on the first page of Google results for those in your niche.

Optimize Blog Post Content

If you don’t already have blog posts or articles on your website, it’s time to start writing! Creating content like this will not only organically add the keywords your audience is searching for but will position you as a thought leader and top resource in your industry. Using relevant keywords within your blog posts or articles will boost your SEO ranking.

Are you that food and beverage photographer in New York, like we mentioned earlier? Write an article about the best restaurants for outstanding food and beverage photos in New York City. Are you a still-life photographer? Write an article that discusses what lenses you like best for your conceptual shots or the difference between created and found still life.

Most importantly, do proper keyword research and find the best SEO keywords for photographers in your niche. Tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz can help you there. Throughout the blog post or article, do your best to naturally insert appropriate keywords that you determine your desired audience searches for most. Remember to avoid keyword stuffing or overly inserting keywords that can make the article sound too sales-driven or unnatural.

On-Page Optimization

There are a few things to pay attention to on each page of your website that can be optimized for SEO. Such factors as titles or descriptions can make a huge difference when looking to improve your search engine ranking. The following are a few of the top factors you’ll want to start with.

Titles

Your title is what appears on the very first line of your Google listing and is often the first element that the searcher will scan to see if you’re what they’re looking for. A title can be one of the most important aspects of on-page optimization. If your target audience will be searching for “New York food and beverage photographer,” you may want the title of your page to be something like “New York City’s Best Food and Beverage Photographer - Book Your Session Today.”

Header Tags

Header tags are a bit further down on the priority list but are absolutely some low-hanging fruit when it comes to SEO optimization, especially within blog posts or articles. Header tags you’ll see the most are H1 and H2. H1 can be attributed to the title of an article or page and tells your reader what the page is about. This H1 “title” is different from the previously mentioned title tag, as it’s the first title the searcher sees once they actually click to land on the page. H2 tags can be attributed to the smaller sections within the page, similar to chapter titles of a book.

Meta Descriptions

Fill out your meta descriptions accurately for each page. It’s crucial to SEO. These descriptions, which appear on the HTML code of your page and show up in the SERPs, give you a chance to tell the reader what they can expect further within the page and encourage them to click through.

URL Slug

It’s important to make sure the URL for each page on your site is clear and concise. You want to avoid wordy, lengthy URLs that contain dates or categories of the page, but you want to include a keyword or two that are relevant to that page. Easy-to-type and easy-to-read URLs are the goals.

Internal linking

Internal linking is a great tactic to optimize SEO for photographers. If you have an especially well-performing article or post, you can use links within that post to send readers to another post on your site. Think of it as creating a spiderweb within your website for your readers to follow along and keep them digging deeper.

Images

One SEO strategy that many photographers often ignore is the optimization of your images. Your portfolio or website is most likely filled with incredible, eye-catching images you’ve captured. Take the chance to include your SEO keywords by naming each file to include those keywords. As well, as ADA-compliant websites become more essential, alt-text for each image is necessary. Alt-text tells Google what each image is showing and can be crawled in the use case of those with disabilities. Use the alt-text to describe the image with keywords that are relevant to each one.

Insert relevant outbound links

Including relevant outbound links can be a great way to strengthen your ranking in a Google search. Search engines often use these outbound links to further determine what your content may be discussing or referring to. Let’s revisit the SEO New York food and beverage photographer example again. If you write a blog post that discusses great places to take food and beverage photos in New York City, use strong and high-quality outbound links to link to each of those places, perhaps a famous hotel or attraction.

Structured data

Structured data is sometimes referred to as schema. Sometimes overlooked as an SEO component, it’s a way to provide content to the search engine in a way that it more easily understands. Say you have a number on your website, but Google isn’t sure whether this number is a price or a rating. Structured data, like rich snippets, can determine what the number is actually referring to and provide a more organized and clear way to share your business’ information. For example, with a rich snippet, the searcher will see a more detailed Google search result that can include additional information such as ratings or photos within the result preview.

