The Complete SEO Guide For Photographers

Introduction

So you have made it through the tough part of setting up a website and have all your ducks in a row, but are puzzled on the next part of your adventure into the world of Digital Marketing…

Let me warn you before we begin, that all the jargon and scary factors, really don’t apply when you are just starting out.

What SEO Agencies will often offer is a service where they say that they will help you “Rank Number 1 On Google” and all that rubbish.

Whilst that is everyone’s ambition, how you get there is truly down to dedication and following the right guidelines. So let us begin!

Wake Me Up When Im Famous Quote
Wake Me Up When Im Famous Quote

A Word Of Warning

Naturally the first word of warning is… Watch out… You are going to become extremely busy with enquiries… Just kidding. Well let’s hope. However, you need to know the following two things…

  1. It isn’t just a fix these and you will be number one on Google. It doesn’t work like that. It takes hard work and a lot of focus.
  2. If you currently have a site and its been running for quite some time and you are looking to make amendments, any that may change links to your site for example the Permalinks section, will cause old links on websites to end up not working. For more on this read the Broken Links section.
Word Of Mouth Marketing - Brain Storm For Your Domain
Word Of Mouth Marketing – Brain Storm For Your Domain

Domain Name

Often overlooked your websites Domain name plays a major factor in your SEO. In the past more so than it does now, as having it keyword focused was a godsend.

In this day and age however… Do not panic.

Keep it relevant, and memorable.

You don’t want an offensive name which may put people off viewing your work, and you want to try and keep it as similar to your company name as possible.

We understand that most domain names are taken in a modern world where people buy them to sell on for extortionate prices but a little bit of creativity will go a long way!

Also remember the end of the domain matters! If you are a South African based company looking for local business, you wont want a .de domain name.

In a world of .com’s it is worth having however if your primary focus is South Africa, look for a .co.za. This will go a long way… Trust me!

Looking to go international? A .com may be an idea. Although not essential, but try bidding on AdWords at a later stage to people in America with a South African based domain… You will see! More on AdWords in another post!

If however you have a domain name and we have totally ripped you a new one… Please don’t panic, it isn’t the end of the world. Older domain names seem to have some oomph in the ranking world.

The Complete SEO Guide For Photographers In South Africa
The Complete SEO Guide For Photographers In South Africa

Website

 How could we forget the website itself? Naturally there are plenty of aspects in this post that will help you move forward with your website, but if your website is pants… Good luck! This is going to be the first impressions you make with a client. If I loaded a site that had text flying all over the screen and tiny images I can’t see? I would click the “back button” and look for a different photographer.

Get this right! For further information on building a website… Click here!

Alternatively get in touch and see how we can create a portfolio to help you master the photography market! Our services!

Social Media - Instagram An Effective Part Of SEO For Photographers
Social Media – Instagram An Effective Part Of SEO For Photographers

Social Media

Although this is a controversial topic when it comes to SEO, Social Media has more impact than you may think!

Ok it may not put you to number 1 on Google but having great Social Signals goes a long way.

Google also ranks your social pages so if you do well with these and they rank well, your name gets out there.

Digital Marketing is all about becoming a brand… Not just having a website that slays!

Still not convinced? Having a Facebook page that shares content from your site that brings people to the site, will show how successful the site is. Google sees this and realises… Ok this site is popular, its obviously something we should show as a top result when people are looking for something similar.

Understood?!

Now get your mitts moving and login to your Instagram account and start creating! Need some advice? Get in touch!

 

Google Business

Ah the fine world of Google. Let’s face it if you got new neighbours and wanted to make a good impression you would go introduce yourself with a cake and goodies… Signing up to Google Business is just like getting those extra brownie points.

It gains you access to amazing features such as posts that are directly updated on Google, to insights you wouldn’t have seen before.

And what is even better… You now appear on Google Maps! So people searching for local photographers near you… You will appear! Not necessarily the first result but it’s a starting point.

Other aspects are taken into account such as Reviews (get your friends to submit some), your current ranking, clicks and so much more!

It truly is a great place to start. Facebook offers a similar functionality but it links to your Facebook Business Page so make sure you include your address on this as well.

To Sign Up: https://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/business/

WordPress SEO With Yoast SEO
WordPress SEO With Yoast SEO

Using WordPress? Get Yoast SEO

A topic that may not be for everyone, but with so many people using WordPress as their web platform of choice, it needed its own section.

WordPress is a powerful platform that is used by approximately 1/3 of online stores. Which may not sound like much, but in the big scheme of things… It truly is.

