Photographers guide to SEO

How to get found online

In today’s digital world inbound marketing has becoming a profitable way to attract the new customers for small businesses. In this our Photographers Guide to SEO, we aim to help you the photographer make your online presence known by potential clients that are seeking it. Long gone are the days of business proprietors actively seeking out prospective customers. The information age has empowered everyday people into very savvy customers. These prospective customers are turning to the internet and actively seeking out the services they desire. In the case of photography, would be client’s are researching many different options and it’s imperative that your studio be a part of their comparison.

How? Well, you must be found. Let’s take this from the beginning. Imagine for a moment. You are in need of a particular service. How will you fulfill the need? You will probably sit down with a computer and type certain words into a search engine that you feel will yield the results that are required to make a decision. This is exactly what your prospective customers are doing as well. You need to become very familiar of the specific terms that lead to you and your business. There is a vernacular to every niche and you must figure out what it is and how to capitalize on it. Later in this article we will provide you with links to the tools that we use to enable keyword research and help you get on the same page as your prospective clients.

Another major part of Search Engine Optimization requires attaining links that will ultimately make your website more authoritative, so in turn you can rank higher naturally in the search engines. So what is a link? Simply stated it’s a connection from another website to your website. Google keeps track of these links for all the websites it gathers data for and uses this information it rank the power of a website. Think of a link as a vote for one website from another and the more votes your websites receives the more powerful your site is generally speaking. By the end of this article you will have some tools to start improving your SEO all around and empowering you to make a plan to continue the improvements going forward.

Google-Logo

Google’s Spiders & Organization

What is a Google Spider? Well it sounds really cool, right? In actuality it’s not something out of a Sci-Fi movie but rather a software program that is bouncing from link to link from website to website and weaving something like a web. Like digital surveyors these spiders are seeking out the lay of land in cyberspace and reporting back their findings to the Google overlords. Google’s algorithm then processes these findings and ranks sites accordingly. This process never stops and Google is constantly gathering more and more information and re-ranking based on the findings reported from the spiders.

Google likes the web to be organized. Not just any old organizational system will do though, they really like it when you do it exactly their way. Why? Well gathering the kind of data needed to rank websites takes time even if every site is nice and tidy. It’s best to follow their rules and adhere to their preferred methodologies should you wish to excel in their system. So what exactly does this mean, practically speaking? Well Google was good enough to provide us webmaster’s a guide to follow to make figuring it out much less difficult. We suggest that you read this guide in it’s entirety as it’s essential. You need to know and follow their rules if you wish to rise to the top of the searches that your business needs.

Keywords
Remember our earlier exercise, that had you searching for services via Google? The words that you searched for are referred to as keywords and these indicate to Google what your individual page and ultimately what your entire site is all about. Don’t jump to conclusions just because you searched for one thing, that another more popular term doesn’t exist. Market research is so important to ensuring that you are discovering the right terms. Make sure you are extensively seeking out what keyword terms work to drive traffic in your market as there will likely be multiple avenues.

As a small business it makes the most sense to get very specific here. Lots of competition exists for these terms and if you want to make your efforts count, you have to get granular. Trying to win a keyword term like “photographer” on a national scale might never come to fruition with the major photography companies pouring millions into their ad campaigns and their own SEO efforts surrounding this term. However, it’s very possible to win on less popular keyword combinations. These combinations are typically broken into a few different keyword types.

Primary Keyword – This is the most important keyword for your website. You will most likely rank your home page for this term and extensive research should be completed to ensure this selection is the best for your business. For example “denver wedding photographer” is our homepage’s primary keyword term.

Secondary Keyword – These terms are typically the next 2 to 8 popular terms that drive a lot of traffic for your market and niche. You will want to make these more broad as you will later be building your long tailed strategy on these terms. A good example here would be “portrait photographer”.

Long Tailed Keyword – This is where most websites get their traffic from. The long tail is affectionately named due to the length of the search string. Getting this specific will get you traffic that has little to no competition. For example “new york romantic wedding photographer” or “san francisco lifestyle photographer”.

