This is a complete guide covering SEO for photographers.
While this guide is tailored and uses the example of photographers (since I am a photographer), the core principles and concepts apply to other creators and artists as well.
SEO has allowed me to rank first page on Google for important keywords for my business such as “Los Angeles Portrait Photographer”:
It has also allowed me to make ~$1,500 a month in passive income from affiliate marketing with photography-related items:
Being a full-time SEO consultant for enterprise companies such as Allstate has allowed me to take my SEO experience and apply it towards my photography business to increase overall revenue and brand awareness for my company.
SEO is like a marathon.
If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t just show up to race day and expect to complete the marathon successfully without any preparation.
Before race day, you need weeks of training, diet preparation, and mental preparation.
Just like a marathon, there are items that need to be understood and completed before diving into SEO ongoing action items such as ensuring you have a solid marketing framework/strategy implemented, you understand your target keywords, and you have a well-setup website.
Having these items set up and an understanding of them ensures you have a foundation built.
If you build a house on a shaky and unstable foundation, it will eventually all crumble down.
Many SEO strategists forget this step as it requires taking a step back outside the realm of “SEO” and looking at the big-picture business plan.
Don’t build your house on a shaky foundation.
Table of Contents
1. Develop a Marketing Strategy
Before you dive into creating an SEO strategy for your business to rank your pages higher in the search results pages, it is imperative that you have a strong marketing plan implemented.
This means you should have an understanding of how you want to position your brand, what products/services you will be offering as a photographer, the price you want to charge, how you will be placing your services/products in the market, and how you will be promoting your services/products.
Every SEO strategy works effectively off a targeted marketing plan.
If you don’t have a solid marketing plan and you engage in SEO efforts, it’s like throwing darts at a dart board blindfolded and hoping one sticks.
If you as a photographer/artist doesn’t know these above items off the top of your head and have never even heard of these terms, stop reading this guide and read through my Photography Marketing Framework Guide before finishing this guide so you can get an overview and get a better sense of the “bigger picture.”
Once you have a marketing plan/framework established for your own photography business, we can then start thinking about our target keywords.
2. Research Target Keywords
Keyword research is one of the most important steps when it comes to SEO.
In fact, on the basis of it all, the goal of SEO is to show up #1 for your “keywords.”
I will be writing a guide on how to perform keyword research here that you will want to check out.
What is a Keyword?
A keyword is a word or phrase that makes it possible for people to find your page via search engines.
Each keyword comes with its own monthly search volume as well as competition.
For example, “los angeles photographer” is a keyword, and “los angeles portrait photographer” is a separate keyword.
They are both similar but each is a different keyword with its own search volume and competition level.
How to Find SEO Keywords for Photographers?
In order to perform keyword research, you will need a keyword research tool.
One of the most popular keyword research tools in the industry, and the one I personally use is SEMrush.
These tools allow you to enter a keyword, find the monthly search volume, as well as the competition.
There are paid ones and a few free ones to use.
The most popular paid ones include AHREFs and SEMrush.
The most popular free ones include Keywords Everywhere and Keyword Surfer which you can find in the Chrome Webstore.
Here’s an example of the Keyword Surfer extension which shows the keyword volume for a keyword you type into Google as well as related keywords:
A necessary tool for anyone looking to optimize their SEO efforts!
Where Do the Keywords Go?
Once you perform your keyword research, you may be wondering what page to target what keyword.
Since this is a big topic by itself, I will be creating a separate guide on creating a keyword map (coming soon).
A keyword map is a visual representation that takes a high-level overview of your site and maps out which keyword should go on each page:
Once you have a solid marketing plan/framework and have an understanding of the keywords you want to target, it’s time to make sure your website is up to par.
3. Create a Reliable Website
Creating a well-optimized website for your photography business that is designed and built with SEO in mind is very important.
I’ve mentioned in my Creating a Photography Website guide that speaking from personal experience, it can be hard and cost time and money to reverse changes to a poorly designed and built photography site.
In this guide, I discuss web hosting, picking a domain name, choosing a CMS, picking a WordPress theme, obtaining a CDN, and how to maintain your photography website — so be sure to read the guide if you haven’t!
