What is SEO for photographers? and How Does It Work?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation.
And it’s basically the process of optimising your website so that search engines understand it and are more likely to rank it higher.
While there are a few technical things involved, the good news is that you can simplify every step of the process.
Plus, it’s not too technical… As a photographer, you know how to use a laptop or PC, so adding keywords to your blog post or reaching out to other websites shouldn’t be too big of an issue.
The SEO Process In a Nutshell
SEO is easier to understand if we break down the basics and get those right:
- Keyword research: Finding the keywords you want to rank in search engines for
- On-page SEO: Adding the keyword into the right places so Google understands what your content is about
- Off-page SEO: Everything you don’t do on your websites, such as link-building or social media
- Technical SEO: Ensuring there are no issues on your website that could harm the user experience or stop Google from understanding your site.
- Local SEO: Optimising your website for local search engine terms.
Using a combination of these Google and other search engines will rank your website.
Don’t worry if this still sounds a little confusing to you right now because we’re going to walk you through every single step of the process.
SEO For Photographers: Getting Setup
Before we dive into the complete SEO guide, you must have everything set up first.
For SEO, you will need:
- Your website
- Google search console
- Google analytics
- An SEO tool (we’ll get to this later on…)
If you don’t yet have a website set up, check out our guide to building a photography website with WordPress.
Simply put, Because it’s the best for SEO for photographers, and you have full control over it.
With many other website builders, it’s hard to migrate once you do want to switch and they aren’t open source – so you can’t download 3rd party SEO tools.
If you’re looking for affordable photography websites that convert – you can check out our solutions here.
All our websites are:
- Completely done-for-you
- Created on the WordPress CMS
- Hand-crafted by experts
Connecting To Google Search Console
Google search console is an official tool by Google that will help you analyse your performance and fix technical errors.
Here’s how to connect it to your website:
- Sign in to your Google account head over to search.google.com/search-console
- Click “Add a Property” and choose “website.”
- Enter the URL of your site
- Click continue
- Verify via the DNS settings (explained below)
Verifying The DNS Records
Google needs to see that you are the owner of the website. For this, it uses the DNS record and will give you a text to copy and paste onto your records.Take the text from the search console, and head over to the registrar of your domain. Usually, this will be GoDaddy, NameCheap, etc. – wherever you registered your domain.
Now navigate to the DNS settings and add a new .txt record with the value it gives you. If it asks you for a host, just put an “@” inside it.
Note: The URL prefix option needs refreshing more often, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Connecting To Google Analytics
Google Analytics will show you where your website traffic comes from, including social media and other sources.
It will also show you how traffic is behaving on your site (how long they stay, bounce rate, etc.)
You can connect Google Analytics to your website by:
- Heading over to analytics.google.com
- Signing in with your Google account
- Adding a new property
- Copying and pasting the code onto your website’s header
To connect your Google analytics to a WordPress website, the easiest way is to do it through a plugin called headers and footers.
However, here at Scott Latham Digital we use RankMath PRO for our on-page SEO solutions which allows us to connect Google analytics directly from the dashboard.
But we’ll touch on that a little later in this SEO for photographers guide.
SEO For Photographers: Keyword Research and Writing Content
The first part of the SEO process is usually keyword research.
Some SEOs prefer to start with a technical SEO audit, which works too – but I prefer finding the target keywords first.
And from there, you can then use them to create your content which I’ll also walk you through in just a moment.
By the way, keywords are just words or phrases that a user types into Google to find results.
The way keyword research works is that you use a tool of your choice to find keywords. From there, you analyse the keywords to determine how profitable they are.
I’ll walk you through the how in a moment.
How To Find Keywords For Photographers
Finding keywords as a photographer is simplified through several ways. Take a look below at some of the options we recommend you follow.
Tools You Can Use
There really are endless tools you can use when it comes to keyword research.
My #1 recommendation is SEMrush because it’s a full-blown SEO suite that will help you with link analysis and your technical SEO.
However, feel free to go with any one of the options below.
Also, consider reading the guide first to get a feel for keyword research before diving in yourself.
- Keywords Everywhere (Freemium Chrome Extension)
One of the best ways to find keywords you can rank for is by stealing them from competitors.
The cool thing about SEO for photographers is that you can take your competitors’ URLs, put them into (almost) any keyword research tool… And voila, it will give you suggestions like this:
From here, you can export the keywords they rank for & create a page for each set of them… and steal all their traffic.
For example: If you know other wedding photographers in your city and want to see what they rank for – you can find them and look at all their keywords – simply by entering their URL into a keyword research tool like SEMrush.
And from here, you can even see what you need to do to beat them.
