SEO for Photographers: What You Need to Know
This post was last updated on April 21, 2020.
As a photographer, you may be familiar with a lot of technical terms, such as ISO or RAW. But SEO is definitely not on that list (just yet). So, what are we talking about here? In simple terms, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your content and pages in order for your website to appear in a better position in the search engine’s results. Why is this important? Well, nearly all of our online experiences start with a search engine, like Google or Bing. If your photography website doesn’t show up in those results, you’re at risk of getting lost in the abyss of the web – or even worse, page 2 of Google’s results (#SEOHumor). More concretely, it means that new potential clients will have a hard time reaching you. Now you understand why SEO for photographers is an absolute must. Luckily for you, SEO can be an amazing opportunity for three reasons. First, it’s an extremely powerful tool to promote your online portfolio. Second, unlike advertising on Google or Facebook, organic SEO is totally free. And finally, you don’t have to be a tech-whizz to achieve good results in a reasonable time. All you need is to follow the right path. This is where we come in. We’ve got SEO tips for photographers and the know-how to get you there. So pay close attention and keep on reading if you’d like to increase your ranking on Google’s results, get your photos seen and shared online, and collect more commissioned work through your online portfolio.
Best SEO tips for photographers:
Identify the right keywords
Insert titles and descriptions
Beautify your URL
Make it mobile-friendly
Add alt text to your images
Create good and relevant textual content
Get exposure and backlinks
Go for local SEO
01. Identify the right keywords
When it comes to SEO, your first step to success will be to do keyword research. By this, we mean discover which words or phrases your potential clients would use to find your work or photography services online. This is how Google’s algorithm works: it focuses on specific keywords to understand if your website is relevant for certain queries. Which means that if you use the right keywords in the right spots, you should progressively climb the results ladder. And it’s crucial, since the better your rank, the more clicks you’ll receive. As a matter of fact, the top 3 results get 60-80% of all the clicks!
So it’s time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Start by having a brainstorm session, listing all the possible phrases you can think of that relate to your business. Once you’ve got your list, use keyword research tools to edit it down to two main keywords and three additional ones. For those who are just learning the ins and outs of SEO for photographers, we would recommend following this easy step-by-step guide explaining how to find the right keywords.
Once you have your keywords, where do you put them precisely? Your copy of course, i.e. the text that appears throughout your website (on the homepage, ‘About’ page, your blog, etc.). To keep it natural, you should stick to two or three keywords per page. Just as importantly, your keywords should also appear in your URLs, SEO title and description (we’ll get back to that a bit later) and your H1-tags. The H1-tag represents the most important heading of your page. For example: the title of a blog article or the name of your photo galleries.
How to add an H1-tag:
Go to the Wix Editor → Click the “+” button → Add “Text” → Select “Heading 1”
Problem: There is a good chance that you’re not the only active photographer in your town or type of photography. Which means that a lot of other photo websites will be competing for the same keywords. This is why you should opt for queries (i.e. keywords) that are as specific as possible. In SEO jargon we like to call these long tail keywords. This refers to a series of words that, used independently, would be too competitive.
Let’s have a look at a wedding photographer in Boston. The more logical choice would be “wedding photography Boston,” but it’s already ultra crowded. Narrowing it down to “vintage wedding photography in Boston” or “black and white wedding photography in Boston” will make it easier for the photographer’s clients to find her. This is why when looking for your keywords, you should think about your niche and identify what makes you really unique. You get the picture: the more precise you are about your business, the more chances you’ll have of ranking higher in Google’s search results.
02. Insert titles and descriptions
Now that you’ve placed your keywords into your copy, it’s time to implement them into your metadata. I beg your pardon, good sir? The metadata simply refers to the SEO title and description that appear on the search engine results page (SERP). You probably encounter them at least once a day, but we are referring to the big blue line of text (title) followed by two black lines of text (description) when you do a Google search – sound familiar? Your metadata is very carefully read by the search bots for indexation and ranking. It’s important to have unique and informative metadata for all of your website’s pages, so our robot friends won’t get confused.
So, how can you create the ultimate title? Here is the most recommended structure for all your pages:
Page name | Location (optional) | Your Business Name or Website Name.