It is very easy to navigate, user friendly and provides a ton of features and additional plugins that can help grow your site.

One we highly recommend is Yoast SEO. It does exactly as it says on the tin! Providing you with the goodies you need to start focusing on SEO for your site.

Once you install the plugin it will offer a guided walkthrough, setting up features for you so you don’t have to stress too much.

Unconvinced? Give it a whirl. There are plenty of other plugins that offer this set up including All In One SEO, but quite frankly we have found many to be quite buggy with certain sites.

Yoast SEO key features include:

  • Robots.txt creation
  • Sitemap Creation
  • Webmaster Console Integration
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Readability Scores
  • Keyword Focus SEO Factors
  • Social Media Open Graph
  • And Much Much More!

Need help installing it or setting it up? Just get in touch!

Not using WordPress? Not a problem, all sites have similar functionality unless you have created a custom site. Even in these circumstances you have the flexibility to add whatever you see fit. Just ensure your site has Meta Descriptions, Titles and a sitemap.

 

Add keywords in image names

One thing often neglected on any website is the Images. Let’s face it, how many people go on Google and browse images rather than titles sometimes? I know I do!

In a visual world such as Photography, surely most clients would browse by images as they want to see Photographers styles and quality of work over anything else.

This is why we want to be seen on Google.

Nothing kills me more than seeing people upload their images as .com/IMG00124.JPG.

Firstly… LOWER CASE PLEASE – ironic hey! Its easier if the whole site is lower case.

Secondly… What does that explain to the viewer about the image? Imagine trying to find a picture of Dave and Susan from a wedding in Cape Town at The Grand Beach & Café, yet it was named IMG00124.JPG. You wouldn’t be able to find it with the search functions on your computer (unless you were super organised).

The same applies to Google Images, we want relevant names so Google knows what the image is about. Having Wedding, Cape Town, The Grand Beach & Café, etc. in the title really does help.

 

Image Alt Tags

On the same topic, image alt tags are just as vital. The easiest way to explain it is that Google is blind and can’t view your pictures but you want it to not ignore them and want to explain what the picture is about. Do so in a descriptive manner without keyword spamming the tags.

Imagine someone searching Google what will they be searching for? For example the location and the topic. Is it a Wedding? Include Wedding, the venue and location. These are merely suggestions but will help you go a long way.

 

Meta Titles

Your meta title is the aspect of the page that is picked up by the browser as well as Google. When you search for a topic on Google it is the Meta Title that offers the most significance in clicking a link.

For example if I was looking for a Family Photographer In Cape Town and had searched for this exact phrase on Google then the blue links (titles) are what stand out. If one says “Award Winning Family Photographer In Cape Town”, I am more likely to click that than I am to click one that said “Photographer John Smith”.

So having this relevant is necessary!

It is also the title of the browser tab. So when you open a new table and visit a website the title in your Browser Tab is the Meta Title. So once again… Relevance is key!

 

Meta Descriptions

Next we have the meta descriptions for each individual post/page. Using a plugin like we mentioned earlier (Yoast SEO) will help make this process easier for you, as it helps highlight aspects to include and the length of your meta description.

The easiest way to explain this is the blurb bit under your meta title on Google. So when you search for a topic in mind on Google you are usually presented with the Title (in blue) and some text underneath explaining what the website/page is about.

Here we want to keep it eye catching, whilst answering questions with a “come hither” type of enticing feel so people click the link to learn more.

Recently Google made an adjustment to how many characters appear in your meta description on Google so keep on top of trends and make full use of the character limit.

One thing to note… Make these unique for each page. The last thing you want is Google spotting duplicate content… That’s a big NO NO!

Sitemap Creation Isn't This Hard
Sitemap Creation Isn’t This Hard

Sitemap Creation

WordPress offers tools that does this for you (Yoast SEO being one), however you are not limited to WordPress. There are plenty of sites online that will help build a sitemap for your site within seconds… And the best bit… Its free!

To explain things a bit further, your sitemap is like the foundations. It literally is a page with links to all your pages, making it easier for Search Engines to scroll through all of your pages.

The next step is to submit your sitemap to search engines… Let us explain how.

 

Sign Up To Google Webmaster Console

Google Webmaster Console is something often overlooked by a lot of users. The purpose of it is to help build a closer relationship with Google and make their lives easier.

Whether you own a new site or a site that has been around for a while Google Webmaster Console needs to be in your Arsenal.

