Unless you’re a travel photographer, you most likely operate as a typical service provider, i.e. your clients tend to come from your immediate surroundings. Ironically enough, in the digital era we live in, these neighboring customers are looking for you online. They will either read recommendations from their friends on Facebook or Pinterest or more likely, will venture to the Big Kahuna of search engines: Google. And when they enter ‘wedding photographer’ or ‘portrait studio’ in the search box, you want your photography website to appear in the first results. This is why you need to invest in a little bit of local SEO.
Thanks to our complete guide, you already know the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for photographers. However, some additional techniques must be mastered in order for your website to rank well in Google’s results for people searching in your specific area, town or city. And, considering the growing number of local searches, it’s an absolute must for photographers that want to stay ahead of the game and gain the competitive advantage over their peers. Luckily for you, Wix has the best SEO and we’ll show you exactly how it’s done with the most practical tips that will ensure you rank locally. Read on to find the best tips for local SEO for photographers:
01. Localize your keywords
Those shutterbugs familiar with the topic of SEO may have already heard of ‘keywords’. These are basically two to five-word phrases that you should include in your website’s content to make sure that search engines understand what exactly it is that you do. Since you already browsed through our how to find the right keywords article you know that using a too broad of a term like ‘photographer’ would lead your website to get lost in a vast sea of results. So how do you make sure your online portfolio isn’t drowning?
Simply add your location as a part of your keyword. Not only is it a local SEO must, it’s also a great SEO practice in general, as it will help you establish long-tail keywords. Don’t be alarmed, we’re not talking about any weird undersea creatures. Long-tail keywords are a combination of keywords that, taken independently, are too competitive for you to have a chance to rank. But when combined, the scope is reduced and your chances of ranking can skyrocket. For example, a ‘newborn photographer in Twin Peaks, San Francisco’, will have a higher chance of being found by SF locals that are in the vicinity of the photo studio.
02. Focus on your on-page
Now that you’ve got your locally optimized keywords, you will have to put them in strategic places within your photography website. Which leaves the question ‘where do these babies go’? Answer: everywhere. A crucial place to start is your metadata because this is the first thing users encounter on Google’s results page. We just threw some tech terms right at you, but don’t worry – by metadata, we just mean the blue line (title) and the black blurb of text (description) under the URL (green line). Because it’s one of the first elements you see on a search engine results page (SERP), it’s important to dedicate time and effort to make sure your metadata looks catchy and clickable.
How do you achieve this? For your title, keep this simple formula in mind:
Page Name | Location | Your Business or Website Name
You can play around with page name and business name – but always keep the location in the center. Remember to stay within the character limits of your title (60 characters) and your description (160 characters), if not your phrases are at risk of being truncated in the results (i.e. the dreaded ellipsi…). To get a more in-depth overview, check out this post on how to excel in on-page optimization.
03. Map yourself on Google
Google ‘My Business’ is to online directories what Nutella is to your breakfast: a no brainer. Actually, filling in your profile on this platform is pretty much the most essential part of local SEO – and there are a plethora of benefits to it. First of all, it’s free (yay!) and it’s a Google product – so you know it can only be good. Plus, you’ll have a huge competitive advantage, as only 10% of business have claimed their business on Google. Last but not least, it’s the only way for you to claim your place in the so-called ‘Local Pack’. Local what? The Local Pack is the small window that will appear in the first position of the search results, with a Google map and three most recommended results for your local search. It’s a little like the 5th Avenue of SEO real estate – but you won’t have to spend a single buck to acquire it, only some time and small efforts.
Wondering how to start boosting your local presence? Go to Google My Business, and click ‘start now’ to claim your business. Three important things to remember when you’re completing you GMB. First and foremost, it’s important that you fill in your entire profile meticulously. Second, make sure that you add categories (photography), and subcategories (newborn photography). This way, Google will know precisely what your specialties are and can retrieve your business as a result for someone looking for a certain type of photographer. And lastly, make sure you represent your business as well as you can. Your photographs are the best way to showcase your goods, so don’t forget to add them to your profile (you should upload at least three photos), as well as your stunning photography logo!
