Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big, scary word for many artistic types, including us photographers. It involves some knowledge of how the Internet works, how search engines rank content, and how your website fits into this mix. Since this topic is so intimidating to many people, putting a little bit of effort into optimizing your site for search engines will give you an edge against your competition. Use these simple SEO tips for photographers and give your photography business just the boost it needs!
Photo via Shutterstock/Antonov Roman
SEO 101: How to drive traffic on your photography website
The first and probably more important thing in SEO is to regularly update your website content. Everything continues to evolve, and search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. The advice that applies today may not apply tomorrow. Continue reading and updating your content so that it's fresh and relevant. Be open to adjusting your strategy in order to keep up with the Internet.
For photographers in particular, using text on your website is very important. Of course, we all have photo-heavy sites; we want our work to speak for itself and draw in potential clients. However, search engines are not quite yet able to read what our photos are saying. We need to rely on text to talk to the search engines and tell them what we are all about.
First, consider what words the clients you want may be searching. Are you a wedding photographer? Your site should have several mentions of the words “wedding photography.” Of course, millions of people are probably searching for “wedding photography,” so it may be difficult to rise to the top of a search for these words alone. It may be helpful to use more specific keywords, like “Washington DC affordable wedding photography." You want something that says exactly what your clients are looking for.
Photo via Shutterstock/Minerva Studio
Use titles and tags
Other places to drive SEO are the title tag, alternate image tags, file names and image captions. The title tag is just that bit of text that shows up at the top of your Internet browser. That should sum up your site, so search engines use it as one of the most important factors in determining what you are about and if people will care to visit your site.
Alternate image tags are used because they put into words what your images are about. If you are a wedding photographer, your images should be tagged as “wedding photos.” The same goes for file names. If you upload a photo that is named “IMG_0001” a search engine has no clue what that image is or how it is relevant to searchers online. If your site layout has room for image captions or descriptions, this is also an easy place to add information about your imagery.
Also, go for quality and clarity over quantity in your text. Having too much text waters down your relevancy in the eyes of search engines.
Take the time (or money) necessary to optimize your website
Once you have good text, take some time to optimize your site. If you lack the technical knowledge to do this (like I do), don't hesitate to pay someone to do it for you. You need to optimize both your code and your images. Optimizing your site means that the code is as simple as it can be, without a lot of unnecessary lines of information. Fast sites are better sites.
The same with your photos—make sure they are sized and compressed. They should be big enough to display well, but you don't want the sizes to make the site slow to load. No one likes a slow site, including search engines.
Have fun with linking
This may change over time, but the experts seem to agree that having external links is still very important to search engine ranking. This means that other sites are linking to your site. Ideally, the sites linking to you are very popular, are relevant to your type of photography, and have your link in a prominent place on the site instead of buried among 100 other links. Networking with other professionals and asking to link back and forth is a great way to accomplish this.
A few other quick tips:
- Don’t use a flash-based site. HTML is much easier to include text on and easier for search engines to read.
- Use a free Google AdWords account to determine which keywords are popular and helpful for your local market.
- Use social media to your advantage by driving traffic to your site and creating links toward your site. Also, it couldn’t hurt to use Google+ if you want some action on Google searches.