These are the key points when it comes to shaping your titles:
When you put keywords in your page names, always try to place them at the beginning of the phrase or sentence.
Separate the different items by using a pipe character (|) to make it more visually appealing.
Your title shouldn’t be longer than 60 characters and your description 155-160 characters – otherwise they may get truncated in the search results.
As for the descriptions of your pages, just keep in mind that bots are not the only ones reading them. These few lines of text are the first thing that actual human searchers will see of your website when browsing Google’s results. Thus, it’s important to add some pizzazz to be more attractive than the links above and below in the results’ list. You’re now one step closer to becoming a SERP superstar. Up next: URL.
How to fill in your title and description:
Go to the Wix Editor → Select “Pages” → Click the icon with the 3 dots (more options) → Select “Page SEO” → Fill in the relevant items
03. Beautify your URL
Of course, when creating your photography website, you’d ideally like everything to be stunning. And your URL, which is the page address in the top bar of your browser, is definitely one of the places where you can and should make that happen. Beauty is subjective, but we are going to give you some SEO pointers to make sure that Google thinks you look hot too.
Let’s break down the composition of our URL to its main features: we’ve got our website name and its extension (.com, .org, .photo, etc.), which together compose what we call the domain name (for example www.websitename.com). Then, the URL is further complemented by a category and page name, separated by a forward slash (www.websitename.com/category/page-name).
Having your keyword featured in your domain name can have extreme SEO benefits. For example, our wedding photographer from Boston, whose name just happens to be Cathy, could go for: www.weddingphotosbycathy.com. It’s an important SEO step for a photographer to take, so make sure you understand everything about choosing a domain name.
In addition, for every inner page you create, you can use more specific keywords that relate to a photography niche, like so: www.weddingphotosbycathy.com/galleries/black-and-white/. The best way forward is to keep your URLs as short as possible, pretty, and descriptive of your page content.
How to fill in your URL:
Go to the Wix Editor → Select “Pages” → Click the icon with the 3 dots (more options) → Select “Page SEO” → Enter page slug
Pro tip: It’s an SEO best practice to gather all your different site portfolios or content into one all-encompassing domain. If you have a blog or different photo activities (events, portraits, etc.), you should turn them into categories on the same website – rather than separate websites with different domains.
04. Make it mobile-friendly
We can’t stress enough just how important mobile website design is for your photography portfolio, or for any site for that matter. Just think of all those potential visitors that are browsing on the go, and aren’t able to find the menu or need to zoom in to click on a button. Oh, the horror! On top of this, Google’s mobile-first index gives a strong SEO boost in mobile searches to sites that have an optimized version for phones and tablets.
This is why you should give your visitors the best experience possible, on big and small screens alike. Luckily for you, it’s far less complicated than it looks: the Wix Editor automatically sets up a mobile optimized version of each of your website’s pages.
One more thing to take into account when dealing with your photography website is speed. As a photographer, you’re probably only focusing on shutter speed; however image loading speed is a strong indicator for search engines that your site is performing well. This is especially true for mobile browsing, as people tend to leave a page quicker than on desktop if it’s not fast enough. No worries, we’ve got you covered as the Wix Pro Gallery automatically optimizes both site loading time and image quality.
Want more tips on how to make your photo website mobile friendly? The answer to that should be, damn skippy.
05. Add alt text to your images
As much as your photographs may speak for themselves, search engines don’t have the capacity to “see” images just yet. But, you can help them understand your images by adding alt text. And it’s actually a good practice, since Google, Bing and friends will reward you with an SEO boost for your online portfolio. On top of this, by introducing more textual elements, you increase your chances of being found on Google Images, which can bring you some serious traffic. It’s a fact: your images have a substantial SEO impact.
So, how do we inform Google & Co about our images? Alt text or the alternative text attribute, is there to describe your image in one short line. It doesn’t show on the website (like a caption would), but engines’ bots still read it carefully. The alt text should be as informative as possible. To help you write SEO friendly alt text, imagine that you’re describing a photo to a friend who can’t see it.
Let’s say our photography pro Cathy from Boston captures a picture of a bride on a bridge and wants to add alt text. She can opt for: ”wedding photo of a bride standing on a Boston bridge.” If you’re able to incorporate one of your keywords, you can – but remember that over-stuffing may get you in some trouble with Google.