Pro tip: It’s not all about Google! Add yourself to Bing Places for Business using the exact same recommendations.
04. Get your NAP on
The ultimate goal of your photo website is for people to contact you and book your services, right? Therefore, you need to make it as easy as possible for prospective clients to call or visit your studio by having your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) visible on your online portfolio. This is more often than not a step that photographers skip when filling in their website’s content, especially on important pages such as your “About” page and homepage. Actually, an even better practice would be to put your NAP on every page of your site. Fear it might overload your design? Simply create an elegant footer, where you’ll put all the crucial information about your business in a discrete, yet visible way.
Another important local SEO step to take is to make sure that your contact info is exactly the same throughout the world wide web, i.e. your social profiles, directories, etc. If Google notices that there are different versions of your NAP on the Net, it may mistake you for two separate businesses and not know which one to display in search results. That’s why, it’s crucial that you take your NAP very seriously (yes, we went there) – and remember to change these items every time you move your studio or office to a different location.
Pro tip: When writing out your NAP, list a local number, instead of a 1-800. This will build more trust as you viewers will see you as a reliable and local photography business.
05. Expose yourself to directories
In general, the Internet is a pretty weird place, but it’s also a very useful one – especially if you want to promote your services online and boost your ranking. A great way to do that is through signing up to directories. This will really influence the ‘local’ aspect of your success and help the good Internet people get to know your small business better. Not to mention, it’s an easy way of getting some valuable backlinks to your website (see next section).
Start going ‘loco’ by joining your local Chamber of Commerce’s website. And don’t just stop there, you can find as many local directories as you like, such as Yelp, Foursquare, Bizjournals, etc. Check out a pretty comprehensive list over here. And don’t forget to keep your NAP consistent!
Pro tip: Can’t get enough of those directories – do a Google search for keywords like “[your city] directory” to find other local citation sites or directories.
06. Build the best links
In the world of SEO, gaining recognition from others lets Google understand that you are an authoritative and trustworthy website. These ‘acknowledgements’ or ‘votes’ tend to come in the form of links and are an essential part of your SEO strategy. Getting backlinks ain’t easy, but we will give you some tips that will help build your backlink profile in no-time.
First, try and find your most natural peers that will happily vouch for your business (and link to it). If you’re a wedding photographer – this could be a makeup artist or a hair stylist that will recommend your services on their site. Another great option is to start guest blogging on others’ blogs – and this doesn’t necessarily have to be on another photography blog. A newborn photographer could, for example, write a post that could be published on a parenting blog. And finally, the best way to get backlinks is to get involved in your local community. You could host a free photography course in your community center that will be promoted on their website. There are many more creative ways to build backlinks for your business.
Important: Getting links the natural way pays off, so do not under any circumstance pay for links. This is against Google’s guidelines and your site will suffer if you do!
07. Get reviews and testimonials
If you needed a recommendation for a great photography gear store, the most obvious thing to do would be to ask one of your peers. Indeed, people tend to believe Internet testimonials rather than just some marketing scribble. Not convinced? According to a recent survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends. Plus, rumor has it that Google might factor in reviews as a signal to rank websites in the Local Pack. This is why you should provide your website and social profiles, with some TLC in the form of reviews and testimonials.
The ‘how’ part here is very easy: go ahead and ask your clients to review your photography service. You’ll find that most customers will be happy to provide feedback about the quality of your business. Want to increase clicks to your site? Once you’ve got your Google My Business profile up and running, you can ask clients to write a review on Google and give your business a (hopefully 5-star) rating. It’s simple: good reviews (and obviously good service) come to those who ask!