Google-logo

Keyword Tools

The Keyword Planner – This tool is an excellent starting point for market research. While it’s actually designed by Google, it’s meant to be used with their Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign(s). However, it’s possible to use it for your own organic SEO research as well. The tool will give you back monthly search result counts for each keyword combination allowing you to figure out what terms are best for your market. You will need a standard google account to gain access and lots of YouTube videos exist to help navigate these menus.

ubersuggest-logo

Ubersuggest – This is an excellent tool that will reveal great long tailed keywords that you can write articles around. Have you ever started a search in Google and a populated menu appears as you type? This is Google’s suggest database at work. If you would like access to these terms, use Ubersuggest by simply entering a word or two and it’ll search Google’s suggest DB for popular searches and report back these combinations. You can then search these combinations in Google’s Keyword Planner tool to decide if it’s worth using for your organic campaign. These very exact searches will get people on your site, just make sure you are creating content that will leave a lasting impression for your viewers.

Link Earning
This sounds easy enough right? You just have to get other websites to link to your website and you are all set! Well not quite. There is actually a method to all this madness. Not all links are created equal and you must be choosey about your links. Let’s say a link coming inbound to your website is from a wedding photography blog and you happen to be a wedding photographer. This will carry significantly more value than say a link from Nike.com, even though Nike is a huge brand and boasts significantly more authority. This happens because, even though Nike is a huge corporation their website is not optimized for photography and therefore Google will discount this link’s proverbial “link juice” that is being passed along to your site as it’s off topic.

So you must find websites in your niche that would be interested in linking to you if you wish to improve your site’s authority. One way is to join photography associations such as The PPA or WPPI. These sites offer the photographer a profile page with a link to your site. Another way is to guest blog for other photography related blogs, although this route is becoming less poplar and no longer recommended by Google.

The absolute best method we’ve found is by getting published. As professional photographers we all create incredible imagery that many other websites would love to showcase on their own sites. We love Two Bright Lights and use their service to submit every completed session for publication that we feel is press worthy. This is truly a great tool and for $15 a month you get access to the editors of literally 100’s of blogs, magazines and other publications that you can submit your work to!

Tools
Once you have put in the legwork you will start to see traffic coming in from your links, search results and social media you will want to start figuring out how to quantify these visitors. The must have tool for this is yet another Google Tool, the wildly popular Analytics. This and other tools like it have an exact purpose, which is tracking. These tools make it possible to measure different factors that could be affecting your websites popularity. Having a toolbox is essential on the quest for strong SEO and these are the must haves in our opinion.

google-analytics-logo

Google Analytics – Google’s free analytics tool is a must have for every webmaster. Being a free tool it seems like a no brainer. After you get it all setup and have swerved through it’s learning curve you will find that it literally figures out everything. As just a few great examples of it’s strength, this tool can track what pages are the most popular, how many people visited the site for the day/week/month, the cities visitors are coming from, if they visited from a mobile or computer, if the visitor is new or returning and this list goes on and on. Having access to this information helps the webmaster figure out what content is popular, what paths visitors are taking and a myriad of other helpful data points. If this data is analyzed and acted upon it can propel a website’s popularity!

yoast

Yoast – This is yet another free must have tool. As a plugin for your WordPress site, you will need to install this software. However, it so incredibly helpful that we recommend you install it immediately to help you rank more organically in Google. Remember that giant Google guide we referenced earlier? Well the Yoast plugin helps to simplify all that mumbo jumbo into a concise tool. In Yoast’s YouTube video it clearly explains how you go about using their tool for everyday SEO organization. Using this plugin in conjunction with Google’s guide will help you improve your on-page SEO score. We highly recommend using Yoast!

*Partner with Mathew & Ariel – We are always in search of good synergies that we can create with other websites. So if you are a webmaster and are looking to build a relationship with another photographer please email Mathew (mathewirvingphotography at gmail.com) and I’ll will gladly followup with you.
Conclusion 
If you are going to put a significant amount of time and energy into something this should be it. If you read all the way to this point and you feel like you can tackle this, great! But if not don’t digress, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful. It’s merely that you aren’t good at SEO and that’s ok. You can always outsource it. However, if you do choose this route it’s important to do your research. Many so called SEO experts can be involved in shady tactics that could hurt your website in the longterm. It’s better to pay more for a repeatable company with positive online reviews and a proven track record. The topic of SEO is vast and we are merely scratching the surface. But, in today’s competitive photography landscape it’s vital to understand Search Engine Optimization and how it can work to your advantage.

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