A lot goes in to SEO – how can you find out what you’re doing right (or wrong)?
When it comes to SEO, the worst thing you can do is shoot in the dark. If you want your photography site to be highly sought after and widely available (both of which mean more customers for you!) then you have to a) know what you’re doing when it comes to SEO and b) look for evidence showing you how your SEO is doing.
One of the things that challenges photographers and other small business owners most is checking on the status of their SEO. It sounds simple. However, like many things in the SEO world, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Even looking to see how your SEO is doing can be a challenge.
The Most Basic Way to Check Your SEO
This may be obvious, and it is helpful – but it’s not enough to put you at the top and let you stay there on its own.
The most basic way to check your SEO is to Google (or search on Yahoo or Bing) some of the search terms you want your site to rank for. If you’re on the first page, that’s good – it’s even better if you’re in the top three.
Please note that you should log out of your Google accounts or use another computer to get accurate results this way. Google uses data on individual users more and more lately to give them SERPs tailored to their needs – which means your site might get a favorable bias when you search for it and not when someone else does.
This is certainly a good quick diagnostic of your SEO. However, it won’t help you much when you’re just starting out, because you still have a lot of work to do to get anywhere near the top. It also won’t help you see how a particular piece of content has performed, or if your SEO stats are rising or dipping (either of which could precipitate a change in the SERPs you want your page ranked on).
However, there are many options out there for deeper, more specific analysis – and you’ll need these to succeed.
Advanced SEO Options
I’d love to write you a comprehensive list of all the good SEO tools out there, but the fact is that would take days for you to read (and even longer for me to write). I can give you a few ideas, though.
Yoast is one of the biggest purveyors of SEO tools, many of which are free or very reasonably priced. If you use a WordPress site, their free WordPress SEO plugin is one of the best reviewed tools in the industry.
There’s also a great list of 33 free SEO tools (some of which are actually “freemium”) over at Web Gnomes. If you take a look at this list of tools, you’ll get an idea of how specific SEO tools can get. You probably don’t need every tool on the list, but downloading a few of them that focus on areas you’re highly interested in improving could make a big difference for your photography business.
There’s a lot of research out there on the web when it comes to SEO keyword research – almost everyone has something to say on the subject, and information from one site often contradicts information from the other.
We’ve spent a lot of time doing keyword research and analyzing the effectiveness of SEO keyword research techniques here at Photographer Marketing Academy, and we’ve done it all with photographers in mind. Although no SEO marketer can say 100% that he has the right answer all the time, we believe we’ve hit on a powerful method of using keywords to boost photographers’ SEO – and that’s focusing on the specifics.
Let’s be honest – no SEO marketing firm, no matter how great it is at what it does, can optimize a site or page for every keyword that could bring customers to the site. Doing keyword research involves figuring out which search terms will bring the most customers the most often, instead of scattering the limited resources that SEO marketers and small photography business have.
We’ve found that the best way to find the search terms that work the best is to aim for specifics. For example, the search term “photography” is never going to work as a keyword. Why? There are several reasons:
The competition for the keyword “photography” is too high for a small business to fight for dominance of this term and come out on top. There will always be a bigger business that includes photography services – it’s best not to try to compete with international corporations when it comes to SEO.
People rarely search for something as general as “photography” anymore. Rather, they search for something more specific like “wedding photography in Topeka.” Even if they do simply search for “photography,” Google’s location based search results will favor local results for their SERPs, and Google (or one of its competitors) will likely suggest more specific search terms like “wedding photography” – which users are likely to use when their more general searches don’t turn up the results they really want.
The upshot of all this is that a photography firm (or an SEO marketing team who works on behalf of a photography firm or individual photographer) must use those more specific search queries as potential keywords. For example, if you’re primarily a wedding photographer, you should have “wedding photography” optimized as much as possible throughout your site!
You should also take location into account, and use your geographic location as often as possible in conjunction with words and phrases like “photography” and “wedding photography.” This will help you win at local SEO, which is where you’re going to pull in the most clients anyway.
You’ll also want to use a wider variety of keyword phrasing when you’re focusing on specifics – for example, it’s probably equally likely that a potential client will search either “wedding photography in Topeka” or “Topeka wedding photography” – and the upshot of that is that your site should be optimized for both (if not more).
If you’re setting up your first photography website or a new one, WordPress may be one of your best options for building and maintaining a site. (For example, you’re currently reading a WordPress site – and this one looks pretty good, right?)
WordPress will walk you through the process of building a site and gives you many tools to help you optimize that site to appear on search engine results pages. Also, there are many SEO specific plugins available for WordPress that will increase your photography SEO capabilities even further. And if you choose to go with a professional photography marketer to get your site better rankings, most reputable SEO marketers will be very familiar with WordPress – for example, it is one of the minimum requirements for a marketer or staff writer on our own team.
If you decide to go with WordPress, here are a few tips to help you succeed.
1. Start by familiarizing yourself with the interface and writing blog posts.
Blog posts are one of the best ways to attract potential customers to your site. To market them with WordPress’ basic interface, try a few of these tips:
Use tags. You should include a few relevant search terms in the “tags” section of every blog post.
Use images to make your site more attractive and professional-looking, and to provide yourself with more SEO opportunities.
Use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to share your WordPress posts – once you’ve linked your WordPress sites to your social media accounts, you can do this with great ease.
Write professionally and use search keywords regularly throughout your posts. If you don’t know how to do this, consider hiring a professional SEO writer to help, or practice and do research to improve your own skills.
Once you’ve locked down these basic techniques for using blogs to attract people to your site, move on to #2…
2. Install an SEO plugin for WordPress, such as Yoast.
Yes, we’ve mentioned this one already – but we’re not the only ones excited by Yoast and other plugins like it. The SEO professional bloggers over at the site Kinsta recommended Yoast in their article on keeping your site relevant in 2017.
SEO plugins for WordPress greatly expand your SEO capabilities, and can allow you to tweak the finer details of your site with ease in order to bring more potential customers to you.
3. Keep fresh content coming. Don’t stop for ANYTHING.
Eventually, you’ll want to attract repeat visitors to your site. You’ll also want to be sure that new visitors look at your WordPress site as professional, relevant, and timely.
How do you accomplish all these things at once? By keeping fresh content coming as often as possible, of course.
This means you should be updating your blog regularly. Also be sure to update your photography portfolio as often as you can – because your images are what is going to sell you and your photography services to customers most of all.
Also be sure to update the main pages of your site (Home, About, Contact, etc.) as frequently as you need to. Your customers need to know everything about you that’s relevant to your job as a photographer, and also how to contact and hire you.