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Nowadays, more than likely a good majority of your clients find you on the internet. So how do you make sure that out of the hundreds of photography websites out there, your potential clients pick you as the proverbial needle from the haystack?
By making sure your site has solid SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
In this article, we’ll give you a few things you can do that will help your site’s SEO, along with point you in the direction of some tools you can use to help you out.
Let’s get started.
5 Easy SEO Tips for Photographers
1. Your site should be mobile-friendly. This is pretty new, but starting on April 21st, 2015, Google has started giving ranking preference to sites that are mobile-friendly. What does that mean for you? If your site is not mobile-friendly, you won’t show up as well in search results as you did before April 21st. Google knows that more and more people are depending on mobile devices to browse the web, so they want to make sure their search results are returning relevant websites that will be easier to browse and will display properly on mobile devices. (Basically, they’re keeping up with the times.)
At this point I’m guessing you’re asking yourself, ‘Is my website mobile-friendly?’ And while we can’t tell you that directly, Google did create a mobile-friendly test you can run that will determine how mobile-friendly your website is. You can check that out here, and if your site isn’t mobile friendly, there’s some great tips there on how to start correcting that.
2. Get featured on other websites that link back to your website. Believe it or not, being featured on Belovely You is actually really good for SEO for your website. Here’s why.
The more sites you have linking back to your website, the more Google thinks your website is good and contains quality information. (After all, people generally don’t link to websites that contain bad information.)
It’s sort of like a referral: if someone is looking for a portrait photographer and a lot of people recommend your photography services to that person, the better chance they have of believing that your services will fit their needs (which makes it more likely that they’ll hire you). Google sort of works the same way: the more that Google sees that your website is linked to by other sites, the more Google will believe that your site contains good info and the more likely it is that Google will return your website in search results. These other sites that link to your website are basically acting as ‘referrals’ for your website.
That’s why when we publish a post on the site, we link the text of what area you serve and what kind of photography services you offer to your website:
Now when anyone searches for a portrait photographer in Southern Nevada, Belovely You acts as a referral to Suzy Mead’s website, making it more likely that Suzy’s website will show up in search results for “Souther Nevada Portrait Photographer.”
3. Don’t do keyword stuffing. You want to rank on Google for Chicago Newborn Photographer, so the best way to do that is to make sure you have the phrase “Chicago Newborn Photographer” as many times on every page of your website, right?
This is what’s known as keyword stuffing. Google wants to make sure that the search results it’s returning contain useful, relevant content that makes sense. But (following Google’s example) if you have something like “XYZ Photography is a Chicago Newborn Photographer that specializes in Chicago Newborn Photography. If you’re looking for a Chicago Newborn Photographer, look no further, XYZ Photography is the best Chicago Newborn Photographer there is.”
That phrase is really redundant. No one likes reading it, and it doesn’t really give the reader any relevant or good information. Yes, that blurb contains a lot of keyword phrases if you’re trying to rank for “Chicago Newborn Photographer”, but it contains so many keyword phrases that the content doesn’t even really make sense.
You’re much better off just writing naturally on your website and filling it with good, useful content (that other websites want to link to, right??).
4. Don’t use Flash! This one is pretty big for photographers, because so many photography websites contain Flash. Why is this bad? Let’s go over that.
Google works by ‘reading’ your website and looking for certain keywords in the text, image file names, alt text, image captions, video descriptions, and so on. However, because of how Flash websites are coded (which is different than YouTube videos or other video platforms), Google has a really hard time reading them. If Google can’t read them, Google can’t tell what it’s about. If Google doesn’t know what your website is about, it’s not going to be able to return your website in the list of search results.
Plus, not all devices or browsers (*cough*Apple*cough*) can even play Flash videos, so even if Flash wasn’t bad for your website, a good percentage of the people who visit your website can’t even see it.
Have Flash on your website? Do yourself a favor and get rid of it.
5. Alt text and file names. Google understands your website by essentially reading your website for certain words and phrases (like “Los Angeles Wedding Photographer”). Google can’t, however, look at an image to know what it’s about; instead, it has to depend on the text around and associated with the image to tell it what the picture is about.
What does that mean? File names like IMG_3968 have to go. Think of it this way.
When you read an image file name like “IMG_3968,” you have no idea what the image is about unless you can also see the image itself. But remember what we said above, Google can’t see images (it’s a program, not a person), so it has to depend on the text associated with an image to know what it’s about – and in this example, the file name tells Google absolutely nothing about what the image is a picture of.
The file name ‘Los-Angeles-Wedding-Ceremony,’ however, does give you (and Google) a better idea of what the picture is actually about even if you can’t see the image itself. So make sure you rename your files appropriately before you upload them to your site.
Another great way to make sure Google knows what a picture is about is to use descriptive alt text, which is short for alternative text. Alt text is text that is associated with an image that describes what the image is about. Something like, “Bride throwing the bouquet at XYZ Reception Hall in San Diego” is a good example of alt text (as long as the image it’s being used for is indeed a picture of a bride throwing a bouquet at XYZ Reception Hall in San Diego).
You can find and add/edit alt text for your images in WordPress in the right-hand column when you go to “Add Media” and choose an image to insert into a blog post or page:
(And you can find a more detailed tutorial of how to add alt text to your images with a quick Google search.)
Tools To Help
This is just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to SEO, and if you’re already a little overwhelmed the idea of doing SEO for your entire website could seem a bit intimidating.
Here are some of our favorite tools and guides you can use to help you out:
WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is a free plugin you can use for your website that helps you navigate SEO for any blog post and page on your site. You choose a keyword or phrase, and then Yoast helps you make sure that that page or post is optimized for that keyword or phrase. It is very slick, very easy to use, and intuitive. I use it on every site I work with too, and it’s a very commonly used plugin for WordPress as well.
The SEO Cookbook for Photographers. This guide is created specifically for photographers, and is pretty comprehensive. How to rank locally, optimize images, optimize a blog, SEO practices that you need to avoid, etc. Basically everything we covered in this blog post, and tons more. Plus for the month of May, it’s $20 off. You can check it out here.
How can you tell if your site’s SEO is working?
SEO is something that takes time to work, and isn’t really an overnight success story. So how do you know if it’s working?
First off, Google is really smart. It knows a lot of the websites you use and work with regularly. So if you do a Google search for “Austin Texas Newborn Photographer” and your website is the first to pop up on the first page of the Google search results, don’t get too excited. At least not yet. Because chances are Google knows that this is your website because you’ve gone to it yourself many times and it’s stored in your browser’s cache.
So how do you search for “Austin Texas Newborn Photographer” on Google to see where you rank without Google knowing it’s you?
It’s super simple: go Incognito.
How you do this will depend on which browser you’re using (and a quick Google search will tell you how it’s done), but usually it’s just one or two clicks. Once you’re in Incognito mode, your browser is no longer storing your search history ad the browser cache has been disabled. Aka, you’ve turned off Google’s ability to know which website is yours.
Now search for “Austin Texas Newborn Photographer” and see where your site is on the list. Watch it over time – if you’ve gotten serious about instilling good SEO practices, you should notice your site slowly climbing up the search results list.
Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, and help support us and what we do and keep the site free for everyone. However, some of the links are not affiliate links, because we feel that many of the products here are solid, amazing products that we love to use and love promoting and recommending too.