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Photo Contest Insider Blog

SEO for Photographers: 7 Tips and Tricks to Get Your Website and Portfolio Found in the Search Engines

September 24, 2018

Besides winning photography contests, generating a lot of social media attention and personal networking you’ll need to build a quality website to showcase your photography portfolio.  Your website will be an essential part of your photography business. But it’s only the first step in having a successful online presence.

7 SEO Tips for Photographers

  1. Learn About Different Types of Keywords
  2. Find the Best SEO Keywords for Photographers
  3. Get Insight on On-Page SEO Strategy
  4. Create Regular, High-Quality Content
  5. Apply Image SEO for Photographers
  6. Use SEO Tools to Optimize Your Pages
  7. Keep Up with SEO Trends


By following these SEO tips for photographers, you can draw more visits to your website. And those visits can turn into sales. You can win the work that is most fulfilling to you and bring the most value to your photography clients.



Why SEO is Important, Especially for Photographers

Any business can benefit from search engine optimization, but SEO for photographers is a must. The reason? Although you may have some repeat business, you need a constant influx of new clients. The people who need your services need to find your photography website. A solid SEO strategy is the best way to make this happen.


“Social may be sexy, but SEARCH still pays the bills.”

– Tom Pick


Search engine optimization gives you several proven advantages, including:

Gain More Traffic to Your Website


If you’ve done any web searches, you know the value of ranking near the top of the first page. Potential clients may not find you if you don’t.

Ask yourself this question: What happens when someone does a search for photography? Billions of results for photography websites are available. Often, only the first few results get any attention.

In fact, an estimated 27.5 percent of search traffic on Google goes to the #1 listed link. That means, 27 to 28 people out of every hundred will go to that top-ranked page.

Increase Visibility


Even if a search user doesn’t go to your page, they are likely to see your link if you rank well. This will make users feel like you are an authority in your space.

Over time, these positive impressions can build trust. When someone needs photography services, they will feel good about choosing you. Or you could inspire them to buy your self-published book of photographs, if you’ve created one. Either outcome is a win for you.
Now that you understand the “why” of SEO for photographers, you can learn about the “how.”

1. Learn About Different Types of Keywords


Understanding basic keyword facts is the first step towards SEO marketing for photographers. There are two primary keyword terms to know:

Short-Tail (or Head) Keywords

As the name implies, these keywords are short — usually, three words or less. They are often the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a topic. Examples include:

  • photography
  • photography website
  • wedding photography
  • photography business

As you can see, these terms are very broad–and would yield the most general search results. For example, if you search on the term “social media,” what do you see? Lists of social networking sites and articles from big-name publications turn up. A boutique social media consulting firm would have little chance of getting noticed.

Short-tail keywords generate lots of searches, but competition for high rankings is fierce. You can invest some energy–and dollars–in these terms. If you do, you’ll be competing with some of the biggest, best-known photography websites. And you may not get the traffic you deserve.

Long-tail keywords

No surprise here: long-tail keyword phrases are longer than their short-tail brethren. They have more than three words–and are far more specific. Consider these examples:

  • SEO strategies for photographers
  • How to write SEO blog posts for photographers
  • SEO services for photographers
  • What are the best SEO books for photographers

As these examples show, people who use long-tail keyword phrases want specific information. Often, long-tail keywords will attract visitors who are later in the buying cycle. They’ll be looking for exactly what you do–because they searched for it.

The search volume for long-tail keywords is lower–but so is the competition to rank for them. This makes long-tail keywords a good focus area for SEO marketing for photographers.

2. Find the Best SEO Keywords for Photographers


Effective keyword research requires thinking about your business in a different way. You may associate certain concepts or terms with your photography business. But are they the ones your potential customers use? Likely not. Successful SEO for photographers means considering your business from the outside in.

Once you’ve shifted into the right mindset, you can tackle keyword research in a few steps.


Create a List of Potential Search Terms


Start with a broad list of every term you think visitors may use to find your site. Brainstorm even more words associated with photography.

When making your list, include short-tail keywords, like “photography” or “wedding photographer.” If your business has a local focus, add the name of your region or nearby cities to your keywords.

Need some help brainstorming keywords? Free tools like AdWords & SEO Keyword Generator, Google Correlate, and Keyword In provide ideas.

Find Keyword Variants


Once you have your initial list, you can use online tools to help find variants that you may not have considered. A great free tool to try is Ubersuggest. You can plug in a short-tail keyword and get a long list of actual, recently-used search terms. The site also gives you monthly search volumes and an estimate of competition.

What are the best keyword variants? Focus on ones with higher search volume and lower competition. Also look at cost-per-click cost (CPC) data to learn what companies are paying to rank well for search terms.

Google AdWords is another free tool that details search volume and competition level. You can also get information on bid rates if you’re considering any keyword purchases.