To Sign Up: https://www.google.com/webmasters/#?modal_active=none

Features to note include:

  • Search Queries – A great way to see what search queries have been used where you have appeared in search results
  • Sitemap Submission – Earlier we created a Sitemap, now we have the ability to submit it to Google to help get our pages crawled sooner.
  • Fetch As Google – Basically a queue jump to get a page submitted to Google. It isn’t always instant, but a great way to update and test if your Meta Description is working correctly.
  • Robots.txt Tester – Most sites will neglect the purpose and use of a robots.txt file (more on this later) but if you do have one, this tool is a great way to check its working correctly.
  • Errors – Ever wondered what happened to your pages when you delete them? How does Google react to this? What about all the 301, 404, 502, errors that occur? This tool shows you where the errors arise.

Top Tip, don’t delete pages causing broken links unless you redirect them properly.

Unsure on where to begin with Google Webmaster? Get in touch with us.

Google Analytics SEO Guide For Photographers
Google Analytics SEO Guide For Photographers

Sign Up To Google Analytics

A tool that should be number one in your arsenal is Google Analytics. It truly offers more than just a way to see how many visitors you have had on your site.

To Sign Up: https://www.google.com/analytics/#?modal_active=none

Some of the key features allow you to see where users come from (what site), how they navigate around your site and also monitor aspects such as conversions.

We can even break things down to age, gender, and location so we can begin to see where we should be marketing.

We will be creating a guide soon on how to navigate through all the features of Google Analytics and the top features you should be taking advantage of.

If you aren’t using it yet, sign up its free and the only technical knowledge you will need is to install the verification code onto your site which anyone can do.

 

Identify Your Keywords

Ok, this probably should have been focused on at step one but we aren’t doing this in any order of importance.

Keyword planning will help you to create a strategy that works for you. Think of it as a way to look into what types of things you want to be found for on search engines for your business. For example, Wedding Photographer, Family Photographer etc.

Bearing in mind these are very simple terms and ranking for these alone will be hard. We need to think long tail. What this means is focus on longer keywords like people would be searching for in Google. For example, like we mentioned earlier, Moody Style Wedding Photographer in Cape Town. If you can break it down even more.

Most people focus on the keywords like wedding photographer, knowing full well they are competing with large firms with plenty of backlinks, paid ads etc. So if we want to do it properly, get that niche just right. That doesn’t mean all our links have to focus on this. Some pages we can focus on other aspects.

For example, if you create a page for wedding photography and another for lifestyle photography, don’t focus on the same key words

There are some great tools out there to help you plan your keywords effectively and see what other people are searching for. One of the best is Googles own Keyword planner which can be found via the link below:

https://adwords.google.com/intl/en_uk/home/tools/keyword-planner/

It is actually used to help you look for keywords when buying Google Ads and creating campaigns so you may have to set up an account but don’t panic! Key word planner is free itself. It will show you words relevant so if you entered photographer, it would show results and searches people had done which were similar.

Just remember not to spam your pages with keywords as this doesn’t look right and Google will penalise you for tricks like this. Which leads us onto keyword stuffing…

Content Creation Guide For SEO
Content Creation Guide For SEO

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Like those annoying sales calls, the more you get the more you want to scream down the phone at the next person who tries his luck. He may be onto a winner and save you a fortune but you will never know because you have been bombarded with rubbish.

The same applies to keywords… If you are trying to rank for Cape Town Photographer, don’t keep using that same keyword. It will damage your reputation, look awful and Google will be the one screaming.

Try and be smart with it. Use long tail key words, try and think of other searches people will be using rather than just Cape Town Photographer. Don’t get me wrong, be sure to include this, but think of other keywords you could use as well and it must flow! If its read like your two year old daughter wrote it with crayons… You have no hope in life.

Analytics For A Photographers Website
Analytics For A Photographers Website

Backlinks

Now we need to look at backlinks. Backlinks? What are they? Well its basically the online version of word of mouth. When your site has been linked somewhere back to your site this is known as a backlink.

You get good backlinks and bad ones, so don’t go spamming all sorts of sites with your website address.

Some are follow, some no-follow.

What does this all mean?!

In simple terms sites have a Domain Authority. The higher the Authority the better the site. For example, a very popular site with lots of good links to it is seen as a good site, so Google Ranks it well. If your site is then linked on this site to your website, Google sees this as a good site. If however you have your link on lots of poor spam style sites, Google sees it as a website that may not be trusted.

Therefore, its in your best interest to get your site featured only on good well established sites.

The more links to your site (good ones), means the likeliness of you rising on Google.