Submit sitemap to Google

While Google will eventually find, crawl, and index your new content, you don’t need to wait patiently for it to do so. You can submit your sitemap to Google manually by using Google Search Console. Within the Search Console, you can log in, navigate to Index > Sitemaps, and submit your sitemap there.

Off-Page Optimization: Link-Building Campaign

You’ve written some great content. You’ve optimized your on-page SEO. You’re working hard to become a top resource in your niche. What now?

If you’ve done all these things correctly, your next goal in your SEO journey will be to acquire some high-quality backlinks through a link-building campaign. Backlinks are third-party websites that link back to yours. The importance in backlinks is quality of quantity, which means one very reputable and well-known website linking to yours is worth more than multiple, small, unknown websites doing the same. A website that has strong domain authority and shares a link to your website can help boost your SEO ranking tremendously (and get you more clicks from your dream audience).

Best ways to create a link-building campaign for backlinks? Here are some ideas:

  • Partner with a company that you use frequently to share their product or venue.
  • Leave genuine reviews for equipment that you love.
  • Write a guest post as a thought leader or expert in your field for a higher-ranking website.
  • Collaborate on a project with another photographer in your niche or one that you could gain experience and knowledge from.

There are a ton of ways to build your backlinks. Just be sure to focus your time on building quality links.

Local SEO

As a photographer or business owner online, you’ll want to focus on your NAP—your name, address, and phone number. Your information should be consistent across the board, whether it’s on a photography site listing or on your Google My Business.

One thing to take into consideration when listing your NAP is the use of a physical address. While some photographers may use their home address as their business address and a P.O. box for their business listings, search engines like Google do in fact favor physical addresses to P.O. or UPS boxes.

Make Your Website Fast

If it wasn’t already obvious, it’s time to invest in website speed. As humans, we have become more and more on the go. Time is ticking. When a website doesn’t load quickly, that online visitor has already jumped to the next Google search listing. A fast page load can do wonders for your SEO, too, as Google will take your site speed into account when ranking.

In addition to speed, you must have a fast and easy-to-use mobile site. With so many people using their mobile devices more than their computers at home (and some even ditching their at-home computers now), your website has to be mobile-friendly and responsive. Google introduced their mobile-first indexing back in 2019, which is now enabled by default for all new websites. Their focus on mobile sites is only increasing, and you’ll be left in the dust if your focus isn’t heading in the same direction.

Use Social Media

While social media can certainly be a challenge with its ever-changing landscape, it’s not just for the social aspect. Social media can also increase your SEO ranking. But that doesn’t just mean posting and leaving it alone. Engaging with your followers, sharing other industry professionals’ posts, and creating conversations with your content can increase the traffic to your site through your social media bio and links within stories or videos.

Staying relevant should be a top priority in your social media strategy. Figure out what works best for you and stick to a consistent schedule of posting and engaging. The more you engage, the more organic brand awareness you will build, and the more your desired audience will grow.

Monitor Your Results and SEO Performance

Possibly the most important tactic of your SEO strategy is to monitor your results and performance. If you’re investing the time into improving your SEO, you’ll want to make sure it’s heading in the right direction. Continuously check if your strategy is working for your business and bringing in the audience you were aiming to reach.

Using Google Analytics can help you analyze your website traffic patterns and audience demographics. You can take a deeper dive into where your audience lives, what their ages are, what their interests are, and even what device they’re using to look at your website.

If you need more help with your SEO strategy, look into tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. These tools show you what keywords are bringing traffic to your website, from what countries, and whether they’re staying on your site or simply bouncing. You can even perform an SEO audit in which those tools tell you how your website can improve.

Conclusion

With these SEO tips for photographers, you’ll be attracting new clients in no time! Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned. With SEO, remember that quality over quantity is always the rule. With a little time and effort, you can work your way to the front page of Google search results and eventually, hopefully, to the number one spot for your industry keywords.

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