We’ll look at that in more detail later on, though…
Looking at Keyword Suggestions
Besides looking at what keywords other photography websites rank for, you can also start typing in terms into your keyword research to find variations.
For example, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer in Birmingham – you could literally type in “wedding photography Birmingham” to see keyword suggestions.
From there, you can use the metric guidance below to pick the most profitable keywords.
If you want a free way to start with this, you can use Keywords Everywhere. Then head over to Google, and type in some keywords.
On the side of your screen, you’ll see some suggestions.
Key Metrics To Look Out For
Of course, you don’t just want to start creating pages for every keyword you find. The keyword research tool will guide you through the metrics that I’ve explained below.
- Cost-per-click (CPC): How much it would cost per click to advertise using Google ads. Often used as an indicator of how valuable a keyword is.
- Search Volume: How many people are searching for this keyword per month
- KW Difficulty: How difficult the keyword is in terms of content, backlinks, and the amount of competition
- Competition: How much competition there is.
Remember that the metrics in 3rd party tools are 3rd party metrics… meaning: sometimes they are slightly off and should only be used as indicators.
Next, I wanted to walk you through the content writing process.
While the photos are the most important thing on your website, they need words around them to help communicate what you have to say.
Understanding The Difference of a Page vs. Blog Post
If you are using WordPress, you will see that you can create pages or posts. Later on, I will refer to these, so I just wanted to explain the differences now.
Use pages for Service pages, the home page, about page, contact… Any static page on your website.
Use posts for blog posts
Also, for blog posts, the intent of someone reading will usually be a little more informational – so that’s the tone you should use.
However, when it comes to your pages, these should have a slightly more commercial tone.
But don’t get me wrong: It shouldn’t be screaming hire me. Instead, you should show visitors why they should hire you (testimonials, previous work, etc.)
User Intent In Your Content
Before you start writing the content on your website, you must understand the concept of user intent.
What is it?
Basically, ensure that your content is what the user is looking for when searching for the keywords you target.
Sounds simple… But many businesses get this wrong, including photography websites.
Example: Suppose you’re targeting the keyword “Best Wedding Venues Costwolds”
Some photographers would try to rank their wedding photography service page as a secondary keyword that the page ranks for.
However, this is IMPOSSIBLE– because the user is looking for venues – not your service.
Instead, you can create a blog post on the best venues that fill the user intent. This will then be much more likely to rank in Google search.
Expert tip: To confirm the user intent of a keyword, check out the SERP. If most of the articles are focused on another intent than yours, that’s a red flag… because Google’s user behavior has confirmed that they’ve got it right (in most cases).
Formatting is crucial when it comes to web content because humans have a short attention span.
You can have the highest quality content, but if it’s formatted wrongly – NOBODY will read it.
One of the best ways to format your content nicely is by using bullet points.
- It catches those scrollers
- It makes your content easier to read
- It adds variation in the structure of your content (instead of a wall of texts)
Quality content should also be formatted well by leaving lots of white spaces between lines.
It makes it much easier to read. Ideally, you’ll want to leave white space (by pressing enter) after every 1 or 2 sentences.
It also makes sense to change up and sometimes go with a white-space break after 1 sentence and other times after 2.
But, again, this creates variation, which is easier on the eye.
As a photographer, you’ll have some beautiful images to show off.
So next to the written content on your website or blog, make sure to show off those images to potential clients.
Here’s why (besides showing off your skill for taking incredible shots):
- Images are a ranking factor
- It improves the user experience
- It breaks up the text nicely
Another tip to create high-quality content is to highlight any details.
This is especially important on your commercial pages, where you are really trying to paint the picture.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer – you may say something along the lines of “Capture your unforgettable moment — forever.”
And you can highlight it using italic, bold, or underlining.
For photographers, italic often makes the most sense as it creates additional more feeling than bold or underlining.
But you can always use a mix of them.
SEO For Photographers: On-Page SEO + Checklist (such as meta, alt tags, etc.)
On-page SEO is crucial, as it helps Google understand what your page is about. Without it, it’s pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to rank in the search results.
On-page SEO mainly involves using the keyword in certain places of your website, such as the page title… Google’s crawlers will then recognize this and understand what the page is about.
From there, it will look at the other ranking factors to determine if your page is worthy of ranking in the search results.
When it comes to on-page SEO, it’s essential to use the right headings. The good news is it’s pretty simple to learn.
Your title will always be the equivalent of an H1 in SEO terms.
Usually, the next main sections down will be H2’s. But anything that comes under those sections is a heading 3, and so on.
For example, this article’s “SEO For Photographers: On-Page SEO” section is an H2, while this component on “using headings” is an h3.