08. Optimize your site for mobiles
Smartphones and tablets are taking the lead when it comes to search. Indeed, mobile searches count for over 50% of total searches made on Google and are becoming an increasingly more important ranking signal. This is why having a mobile optimized website is an absolute must for your SEO generally speaking. When it comes to local SEO, you need to be extra attentive to people that are searching on the go. Why is it so important? Mobile devices can identify a searcher’s geographic location more accurately. So, if a mobile user is in the proximity of your studio, your website has an even larger chance of showing up as a result! Therefore, you need to make sure that your website is mobile friendly and optimized.
How do you make sure your website looks stunning on any device? The Wix Editor happily offers you a mobile version of your website automatically, that you simply have to customize before hitting the “Publish” button. For that, you can have a look at our complete guide on how to make your photography website mobile friendly. Ready for the most important tips now? First, verify that your text is legible (not cut, not too big and not too small, etc.), and put your photos in the forefront. Another crucial thing you should do is to see that your pages load quickly on mobile, otherwise your visitors may get impatient and leave your site – and this is not a great signal for Google! To check that your website is performing well, you can do a mobile-friendly test on Google.
09. Improve your user experience (UX)
As we’ve mentioned before, the way visitors experience your site is a ranking signal in itself. Experience is a hard thing to measure, but if you know how to use Google analytics it can show you how your website is performing in numbers. An item like ‘time on page’ lets you understand that a visitor likes what he sees, and ‘pages viewed’ represents the amount of pages the user continued to browse through (more is preferred of course). The so-called ‘Bounce rate’ tells you if someone lands on your site and leaves within seconds, i.e. the lower the rate, the better! All of these ‘behavioral signals’, will help Google understand that your website is friendly to visitors and intuitive to use. And when it comes to SEO, you need to provide the best experience possible!
We can imagine that your stunning photographs will keep users browsing through your pages endlessly, but to ensure you’re giving them a great time on site you need to know exactly how to create a great photography website. Once you’ve done that, you can learn how to improve your website’s user experience. If you don’t have time (now) to go over those gems, just keep it simple: use a clear menu at the top of your website, so that visitors can easily browse through pages. Another tip is to define a hierarchy to your portfolio. This can be either by style or by date – just be sure to have them organized in a way that will be visually clear to users. A small UX step for your visitors, a huge SEO leap for your website. (For more useful abbreviations, check out the ultimate online marketing glossary)
Pro tip: If you write, they will read. It may require a bit more effort, but writing longer blog posts (over 800 words) that are engaging and valuable to site visitors will keep them reading. Don’t know where to start? Yes, we have a guide for this too! Here is how to write a blog for your photography website.
10. Be present on social media
Social platforms can do some serious damage to your personal life if you don’t use the correct social media etiquette. On the other hand, they can do wonders for your business, and give your SEO a boost. Social media engagement is still considered to be a signal for Google, which means that the more people engage with your content, the better your ranking.
So what’s the best way to entice your audience? Start by sharing your stunning photos, videos and even blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. When sharing your content, don’t forget to add a catchy caption and include a link to your online portfolio. Images will naturally attract a lot of clicks, so go ahead and share your best quality work (also for blog posts) to get the maximum amount of engagement. Another tip is to ask your customers to review your service on your Facebook page, as this is naturally where people come to check out your biz before booking your service. Think about it – after your local customers review your business, word is bound spread throughout the neighborhood, ie: your newsfeed. This gives you the opportunity to tap into a new and local user base.
Pro tip: We focused mainly on Facebook and Twitter as the two main networks when it comes to local SEO. But other social platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, are not to be neglected if you want to promote your photos online. Be sure to check out these Facebook and LinkedIn tips for photographers to take full advantage of the social arena!
In a nutshell, here are the steps you need to take for the local SEO of your photography business:
Localize your keywords
Focus on your on-page
Map yourself on Google
Get your NAP on
Expose yourself to directories
Build the best links
Get reviews and testimonials
Optimize your site for mobiles
Improve your user experience (UX)
Be present on social
Ready to stun the world with your online portfolio? Create a photography website for free!