This is why we recommend you signing up to Find Photographers and adding your site to our directory. It pays for you to get good links to your site. Still not convinced? Watch your competitors on our site do better than you ever will! More information can be found here for signing up.

Other places you can gain access to quick wins is the venues, and décor companies. Get them to share work where they have been featured. For example if you recently photographed a wedding at a particular venue, get that venue to share it on their site. The same goes for Flower companies used, the Dress, any other companies linked that are featured in your images. It not only promotes you and helps grow your backlink strategy but it also helps them promote their work.

Social Media Analytics For Photographers On Pinterest
Social Media Analytics For Photographers On Pinterest

Encourage Social Sharing

We mentioned earlier about Social Media, growing your Social accounts and sharing your work. This alone wont help grow your site and social following. We need to encourage others to share the work.

There are plenty of ways to do so. Firstly, get hold of a useful plugin for your site which allows users the ability to share your content. Whether it be a picture they like or a whole page. If they have to copy the link and paste it in Facebook, they most likely wont. However, if they have a button that does all the hard work for them… They may just do what you want them to.

Next stop is getting the client to share the work, for example you recently did a wedding shoot, get them to share the page with all their images on. It’s a great way for them to show off how amazing their big day was and you get the exposure. All those likes, comments, and shares for that one share they carried out… It all has your name all over it.

We mentioned earlier in Backlinks about the venue and other organisers sharing your content on their website. The same can be said about their social media. Its easy for them to share a Wedding that was recently held at their venue, and the same for the flower organiser or wedding organiser as a whole. All of these people are additional shares, which means their whole client base are seeing your name and no doubt plenty of them are looking for a photographer for their big day.

Competitions are another idea, but this is something for another day!

 

Display Pretty Permalinks

Pretty Permalinks… For the OCD amongst us. No one likes a link that is joesphotography.co.za/02/02/2018/blog/post.html – It just doesn’t look neat, and it says nothing about the post itself.

Rather set it so that it reads as joesphotography.co.za/john-helen-engagement-shoot-jeffreys-bay

Ok its still long but it explains exactly what it is without all those dates in front. So anyone searching for an Engagement Shoot in Jeffreys bay or something similar are more likely to find it.

With WordPress there is an option under settings for Pretty Permalinks. It does help.

If however you have an established site already. Don’t change this as itll cause your links to all be broken where links have been shared on other sites.

Website Speed Is Vital For SEO
Website Speed Is Vital For SEO

Website Speed

In this day and age, we are all systems go 24/7. Whether its going to the shops, catching up with friends or at work we get impatient if we have to wait for anything.

The same applies to websites. There is articles all over the web about how a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load causes a drop off of visitors from the word go.

This is therefore why we must ensure we have a speedy website.

To test your website, check out the following…

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

It will tell you how quick your site is on a ranking factor and also highlight quick fixes to ensure your site is up to scratch.

First thing we recommend, is take a look at your images. These can usually be compressed (without losing quality) to ensure the site loads quicker.

One thing to bear in mind, the site may load just fine for you, but imagine someone with a slower Internet speed… Waiting… Still waiting…!

We offer a speed up service where we put your site to the test, and see if we can help speed it up. We do not guarantee A scores for everything but we will definitely make improvements. For more on this… Get in touch.

Website Bounce Rate Comparison
Website Bounce Rate Comparison

Bounce Rates

As we discussed earlier you should have already set up a Google Analytics account. In this you will be able to see the behaviour of your visitors. Where they enter, how long they spend on the site and where they leave.

Bounce rate refers to people who bounce off the site. For example, if I load the site and close it within a second that’s because there was something wrong with the site. This is classed as bounce rate. The higher the bounce rate the worse news for you.

It can usually be caused by a number of things, for example; site speed, poor design, accidentally clicked, or it wasn’t relevant for what I wanted.

Either way we need to reduce this. The higher the bounce rate the more likely Google will penalise you. Google doesn’t want to give poor information to its consumers so if a site keeps getting a bad bounce rate Google will begin to show it further down whilst sites with a better bounce rate are shown nearer the top.

Monitor this and see what pages are causing a high bounce rate, then keep testing to see what is causing it. Get friends and family to feedback as well as normally they will spot something you will not.

Optimise Images For SEO
Optimise Images For SEO

Optimise Your Photos

We mentioned earlier about Site Speed, and your images play the biggest part! Large images cause the Internet to slow down whilst they load. There are plugins like Lazy Load Images which can help but its not the actual problem. Its your image size. Now I am not telling you to resize them so small that no one can see them, but be understanding. A 10mb image will take a while to load when there are multiple images on a page. Whilst a 300kb image will load much quicker.