Once we go back into the next section on off-page SEO, that will be an h2 again.
Internal Links & Boosting Your Topical Authority
Google’s algorithm tries its best to show the results of experts.
One of the ways it does this is by looking at how much a website has covered a certain topic.
For example, if you have 50 articles on weddings and photography – you’re much more likely to be an expert on that topic – than someone who has 3 articles.
You can use this concept to your advantage and prove your expertise to Google by ensuring:
- You have covered lots of keywords around the main topic you want to rank for (ex: wedding photography, weddings)
- You have internal links between these articles and pages to boost the relevance and user experience.
When it comes to internal links, you can use a SILO structure/hierarchy for your main pages, which will look like this:
You don’t have to be as strict for your blog posts and can internally link where it makes sense to you.
For example, if you have a wedding photography service page and then create a blog post around wedding venues, you could link that to the service page – as it makes sense.
Steal Our On-Page SEO Checklist
You can also get this checklist through a plugin like Rank Math if you’re on WordPress.
- Keyword in the page title tag (and at the beginning if possible)
- Keyword in the URL, while keeping it as short as possible
- Keyword in one or more alt text tags (we’ll get to this)
- Keyword in one or more heading tags
- Used Keyword throughout (see below)
- A blog post or page is a reasonable length
- You have internal and external links
Following this checklist will help any search engine understand your site.
How Long Should a Blog Post or Page Be?
According to Backlinko, the average word count of articles ranking on the first page is 1447 words.
However, the truth is that it depends on the user intent to determine how long your article should be. For example, if you’d just want to see what the weather is today, you probably would not need a 3,000-word article explaining it.
So what should you do instead?
Look at the top 10 search results and try to recognise patterns. For example, if they’re all only 800 words, you could go for something similar + a tiny bit more info.
All 3000-word blog posts? Then you’ll probably need a 3,000-word blog post to compete.
The beauty of SEO is that Google already shows you what it likes so that you can use that to your advantage.
One tool that you can use to optimize the content on your website is SurferSEO. What it basically does is analyze the Google search results and show you:
- the terms you should use
- The number of paragraphs you should use
- The number of images you should
- How many words
- Content score (0-100)
This isn’t essential, and we’ve ranked tons of websites without it. But it does help and is an option.
Image SEO Bible – This is Crucial
You can get quite a lot of traffic from search engines simply by optimizing your alt text on images.
For example, Ahrefs, an SEO software company, found that they got a whopping 16k clicks in just 3 months.
And as a photographer, most of your website will consist of images… So ranking those in search engines would be pretty sweet.
Let’s look at how you can do exactly that.
Putting Yourself Into The User’s Perspective
One of our favorite image SEO tips is putting yourself into the user’s perspective.
For example, if you have an image of your local area that you are trying to rank, you fill the alt text with whatever the user would type in to find it.
Suppose you have a couple of shots of the London eye. You could use the following alt text for your images:
- Image 1: London eye
- Image 2: London eye views
- Image 3: Picture of London eye
- Image 4: Picture of London Eye at night
What this does is that you aren’t only giving yourself much more visibility in the image search…
But also, you’re telling Google that you have lots of different London Eye photos on your website, which could improve your regular rankings for that keyword.
This was a very random example, but it applies to wedding venues and almost any type of photo.
SEO For Photographers: Off-Page SEO and Link Building
As we saw earlier, the next major part of SEO is off-page. In this section, we’ll walk you through understanding backlinks and some ways you can get them.
Understanding SEO Backlinks
When it comes to link building, not all links are equal.
For example, if you were to get a link from the BBC, that would be worth more than a link from a random Wix website someone made for fun.
The way most SEOs like to measure the power behind a link is through 3rd party metrics such as:
- Domain Rating (Ahrefs)
- Domain Score (SEMrush)
- Domain authority (Moz).
These are usually scores from 0 to 100 that show how powerful a website is. For example, most major news sites will be around 70-90, but most normal business websites are in the 20-50 range.
When you’re looking for link-building opportunities, anything above 20 is pretty decent.
Why You Shouldn’t Trust Domain Metrics Alone
All of the metrics named above are 3rd party metrics.
So they are not used by any type of search engine, which you should keep in mind.
You can see if the authority paints the true picture by looking at the site’s traffic.
While a 60 domain authority may sound good, if the site is getting 0 traffic from search engines – it doesn’t really have much value at all.
Of course, not all your links have to be websites with organic traffic – but it does make sense to check if you need to work to get a specific link.
Guest Posting, as the name suggests, is writing a post on another website. But this will include a link back to your photography website, which will help its SEO.
