+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Lightbulb The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    If you've read any number of posts in this particular section of the forum, you've undoubtedly come across the term SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. But what exactly is SEO, why is it important, and what can you do about it? You're about to find out...

    For the purpose of this guide, we will be focusing on how to optimize your website for a local photography business.

    What is SEO?

    At the 10,000 ft level, SEO is affecting the visibility of a website (or single web page) in a search engine's natural/organic search listing. Consider the following statistics:

    • Most purchasing decisions begin with a search, usually Google
    • Sites listed in the top 3 are clicked most often, followed by the top 5
    • Most consumers do not search beyond page one

    Therefore, if your company sells widgets, you obviously want to be in the top 3 or 5 of a Google search for the term "widgets". Since we're a local business seeking local customers, we want to target our local area: Anyville, Ohio 45123 and the surrounding areas. Why local? Because potential customers seeking photography services who live in California are not going to drive to Anyville, Ohio for your services.

    How search engines work

    Without getting too technical, a search engine indexes the content of your website and assigns a value to it compared to the terms that are being searched for. In other words, if someone performs a Google search for: Anyville, Ohio photographer how relevant is your site? The company down the road selling waffles isn't going to be listed in that search result, because their site is about waffles. So how do you let the search engines know how to consider you for that listing, and other search terms you want to target? Become an authority. This is done a variety of ways, some of which we will touch on here.

    ASSIGNMENT: Do a Google search for your zip code + photographer. (ex: 90210 photographer).

    You should find a number of listings, in addition to a map showing pins/locations. That map is why we're focusing on local SEO. In addition, handheld devices are the next wave. Let me repeat that: you NEED to optimize your site for mobile phones and local search. In 2013, mobile web use finally surpassed desktop internet use. This means if your site looks like crap on a mobile phone, customers might pass you by.

    Choose a platform for your site

    Your website should be the "home base" for your business. Not a Facebook page, not Twitter, not Photoshelter or Zenfolio, and certainly not some free service. You need to purchase your own dot com. Those sites give you a subdomain (mybiz.subdomain.com) and they have next to zero SEO value and there's very little you can do to change it. If you're not serious about being in business and willing to purchase your own domain, then stop reading now. This guide is not for you.

    WordPress is by far the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to get a great looking site up and running. There are SEO features built in, additional free SEO plug-ins, and hundreds of thousands of design templates to choose from for your own unique look, including hundreds of photography-related themes for every budget ranging from free to "OMG you paid how much for that?"

    Two Wordpress plug-ins you definitely want to take a look at are:
    • All in One SEO Pack
    • Google XML Sitemaps

    Advanced WordPress users or those with web development experience should take a serious look at:
    • Genesis for WordPress (highly recommended, even for beginners)
    • Thesis for WordPress

    Why WordPress?

    Simple: it's text-based. 10 years ago, the big trend with photographer's websites was using a Flash slideshow with some cheesy music playing in the background. In fact, there are still a ton of photographers using Flash sites today, and they look very nice. Wanna know the biggest downside to that? No SEO. Those sites might as well be empty or not exist at all. Search engines can't "read" pictures.

    Think of your website as a book. It has a cover, and a number of pages. Pages with what? CONTENT. The golden rule in SEO is: content is king. When you go to the library (or back when people actually used to do that anyway) what did you do? Perhaps you were looking to do research for a school paper on the War of 1812. You began your search by going to the index (Google) and looking for relevant books on the topic of the War of 1812 (Google search). You then browsed the aisles looking for the books turned up by your search, similar to how a customer browses websites. What kind of books would you pick up for your research paper?

    How about a book titled: War of 1812-A Historical Record? Yeah, might want to have a look at that one. Then, you probably thumbed through a few pages (web browsing) to look at the content. If the text matched the title of the book and it was just what you were looking for, you headed to the counter and checked out the book. What if the book just had a bunch of pictures and very few words? Wouldn't do much good for a research paper, would it? The book is still relevant, but you really don't have much information, just something to look at.

    Text is vital for SEO. Additionally, a website is a living, breathing book that should not only contain content, but it should also add content over time to remain relevant. Blogging isn't just a buzzword anymore. It's vital to your website's search engine visibility, search ranking, and ultimately, survival.

    Thanks for reading this overview. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, where we'll get into the nitty-gritty.