How to add alt text for your image:
Go to the Wix Editor → Click on your image → Click the gear icon for “Settings” → Fill in the “What’s in the image? Tell Google” section
How to add alt text in the Wix Pro Gallery:
Go to the Wix Editor → Click on your Gallery → Click “Manage Media” → Fill in the relevant info
06. Create good and relevant textual content
As we’ve mentioned previously, text helps search engines understand what your site is all about. So aside from the amazing photographs on your online portfolio, any page that naturally involves words can be enhanced by loading it up with some great content. The most obvious tip we can give you would be to create a blog.
For your readers, it will be a treasure of valuable information, and for Google, a strong signal that your website is relevant and updated. Plus, you can write a photography blog about pretty much anything related to your business. Offer advice on the 10 must-capture shots at a wedding, tell readers more about the story behind that couple’s photoshoot in the Boston Public Garden, or share your favorite types of camera lenses. Remember to post regularly on your blog and to send a newsletter to your community for every new publication.
Blogs are well known for their SEO impact. But actually, we’ve noticed that many amazing photographers’ websites simply forget to put text in the most obvious places. The ‘About page’ can be used to describe your work, bio and values.
Another example: the ‘Homepage’, which should not only consist of one beautiful image, but also a descriptive line or two telling visitors who you are (Cathy), what you do (Photographer in Boston) and what you have to offer (Wedding, Engagement and Events Photography). The same can be said for virtually any page or section of your site: the more text, the better.
Pro tip: Add testimonials to your photography website. It’s not only super useful to build trust of potential clients, it will also add more textual information about your services to Google. In other words: turn your clients into your best online promoters while reaping the SEO benefits. Did someone order a tall glass of SEO juice? (#MoreSEOHumor)
07. Get exposure and backlinks
Now that we’ve covered your on-page SEO and dived into the content of your photo website, we need to have a conversation about backlinks. By backlinks we are referring to the links from other websites to yours. Way back when, they acted as referrals or ‘votes’ from other websites owners linking to you, and they were just about the only SEO signal Google took into account. There have been numerous Google algorithm updates since then, but these items still play a major role.
So how do I get more of those? Of course, with time your website’s authority will grow, and people will want to share your link. But it’s an ongoing process that takes time, and there’s not much you can do to “force” people to share your site. What you can do though, is use promotion as a first stepping stone to get links.
There are many ways and tools to promote your photography business that will give your website the SEO boost it’s craving. First, make sure all of your images and blog posts are shareable by adding social buttons. Go even further by adding a subscribe button to your blog and start creating a community of followers. Every now and then, send them a stunning newsletter with Wix Email Marketing.
Third, publish regularly on social media – since today it’s the number one place where people consume news and art. Finally, reach out to brands and influencers by offering them to write on their outlets or to share your work (and link, of course). Think of it this way: the more people share your photos and link to them, the more traffic you’ll get to your website. And who loves some good traffic? If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s Google.
08. Go for local SEO
Have you heard about local SEO? Well, you should get to know it as there’s some great untapped potential for more traffic and real clients. By local SEO we mean making sure that your website ranks for a location-based query, for example: “portrait photography in Queens, NY.”
This is especially important for professional photographers with a physical office, studio or even store. The main advantage of local SEO is that you’ll put your photo business on the map… Google Maps, that is! Plus, you’ll increase your chances of being one of the three featured businesses in the box at the top of Google’s results (the “Local Pack” snippet). Getting this spot is like striking SEO gold, as it tends to generate more clicks.
Finally, Google is able to spot the precise location of any mobile phone, so your website will be suggested for searchers in your vicinity. Sounds pretty convincing if you ask us.
The best way to get started? If you haven’t already, claim your Google My Business page and start setting up shop online. And that’s just one online business directory. There are a plethora of others you can join such as Yelp, Foursquare and Tripadvisor.
Secondly, you should make sure that your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) is consistent throughout your website, and all of your online business profiles. If not, Google may get confused and think you’re operating in more than one location. If you want to increase the amount of potential customers entering your studio, here are more tips on local SEO for photographers.
By Ruth Eschenheimer
SEO Content Specialist for Wix Blogs