4. Clean Up Technical Errors
The fourth tip is to clean up and monitor any technical errors that appear on your website.
The easiest and free way to check for any technical errors on your photography website is through Google Search Console.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console allows website owners to check the indexing status and other visibility optimizations.
I will cover how to set up Google Search Console for your website in a separate Google Search Console guide.
Once you have Google Search Console setup, head to your Coverage Report and you will see if there are any errors on your website:
Common errors you might come across in this post are 404 errors, 500-level errors, and redirect errors.
There are other errors that may occur related to mobile usability and indexation, however, I will not be covering them in this guide as they are not as common, however, I will go further into detail regarding ALL the errors that you can come across in Google Search Console in my Google for Search Console for Photographers guide (coming soon).
What is a 404 Error?
A 404 error is the most common type of error I come across when looking at new websites.
404 errors, also known as 404 Not Found, Page Not Found, or HTTP 404 is a page that couldn’t be found. It’s a standard response code that occurs when the client communicates with a given server but the server can’t find the requested resource.
I’m sure you have seen these before:
How to Fix 404 Errors?
In order to fix 404 errors, you need to set up a 301 redirect on the error page.
You can do this easily through a WordPress plugin. If you don’t know how to do this, I recommend checking out my WordPress Plugins for Photographers guide (coming soon).
What is a 500-Level Error?
A 500-level error is a server-level error.
When you receive a 500-level error, it means the Google bots either could not access your URL, your site was busy, or the request timed out.
How to Fix 500-Level Errors?
In order to fix these errors, check to make sure your website hosting server is not down and that your site is not inadvertently blocking Google.
What is a Redirect Error?
Often, when you move or remove a page on your website, you set up a 301 redirect.
If you set up these 301 redirects and a page gets moved multiple times, an error can occur.
The most common causes of a redirect occur due to redirect chains and redirect loops
Redirect Chain: Link A redirects to Link B which redirects to Link C
Redirect Loop: Link A redirects to Link B which redirects to Link A
How to Fix Redirect Errors?
If the error is a redirect chain, you will remove the middle redirects so in the example above you would remove the redirect from Link A to Link B and have Link A redirect directly to Link C.
If the error is a redirect loop, you will remove the redirect from Link A to Link B.
These are the most common errors you will find in Google Search Console, for an in-depth explanation, check out my Google Search Console for Photographers Guide (coming soon).
5. Optimize Robots.txt File
The fifth tip is to optimize your robots.txt file.
What is a Robots.txt File?
A robots.txt file tells the search engine bot crawlers which pages/files the crawlers can or can’t request from your website.
You can think of it as a set of instructions for search engine bots.
This is what mine looks like and can be accessed at https://www.imaginated.com/robots.txt
What is a Robots.txt Used For?
Its primary purpose is to manage the search engine bot crawler traffic on your site since you can disallow certain pages.
The main things to look at on the robots.txt is the user-agent, the allows, disallows, and sitemap.
In the above example of my robots.txt screenshot, the user-agent is “*”
There are multiple search engine crawlers such as Google’s bot crawlers, Bing’s bot crawlers, etc.
What the asterisk (*) means, is that you want all search engine crawlers to follow the following rules and not just one search engine crawler.
Allows & Disallows:
Since you will be creating a normal photography website with most likely less than 100 pages, your allows and disallows should look similar to mine if you are using WordPress (which I recommend in my Creating a Website Guide).
In the above screenshot, it’s essentially saying “allow search engine crawlers to crawl the WordPress image uploads but disallow them from crawling the actual WordPress backend.”
I will be covering the sitemap in my next step.
In the robots.txt file, you will want to list the URL of your sitemap just like in my screenshot above.
This makes it easier for the search engine crawlers to find it and helps with the overall crawlability of your site which can improve rankings and traffic.
How to Create/Edit Robots.txt?
If you are using WordPress, you can edit your robots.txt file in your Rank Math or Yoast SEO plugin.
If you do not have either of these plugins installed yet/you have never heard of them, check out my WordPress for Photographers guide (coming soon) where I dive into which plugins are important to have.