So, what type of websites can you guest post on?
- Local news sites and blogs
Many local news sites and blogs have a contribute or write for us page. And you can reach out to them to ask about writing a guest post.
This is especially effective if you are trying to rank for local terms such as “wedding photographers + location.”
- Photography websites
There are a ton of photography websites out there. And you can guest post on them to boost your website’s authority on the photography topic.
- Lifestyle/Travel/Food/social media/etc. websites
While these are less relevant, they still help if the website is powerful. The reason for this is because you can create article-based relevance.
Photography has the advantage you can mix it into a lot of topics.
For example, if you find a high-authority website that talks about social media, you could guest post on their website:
“7 Simple Hacks To Take Better Instagram Pics (from a Pro Photographer).”
This way, you’re creating relevance, AND you can link to your website to leverage their authority.
Plus, you may even be able to pick up some potential clients with this method.
Note: With a guest post, it only makes sense to do it if the website is actually getting traffic.
Although the links on your social media channels are all no-follow, they still have some value.
This is because they contribute to your overall link profile and show Google that you are a real and active business.
Besides, social media is also highly effective for finding other blogs, news sites, and influencers that you can collaborate with (e.g., guest posting).
And of course, it will bring you website traffic too.
The main platforms you should consider are:
Directories also help a photographers SEO, because it proves that you own a real business.
You can look for:
- Local business directories
- Photographers directories
- Blog directories
Again, these aren’t your most powerful links. However, they do help your Photography website, as they are part of your foundational links.
Cool trick: When people use your stock photos – you can do an image search in Google to find them all. From there, you could reach out to them and say you’d really appreciate credit for the photo through a link.
Of course, as it is a stock photo, they are not forced to, but this can work.
How To Find Link-building opportunities
The best way to find these link-building opportunities for your photography website is by using search operators.
Find guest post opportunities in Google by looking for:
- “Photography + write for us.”
- “photography + contribute”
- ” Photography + guest post”
And of course, you can always switch out photography with whatever topic you want to write on—for example, social media or travel.
You can also do the same for directories by searching for “photography directories.”
SEO For Photographers: Technical SEO + Checklist
Technical SEO is ensuring your website has no technical issues which:
- It makes it easier for search engines like Google to understand
- Ensures nothing is harming the user experience.
Technical SEO is always something that most business owners hate because it’s technical.
However, it can be simplified using an audit that tells you exactly what you need to do. But we’ll discuss that in a moment.
Some of the main things when it comes to technical SEO are:
- Ensuring there are no broken links
- Ensuring all your pages are crawlable
- Ensuring your website loads fast
- Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly
- Using an SEO-friendly URL structure
- Identify and fixing orphaned pages
The big one is site speed, which many business websites get wrong because their websites are quite heavy.
You can use Pingdom or GTmetrix to check your website speed, and it will show you what’s slowing your website down. So you can fix it.
Bonus Tip: When uploading PNG files, make sure to compress them, so they are smaller. You can use typing for this.
Getting an Audit
If you have signed up for one of the big SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs, they can actually do an automatic audit for your website.
If not, you can also just sign up for a trial to get the technical SEO audit. Or you may also find a free one on Google.
As a photographer, it’s crucial to optimise for local SEO because it’s a stream of traffic that:
- Converts really well
- Has a lot of potential clients that are looking for specific keywords.
Below, we’ve walked you through each part of the process so you can start dominating Local Google searches as well.
Note: This is especially important for wedding photographers!
What is Local SEO?
For those looking to take another step towards marketing success, it’s time to learn the nuances of local SEO. This is a subset of search engine optimisation and emphasises local leads.
Local SEO refers to targeted search engine optimisation campaigns for local audiences.
For example, a business set up in the heart of Staffordshire can run a local SEO campaign directed at leads living in the Staffordshire area.
This ensures the traffic leads are close to home and will be more likely to convert into customers.
In comparison, traditional SEO campaigns are built on targeting everyone and have a universal approach.
Setting Up Google My Business
Google My Business is a feature Google added to its search engine to generate high-quality traction among targeted users.
Some of the largest businesses in the world are taking advantage of this feature to showcase their hours, address, phone number(s), and other related information.
The feature has become a powerful way to remain in touch with the target audience as soon as they start searching.
But, for those unaware of Google My Business and its implications in a local SEO campaign, it’s time to get started right away.
Here’s what it takes to launch your own business page through their online platform.
1) Create an Account and Claim Your Business
The first thing you are going to do is create an account through Google My Business (www.google.com/business).
The premise is to make sure you find your listing promptly and claim that this is your business.