    › See More: The Photographer's Guide to SEO
    Last edited by Browncoat; 09-18-2013 at 05:15 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Lightbulb Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO
    On-Site SEO

    The #1 reason why you should own your domain name is because it places you firmly in the driver's seat. Having a free site or a subdomain places serious limitations on your SEO efforts. I cannot stress this enough: if you're not in control of your SEO efforts, your site might as well not even exist on the internet. You could be the world's greatest photographer, but if no one can find you, what's the point?

    Site Name

    Resist the urge to call your photography business something catchy, like Photobuzz or Kutsie Kreations. Odds are, you are your only employee, and you are in the business of being and selling YOURSELF. Catchy names may sound neat at first, but you're probably going to run into trademark and branding issues. Not to mention, it's just a lot easier to find YOU on the internet since there is only one YOU. There will of course be site naming issues if you happen to be John Smith.

    Best bet is to use your name: FirstnameLastname.com or LastnamePhotography.com. Keep your domain name as short as possible, so if you happen to be Archibald Fitzpatrick, archibaldfitzpatrickphotography.com is not a good option for you. If name options are already taken, consider using initials.

    Second best bet is to use your location: Anyville Photography, Bay Area Imagery, Casstown Photo, etc.

    The Big Stuff

    Your site's title <H1> tag is also vitally important to SEO. This is the clickable link text that shows up in a search listing. Keep your description to 140 characters or less. Your site's meta description tag <META> is also very important. This is the descriptive text that appears just below your web link in a search listing.

    Don't know what to say? Do a search for other photographers. You'll be able to recognize those with good SEO almost instantly.

    (click image for larger view)

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO-untitled-1.jpg

    Keywords and Blogging

    In the earlier days of Google, SEO gurus figured out that lacing their sites with certain relevant words would have lasting effects on search engine rankings. The problem was, everyone started doing it. These days, Google is much smarter and keyword focus is out of date. The main thing to focus on, is content. We are building a photography-related site about you, a photographer. So what should the content of your site focus on? If you answered, "recipes for tuna salad", go stand in the corner.

    You don't have to be a prolific writer. Yes, there are advanced copywriting strategies, but the main thing is to keep your site focused on photography (no pun intended). You can write about other things that interest you, so long as they don't consume your site. It is also important to write regularly because search engines routinely index your site's content, and a stagnant site will be deemed less relevant than an active one.

    If you're a travel photographer, write about your excursions and the people you meet. If you're a portrait photographer, write about tips for consumers and what to wear to photo shoots. Write equipment reviews. Readers and search engines LOVE lists: 10 Ways to Save Money on Wedding Photos, 7 Reasons Why I Shoot Nikon, etc. You don't need to create huge walls of text, either. The main thing is that you write, and do it on a somewhat regular basis (once every 2 weeks or even once a month is enough).

    Naming Your Photos

    Remember earlier, I said that search engines can't read photos? Well, yes they can. Sort of. All images on the web look something like this in HTML:

    <IMG SRC="url of image" ALT="alternative text" TITLE="image title">

    The Catch-22 here is that while you want search engines to know what the image is, you don't really want a bunch of people doing a Google Image search and finding your stuff so they can steal it. However, there are also people out there who may be doing a Google Image search for "wedding photography" who find your website, browse the rest of your portfolio, and book you for a wedding session.

    The WordPress image interface makes changing ALT and TITLE fields quick and easy, no coding knowledge required.

    If you want your images to be searchable (recommended)

    1) Name your files appropriately. If it's a photo of a sunset, name the file Sunset.jpg
    2) Enter "sunset" in the ALT and TITLE fields

    20130917-XRGb.jpg isn't very descriptive, is it? Search engines won't think so either. Whatever the photo is, be briefly descriptive. If you want your images to be searchable, you'd be wise to watermark them as well.

    If you don't want your images to be searchable

    Then don't rename your files or include any ALT and/or TITLE text. However, your photos may still show up in search results anyway.

    Other Basics

    In keeping with the content is king and relevance theme, you want the overall flow of your site to be orderly. In other words, if you create a blog post titled "Why I Shoot Nikon", have a photo attached to that page of a red balloon, then write the following article about Brittany Spears...the Google gods aren't going to be very happy with you. Anything you write should have a title, relevant photo, and relevant text.

    Site performance and navigation are also key elements. If your site is a low-loading piece of crap, visitors aren't going to hang around and wait for it to load. That leads to a high bounce rate, which means visitors drop by and leave quickly. Search engines translate that as: people aren't finding what they're looking for here. Don't create dead end pages, always have links for visitors to move around your site with ease, so they don't get frustrated and just leave.