Since I am using RankMath, it’s very simple to do:
Now that we’ve covered the robots.txt file, let’s dive into our sixth tip which revolves around our XML Sitemap.
6. Optimize XML Sitemap
The sixth tip is to optimize your XML Sitemap.
What is an XML Sitemap?
An XML Sitemap is a file you provide where it lays out the pages, videos, and files on your site. You can think of the XML Sitemap as a roadmap of your website that you are giving to the search engines.
You can find your XML Sitemap on: www.websitename.com/sitemap.xml
You can find mine at https://www.imaginated.com/sitemap_index.xml
Why Have an XML Sitemap?
This file allows search engines to crawl your site which helps the overall “crawlability” of your site and can boost keyword rankings and traffic.
How to Edit XML Sitemap?
Just like your Robots.txt file, you can access your XML Sitemap through your RankMath or Yoast SEO plugin:
If you are unfamiliar with these plugins, I recommend checking out my WordPress for Photographers guide (coming soon).
XML Sitemap Tips
Your XML Sitemap should only hold your “important” pages such as your product/service pages and blog pages. You want to essentially tell Google, “hey these are my most important pages so prioritize crawling these pages.”
With that being said, I recommend only including your post and page sitemaps and excluding all others such as your attachments, categories, and tags.
As you can see in my sitemap, I only have the post and pages sitemap:
To exclude the other sitemaps within your XML sitemap, just go to your RankMath or Yoast SEO plugin and exclude the other ones.
Since I am using RankMath, it would look like this. I would go into each tab and exclude them except for the posts and pages:
7. Optimizing On-Page Structure
Optimizing the on-page structure of your core pages and blog pages is important for ensuring you have the best chance possible to rank for your target keywords.
Before optimizing your on-page structure, it’s important to know what pages to include on your photography website and how to perform keyword research for your photography website.
When you are optimizing your on-page structure, it means you know what target keyword you are trying to rank for on that page, and you are going to optimize your page to target that keyword.
In other words, you are trying to speak the same language as Google so they can understand how to rank your page.
The key areas you will be optimizing and will want to include your keyword in are your URL, meta title, meta description, H1, and content copy.
To have an optimized URL, you will want:
- Your target keyword to be in the URL slug
- Limit stop words such as the, a, an, in
Core pages are your product/service pages and the blog pages are the pages you will write blogs on.
On our core pages, be sure to include your target keyword within the URL slug.
For blog posts, you will want to do the same thing.
For example, in this blog post, I’m trying to rank for the keyword “what is digital photography” so this is my URL → https://www.imaginated.com/blog/what-is-digital-photography/
You will also want to change your permalinks settings to have the following URL structure just as I have it above:
You don’t want to have the date in the URL and you want to keep it as clean as possible to ensure Google crawls it as effectively as possible.
To change the permalink settings for your blogs, go into your WordPress settings, go to Permalinks, enter a “Custom Structure” and follow my format:
Meta Title and Description
The meta title, meta description, and URL make up what is called the metadata.
This is often what you see on the search engine results page and could often influence whether or not you click on that page:
Some best practices for your meta title include:
- Including target keyword
- 65 character limit
- Target only one keyword
- Include brand if possible
In the example above, I include my keyword “photography marketing” and I include my brand name.
Some best practices for your meta description include:
- Including target keyword at least once
- Limit 165 characters
- Including a call to action if possible (“Learn more!”)
Pro tip: Regarding the character limit on both the meta title and meta description, it’s best to be within the character limit because it helps with the click-through rate, which then helps with your overall keyword rankings for that page.
If you have ever been on the search results page and seen a listing cut off with an ellipsis (…), that is because they went over the character limit:
As mentioned, if you don’t fit within the character limit there is no punishment, it’s just users will most likely click on a listing that is well written out and fits the character length.
A secret SEO tool I like to use to check this is the SERP preview tool by Spotibo.
Enter the meta title and meta description you want to use and you will see if it fits within the character limit:
How to Change Meta Data
In order to edit the metadata yourself, you can easily do this within the RankMath or Yoast SEO plugin.
