One of the biggest tips we give to photographers just starting out online, after building a website and starting to do some basic search engine optimization, is to frequently check how their SEO is doing. It’s only by knowing what’s working and what isn’t that you can continually improve your SEO.
Also, it’s important to remember that even if you’re at the top of Google now, you might not be forever. That means that it’s important to always stay on top of your SEO status and make sure everything you do online contributes to your SEO.
We did a post on the basics of checking your SEO a few days ago, but I thought it would be good for our readers to see some specific examples of the types of SEO tools available. Like in the last article, we drew a lot on Web Gnomes’ list of free SEO tools, as well as on their article on SEO analysis tools (which this SEO thinks is one of the most important types).
What are SEO analysis tools?
SEO analysis tools are diagnostics that seek to create a report that gives you a big-picture view of how your site is doing SEO-wise. They’re a great tool for everyone doing SEO – they’re good for beginners because they’re simple and broadly focused, and good for more advanced SEOs because they can point out problems you didn’t know you had and let you know when to use more specific tools.
Raven Tools’ Site Auditor is one of the best SEO diagnostics out there, but it’s also expensive. I wouldn’t recommend this for your photography business unless you start expanding to multiple large geographic areas – you can hire a marketing consultant company like ours for not much more than you pay to use Site Auditor. That being said, Raven Tools does offer a 30-day free trial of Site Auditor, and their services are used by a lot of professional SEO marketing firms, so this tool is always worth mentioning.
A good free/freemium alternative to Site Auditor is WooRank. This diagnostic is easy to use, and most small businesspeople and photographers who aren’t ready to pay for SEO yet can get away with using the free version. The paid plans are also cheaper than those offered by Site Auditor.
What about other types of SEO tools?
Other types of SEO tools are more specific than analytic tools. They’re often utilized by advanced SEOs to start a deeper investigation into some of the problems with a given site that an analytic picks up on.
All of these tools can help you make huge, fast changes to your SEO profile – which can set your website up for success. It certainly takes some time to learn each tool, and then learn how to use the data each tool presents, but each one can be a big part of the SEO puzzle.
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).
The guys at the Stone Temple Blog put out this helpful infographic not too long ago, and I thought we should share it with our readers here at Photographer Marketing Academy for several important reasons.
First of all, the SEO game is hard. It takes a good, experienced company to help you market your product, whether it’s photography services or something else entirely.
Secondly, there are a lot of shady companies out there masquerading as SEO gurus. Some of them use black hat methods that are both unethical and only viable in the short term, while some of them are (even worse) straight up scams that are out to get your money and give you nothing in return.
Obviously, we want to sell you our services here at Photographer Marketing Academy – and we really do believe we’re the best around. However, even if you don’t end up going with us, and decide to either use another online photography marketing service or strike out on your own, we want to be sure you don’t get scammed or otherwise taken in by an unethical company.
Let’s look a little bit more closely at a couple of the warning signs of a bad SEO that apply to photography particularly well.
1. Don’t work with SEOs that want to automate page creation.
Automating page creation means writing programs or using other techniques to generate web pages without any human input, and that’s bad for a lot of reasons. The major one is that these pages will likely not have any quality whatsoever – meaning that even if they do give you a short term photography SEO boost, the traffic won’t keep coming. Worse, your site could get removed from Google entirely.
As a photographer, you’re an artist – and that means that a little artistry and consideration should go into every page on your site. If you choose to work with an SEO firm, make sure it’s one that will match your level of dedication to the craft.
2. “They propose massive link building” – is it a warning sign?
Well, yes and no. It really depends what’s meant by massive link building.
Backlinks are one of the most important pieces of an SEO plan – many would say the most important. So a company that proposes getting you a lot of links isn’t a bad one – it’s just that many companies offer thousands of links that are worthless.
If you’re considering working with an SEO, make sure that the links the company offers you are legitimate, and not links from dummy pages or sketchy forums.
As the infographic says, you also shouldn’t trust a company that charges per link – rather, you should look at one that charges based on the time involved in developing your SEO, or charges more or less for certain types of businesses or based on keywords you want to rank for.
If you follow these simple rules when looking at SEO marketers you may want to work with, you should stay in the clear. And if you want more detailed analysis of what makes a good SEO marketer and what makes a bad one, we’ll have another post on this subject soon.
When it comes to online content, there are two things that Google and consumers want: immediacy and relevance.
Nobody is interested in looking at your sample photographs or reading your blog posts from five years ago, and Google knows that – so it (and its competitors) prioritize websites with content from the very recent past – often from the very same day the search is made. Many SEO gurus term this the “fresh factor.” This is where the immediacy comes in.
Now for the relevance: you don’t want to fill your photography blog with non-photography-related content. You don’t want to use your personal Facebook account primarily for photography marketing on social media and you certainly shouldn’t use your business Facebook for personal activities. Readers (and search engines) want to see content that is related to the keywords and links used to optimize it for search engines – not content that is unrelated or, worse, just plain awful.
So what does all this mean for you? It’s simple:
You should create fresh content for all of your online properties (including your main site, your blog, your business Facebook and other social media accounts, etc.) every day or at least as often as you can.
