When most of us began pursuing a career as photographers, we pictured idyllic days spent behind our beloved cameras photographing all the things. We quickly learned that our time behind a camera would be precious, as most of us would spend way more time sitting at a computer editing, communicating with our clients, managing marketing and social media campaigns, and well, just running the business.
After all that, there’s very little time left over to devote to things like search engine optimization (SEO.) But now, as weddings and events are canceled and social distancing and stay at home/shelter in place orders are mandated, many photography businesses have come to a screeching halt. There’s really nothing we can do about any of that.
But we can take this newly found downtime to shore up our websites’ backend to help us reach more clients online. These SEO tips for photographers are something positive we can do for our businesses during this COVID-19 quarantine downtime.
If you’re on page 13 for photographers in your area, this is your time to change that! I’m going to share some of my favorite free online tools and three basic steps needed to help you get closer to page one on Google!
See Where You Stand: How Strong is Your Photography Site’s SEO?
Before you can strengthen your SEO, you need to know your starting point. To figure out your baseline, I recommend this free SEO Audit tool from The Hoth. Simply enter your URL and the keyword that you’d like to rank, and in a few seconds, you can get a grade that says how you’re doing plus a list that tells you what to do to improve that grade! You can even add your competitors’ URL, and see how you compare!
Another thing you’ll learn from your audit is your site’s domain authority. A big number, like 90, means Google trusts that you’re an authority and if you post an article within your site’s specialty, you’d likely land on page one of Google search results. A smaller number means it may be more difficult to win some harder keywords.
To know if a keyword will be easy or hard to win, you can check out Neil Patel’s UberSuggest. It is a great tool, and there is a lot of information you can collect from the free version of his site! Enter a search term, and then check out the recommended related terms. Off to the right, under the heading Comparisons you’ll notice the keyword’s SEO Difficulty. You’ll want to try to pick keywords that have a difficulty rating close in size to your own domain authority!
This may mean that while ‘photographer’ or even ‘wedding photographer’ may be too difficult for you to win, ‘Roanoke Wedding Photographer’ may be within your grasp!
Pro Tip: Look for keywords with high search volume, but a low SEO difficulty rating!
Optimize Your Pages
Optimizing a page for SEO traffic can be as simple as editing some of your existing content to include a few things that Google recommends you should have on each page.
Make sure the keyword you want to rank for is in your title. If it isn’t you CAN change it, but you have to add redirect on code your site that tells viewers with the old link how to find the new URL. This is called a 301 redirect. Each website provider handles this a little differently, but you can search your provider’s Help documents for 301 redirects to learn how to do this on your site.
Include the keyword in your first paragraph. Having the keyword in the first paragraph sends a message to Google and other search engines that this content is relevant to what the viewer is searching to find.
Include your keyword in your headings. Think of your article as if it’s an outline. Starting with this framework will help you ensure that you are presenting your information in a way the search engines can understand to be able to rank your content higher. AND it makes it easier for your viewers to read and find what they are looking for, too!
Use your keyword in your photo titles. Change any photo with standard camera-named files such as, DSC-123734.jpg to something that Google knows is related to your topic by using your keyword in the title. Separate keywords with dashes (-) but never underscores (_).
Pro Tip: Remember, it’s not your whole website that will get you Google love, it’s each individual page on your site. Every page on your site could win you traffic for a different term!
Grow Your Backlinks! How Photographers Can Get Backlinks
There are two different kinds of links — internal and external. An internal link is when you link from one piece of your own content to another one of your own pages.
Links from other websites to your site are called external backlinks, and they’re a little harder to get so Google values them a little more.
Having external backlinks to your site from reputable sites in your field or one that is closely related shows Google that you’re a good resource. It tells Google, Bing, and other search engines, that your content is worthy of being linked to by another site. The bigger and more reputable the site, the more powerful the backlink is at pushing you higher in the search results!
But how can you get backlinks as a photographer?
Getting published on an industry blog is one good way to get your work in front of the right people AND get you a backlink! A double win! Use your quarantine downtime to go through your galleries from your past weddings and send them to some wedding blogs who may publish your work! Organizations such as TwoBrightLights and Matchology can help match photographers with publications, or you can reach out to editors yourself. Start with creating a list of regional wedding blogs and their editors’ contact information.
Pro Tip: Be sure to familiarize yourself with the type images the blog features to make sure you submit your images to the publication that’s the best fit for your work.
Update Directory Listings
Adding your website to directory sites is another way to acquire backlinks. Make sure that your directory listings on Google, Bing, Facebook, Show Me Local, Foursquare are up to date as well as on any niche listing services like The Knot or WeddingWire. You can check for free on Moz Local to see which listings you’re missing. You can then either update them manually yourself or pay a fee to have Moz or a similar service such as Bright Local submit the listings for you.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to pay for The Knot or WeddingWire? Even a free listing on these high domain authority sites will send a valuable backlink to your site!
Let’s face it. We’d all rather be out in the world photographing what we love. But because of this quarantine downtime, we have the opportunity right now to tidy up the loose ends of our business that we rarely have time to address.
By building your SEO now, clients will more easily find your business in the search results when things return to normal and they start searching online for their perfect photographer!
About the author: Stacie Marshall is a Virginia wedding photographer and senior photographer living in Richmond, VA. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Marshall’s company, Marshall Arts Photography, specializes in capturing timeless film-inspired fine art images. You can find more of her work on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.