Go to any post or page, scroll down to the bottom, and as long as you are using either RankMath or Yoast SEO, you will see a box to edit the metadata:
H1 and Heading Structure
If you have ever edited any posts in WordPress, you might have seen the H1, H2, H3, etc. options:
Best practices for the heading structure include:
- Use the keyword in all headings if possible (H1, H2, H3, H4, etc.)
- Follow a hierarchical order
The H1 is also the same as the page/post title. It’s important that you include your target keyword within the H1 header.
You will also want to follow a hierarchical order with your headings.
I often see beginner bloggers jump around with headings.
They will use an H2 for their first subheading, then they will jump to an H4 for their second subheading, etc.
Think of your heading structure like a pyramid, you will want the title to be the H1 (you don’t have to manually change it to an H1 because it should already be set like that), your subheadings to be H2’s, if you have additional “sub sub-headings” then those will be H3’s etc.
So for example, let’s say I have a blog I am going to write titled 10 Photography Tips.
My H1 will probably be “Photography Tips You Need to Know”, one of my H2’s will be “10 Photography Tips,” and my H3’s will be the tips themselves such as “Tip 1: Shoot in Ideal Lighting,” “Tip 2: Shoot in Manual,” “etc.”
Within the content itself, you will want to include your keyword at least 4-8 times.
Your keyword should be injected within the content naturally and you should not try to “keyword stuff.”
In fact, in the early days of SEO, people would often include their target keyword as many times as possible within their content to help them rank better. That is what was known as “keyword stuffing.”
In 2011, Google released their Panda Update to recognize and identify when users are injecting their target keyword unnaturally and too many times on their pages.
As you can imagine, many SEOs that were doing this saw a dramatic drop in their traffic and quickly had to change their ways.
The moral of the story is don’t keyword stuff. As long as you know what your target keyword is and you actively try to include it within your content naturally, then you will be fine.
8. Optimize Your Images
Being a photography website, your site can be very image-heavy.
If the images are not properly optimized, they can greatly slow down your site which is not optimal for user experience and keyword rankings.
The two biggest areas of optimization for your images include optimizing image size and image alt and title text.
Image file size can greatly affect page load time so it’s important to properly size your images on your pages.
It’s recommended to use JPEGs over PNGs because they are more SEO-friendly.
Regarding file size, always strive to save your images under 100Kb or less if possible.
For your image dimensions, you want to ensure that images are not wider than 2,560 pixels, otherwise, browsers will scale them down. It’s recommended to scale them down yourself and then upload them.
In order to optimize the images on your website, I recommend using a WordPress plugin called Imagify which bulk optimizes the images on your website.
If you have a lot of images, you may need to pay a few bucks to optimize all the images on your site but it beats going through all your images one-by-one and resizing them.
Plus, it optimizes all the new images you upload to your site as long as you still have space left (you pay for additional space):
Image Alt and Title Text
When it comes to image optimization, you will also want to optimize your image’s alt and title text.
These are often overlooked optimization opportunities.
The image alt and title attributes are very simple settings that help your images rank higher and build page relevance while also improving user experience.
Alt text for photographers that includes your target keywords is a must.
In order to edit the image alt and title text, go into your media library and you can find the fields:
You will want to include your target keyword for the page in the title and alt text field, but similar to the content section, don’t keyword stuff and make sure you include it naturally.
For example, let’s say you are a food photographer and you have this pancake image and you are writing an article on “Strawberry Pancakes”:
Bad Alt Text: Pancakes
Good Alt Text: Stack of strawberry pancakes with powdered sugar
9. Invest in Website Speed
Site speed is becoming more and more important in the SEO industry.
Google is even stating that site speed will be even more important with their introduction of the Core Web Vitals update.
Site speed is a big topic by itself with a lot to cover, with a lot of terminologies only a web developer would understand.
Because of that, I’ll cover the overview of site speed without going into the exact details.
Here are some ways to increase your page speed:
- Enable compression
- Reduce the number of redirects on your site
- Leverage browser caching
- Improve server response time
- Use a CDN
- Optimize images (covered in the above point)
Luckily, if you are on WordPress, there are many fantastic plugins that help tackle some of these items.
One of the most popular plugins to use and the one I personally use is called WP Rocket.
It does cost a bit of money but it is well worth the investment.