First step is to resize the image a bit smaller. Naturally you don’t want the full high resolution versions on the site anyway as people will begin to copy them.

Next step use the following tool…

https://tinypng.com

This beauty will save you a lot of time and aggravation. It wont even damage the image quality. However it does compress the image to meet the Google requirements.

Local SEO Guide For Photographers
Local SEO Guide For Photographers

Use Your Location in your meta

How Do I Rank Well For Local SEO As A Photographer? Are you focusing on a primary area? Then this is for you! Without being a Spam head include your area in your meta description and meta title if possible. For example if I searched for a Photographer in Pretoria, and one person mentioned in their Meta Title and Description they are Pretoria based and a photographer, I would more likely click them than the one that didn’t.

As Pretoria is a large area, maybe try and drill it down if you can to focus on a niche, as naturally a lot of photographers will focus primarily with those key words. Look into Key word planner and see what comes up.

 

Internal Links

We mentioned earlier about backlinks, well Internal Links are what help your users flow. If you write a blog post like this one and refer back to another blog post then link to it. It helps users check out your other content, and it also helps Google Spiders crawl your site and find other pages on your site.

Do not spam with internal links, and keep it natural. Otherwise it makes it hard to read.

Broken Links Cause People To Exit Your Site
Broken Links Cause People To Exit Your Site

Broken Links

Broken links are the bane of our existence. There is nothing worse than when you find a link on Google to a really good website to then be blessed with a 404 page! A 404 page basically states the page isn’t there anymore, it cannot be found.

Over time we update sites and remove pages which is fine, but the more of these 404 pages that are found, the worse it looks for your site. Remember we mentioned bounce rate? Well this is the peak of bounce rate. Rather than delete pages’ redirect to other pages, or just edit the page to suit a new purpose.

After all this page was found from a link somewhere on the web so we don’t want to get rid of those!

Guide To Blogging For Photographers
Guide To Blogging For Photographers

Blog posts

How you set up your site is down to you. There are a number of ways I would suggest but then again we all set out with a different purpose. A blog however is an easy way to keep up to date with your clients and potential customers. It’s a way to share your latest work, and also add additional key pages that will help grow your business. Do research on what your users are searching for, you will soon be able to notice the kind of blog posts you should be writing.

It also shows you are active…

Keep Active On Your Website
Keep Active On Your Website

Keep active

There is nothing worse than a site that doesn’t change. For people looking for a photographer they want to see a site that has content that is regularly changing. I am not talking about changing the layout I am talking about posting new images and content.

If a site stays the same day in and out I would assume that the photographer hasn’t had much work. Whereas a site with lots of photos being added on a regular basis it makes me think, “oh they are busy I had best book them fast they must be good”.

That being said… Don’t rush work and just upload anything. Quality over quantity all day long!

 

Find Photographers Directory

You’ve made it this far into the article with very few sales pitches… So here is our time to shine!

You want to build your business, and gain access to more backlinks with very little effort. Well your first stop should be our very own site… https://findphotographers.co.za

We offer a FREE listing where you can upload your business to the site, and gain access to our thousands of visitors per month browsing your site and other photographers.

Its FREE! Click here for more!

Online Guide To Digital Marketing
Online Guide To Digital Marketing

To Conclude

To conclude there is a number of things you can do to help grow your business. Our complete SEO guide was designed to primarily give you an insight into the world of Digital Marketing.

We have only included the very basics to growing your website and aiming to rank number one in Google for your photography business. There is plenty more to be doing to ensure you raise above the rest in your area.

Whether you are looking to be the best Photographer in Cape Town, or be top of Google for Photographers in Pretoria, we are here to help and we hope this guide helps to point you in the right direction.

Some may say this is a guide to create a successful Photography business, however there are plenty more aspects that are not mentioned in here, like taking fantastic photographs!

Guide To Building A Successful Photography Business
Guide To Building A Successful Photography Business

How We Can Help

Find Photographers specialise in Digital Marketing and Brand Awareness. We help build businesses to their full potential. Whether you are looking for a website, or full on marketing campaigns we have you covered.

To see more of our services, just click here!

Alternatively get in touch with Xploited Media and we will take a quick glance of your website FREE of charge and feedback on any quick wins to help boost your web presence. Be warned… They are honest with their results as they want the best for you and your business.