Then, simply put in the address to find your business, and the Google Maps feature will pop up.
This is when you will be able to locate your specific business and make a claim on it.
Once the claim has gone through, you will move to the next phase in this verification process.
2) Verify Your Business
It’s important to verify your business since Google needs to know you are truly the owner of this business.
Anyone other than the business owner isn’t a legitimate claimant and will not move forward with the verification process.
As a result, it’s best to go through the official business account and make sure everything is done as directed.
Google will make the business owner go through a set of steps before the verification process is concluded.
Simply follow these steps and make sure Google has approved the business.
If it has, you will receive a message indicating the listing is live, and you can make changes to it.
3) Optimize Your Listing
Verifying your business is just a step in the right direction, as it’s important to optimise everything for SEO purposes.
This means making sure all information is up-to-date, including the phone number(s), address, and shopping hours. Everything has to be in line with what is happening right now, involving your business.
With this information, you will want to optimise the listing by including keywords related to the business in your description. You should do this tastefully to ensure the listing doesn’t read like a spammy article.
The goal is to find the right balance, which is what well-run local SEO campaigns are all about.
4) Download the GMB App
Do you want to feel in control of Google My Business listing all the time? If so, you will want to set up the GMB app on your phone as soon as possible.
The app is a good way to stay in touch with the listing and anything that happens. You can make changes through the app in a matter of minutes, and everything is updated on the spot.
This is great for those “on the go” looking to stay on top of their listing and how it is being shown to the world. Remember, this is often the first impression your business leaves to the target audience, and it should be perfect.
Otherwise, the customers will not be able to find you, and that is how businesses lose sales.
When it comes to SEO, it’s crucial to track the results of your campaign. Why?
Because then you can use that information to improve certain components of your SEO strategy to rank higher and get even more traffic.
Google Search Console & Analytics
The first two key tools you can use to track your results are Google search console and Analytics. We discussed how to set these up earlier in this article, but I just wanted to quickly summarise how you can use them to track results.
Use Google Analytics to track:
- Traffic from all sources, not only search engines
- How the traffic is behaving (time on site, etc.)
Use Google search console to track:
- How many visits you are getting from Google
- Whether there are any technical issues such as site speed or mobile usability
Besides using Google’s official properties to track your SEO, you should also use a dedicated rank tracker.
Because it will keep you updated with your ranks in real-time. Google search console, on the other hand, will just give you estimates.
If you have an SEO tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or something similar it should have a rank tracker inside.
But if not, you can also use one of the following:
Any of those will give you real-time updates on where you are ranking for your target keywords.
Expert tip: Once you have started ranking for a couple of keywords, focus on improving the “almost page 1” results. Improving them will maximise the traffic gains, as you will see some serious increases once you get onto page 1.
Leaving The Best For Last: How To Do Competitor Analysis & Almost Guarantee Rankings
That’s it! I hope you have enjoyed this comprehensive blog post on Photography SEO and that it’s been valuable.
Finally, I wanted to walk you through a competitor analysis process that will make getting results a lot easier.
Step 1: Find The Keywords You Want To Rank For
Find the keywords you want to target using your preferred keyword research tool. Do this using the processes I explained earlier.
Then take the URLs of the top websites appearing on the first page of Google and move onto the next step.
Step 2: Competitor Analysis
From here, you’ll want to perform deep competitor analysis to look at your competitors:
- Domain rating/authority (quantity/quality of backlinks they have)
- Internal linking structure (topical authority)
- Content length
- Number of images
And get a feel for what you need to rank for those specific keywords. If you want to beat your competitors, you need to perform better in the factors mentioned above.
Step 3: Creating Something Better
Now it’s time for you to create something that users and search engines love even more. Keep in mind not to take any of the factors named above too seriously.
For example, word count isn’t actually a ranking factor. It’s just an indicator of how in-depth the content on the page is.
So just try your best to create something better than your competitors that is more helpful to your users.
If you would like to read more, make sure to check out some of the resources below.
Local SEO for photographers is the way forward for those looking to optimise their business and its online footprint. Especially those photographers who cater for local clients.
There are several different marketing approaches available to photography business owners, but it all comes down to understanding what works and what doesn’t.
This is where local SEO comes in as a viable solution to generate new leads regularly.
As long as a photography business is willing to set up a proper SEO campaign and takes continued measures to analyse incoming traffic, the results will be great.
Take the time to settle in and jot down a proper SEO plan before coming up with a comprehensive campaign. This includes claiming your Google My Business page as soon as possible.
When it comes to generating new leads, building a great brand, and moving towards long-term success, nothing is better than a highly organised campaign for SEO for photographers.