I highly recommend checking how your website currently performs by using Google PageSpeed Insights to see what areas of improvement you need to make.
Here’s an example of a test I ran on my site:
10. Internal Linking Structure
The 10th tip is to be cognizant of your internal linking efforts.
What is Internal Linking?
An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another page on your website.
Here is an example internal link to one of my blogs that is linking to my blog about Lightroom presets:
In the example above, I linked back to my Lightroom Presets blog using the anchor text “Lightroom Presets.”
The anchor text is the keyword or phrase that is used as the hyperlink.
It’s best practice to always use an anchor text with your target keyword in it and you only want it to be a few words and not a whole sentence.
Why Have Internal Links?
Internal linking is beneficial for SEO purposes and user experience.
Think of internal links as bridges between your pages.
The Googlebots can then use these bridges and understand that everything is connected to one another.
This helps the overall “crawlability” of your pages because it better connects one page to another.
Not only does this improve the overall crawlability for Google, but it also improves the user experience for the actual users reading the blog because then they can be linked to another blog.
Internal links can keep users on your site longer because instead of just reading one blog, they may read 2 or 3 because they internally linked to one another and they wanted to dive deeper into a subject.
So for example, if you have a guide on Photography Marketing (see what I did there), you will want to link back to this guide from any other blog that references photography marketing in a sentence (like this one).
How to Find Internal Linking Opportunities?
In order to find internal linking opportunities, it’s best to first create a spreadsheet that lists all the pages on core product/service and blog pages on your website.
From there you will want to perform a site search using the target keywords of each page.
In order to perform a site search, you will go to Google and type in “site:domainname “keyword”
So let’s say I wanted to link all the blogs where I mention “photography marketing” back to my Photography Marketing guide, this is what I would search:
I would then go into each of these pages and link back to my Photography Marketing guide wherever I mentioned the keyword “marketing” or “photography marketing.”
11. Don’t Forget Outbound Links
Outbound links are the opposite of internal links.
What is an Outbound Link?
Outbound links, also known as external links, are links that point from your website to another.
You will want to include outbound links whenever possible in your blog posts as I just did in this sentence.
Why Include Outbound Links?
Outbound links help strengthen the topical signals of your pages while simultaneously making it easier for Google to better understand your page.
Just like internal links, it also improves the user experience because if you are explaining an in-depth topic and want your user to read up on a guide that explains it a lot more in-depth, they will thank you for that.
12. Focus on Getting Links to Your Site
Getting backlinks to your website is very important for your SEO efforts and overall traffic and brand growth.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink is when another website links back to your website. Each time this happens, it’s like an upvote of credibility to your website that Google sees. The more backlinks you have to your site, the easier time you will have ranking for your target keywords.
What is Domain Authority?
Every website has a domain authority number. The number is based on a logarithmic scale that goes from 0 – 100.
The more backlinks you drive to your website, the higher your domain authority score gets.
There are two types of backlinks, a DoFollow and a NoFollow.
What is a DoFollow Backlink?
A DoFollow backlink passes along link equity which helps improve your Domain Authority score.
What is a NoFollow Backlink?
A NoFollow backlink does not pass along link equity.
So for example, if you wanted to link to another website but you did not want to vouch for the content of their pages, you may want to make sure it is a NoFollow backlink.
An example includes user comments who leave their website in their comments.
If you are linking to a website, you can switch it to a NoFollow link by clicking on the hypertext within your WordPress editing page:
So you may be thinking that you want to avoid getting backlinks to your website that are NoFollowed.
Though they don’t directly pass link equity explicitly, NoFollow links are still beneficial because they can pass referral traffic to your site which can lead to more overall traffic to that page which can boost its keyword rankings.
So NoFollow links may not be beneficial directly, but indirectly, they do 100%.
Why Get Backlinks?
It takes a while to increase your domain authority scale. I’m talking years. Driving links to your website is a marathon and not a sprint.
The only websites that are in the upper 90’s are the behemoths such as Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. where they have millions of backlinks.
I have a good thousand backlinks or so and my domain authority score is somewhere between the 30s and 40s.
Whatever you do, do not ever buy backlinks to speed up your domain authority because you will get penalized by Google.