    Create an XML sitemap. I mentioned the WordPress plugin earlier, but if you're not using WordPress, you'll want to have one of these. It's basically a search engine road map and can help your site get indexed faster.
    Last edited by Browncoat; 09-18-2013 at 07:02 PM.
    Thanks/Like wud, hark, WhiteLight, Flugelbinder Thanks/liked this post

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Lightbulb Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    Off-Site SEO

    Wait. What? Yes, that's right. SEO is much more far reaching than just your own humble website. Remember, your site is just a drop of water in the ocean, so it's important that you take additional steps to getting noticed.

    Linking used to be the way to get this done, but no more. Wanna know the most linked-to site on the internet? Wikipedia. Why? Because a Wiki page contains near 100% pure information about a relevant topic.

    ASSIGNMENT: Do a Google search for "aardvark". What's the #1 search result? Do another search for "Hank Aaron". Again, Wikipedia. Odds are, any search for a noun (person, place, or thing) one of the top results is going to be Wikipedia, because Wikipedia has a ton of incoming links.

    Wikipedia has established itself as a content authority, so other sites link to the information there, which further builds its credibility. You must do the same thing, only establish yourself as an authority on photography in your area. You do this by first creating good content that other sites want to link to (see above On-Site SEO), and second by promoting your site through various channels.

    Shameless Plugs

    Visit other photography-related sites and blogs and leave comments. When leaving a comment, you have the option to include your website address. Do it. You are building a link between that photography site and your photography site, which builds a little bit of relevance. The power of link building has been diminished, but it still exists.

    Many sites have a rel="nofollow" attribute on their external links, which means they won't do a damn thing for you. If you have the Firebug extension for Chrome or Firefox, just right click on any link to check it. For example, many of you have a link to your website here in your Nikonites signature. Nikonites uses rel="nofollow", so no SEO juice for you!

    Social Signals

    As the web continues to evolve, social media plays a larger role in SEO. Things that influence search rankings include:

    • # and quality of social shares of a page
    • authority/influence of the page author in social media
    • followers, fans, and activity of a page's author in social media

    This is a major reason why it is important that your site be based on YOU, and not a fancy business name. YOU are much more capable of building authority versus something like Tinkerbell Photography. YOU want to be the author, YOU want to build a reputation, because YOU want to reap the rewards of YOUR hard work.

    Social sharing is important in 2013 and beyond for many reasons, which is a topic for another thread. What is important for SEO is that your pages need to have social sharing buttons, and you need connect your social media efforts. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are all major players in the social/SEO game.

    Build Your Brand

    Since your brand is YOU, it should be relatively easy to achieve this. Who is the leading authority on baby care products? Johnson & Johnson. Any blog or site about babies and baby care are going to mention that brand. That is called brand recognition. Other major industry players like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Tide, and Pampers all have one thing in common: their image and message has changed very little over the years. In a word: consistency.

    Other sites that mention and link to your brand name have a huge impact on off-site SEO. You achieve this by consistent marketing.

    Build Relationships

    Helene and I have a relationship (don't I wish!). We are friends on Facebook and are fans of each other's pages, we follow each other on Twitter, we have "liked" and shared each other's content. We are both photographers, and all of this back and forth has built a relationship that strengthens our online presence as authorities and content producers of photography.

    Find like-minded people and interact with them. Share content. Write on someone else's blog. It all pays off, not just for SEO, but in building connections that are far more important.

    Customer Reviews

    Testimonials can be a significant indicator of a site's credibility, value, and popularity. Google is already using a new sentiment analysis in their search algorithm, which is why getting voluntary and authentic reviews of your services can have a lasting effect on your site's ranking power.

    Build Citations

    Remember that one of our key SEO strategies is to rank for local search listings. This process will be detailed a bit more in the next post, as there is too much to go into here. Citations are listing with business directories, which list your name/address/phone number (NAP) so that you can be tied to a business and an actual/physical location. Some of these directories include: Google+Local, Manta, Yelp, Yahoo Local, Yellow Pages, etc.
    Last edited by Browncoat; 09-18-2013 at 08:05 PM.
    Thanks/Like WhiteLight, wud, Flugelbinder Thanks/liked this post

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Lightbulb Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    I will briefly touch on some SEO resources here. There is way too much information to elaborate on. SEO is not a weekend project, and you're not going to glean everything you need to know by reading these 4 posts. SEO is an ongoing marketing effort, and it is ever-changing. It's something you need to learn about, understand, and apply.


