For many photographers January is the month to take care of business. We have to worry about doing our taxes, updating website images, blogging previous posts we missed, and strategizing for the new year. I think January is the perfect time to work on optimizing websites and blogs for SEO. The biggest hurdle to overcome with putting SEO into practice is lack of information, time and its complexity. SEO for some is a strange buzz word, and for others it is this painful complicated process full of difficult words and terms.
I prefer to view SEO as a practical method I can put into my workflow so that it does not control me. With that being said, it will be hard to make it part of one’s workflow if he/she does not lay out the basic principles for getting found online. Before covering how a photographer can make SEO part of their daily routine, here are 3 tips on laying the foundation to get optimized.
Follow These 4 Steps To Lay The Foundation
1) Add Text To Your Website Pages.
The easiest thing one can do right now is add a text on every page of your website with the city you city and state you live in and also which areas you are willing to service. If one visits 10 photographer’s websites, more than half leave out where their location. This makes the hunt for a photographer nearby to be rather difficult, much like finding a needle in a haystack.
Google is crazy about the local search and will give results based on where the person searching is located while they search for a photographer. Google wants to show the searcher who is available to work near their area.
So how will they know if you match that query? TEXT. Text is the main component of SEO, so be sure to add your town, state or region on your website. The actual text to add will depend on how local folks might search in that state or area: examples are the greater Atlanta area, South Jersey, NYC, Manhattan, and so forth.
Since I don’t have a studio I don’t put an actual address but for photographers who have a retail commercial space, then add your full address.
My example is as follows:
Adding a text like this may not be so appealing, but it is vital if you want to get found online. Make it small enough but not transparent. You can get black listed by Google if you do things like transparent text. If you have a fear of committing to one particular location, just add the main city you serve and that you also do destination weddings. Since Google loves text and local search, it is extremely important you add where you provide your services on your website. You can also do this on
your blog as much as possible.
2) Install The All In One Plugin Pack
Many photographers I speak to already know about this plugin BUT many have not updated their settings nor are they updating the All in One SEO box at end of their blog posts. Here are steps to install and use this great SEO wordpress plugin.
A) Install Plugin All In One SEO Pack And Enable It
B) Next Go to: All In One SEO (Options Configuration Panel)
C) Fill Out The Title, Description and Tag Words.
Be sure to update the options at the end of the page and save.
D) Many photographers think this is the last step, but it is not. At the end of every blog post, there is a section named ‘ALL IN ONE SEO.’ This section can be found all the way at the bottom past the text and photo box. Here, you can also add a title, description and some key words and you definitely should. (You should continue reading the article for more information).
3) Create A Keyword list.
Start a keyword list and save it as an excel file on google drive, or your desktop. This list will help you organize ideas for blog posts and pages on your website that you may want to add for SEO purposes. The biggest mistake photographers make is that they think like a photographer and not in the perspective of the client. Avoid trying to rank for words like session, e-session, and your studio name. The purpose of SEO is to get found by new clients and get booked. Most clients are new to hiring photographers and won’t know what any of these photography key terms even mean. Think more in generic terms like photos, pictures, pics, professional.
4) Set Up Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is a free tool by google and it helps you find out if anyone is talking about you and your business on the web. I set up a Google Alert for my name, my studio name and once in awhile a keyword name so that I can see who is being ranked for that keyword.
For more information on Google Alerts, go HERE.
SEO Every Day.
Now that you have laid the foundation for your SEO work, it is time to automate it as much as possible. SEO is ALL about text, and the best thing you can do is blog. However, you don’t need to blog as much as you may think. You do on the other hand need to optimize your blog post and promote it well.
Here is my SEO workflow:
1) Create a sample folder on my desktop which will be used to copy and paste for every shoot.
This folder has 6 subfolders: (I have changed it to include blog and slideshow together now)
2) Copy and paste the main folder for every shoot, rename it by date and name of client.
3) Backup photos onto external hard drives.
4) Import photos into Lightroom.
5) Cull the photos, choosing the keepers etc
6) Edit the images as desired.
7) Star rate #5 the images that may be used for blog post and slideshow (I clump these together because I usually choose too many and only decide which ones I am using while I am actually blogging.)
8) Filter the 5 star rated photos, which for me is usually between 60-80.
9) Rename the photos with the one main keyword I want to blog about.
Here are some examples for different keywords you can do for other types of photography:
Weddings – I like to pick the name of the venue: plaza-hotel-wedding-photos
Engagement Sessions – Either choose a state, city or name of place where you took the photos for your main keyword.
Engagement-photo-ideas or pictures-of-engagement-photos (remember to think like a client and not like a photographer!)
Portraits – You can use the type of session or your city/location:
Boudoir – Use more common words clients who have never had a boudoir session would use.
Now onto Blogging:
1) Upload all the photos you want to use for your blog post.
2) Rename Title (Since we have done this in LR already skip this step)
If you use Blogstomp to watermark your photos make sure in settings, you change it to leave name of photo as is instead of the date which is default.
3) If you copy the title and paste in alt-text and or add a variation like by your photography name or town/state.
Many times, I leave this as is due to lack of time and it still works. Remember I like to keep it simple and practical. The ideal would be to be more specific and have more variation.
4) Copy this in description, but add nj photographer or add something like “photos by Feuza Reis.” as seen in example above.
5) Add a few tags, not that many because they don’t have as much weight as you think.
6) Don’t mix keywords. For example, if it’s a family shoot don’t put that you are also a wedding photographer.
7) Blog 2-3 times a month, optimizing and promoting it well. Promoting is a different topic in itself to address.
8) Last but not least, track your results. What is the poingt of doing the work if you are not measuring your efforts? Start a document and state which page of Google you are appearing for some keywords you want for yourself. Also have a tab for how many blog visitors you are having a week or month.
Track your results with statcounter.com or Google analytics. I prefer using the plugin, Google analyticator, which shows me a summary of which keywords are gettings hits on my blog right in my WordPress Dashboard.
Overall the most difficult work of SEO is laying down the foundation and installing what you need to install, but then it is done! Yes, it may be annoying to do and to keep up with, but if you are tired of not getting found online and Google not recognizing you as a photographer, taking these actions is extremely important, so don’t postpone it!
Tell us if you make content marketing and search engine optimization a natural part of your everyday workflow. If so, how?