It’s important to not get caught up in the Domain Authority number because if you are creating new blog posts and have well set up core product/service pages it will go up naturally from people linking to your pages.
With that being said, what are some ways to actively build backlinks?
Directories are pages that contain a listing of businesses or other web pages such as YellowPages, WhitePages, etc.
To see a list of directories that you can get listed on right away check out this list by Local SEO Guide:
Most directories provide NoFollow backlinks so they will not pass along “link equity” explicitly to help boost your Domain Authority score as much, but they will still pass along other benefits that I outlined above in the NoFollow backlink section.
When it comes to building links to local business websites such as photographers or other artists, this is often the first step we tackle as SEO specialists so our businesses’ listings can get indexed on Yelp, YellowPages, Apple Maps, etc.
A “guest post” is an article/post you write for someone else’s website/blog. You gain the backlink because you can either link back to your own blog post within the copy of the blog or within an author bio section at the end of your guest post.
Here’s an example guest post I wrote for SLR Lounge. At the end of the guest post, there is an author bio section they let me write where I can link back to my own site with a DoFollow backlink:
Guest post opportunities take more time to acquire but they are well worth the investment.
Even if you guest post without the sole purpose of doing it for backlinks — guest posts can drive referral traffic to your site, build your brand awareness, and allow you to make connections with other people in your industry!
The beauty is you can write a guest post about anything and there are hundreds of sites out there!
I’d suggest identifying what your strengths are then doing some research on blogs you want to write a guest post on.
For example, since I specialize in marketing tips, I like to submit guest posts on this topic since that is my strength.
Pro Tip: Use the following search operators in Google to help you find sites that accept guest posts:
Photography intitle: “write for us”
Photography intitle: “become a contributor”
13. Acquire a GMB Profile
GMB stands for Google My Business and it’s a free tool that lets you promote your business on Google Search and Maps.
With your GMB account, you can better connect with customers, post updates about your business, customers can schedule an appointment with you, customers can leave reviews about your business, and you can drive more organic traffic to your website.
If you have ever typed in “restaurant near me” or “pizza near me” or any of these location-based keywords, you may have come across this panel which is called the “Local 3-Pack”:
In the example above, I typed in “Orange County Photographer” and my photography business is the number #1 result in the Local 3-Pack.
If you click on my listing you can see my Google My Business profile:
Within my GMB listing, there are options for users to go directly to my website, book an appointment, read reviews, and ask questions.
A GMB profile is essential for any local business and it is one of the first things we set up for clients who have local businesses.
How to Acquire GMB Profile?
In order to set up your GMB listing, visit this page and set up your listing → https://www.google.com/business/
If you are a visual learner like myself, I recommend watching this video → https://support.google.com/business/answer/6300717?hl=en
14. Acquire Social Proof
Acquiring social proof isn’t directly tied to an increase in rankings per say, but the addition of social proof indirectly ties to SEO because it can help with your overall page session duration and conversion rate.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a psychological concept that people will follow the actions of others.
For example, on a photography website, if you have testimonials and reviews from clients on your pricing or contact page, it can increase your overall conversion rate of users reaching out to you for a photography session.
According to a report from Nielsen, 70% of people will trust a review from somebody they have never even met.
How to Use Social Proof?
A way to use social proof on your website is to post reviews or other websites/publications that you have been featured on.
Humans are naturally hardwired to be persuaded by stories and build a connection with faces more than numbers and stats.
With that being said, you will want to include social proof on your main conversion pages such as your pricing or contact page.
Here is an example of my contact form. I have client testimonials and a section of other publications I have been featured on:
You will have different social proof to provide so feel free to mix it up but be sure to start including some social proof on your important conversion pages!
On the topic of ways to improve your overall conversion rate, let’s talk about some other conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practices.
15. Implement CRO Best Practices
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of continually finding ways to optimize your conversion rate.
Your conversion rate is the percentage of users who convert. A conversion could be filling out a contact form, buying a Lightroom Preset, signing up for a one-on-one coaching session, etc.
The formula is sessions x conversion rate = conversions.
