Unless you have a thousand friends all telling their friends about you, getting work and spreading the word about what kind of photographer you are is likely to depend greatly upon being found on search engines like Google and Bing. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) for photographers steps in.
Search Engine Optimisation is about creating your website design and content in a way that makes it easier for search engines to understand and tell searchers about what it is you do, making it more likely that people will find your site when searching for photography-related keywords.
SEO for Photographers because Google Doesn’t Understand Images
The trouble that photographers face is that much of their work is portrayed in imagery – and search engines tend to be pretty bad at understanding and expressing the contents of images.
That is changing and using the same technology that Google Photos uses to find and sort photos is coming to search engines but there is too much at risk to simply place your trust in Google and hope that the clients come.
The old saying of “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t quite hold true for websites that contain a lot of imagery.
So here are my five favourite tips to ensure a photography website gets found online. Use these tips too – or continue to rely on your thousands of friends to send you work. Here we go:
1. Analyse Your Website for SEO Problems
Not enough website owners do this. It is such an easy way to get an understanding of what your website is doing wrong and how you can improve it – quickly and easily.
For our base-level SEO audit, we use https://www.seoptimer.com/ because it is quick, and easy and gives a very good report on what our website is doing well and where it can improve.
Simply enter your website address into the example bar, press Audit, and watch the results come rolling in.
If you self-manage your website you now have a list of tasks to improve the website. Some of these tasks are beginner-level tasks (like adding ALT tags to all of your photographic images). Some of these tasks need to be handled by your website host and some are expert-level problems that need to be outsourced.
You should be aiming to get all 5 of the audit categories ranking at A+.
If you need a hand getting your score up, why not check out our friends at TradieSites Australia to see if they can help.
2. Speed Up Your Website
A fast website is a usable website. That’s what Google says. The faster the better.
Mobile sites load differently to desktops so you need to know that your website is loading fast for mobiles and desktops. Google actually places more emphasis on websites loading fast on mobiles than desktops so you really need to put in the extra effort to make sure load time is pretty quick.
We use Page Speed Insights to track and analyze our website page loading speeds.
A score above 95/100 is a good score and should be your aim.
For example, have a look at the PageSpeed Insights score for My Beautiful Baby Brisbane family photographer.
Page Speed Insights gives you a list of issues to target and address. I have found that just about every issue is an expert-level problem that needs to be addressed. Very few of the issues are beginner level. So if your score is less than 95, start looking for some help to speed up your website.
Solutions include things like caching, image smushing, content delivery networks and avoiding chaining critical requests. See how complicated this is?
Get an expert to help you speed up your website. Your users (and Google) will love you.
3. Secure Your Site, Silly
Have a look at the address bar in your browser. For example, the website address for this page is https://mybeautifulbaby.com.au/search-engine-optimisation-seo-tips-for-photographers.
That HTTPS at the beginning of the address means my website has been secured with Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure – an internet communication system that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between my web server’s computer and your computer.
Google says that integrity and security are important. We’re not ready to argue.
Most web hosts these days offer free website HTTPS security for websites but there are still a few websites around that use the old standard HTTP.
If that is you it is time for a change. You really should be sending your web pages out as HTTPS.
It’s simple. It’s free but it isn’t super-duper easy. I would rate this as a 5/10 on difficulty. If you are more a photographer than an SEO nerd you are probably going to need some help from your web host. Send them an email and ask them to implement HTTPS. Then relax. You’re a bit more secure.
It doesn’t feel any different. The internet just says it’s better.
4. Write A Lot of Articles
Until Google can learn to appreciate your use of ISO, shutter speed, background, lens flaring, and subject posing in your images, you are going to have to use words to describe how good you are at photography and why your customers should use you.
You are going to need to write articles (blogs or pages) and you are going to need to write more than your competitors.
- Your language should be simple to understand and well-written.
- Your paragraphs should be one or two sentences so there is plenty of space around your words.
- You should use dot points in groups of three or four (maximum).
Make sure you use a few headings so Google knows what subject you are writing about.
Add a few images to break up the text and provide context to what you are describing.
Write a lot. About all aspects of your photography craft. Make it useful so people want to read it. Make it useful so people want to read it. Yes – I wrote that twice because it really is that important!
If you are looking for ideas for your writing, think about the questions your clients ask you when they ring or email you.
- How much do you charge and why are you good value.
- What camera gear do you use and what are some of the settings you use.
- How will clients view their photos and will they be good enough to print?
You must get asked questions every day. Answer those questions on your website. For one, customers will find the answers they are already asking. For two, it makes your business more transparent and trustworthy. For three, your clients will probably ask those same questions on the phone anyway so you may as well answer them early.
I was once told, “Provide so much information on your website that it feels like you are giving away valuable information.”
This advice has worked for me and it will work for you. Sharing this information makes you an industry leader and your future clients will see you as a thought leader. What a great way to start a new business relationship!
Provide more information than feels comfortable. Your clients will love you and your SEO will become unbeatable.
5. Use Keywords in Image Names
“img_6763.jpg” doesn’t tell you much about what the image is, does it?
Now multiply that by 1000 images, all with different names – it’s 1000 times worse! How do you find the image you are looking for?
Google, and Bing have the same problem with your images.
If you want the search engines to find and share your photos with your audience, then you need to change the file name to something useful and succinct.
How about “Lady in a white dress holding a hat.jpg”? Do you think that might be a better name for a photographic file that you upload to your website?
Immediately anyone searching for a photo of a lady etc will have your photo thrust onto the screen. What if they were looking for a photographer instead?
Maybe you could name your photo, ” Professional photographers photo of a lady in white.jpg”
Makes a difference already doesn’t it. There are file name and length limitations but you can push the boundaries and use words to describe your photos and audience and make Google’s life easier.
Come to think of it – I’m going to do it right now!
Summary of SEO for Photographers
If you want to be found online then you need to harness the power of search engines. That’s where SEO for photographers comes in.
If you want to be found online, don’t rely on your lovely images telling your story. You want to be busy as a photographer so harness the 4 tips I have provided and watch your business flourish.
I wish you all the best in your portrait photography business. May the sun backlight your subject. May your flash never fail and may your shutter speed stop the action when you need it to.
I’m Matt Cornell and I hope you found some SEO tips that help your photography business get found!
Don’t forget, if you need help you can have a chat to our website speed developers at TradieSites Australia.