SEO For Photographers Made Simple
Once you’ve identified the keywords and phrases you want to rank for, the next question to ask is how and where do you deploy them to your website for the best effect?
This is where the technical side of search engine optimization starts to come into play, and it’s easy to imagine this will be challenging or difficult, or that maybe there’s some kind of mysterious set of secrets known only to high-level SEO practitioners.
But, in fact, this is one of the easiest parts of doing SEO for your photography business, which is good news, right?
Until just a few years ago, keyword placement was almost a dark art in SEO, and it was common practice to stuff pages and blog posts with as many keyword repetitions as possible.
Obviously, that only led to unreadable content, so Google clamped down on keyword stuffing in favor of meaningful and helpful content.
That said, keywords still play a major role.
To get you started, here are the 10 most important spots for keyword usage on any of your photography website pages…
#1: The Page Title
In order of importance, the page title must be at the top of our list. The page title is the text used for the browser window title, and also as the header line of the snippet that shows up in the Google search results.
See (1) in the diagram below:
You should try to limit the page title to 70 characters and place your most important keywords at or near the beginning.
In the HTML code of your pages, you’ll find the page title enclosed in the “<title>” tag in the “<head>” section.
#2: The Page URL
The next place to consider is the web page URL, which is often overlooked, but is also a good place to use keywords. Not only is this good for SEO, it also helps your potential readers see more clearly what a page is likely to be about.
The URL in the example above indicates that this is very likely a page about wedding photography in Chicago. You can see the URL in the diagram above as the green link below the title in the Google snippet – highlighted as (2) above.
#3: The Page Description
The page description, highlighted as (3) in the example diagram, is usually taken from the meta description for the page, and can be found in the HTML by looking for something like this:
- <meta name=”description” content=”The page description” />
If you use WordPress with one of the popular SEO plugins, you can easily create a specific, keyword-targeted, meta description for every post or page.
However, the meta description should also be written in a way that persuades the reader to click on the search result, so you must aim for a balance between readability, persuasiveness and SEO.
Note that the maximum length for the meta description is 156 characters. Anything more than that will be chopped off in the search results, possibly confusing your meaning in the process.
#4: Headings And Sub-Headings
Because Google bases part of its ranking decision on factors such as relative importance, using your keyword phrases in the headings and sub-headings of your pages will help to indicate that those words are more relevant to the topic of the page.
HTML has an in-built hierarchy of six heading levels, which can be expressed as follows:
- <h1>This is heading level 1</h1>
- <h2>This is heading level 2</h2>
- <h3>This is heading level 3</h3>
- <h4>This is heading level 4</h4>
- <h5>This is heading level 5</h5>
- <h6>This is heading level 6</h6>
The most commonly used are levels 1 – 3 with the most important heading to pay attention to being level 1, the one specified in the HTML as “<h1>”, so do make sure your keywords are present in that one at the very least.
Important note: While you can actually have as many “<h1>” tags as you want on a web page, it’s advisable to limit its use to just ONE. That way, Google can get a very easy idea of what the overall topic is for the page. You can have as many of the other heading levels as you wish, but use common sense and let readability be your guide.
#5: The Body Copy
The term “body copy” simply refers to the regular text on the page, and this is an obvious place to mention your keyword phrases, but try to do so as naturally as possible!
Google is very good at sniffing out any attempts at keyword manipulation, so I advise you to avoid overusing your keywords or using them in ways that make the text hard for a person to read.
Overusing your keywords can raise a red flag with Google, and is often referred to as “keyword stuffing”. As a guideline, a suggested usage frequency might be around 3%. So, if your document has 500 words, your keyword should appear around 15 times at most.
We’re photographers, therefore photographs will obviously form much of our website content, but not many photographers realize we can get some good SEO value by naming our images with keywords in the actual file name.
For example, “children-portrait-florida-beach.jpg” is preferable to something like “dsc_10280.jpg” for SEO purposes.
HTML also allows two additional attributes for images (“ALT” and “TITLE”), both of which are useful places to put your keywords to good use.
The “ALT” text shows up in the user’s browser if the image can’t be loaded for any reason, for example if they have images turned off in their browser. In that case, the “ALT” text replaces the image itself.
Since the search engine robots are essentially text-based, and can’t see images, they also see the “ALT” text, making it easier for Google to get some idea of context.
The “TITLE” text shows up when the user hovers their mouse over the image on the web page. While not as critical from an SEO viewpoint, it helps the user get some additional information about the image being displayed.
#7: Image Captions
When inserting photographs and other images into your content, especially in WordPress, don’t forget to include a text caption for the image.
Not only can you use keywords here, but captions help provide more valuable content and allow Google to get a better understanding of the context of the images.
Captions are also great places to include testimonials…
It should go without saying that testimonials provide highly valuable and credible social proof for your photographic work, but they’re also excellent places for keywords, and especially the keywords related to your geographical area, such as your city name.
#9: Anchor Text Of Internal Links
One thing many photographers forget to do is to create internal links to other relevant content.
This is a great strategy to use when appropriate, but be sure to use the keywords relevant to the destination page in the text for the link, known as the anchor text.
For example, a link with the anchor text “click here” doesn’t tell us anything about the page the user will actually land on if they click it, whereas “Boston wedding photography venues” clearly does.
It’s important not to over-think this one, as having too many links on your site pointing to a page where the anchor text is always the same can look to Google like over-optimization and an attempt to manipulate the search rankings.
Therefore, it’s good practice to vary the text of your hyperlinks across your site.
#10: Your Physical Address
Photographers are mostly looking to attract local search traffic, so it makes sense to target your SEO efforts towards the local search results.
Therefore, do include your physical address on every page of your website, preferably in the heading. If listing your full address is just not practical for you, for example if you work from home and don’t want your home address listed online, then you should at least show your city and state.
Doing this is one of the best ways to help Google associate you and your photography website with the main keywords in the local search results.
With all of these tactics, it’s important to ensure that all the content on your website is unique.
For example, don’t get lazy and use the same “ALT” or “TITLE” text on every photograph.
Make sure that every page on your website has a unique title and meta description, otherwise Google might be unable to distinguish them when it comes to assigning keyword relevance.
Most importantly, produce your content for humans first and search engines second. The website will then appear to be much more natural, will connect with the audience better, and Google will be more likely to treat it as valuable and relevant, and thus worth promoting in the search results.
Website SEO Checklist
Print this page and keep it next to your computer for easy reference when you’re working on your website to help you keep track of the important SEO elements.
- Page Title
- Meta Description
- Page URL
- <h1> Heading
- <h2> & <h3> Sub-Headings
- Image file names
- Image “ALT” and “TITLE” text
- Image captions
- Keywords in the body content
- Anchor text on hyperlinks
- Address and service areas