So let’s say your Contact page had a conversion rate of 0.20% and you had 100 people visit (session) your Contact page each month. Looking at the formula:
100 sessions x 0.20% conversion rate = 20 conversions
This would mean out of those 100 people that visited that page, 20 of them filled out your Contact form.
Now let’s say you were able to increase your conversion rate on that page by 0.05%. Even if your amount of users to that page stayed the same, your overall conversions would increase:
100 x 0.25% conversion rate = 25 conversions
In this example, you would be able to increase your conversions by 5 just by tweaking certain elements on your page following CRO best practices.
So what are some basic CRO best practices you can implement today?
CRO Best Practices to Implement on Website
Hotjar is a tool that lets you place heatmaps, click data, and record data on your pages to see how users are interacting with them:
Check out my in-depth guide on Hotjar for Photographers (coming soon).
Google Optimize is a website optimization tool that lets you run A/B tests on your website. For example, if I wanted to test the headline on my Contact page from “Contact Me” to “Get in Touch” and see which one led to more people filling out my form, I would use Google Optimize
Check out my in-depth guide on Google Optimize for Photographers (coming soon).
1. Social Proof
Social proof was covered in the above tip but it is one of the CRO best practices so I wanted to ensure I listed it here as well to emphasize including some form of social proof on your pages.
As mentioned, social proof can come in the form of reviews, testimonials, etc.
2. Remove Unnecessary Form Fields
Removing unnecessary form fields is a common A/B test in the SEO and CRO field.
Joanna Wiebe put it best stating, “Think of every field as a hurdle your prospect has to leap over.”
When looking at the form on your contact page, think about all the form fields you are including and whether you could capture the same info while getting rid of some.
Here are examples of companies that reduced their form fields and saw an increase in conversions.
One company called ImageScape reduced the number of fields in their form from 11 to 4 which resulted in an increased conversion rate of 120%:
Take a look at your form field and see if you can get rid of unnecessary fields and monitor your conversion rate by seeing if you notice any change in conversions.
You can also test it using Google Optimize which I dive more into depth in my guide Google Optimize for Photographers (coming soon).
3. Strengthen Your Call-to-Action Copy
Just like the above tip of testing form fields, you will also want to test the copy in your main call-to-actions (CTAs).
CTAs can include the headline on your contact page or even the copy (verbiage) you use in your button.
Let’s say you are looking for a wedding photographer and you come across 2 different wedding photographers with the same amount of experience and expertise.
The headline on the first wedding photographer’s contact form page says “Contact Us,” while the headline on the second wedding photographer’s contact form page says “Capturing Beautiful Wedding Moments for 10 Years.”
After reading both of these headlines the second wedding photographer’s contact form page would sound more appealing.
Here’s another example, should your button say “Request a Quote” or “Get Pricing?” Does it matter?
Yes! It actually does. Check out this blog by Wordstream that covers 6 A/B tests where small words made a big difference so you can see an example of what I mean.
Always test out different variations, you can do this in Google Optimize.
Also always think of benefits, not features. You’re not selling a 4-inch drill, you’re selling a 4-inch hole in the wall.
What does this mean in photography terms? You’re not selling just a photo shoot session, you’re selling a comfortable, professional, etc. experience.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”
The definition of SEO lies in the name — you are optimizing your web pages for the search engines.
The goal of every SEO strategist is to get their target keywords ranking #1 on Google.
Why Rank #1 on Google?
If you are new to the concept of SEO, you may be wondering why everyone is striving to rank #1 on Google.
According to a click-through rate (CTR) study done by Advanced Web Rankings, the #1 spot accounts for ~37% of the clicks, the #2 spot accounts for ~12% of the clicks, the #3 spot accounts for ~7% of the clicks, and then you see a steep drop off from there:
What this means is let’s say the keyword “los angeles photographer” has a monthly search volume of 100, which means 100 people type that into Google each month.
Hypothetically, out of those 100 people, ~37 would click on the page that is ranking #1, ~12 would click on the page that is ranking #2, and ~7 would click on the page that is ranking #3.
If your photography page is ranking #1 for that keyword, that would be ~37 potential clients each month from that one keyword ranking alone.
With this one keyword alone, there is so much potential, imagine ranking for multiple keywords, some that even have a higher monthly search volume in the 1,000s.
