Whether you’re just starting your photography career or have years of experience, being found in search engines is critical to accomplishing your goals. In this post, we’ll be sharing 5 helpful SEO tips that can help your photography website place well in search engines.
Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by Squarespace.
Search engine optimization (SEO) for photographers is different than SEO for other professions due to the necessary enhanced focus on image optimization, which has its own set of best practices. We will dive into individual image optimization techniques later, but first we must look at the bigger picture.
Tip #1: Use The Right Keywords
Put yourself in the mind of your customer and think of what keywords they’d type in Google if they were looking to buy what you sell. SEO is keyword driven so determining the keywords people use to find your products gives you an idea of the keywords for which you should attempt to rank well. Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to get search volume estimates so you can tell if “wedding photographer” gets more searches than “wedding photography.” Having this insight will allow you to better understand which keywords to focus on and include in your content.
As you can see from the example above, you can see that “wedding photography” has around 5,000 more searches per month than “wedding photographer” however if you consider the intent of the two queries, it’s possible that some of the people searching for “wedding photography” are looking for inspiration for their photos or something else besides an actual photographer. 100% of people searching for “wedding photographer” are looking for a photographer, so it makes more sense to target that keyword.
It’s always better to chase intent rather than volume, so if two keywords have similar volume, always best to target the one that is more indicative of a user looking to be interested in what you’re offering.
There is also interest in packages and prices, so it would be important to have content on your site that can help address the questions people may have around how much your services cost and what packages you offer.
Tip #2: Use Content to Answer Questions
Once you understand the keywords to target based on your keyword research, think about the questions your customers have and create content that answers those questions.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) style content typically ranks well in search engines since it often explicitly answers the question that search engines think users have based on their query. Search engines try to determine your intent based on the keywords you enter, so answering questions directly often allows your site to rank due to the search engine matching your answer with what it believes the user is asking for based on their query.
There are tools like KeywordTool.io which show specific questions people have around a certain topic. Continuing with the wedding photographer example, you can get an idea of what types of questions you should answer with content on your site:
Tip #3: Local First
Search engines realize that most people looking for photographers are looking for photographers that are near them. It’s rare that a person in Phoenix is looking for a photographer who works in Des Moines. When a search is done for “photographer” in Google, it’s local photographers that show up first, followed by review sites (Yelp and Thumbtack show up most often).
Establishing a presence on Google My Business will make it more likely that you can show up towards the top when people search.
Having positive reviews on sites like Yelp and Thumbtack can also ensure you have presence in organic search results. Google ranks those sites high because people are interested in reviews, and the more positive reviews you have from those sites the higher you are going to rank within those sites. SEO takes time, and an effective way to get business while you’re still working on promoting your site and working your way up the rankings is to go where there is always a lot of traffic, and that is on Yelp and Thumbtack.
Tip #4: Optimizing Individual Images
At the heart of any photographer’s website will be examples of their work. While many of the recommendations for optimizing individual images that follow are technical in nature, a good content management system (CMS) will make these easy to implement. Squarespace has a robust set of SEO features in the event you’re starting from scratch or looking to migrate from your current CMS. Below are six elements to optimize for each image to ensure that your images can be found:
1. Filename. The file name should be descriptive of the image. If you’re showing a picture of a green dress, the file name should be “green-dress.jpg” or something as descriptive. It should not be “img256.jpg” or another ambiguous string of characters.
2. Image compression. Try to reduce the size of the image to make sure it loads quickly. Users and search engines don’t like sites that take a while to load, and one of the most significant causes of slow load times is large image files. There are many tools available online that easily allow you to reduce the size of your images while maintaining their quality before you upload them to your site.
3. Alt text. Descriptive alternative text (also known as “alt text”) should accompany each picture. Most content management systems will allow you to easily add an alt attribute, which should be as descriptive as possible. Because search engines still can’t “see” what an image contains, they use alt text to better understand what the image is about, and what you place in the alt text could influence the types of keywords the image can rank for in Google.
4. Facebook Open Graph tags and Twitter Card markup. Facebook and Twitter provide tags which allow site owners to make their images more shareable on their respective platforms. Implementing Open Graph tags and Twitter Card tags makes it easier for the images to be shared on social media, which can help with search engine visibility. This is technical, so finding plugins that work with your content management system is the easiest way to accomplish this.
5. Text around images. In addition to using the image alt text to understand what an image contains, search engines also look at the text around an image to get contextual clues. Including a few sentences directly before or after the image is place on your site will help search engines get a better understanding of what the image is and what keywords it should show up for in search results.
6. Specify a width and a height for all images. Search engines can load a page faster if they’re aware of the height and width elements of an image since they can better understand how the content should be placed around the image. Since having a fast loading site is an important user experience factor which could also contribute to SEO visibility, this simple step can go a long way. Fortunately, most content management systems allow you to set these values easily or automatically set them for you.
Tip #5: Image Sitemaps
For the overly technical audience, submitting an image sitemap can help Google better understand your image content. You can create a separate image sitemap, or combine image information to your already existing sitemap. Google provides detailed information about setting up image sitemaps.
SEO should be taken seriously by photographers if they’re looking to grow their business. The channel can provide significant new business opportunities once top rankings have been attained, however it’s going to take time and effort. The tips mentioned throughout this post are a great start.
Squarespace has a robust set of SEO features to help your business get found, making it a great choice if you’re just starting out or looking to switch. Try Squarespace free for 14-day days. When you’re ready to subscribe use code ‘PETAPIXEL’ for 10% off your first domain or website purchase.