After you become proficient in SEO for photographers, you may need to advance to subscription-based tools. But free tools are a great place to start.

Apply Your Keyword Insights


When you have a list of high-potential keywords, you should plan how to use them on your website. As a first step, categorize your keywords by topic or search intent. This will help you break your big list into smaller ones, grouped by logical themes. You can then plan to add groups of keywords to your pages, instead of creating a single page for each keyword.

For each page, select a single “focus keyword” that explains the core purpose of that page. This is also the keyword you would like to rank well for in search engines. Then select other related keywords that make sense.

Many people wonder how many keywords per page is ideal. There’s no simple answer to this question. If your keyword groupings are sound, you can cover secondary keywords in your writing without much effort. When possible, try to include several keywords without making your content seem unnatural.

3. Get Insight on On-Page SEO Strategy


You may have heard of the terms on-page SEO and off-page SEO–but what do they mean? Anyone interested in SEO for photographers should know the difference.

Simply put, on-page SEO relates to all the factors you can control on your photography website. These factors include your content, images, and technical set-up. In contrast, off-page SEO are factors outside your site that influence its ranking. Links from third-party websites and social media mentions fall into this category. You can influence some off-page SEO factors, but many are out of your control.

On-page SEO is 100% within your control though. While tools can help you optimize on-page SEO, knowing key concepts is vitally important.


Title Tag


A title tag is a piece of HTML code that specifies a web page’s title. They are the first impression a potential visitor has of your page and website. And they help search engines understand your page’s purpose–which can affect its ranking. Always start your page’s title tag with the focus keyword you’ve defined.

SEO-Friendly URL


Your page URL is also one of the first things users will see when they conduct a search. Though you may find it tempting to create a catchy URL, don’t. Keep it concise and relevant, so that users and search engines know the purpose of your page.

Use your focus keyword in your URL. Also, try to avoid any unnecessary filler words like “and” and “the.”  Search engines avoid these “stop words” to save processing time and space in databases.

Header Tags


The header tags on your page are another way to communicate its purpose.  Your H1 header tag is the largest text on your page (usually that’s the page title) and should contain your focus keyword. These tags plan a key role in SEO ranking, along with your H2 and H3 subhead tags. Although header tags options include H4, H5, and H6, the first three have the greatest SEO value.

Meta Description


You’re probably familiar with what meta descriptions are, even if you’re new to SEO. A brief overview of your page–about 155 characters–meta descriptions appear on search engine results pages. They tell users what your page is about. And, when you use keywords in your meta description, they can help boost your search rankings.

Internal Links


Internal links are exactly what you would expect: links to other pages within your site. With a solid internal link strategy, you can encourage visitors to explore more pages of your site. This can keep them on your site longer.

Internal links matter for SEO. Why? Search engines like Google “crawl” your site to understand its structure. Internal links speed up this process–and help Google find new pages on your site. This can lead to more prominent search engine rankings.  Here’s an internal link to our guide on the best online photo printing websites.  See how we did that?

Outbound Links


Every link to another website is an outbound link. You can build trust and authority in your domain by linking to high-quality external pages. Another bonus: you can link to other places to find your work, like an Etsy store, if you have one. And you can build goodwill by linking to partners, suppliers, or even clients from your site.

4. Create Regular, High-Quality Content


If you want your site to rank well with search engines, you need to create high-quality content. Your goal is to include your chosen keywords while keeping the text natural and readable.

You also need to create content on a regular basis. Adding a blog to your site is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. If you don’t know how to write a blog post for photographers, here are some tips to get started.

Build an Editorial Calendar


To ensure you have a steady stream of content, you need a schedule. For each post, you should list title, author, target publication date, and keywords.

When brainstorming content for your calendar, consider your vision for your photography business. Want to branch out into travel photography? Blog about your latest vacation and include your amazing photos. Let your imagination be your guide.


Search for Each Keyword Before Your Write A Word


Perform a search for each keyword you plan to use in each post and take note of what you see. Do top-ranked pages have lengthy content or are they briefer? Are images prevalent? Does anything else stand out? Use these clues to make the blog articles on your photography website shine.

Improve Readability


Over-filling your text with your keywords isn’t your goal. Creating content that engages readers will win you more visitors. And that will help boost your rank in search.

Here are ideas for better readability:

  • Make Your Posts Scannable: Most people don’t read every word of every page they visit. But they may skim your content. Cater to this preference.
  • Highlight Key Points: Use bullets, subheads, lists, and other formatting to get your message across.
  • Use Short Paragraphs and Sentences: Long blocks of text can deter web readers. Break up your content into smaller chunks to make it easier to read.

Keep these SEO blog writing tips for photographers in mind to craft attention-grabbing posts.

5. Apply Image SEO for Photographers


How you ever wondered: “What does it take to rank my photo in a photo search engine, like Google Images?” That’s a common question when learning about SEO for photographers.

And the answer? It doesn’t happen by chance.

You must take care to optimize every image. The work will pay off when your photos bring traffic to your photography site. Specifying the right image file name and alt attributes are two important steps to take.

Image File Name


If you want success in SEO, naming image files for photographers is an essential step. It’s easy to use generic file names, like “image-xy12ab.jpg” when you add images to your photography website. But the easy way isn’t the right way.

Always give your photo a descriptive name that includes keywords. Then, when a user searches on photo search engines using one of your keywords, your image can appear high in the rankings.

Alt Attributes


Have you encountered the term “alt tag” or “alt text” when researching SEO for photographers? These terms are “alt attributes,” which is short for “alternate attributes.” When a browser can’t display photos correctly, your alt text describes it for a visitor. You can define this text for each image.

The right alt attributes help with SEO also. For best results, include keywords and use descriptive language in every alt tag.

6. Use SEO Tools to Optimize Your Pages


How you handle adding content and keywords depends on the hosting and content management tools you use. Haven’t settled on a web hosting platform yet? Many find that WordPress offers the best website hosting with SEO for photographers. A combination of WordPress and the robust Yoast SEO plug-in can bring SEO success.

With Yoast SEO, you can view your on-page SEO performance in your WordPress dashboard. The tool displays a page score in the form of color codes. Green means your page is well-optimized. Orange is okay. And red? That means your page needs more SEO work.

Fortunately, the Yoast SEO plug-in makes it easy to optimize key on-page SEO elements.  Start by adding your focus keyword for the page and viewing your initial color ranking. You’ll see a list of all the problem areas that you can improve. With Yoast SEO, you’ll receive prompts to review page features, such as:

  • Meta Description
  • Images and Alt Text
  • Keyword Density
  • Title Tag
  • Header Tag
  • URL
  • Internal and Outbound Links

Address each one and earn a green light for your page or post.

Modifying WordPress seem intimidating? Know that the Yoast SEO plug-in installs with ease and integrates seamlessly with WordPress.

If you’ve ever added any WordPress themes for photographers, you can add Yoast. It’s one of the top-rated plug-ins–and can be a true asset for your photography website.

7. Keep Up with SEO Trends


When you start out in SEO for photographers, beginner tactics can be all you need. As you advance in skill, you may want to apply more sophisticated approaches. You may also need to upgrade from free SEO tools to paid ones.

Remember that the SEO landscape is always changing. A perfectly optimized page this year can plummet in the rankings next year.

What does this mean? You need to keep your search engine optimization knowledge current. There are dozens of SEO resources that are easy to find, and full of exceptional information.

If you find yourself wondering “what are the best SEO books for photographers,” turn to Amazon. You can find many high-quality resources on SEO for photographers. Always look for the most recent publication date for the most up-to-date information. Some books also cover social media and other marketing tactics.

Looking for a great SEO blog? Do a search. It should come as no surprise that the blogs from Google and Yoast considered some of the best. Another idea: Seek out some training. You may find an expert delivering a focused “SEO for Photographers” course. You’re certain to walk away with great ideas.

Once you’ve gotten past the first stages of SEO, you may not have time to do it all on your own. Offloading SEO to a consultant or firm can free you up to focus on your clients. Start with a search for your specialty area to find professionals in your niche.

Are you a wedding photographer? A search for “SEO services for wedding photographers” can uncover experts who know your business. The same is true for portrait photographers, newborn photographers, travel photographers, and others. Whatever you do, there is an SEO expert that can help you grow your photography business.

Achieve the Best SEO for Photographers


You may have heard the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, that may not prove true for your website and online portfolio. You need to understand SEO strategies for photographers if you want your portfolio to stand out online.

When you follow our seven SEO tips for photographers, you put yourself on a path to success. You need to learn the basics of keyword research to discover the best SEO keywords for photographers. In addition, you need to understand on-page SEO and content writing best practices.

And, since your work is visual, image optimization is key. You’ll have a good shot of getting found on photo search engines if you optimize every image.

Yes, SEO is a huge area of new learning–and the field never stops changing. The good news is: with the right tools in place you can make SEO a part of your routine. If you ever need more insight, you can find a great SEO blog, book, or course to get fresh ideas. And as your business growth accelerates, outsourcing SEO may be an excellent idea.

Success in SEO for photographers doesn’t happen overnight. The only way to make your mark on the web is to get started with search engine optimization. Take it step-by-step and keep an eye on your website performance trends.

Often, SEO takes at least three months to deliver results. It’s worth the wait. With the right approach to SEO for photographers, businesses like yours can enjoy returns for the years to come.


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