I hope you can start to see why SEO is very in-demand right now and how its importance will only continue to grow.
How Does Google Crawl and Index Pages?
So how does Google actually work in terms of crawling all the pages on the web and indexing/ranking them in certain positions within the search engine results pages (SERP).
Basically, Google crawls all the pages on the web with bots that are called “spiders.”
These Googlebot spiders crawl the pages on the web and look at certain ranking factors of the page such as page authority (how many sites link back to this individual page), keyword targeting, the click-through rate, average session duration, dwell time (users clicking on this page then quickly leaving because they weren’t finding what they were looking for), technical errors, and site speed.
Google wants to rank pages well that are popular and relevant.
Google has a reputation as well, and they want users to keep using their search platform so it makes sense that only the best of the best pages following the above guidelines will be prioritized for higher rankings.
Why is SEO Important for a Photographer?
SEO is important for any business.
I hope the example I gave above shows why it’s very important to understand SEO as a photography business.
You can drive new people to your website and convert those people into clients by ranking for your relevant keywords.
Did I mention you can do this all for free?
Unlike paid ads, your organic listing on Google is free because you are optimizing your page to perform well:
But as you can imagine, if this is the power of SEO, then there will be competition, and it’s not as easy as having a page target a specific keyword and expect it to rank #1 the next day.
That’s why I wrote this guide!
In photography, one can pick up a camera and snap a photo but it takes years to master photography and there is a lot that encompasses the art of photography such as composition knowledge, technical ability, photo retouching, color grading, etc.
Just like photography, it takes years to master SEO and there is a lot that goes under the branch of SEO:
I will be covering these facets that makeup SEO in this guide and will further elaborate on specific areas with their own individual guide. So be sure to sign up for my email newsletter as I continue to dive into each of these guides.
Let’s dive into the tips.
Maintaining & Monitoring SEO
The last tip revolves around maintaining and monitoring your SEO efforts.
The 2 analytics tools that are FREE that you should be checking at least once a week are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
To monitor your keyword rankings, I recommend SEMrush or AHREFs, both are paid tools if you want to invest in them. If you don’t want to yet, using Google Search Console to see what key term queries users are searching to find your pages works just as fine.
To monitor CRO-related items, I mentioned using the FREE tools of Google Optimize and Hotjar.
This was an in-depth guide looking at some SEO tips that every photographer and artist should know when it comes to growing traffic and brand awareness to their website.
Hope you found these tips helpful!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the SEO keywords for photography?
The SEO keywords for photography can vary depending on the specific niche or focus within the field. However, some common SEO keywords for photography could include “professional photography services,” “portrait photography,” “wedding photographer,” “landscape photography,” and “commercial photography,” among others. These keywords help search engines understand the content of your website or online portfolio and can improve your visibility in relevant search results.
Is Zenfolio good for SEO?
Zenfolio is a website builder and hosting platform designed specifically for photographers. While it provides some SEO features like customizable URLs and meta tags, the overall effectiveness of SEO on Zenfolio will depend on various factors, such as the quality of your content, keyword optimization, and external promotion efforts. It can be a suitable platform for photographers to showcase their work, but to maximize SEO results, additional optimization techniques and strategies may be required beyond the built-in features of Zenfolio.
How do I SEO my photography website?
To optimize your photography website for SEO, start by conducting keyword research to identify relevant keywords for your target audience. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your website’s metadata, image tags, headings, and content, while ensuring a fast loading speed, mobile responsiveness, high-quality visual content, and a user-friendly website structure. Additionally, focus on building high-quality backlinks, promoting your website through social media and online directories, and regularly updating your content to improve its visibility in search engine results.
Nate Torres is a portrait photographer servicing the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. He specializes in portraits of individuals, couples, groups and headshots. Nate Torres is also a photography writer and content creator and educates other photographers on portrait photography, composition, editing, gear, and business. You can find his content on his personal website, social media, and YouTube Channel, as well as on blogs such as Fstoppers, Photofocus, and Imaginated. Being a former SEO consultant, Nate also teaches other photographers how to use SEO to grow their own photography business on his educational blog, Shutter SEO.