For some properties, such as Twitter and Instagram accounts, it makes sense to update even more often – sometimes as many as three times a day.
While you’re doing this, you should also check external properties such as Google or Yelp – they may have new reviews or similar content available that need your attention. Also check your reviews and messages on Facebook at least once a day.
While you have to be professional, your clients and potential clients want to feel like they’re interacting with a real person – that there’s a heart beating behind the computer screen they’re using to review or contact you. You have to create fresh content and interact with them so that you become a living, breathing person to them – not just another web site.
Remember, when you’re responding to reviews, always be professional. Never react defensively to a bad review – instead, let the customer know you’re fixing the problem, and contact them privately to see if there’s anything you can do to make them feel better.
While you’re busy creating all this content, remember that in addition to being immediate, it has to be relevant. So make sure it’s good and you’re really putting your best effort into it.
Always remember the old SEO axiom: content is king.
If you keep all of these tips in mind and truly update your properties as often as you can, you’ll be sure to find success much more quickly than most photographers trying to sell their services online.
And if this all seems to be too much to handle in addition to doing what you do best – always remember that there are professional marketers to help you with SEO, social media, and similar activities that help you promote your photography business online.
You might be scratching your head as you read that title… but the fact is, Twitter is great for business, and that includes photography business.
Twitter isn’t quite like Instagram, where you can share your amazing images, or Facebook, where you can put a human face to your business while simultaneously sharing a comprehensive portfolio of your work – but it still has benefits for freelancers, business owners, and others in the photography industry.
Why? There are two big reasons.
1. Any social media presence can boost your standings on search engine results pages through links.
If you’d rather have a quick rundown, here you go:
Every time you post on social media (any social media) and use the post to create a link back to your main site, your main site gets boosted on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). And every time that post is shared, forwarded, emailed, etc., you get that boost again. This is one of the quickest legal and ethical ways to boost your ranking on SERPs and beat out the competition in the photography business market!
2. The use of hashtags on Twitter can have explosive implications for your business.
Yes, hashtags are in use on Instagram, too (and to a lesser extent on Facebook and other social media).
However, the hashtag first blew up on Twitter, and Twitter does the hashtag best – meaning that hashtags may get you a bigger audience on Twitter than on any other social network.
And although Twitter doesn’t give you the same opportunity to share your photographs in the same way as on Instagram, sharing images on Twitter can often have even bigger positive implications for your photography business – as images, like text, can be more easily shared on Twitter than on Instagram, where there is no readily accessible share or retweet feature.
Twitter can also provide you with a better opportunity than any other social media outlet to directly interact with clients and potential clients, answering questions about your photography business and making public statements that help you sell your services to the public! Because of Twitter’s emphasis on direct interaction and public availability, it can be the perfect medium in which to directly engage your customer base. This engagement can pay off big time, as it’s personal interactions with you (as well as your great customer service) that will help you win out over the big time photography firms.
Even if you’re skeptical about Twitter’s potential benefits for photographers, having a Twitter account and updating it regularly can only improve your business’ prospects – as creating fresh content on or in any medium is what will keep your business in customers’ hearts and minds, and make you memorable.
More than anything else, solid local SEO helps photographers like you win on Google.
If you’re reading this you probably know that SEO is important to helping your business find success. But how much do you really know about it, and about how to use it to your advantage?
Here’s the single biggest tip you’ll get to market your photography.
You need to focus on winning local clients. Why? As a photographer, you’re a local businessperson. Yes, there are plenty of photographers that travel the world, but if you’re just starting out, that’s not you – and if you ever want to get there, you’ve got to win the local SEO game first.
So what is local SEO as opposed to regular SEO?
It works in much the same way, except that you’ll specifically be focusing on getting customers within your general geographical area. Here are a few solid strategies:
Make sure that your address, including the city/county, is highly visible on all your business properties (main site, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Register your business with sites like Google and Yelp, which will help you get reviews and appear near the top of Google for people searching in your town (especially when they search with mobile devices!)
Have customers “check in” at your business on social media, and try to market your social media pages to people in your geographical area through sharing and possibly some targeted ads
Use hashtags that will put your work in front of locals on Instagram and Twitter, such as the name of your town
Use the names of your town/city, county, state, and maybe neighborhood (if you live in a large or spread-out city) on your main site frequently so that they can be considered as keywords by Google
Doing all these things will optimize your site for local SEO marketing. Think of it this way: SEO in general is kind of like having an article about your business somewhere on the New York Times website. A lot of people might find it, but it might not be relevant to them, and it can often get lost in the haystack.
Local SEO, though, is like having your business on the front page of a local paper. Yes, the pool of total people who can see it is smaller, but it will be much more relevant to those that do see it.
If you’re interested in local SEO (and you should be if you want to succeed), check out this great article from seo.com on the subject, with some content-driven strategies that could also help you out. Also consider signing up for our cheat sheet, as we have huge but little-known tips there that can help with both local and general SEO.
Come back next time for an article delving deep into one of the specifics of local SEO marketing: using external properties like Google Maps and Yelp to win customers and get your photography business to the top of Google. While all the strategies detailed above are important, this might be the biggest key of all to winning at local SEO.
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.