    As mentioned earlier, WordPress is the best way to get started with an SEO-friendly website. Be sure to install WordPress on your own domain, and not opt for their free service, which gives you a mysite.wordpress.com website. There are tons of WordPress tutorials and support on the internet, so you won't be in the dark.

    Genesis - If you want to take your WordPress site to a whole new level, check out Genesis. Most of the hard work has been done for you, and there are lots of cool mobile-friendly themes to choose from. I use Genesis on my own site.

    Thesis - Similar in form and function to Genesis. I used Thesis for several years, but made the switch to Genesis a few months ago.

    Google Tools

    Google Webmaster - This is vital for any SEO campaign. You can manage how your site is indexed from here.

    Google Places for Business - This is where you can list your business so it shows up on Google Maps.

    Google Analytics - Manage and review your SEO efforts. Requires you to paste a tracking code on your site in order to work.

    Google+ Authorship - Google+ (Google's version of Facebook) is implementing a new feature that allows you to link your Google+ profile to content you produce, and even places your photo next to the search listing. All of this is relatively new, and I don't have enough information to write more about it here. Definitely worth looking into.

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO-authorship_serp_5beafd4490ab97414e86fa9f25ae645e.png

    The above are essential tools that will not only improve your search ranking with Google, but they will help you track and manage your ongoing SEO efforts. Bing and Yahoo also have webmaster tools that have similar features.

    SEO Links

    You're going to find a lot of self-proclaimed SEO gurus on the internet. Because of recent changes, anything dated before 2013 is largely irrelevant, and any article dated before 2010 should be considered obsolete. Here are a few reputable sources of up-to-date SEO information:

    Mobile & Local Search

    As mentioned earlier, mobile internet use has recently surpassed desktop search. You must optimize your website for smartphones and handheld devices, or you're going to get left behind going into 2014 and beyond. Mobile isn't just a fad that's going away, and if you site doesn't look good on these devices, you're going to lose business, plain and simple.

    Go here and type in your website URL to see what it looks like on mobile. As an example, here is how my site looks on an iPhone versus one of my competitors. Which one would you rather look at?:

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO-mysite-mobile.jpg

    NAP Resources

    I mentioned some in my previous post, and I'll list them again here. Local resources put you on the map...literally, with a NAP listing (Name/Address/Phone). I won't link all of these, because there's just too many to list. Mostly concern yourself with the top five because they have a social and mobile element:

    • Google+ Local
    • Yelp
    • Foursquare
    • Facebook fan page (not personal page)
    • LinkedIn profile
    • Yellow Pages (dot com)
    • Manta
    • Local.com
    • Superpages
    • City Search
    • Mapquest
    • Yahoo Local
    • AreaConnect
    • Angie's List
    • BBB.org
    • 411.com

    Good luck with your SEO efforts!
    Last edited by Browncoat; 09-19-2013 at 02:36 AM.
    Thanks/Like WhiteLight, wud, Flugelbinder Thanks/liked this post

  5. #5
    ^ broke something
    jdeg's Avatar

    Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    Thanks for posting this Anthony! I'll follow this and add in some comments when you are done.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    carguy's Avatar

    Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    Good stuff all in one place.

    D750 | 50mm f1.8G | Tamron 70-200 2.8 VC
    Fujifilm X100T | Nikon F3/T, N2000, N8008, N90s | Minolta XG1 & X-570
    Detroit Imagery / My weekly contributions /
    Notary Public & Loan Signing Agent

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO


    Feels incomplete, but that's because there is SO MUCH information. I hope this overview is good enough to get people started.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    WhiteLight's Avatar

    Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    Quote Originally Posted by Browncoat View Post

    Feels incomplete, but that's because there is SO MUCH information. I hope this overview is good enough to get people started.
    True, but you've covered what's most important to get things started.
    Great work..

  9. #9
    Snow White
    ohkphoto's Avatar

    Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    Here's a nice little infograph about content marketing . . . an important part of SEO.
    Content Marketing Strategy is the New SEO, an Infographic
    Helene of OHK Photography and here's what I do with my images: Vivacini

    There are always possibilities.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Re: The Photographer's Guide to SEO

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO
    Also, I seem to have finally ironed out all the kinks of Google Authorship. My search results are finally showing up like they should, so feel free to ask me about how to do this!

    (click to enlarge)

    The Photographer's Guide to SEO-g-authorship.png
    Thanks/Like WhiteLight, wud Thanks/liked this post

Quick Reply Quick Reply

If you are already a member, please login above before posting.

Similar Threads

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts