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The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Photographers

16 min read

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search engine optimization guide for photographers.

Search engine optimization (SEO) has been one of the most effective tools for photographers looking to grow their businesses online for the past decade. If you optimize your website for search, you can expect more leads from potential clients. 

Your own website can become much more than an online gallery for your photography. With the right SEO strategy, you can attract potential clients to your business and generate leads that convert into sales. It can also help you get your photography in front of the right people and ultimately generate more revenue.

However, like with any digital marketing campaign, it’s important to have an idea of what you’re going to do before you start developing your website or embark on another SEO strategy.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the website performance metrics so that it appears at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant searches. The more your website’s pages correlate with a search query, the higher you will rank.

The purpose of SEO for photographers is to build awareness for your website and get it ranked on the first page of Google when people are looking for what you do, which translates to more organic traffic and exposure for your website.

When you first build your professional photo website, you might be very interested in optimizing and enhancing its position in search engines. To achieve this, it’s important to understand how search bots perceive and navigate the site. 

person viewing a fashion photographer portfolio.

Crawling, indexing, and ranking are three basic processes used by search engine spiders to gather, analyze, and rank quality content on the world wide web. Having a proper internal linking structure and external links to your website can greatly help with these processes.

In short, search engines crawl the internet, mainly through spiders or bots. These bots follow links from one website to another, indexing the content they find along the way and ranking the photography websites based on their value.

It is important to note that SEO is always evolving, and Google keeps changing its algorithm frequently to rank websites for better user experience.

Why is SEO for Photographers so Important?

Being found on Google is imperative for any photographer who wants to show up in Google Images when someone types a phrase related to their work. With the growing number of photos shared on the Internet daily, maintaining your search engine ranking is becoming more challenging. However, it’s still the best way for a photographer to get noticed online

Any successful business needs to know how to use the web to build and maintain client relationships effectively. The same can be said for photographers and the incredible opportunities that exist for them online. And whether you’re interested in growing your business with email marketing, blogging, social media marketing, or video marketing, it is worth starting with SEO.

Moreover, to keep moving forward with your photography business and regularly increase your income, it is important to make sure that search engines and people can easily find your website.

website of a landscape photographer.
Source: Outdoor Exposure Photography website by Sean Bagshaw.

Without SEO, you would have a harder time attracting new visitors and getting clients to return to the website. When properly executed, SEO allows photographers’ names and businesses to gain exposure in the Google search results for the right keywords, thus increasing website traffic.

9 Best SEO Tips for Photographers

Here are the nine best tips and techniques to achieve your SEO goals as a photographer.

1. Identify Keywords for SEO

To market your photography business online successfully, you need to know what people are searching for and the multiple keywords related to your niche they use on Google. This means you need a list of phrases that accurately describe what you do, what images you offer, and the services you provide as a professional photographer. 

In short, you need to find the right keywords that enable you to focus your SEO efforts on the topics that interest your targeted clients the most. The SE Ranking keyword generator can greatly help by finding relevant keywords for you and thoroughly analyzing their core parameters such as difficulty score, how many organic searches they get each month, and their average cost per click in a PPC Google Ads campaign. It will significantly simplify your search for necessary phrases and help you in making informed decisions.

You’ll also find keywords suggestions divided into three categories: similar, related, and low search volume keywords. You can choose the relevant ones from the list and include them in your SEO strategy. You can also check what pages are already ranking for your keywords of interest and preview the SERP with all the key parameters of those pages.

keyword search data and insights.
Source: SE Ranking dashboard.

Keywords are like gatekeepers, and if you want people to find your blog, you need to ensure that your primary keywords are present throughout the pages of your site. However, the days of keyword stuffing your content and magically appearing on the first search result page are over. 

Your content needs to be valuable to the reader, just as if you were speaking to them in person. Ideally, you should have a keyword density plan that involves determining the appropriate keyword density per page and constantly checking the content to make sure you do not exceed it.

Helpful SEO Tips 

  • It could be challenging for a photographer who just started SEO to rank for a generic keyword like ‘photography service’ because so many other websites compete for that keyword. Instead, it would be better to cluster the keywords into groups of 4-5 words relating to a specific area of work and serve each group of keywords to various pages. By doing this, you narrow down the competition and present yourself as an authority on the topic.
  • When choosing your keywords for photography and post-processing, try to find a set of similar keywords with enough search volume and low/medium competition. These are also known as long-tail keywords. They are concrete and niche-focused, so they tend to have lower competition than short-tail keyword phrases.
  • Including keywords in your meta description, H1 to H4 headings, the body of the page, and alt text for the images gives search engines the information they need to index a page correctly and understand what it is about.
  • When adding keywords to your content, consider adding all potential variations of the keyword.
  • The targeted keywords that you add to your content should be distributed or placed evenly throughout the content. Avoid adding those keywords in close proximity as much as you can.

2. Organize Your URL Structure

Keywords in a URL provide clear benefits to site visitors. Users can easily understand what page they’re on, what the topic and purpose of the page is, and find the page quickly in search results. 

Keywords examples in URLs.

Not so long ago, SEOs shared an old belief that keywords in URLs could help improve rankings. When it comes to a domain name, Google’s official message is clear: a keyword in a domain will not increase a site’s relevance for searches containing that keyword. So, it’s better to focus on whether the word combination is functional and memorable, as it has to be a domain that stands the test of time. If your business changes names or even focuses, and you’re ready to rebrand all your media channels, you won’t run into any issues with your old domains.

3. Make a Mobile-Friendly Photography Website

Think about it. How often have you been browsing the Internet on your smartphone or tablet, only to encounter a site that looked like it wasn’t designed for mobile devices? From images being too small and not taking up the entire screen to pages not displaying properly, it’s frustrating. Not to mention, Google’s mobile-first index gives a strong SEO bump in mobile searches to sites optimized for phones and tablets, so it’s best to have a mobile-friendly website.

If a third of your visitors are accessing your site from mobile devices and it isn’t mobile-friendly, then they can’t use your site. This is why you should also think about optimizing your site for the small screen. 

Mobile-friendly website pages.

Responsive vs. Adaptive Design

If you aim to make a mobile site, you should ask yourself whether your photography site should be responsive or adaptive. Responsive web design changes the layout of your website based on the screen size of the device from which it is accessed. 

In contrast, adaptive web design determines which version of your website should be served to the user according to the user’s device features, e.g., screen size, resolution, and other characteristics. 

Suppose you want to provide the best user experience. In that case, it is better to choose a responsive website design, as opposed to an adaptive one, due to its compatibility with various devices. 

It’s best to maintain a fast loading speed for your photography website. If you could make your page load in less than two seconds, that would be unheard of! It would have Google ranking your site on the first page, and you’d experience a huge increase in traffic as a result.

Start with an easy-to-navigate website

With so much content, customers want to find what they need quickly without scrolling or searching for the information they are looking for. A pleasant site navigation and correctly selected menu, with the appropriate internal links, results in a more organized site structure.

example of easy to navigate website.

This is usually best achieved by making the navigation stand out, using clear organization and labeling, and linking appropriately not only within the site itself but outside of it as well. 

4. Optimize Photos for Your Site

The average online user has an attention span of just a few seconds. Users will leave if your homepage doesn’t load within 5 seconds. Many website owners believe that people love HD-quality pictures. However, most people will see your photo as a giant, slow-moving, blinking asset in the background. Google prefers websites that display images in a small size – because when images are too big in the raw format, they slow down your page.

For users, dealing with slow pages is frustrating, and they will exist the website, resulting in increased bounce rates for your website, which will eventually affect the search engine rankings.

photographer editing images.

Image SEO

When optimizing images, compress them as much as you can. The bigger the file, the worse your site speed will be. After compressing, check your load time, page size, performance score, etc., by using a speed test tool like PageSpeed Insights.

If your site takes more than 4 seconds to load, your pages will be considered slow, whereas most would consider a page size of 5 MB or less to be good. Anything slower or larger than this can negatively impact your website, making people not want to stay on it or return to it again. 

Besides, if you want your images to be found, alt tags should not be overlooked. Alt tags, formally known as alternate text attributes, allow you to provide an explanatory note for each image on your web page. 

One of the most significant things to consider about alt tags is that alt text provides search engine spiders with a text version or description of each image. This means alt tags are needed for your image optimization to show up correctly in the search results – if you don’t enter a keyword or an appropriate title, many search engines will not include images on the first page of their listings.

Alt text works the same as anchor text, except it is placed within the picture code or HTML. In general, you want to use descriptive alt text so that it makes sense when someone views a search engine result. 

However, you can also add specific keywords. One good practice is to use your main keyword at the end of your alt tag. Another good practice is to place descriptive words and phrases at the beginning of your alt tag without loading it with SEO keywords or spam phrases since that will look sloppy to potential customers. It’s best if you combine both practices and create a good balance, which means optimizing only a few (not all) images for the keywords relevant to your topic.

Image file names should also be relevant to the image and the topic. For example:

Optimized File Name: photography-editing-images.jpg
Unoptimized File Name: 2c397d94-6d37-4c74-a024-42f79c17849a.jpg

5. Create Good and Relevant Website Content

Google clarified that more content does not mean better search engine rankings. The key to good SEO for photographers is quality and relevance to the search query. This requires proper keyword research and a sound strategy. You can’t expect to get better rankings by using more keywords.

Create Engaging Blog Posts

An easy way to get more traffic is by adding a blog section. A blog lets you share news and announcements with your customers and discuss topics of common interest. A blog is a versatile marketing tool that allows you to share your expert knowledge and get noticed in your field. The blog post is also a good way to generate leads, as you can include a call-to-action at the end of your article. 

As for choosing a topic, you can use many tools, like Buzzsumo, to find topics to write about. Such tools will help you pick out three or four of the most popular topics with many social media shares, comments, or website clicks. 

Photography Blog.

Also, review your competitors’ content, figure out which keywords they’re ranking for, and identify gaps in their content that you can fill. Identify keywords that your audience is searching for and create quality content around them. Doing so will help drive more traffic to your site and increase engagement among your target audience.

You should regularly add fresh and relevant content to your website, so visitors won’t think you have moved away or stopped updating the site. The more updates your website gets, the better it is for your community and for search engine visibility. 

As blogging can be time-consuming, it’s important to have a schedule when updating your blog content. Keeping a schedule keeps you accountable for publishing – and helps you build time management skills.

Watch out for Keyword Cannibalization

The cannibalization of keywords occurs when one or more of your articles are ranking for the same terms. This creates confusion for search engines to understand which page it should rank higher, and it also means that two or more of your pages are competing against each other. In order to avoid this, it is important not to create more than one piece of content for each key term or search phrase.

Consider the Search Intent and Competing Pages

After you have chosen a keyword to target, try finding out the intent of the potential visitor who is typing in those words in Google search. It is imperative to match your content with users’ intent to increase your chances of ranking higher. Also, look for clues through the top 10 competing pages against those keywords and cover all important sub-topics or common questions people may have.

Add Internal Links and Anchors

Internal links play a vital role in getting other content to rank well. The rule of thumb for creating internal links is to link to other articles from the same category.

Anchor is the text that you associate with the link, and this text should be descriptive and relevant to the outgoing link. Try changing this text each time you link to the same article to make it look natural, but keep it relevant at the same time, and avoid overding keyword-optimized anchors.

6. Create Unique SEO Titles and Meta Descriptions

Search snippets are a way for Google to present your business to users, which usually includes the page title, URL, and meta description in search results. Google uses your meta titles to generate a snippet for your web pages and meta descriptions to entice users to click on them.

Meta title in Google search.

When it comes to improving your SERP ranking, meta titles can play a significant role. Meta titles are embedded in your web page’s HTML code and are used to describe the content of your page.

Meta titles give information about your website or a specific web page’s content to search engines and users. Hence, it’s important to write descriptive and relevant blog post titles. This can decide between landing high on the search results page or landing below your competition. These titles also play a significant role in increasing the CTR, which is another important metric to consider for better search rankings.

Meta descriptions are used to create summary overviews of web pages on search results pages. Meta descriptions are not meant to influence your SEO ranking; they are there to entice users. 

Using an enticing meta description and the right keywords can increase your click-through rates. A meta description should give users a sense of what the page’s content is like without them having to visit the page.

Meta description in Google search.

SEO Tips to Follow

  • Although Google doesn’t limit the title length, it’s recommended that your title tags be no longer than 60-70 characters. If a title is too long, it will be truncated in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and your click-through rate may fall. 
  • Also, make sure your description is short (it should be up to 160 characters). This should increase the number of clicks to your site by helping potential visitors decide whether they want to visit it.
  • Each page on your website should have individual titles and meta descriptions. This is important because it helps search engines know what each of your pages is about. 
  • Including relevant keywords in your page titles and descriptions should be done naturally and fluently without overstuffing.

You can have the best website with amazing content and an excellent user experience—but without a strong backlink strategy, you might never achieve a prominent ranking on search engines. 

When it comes to link building, there aren’t any shortcuts — but you can make the process a whole lot easier by following a golden rule: focus on quality backlinks only. Another thing to keep in mind when building links is avoiding spammy, irrelevant sites because they can hurt search rankings instead of helping them.

Photographers have access to so many goodies when it comes to building backlinks. This is because you will deal with many people and companies when setting up for an event, and most of them will be happy to share your work on their blog or social media.

Guest Blogging

Another strategy is submitting guest posts to top magazines and online blogs for photographers. The best tip when approaching the editor of a magazine or blog can be summed up in one word: “simplicity”. Try personalizing your email by including information about how you think it might be helpful for them.

Organic contextual link in online magazine.
Source: Gizmodo website.

Finally, one of the easiest ways to get links from other sites is to be active online on relevant industry platforms such as Quora or Reddit. Commenting and engaging in relevant discussions will give you plenty of link-building opportunities, but only if you offer quality comments. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time because Google will see it as spammy. Share your opinions and ideas with others in discussions, and naturally include a website link.

8. Go for Local SEO 

For photographers to be successful, they must think like a business. Successful businesses know that a strong local search presence will bring them the most value when branding and establishing their reputation within their local area. Local SEO for photographers can help generate more business through your website and allow you to earn a spot in the relevant Google Maps and business listing results if you’re a photographer who operates locally.

Google maps listings for local SEO.

Google My Business

Sign up for a Google My Business account and add your business information to Google Maps. Google has already begun creating personalized search suggestions specifically for mobile searches.

This means it will eventually tailor search schemes based on the content of your website, its popularity, and the services you offers. The more accurate you are with your details and the Google reviews you submit, the more likely you will come up under local searches.

It’s easy to forget about or ignore Google Business Profile data. As long as the location of your business appears in search results and your phone number works, you might be tempted to put it on the back burner. This can be a costly mistake. If your data is outdated and incorrect, you could have a hard time finding new customers, retaining your current business, and even getting listed at all.

Customer Reviews

What is more, Google partially relies on reviews to evaluate businesses and rank them accordingly — which means reviews are a new frontier for your digital marketing efforts.

Google pings or sends automated messages to all potential clients who have inquired about your website. The message asks if they had a good experience with your business and encourages them to leave a review on platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, TrustPilot, and as well as on your website.

So, you could go as far as creating a full-blown strategy to get more reviews and work on getting people to give you great reviews.

9. Monitor Your Website Performance

You’ve launched your website, and it’s time to monitor and measure its performance.

performance reports.

Google Search Console

The first thing you should do when setting up or checking your website is to add it to the Google Search Console. This will give you insight into how your photography website works from a search engine point of view. Using Google Search Console, you can find out what factors might be influencing your Google rankings, discover new ways to get traffic to your site, or learn data about the users who visit it.

Google Analytics

On the other hand, Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that shows traffic data about your website’s visitors. The tool gives you detailed stats and insights into how users interact with your site, including where they are located and what they click on, providing you with the opportunity to see what your visitors do on your website.

In addition, having a Google Analytics account will give you an idea of what content visitors are most interested in and how long they stay on a specific site page. A wealth of information and data is packed into these Google Analytics reports, which internet marketers can use to optimize their websites. 

Conclusion

Photography SEO is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of keeping a photography business growing and profitable. A rock-solid SEO strategy can lead to more traffic and clients. More and more people are going online to search for new photographers, and the websites that appear on the first page of their search results are getting most of these new clients. 

Implementing SEO strategies will get new traffic into your sales funnel. That means you will need help generating leads or customers. But coming up with a solid strategy can be challenging, especially if you don’t have someone with experience to help you with it. Luckily, this guide can become your right hand for a while, so feel free to use all the given tips to reach new heights in your photography career!

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  1. Great article Domien! Your breakdown was excellent and easy to understand. As someone who has worked in SEO for a while now, I find that there is a lot of relearning and fine tuning in order to stay relevant. Keep up the great work!

  2. Great tips here for both newbie and veterans. SEO is getting complex with each passing day. The harder the links to get, the more it is powerful. And looks like those easy to get links are not working anymore. Above all, it is the content that matter.

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