SEO for Photographers differs from a standard optimization process as most of the site’s content is photographs or videos and Google isn’t very good at understanding what it is unless we leave the right information.
So if you want to understand what are the necessary steps for good SEO and consequently increase visits to your site by obtaining new customers for your photo shoots, well let’s start!
Reading this article you will find 13 tips on how to develop the structure of your website, from the choice of hosting to the plugins to choose, to optimize the positioning on search engines in order to acquire new customers. Before being an SEO Specialist I am, and continue to be, a wedding photographer. Understanding how to enhance my brand by achieving greater visibility on search engines was the reason that prompted me to study in-depth techniques for Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization, faster SEO, is only a part of the marketing strategies to bring greater visibility to your sites and therefore new customers.
Google’s organic traffic is what brings me most new customers and new weddings, both in Pescara but also outside the region such as Umbria and Tuscany and outside Italy (edit 2020… great when you are blocked due to coronavirus).
SEO optimization for photography can be a very technical discipline, but at a basic level it can be implemented by everyone, indeed, it must be implemented by everyone.
As an SEO Specialist I have helped and am helping friends and colleagues, photographers and not, to optimize their websites to be visible in the major search engines, among which Google stands out.
Of course, being also a photographer, I deepened the Seo techniques for the Photography sector, what interested me most, using my website as a guinea pig. You will therefore not take any risks by following the advice you will find below. If you are new to the WEB and SEO field, or you don’t even know what I’m talking about, well, let’s start a little journey together. A first short part will be introductory, then immediately practical.
SEO, what is it?
The process for an optimization SEO includes a set of techniques aimed at indexing and positioning in search engines of websites and web pages.
The term SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization , literally Search Engine Optimization.
Google has made available an interactive presentation that explains in detail how searches work, just here .
The intent is to get a particular site up in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page), which is the results page that a search engine returns to us, be it Google, Bing or Yahoo. SEO optimization, as a whole, includes an analysis and work on different attributes: the domain (URL or name of the site), the structure of the site (layout), graphics, contents, interaction technologies.
The difficulty lies in the constant competition with other sites and in balancing the optimization of the site between the needs of the users and those of the search engines. A complete site optimization does not of course expect to receive organic traffic only from Google, the largest and most used, but also from Bing, Yahoo !, Biadu, Yandex, Youtube and other platforms.
When referring to SEO, we mostly talk about Google as 90% of searches go through their systems, Bing is used for about 4% of cases, then there is Yahoo! with less than 3% and Baidu with 0.55%, the main search engine in Chinese.
la serp: What it is and how it works
There SERP , from English Search Engine Results Pages (search engine results pages) is basically the page that Google, or any other search engine, shows us after carrying out a search. SERPs are therefore pages of results shown by search engines to the user following a query (or keyword, keyword) made by the user himself.
The results that Google shows us are lists stored in google databases that are classified according to the topics. Google indexes every site on the web, unless otherwise indicated, and subsequently classifies it based on certain algorithms that try to quantify and qualify the relevance of our site with respect to the search performed by the user. The more our site is deemed qualified to answer a particular query, the higher it will rank among the search results.
Each search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, Baidu ..) shows a different SERP since each has its own proprietary algorithm that indexes and evaluates the sites in a different way. So if, for example on Googlo you are in third position, it does not necessarily mean that you will occupy the same position on the other search engines.
The Serp can be different, or better personalized , also based on the user since each search engine stores our browsing preferences such as, for example, the pages we have visited, the searches carried out or geo-localized references.
Basically there are blocks on the right sidebar, which can be snippets that show information about a famous person, about a work, with related searches (e.g. Shakespeare and his works). Then there are blocks at the top, the first results are paid and you get there with advertising on Google Ads, others are organic and free, and to get there you need to optimize your website for the positioning on google .
A Google’s standard Serp is as follows :
- 4 results for paid campaigns (CPC)
- 3 results on the Google Map linked to the Google My Business account
- 10 results for organic positioning
- 3 results for paid campaigns
The search engine is a software system governed by an algorithm, designed to search for information on the world Wide Web whose results are shown in the form of an ordered list.
Let’s take an example that concerns me closely as a wedding photographer here in Pescara. Let’s assume that you start planning your wedding by choosing the various suppliers including the photographer. Then start a google search which will most likely be “Wedding photographer in Pescara”. The results thus obtained are listed in the so-called SERP (Search Engine Result Page) according to an order, starting from the most relevant and optimized with respect to the user’s search intentions.
The search engine therefore takes care of finding and organizing the information on the web by creating personalized indexes according to the search intent, browsing habits and geolocation (local seo) of the person who types the keywords. So you understand as photographers how important it is for you to occupy at least the first page of search results to capture as many new customers as possible.
Therefore one SEO for Photographers is an activity that allows you to position yourself at the top of the search results pages, increasing the visibility of your brand and strengthening its reputation, thus facilitating the generation of leads and contacts and therefore the acquisition of customers. You can better understand now why doing SEO on your site or why investing in SEO has become fundamental for any company or business or freelancer nowadays.
What is the difference between indexing and ranking?
When Google discovers your site, it saves all the pages in its database, an index of the entire World Wide Web. Your site has now been indexed by Google. This is a critical first step. All sites can and must be indexed before proceeding with any other SEO step. You cannot rank the site in the top Google results until it is indexed. This concept also applies to future changes that you will make, to new content, such as articles or new photo galleries.The easiest way to check if your site has been indexed is to use one of the Google Search Operators, i.e. a command to be entered in the search field.
Simply go to the google.it page and type in the search field “site: yourdomain.com” (without the quotes and enter your domain)
I am attaching a quick video below that briefly explains how Google searches work. Video in English, but with Italian subtitles!
How to do good SEO for Photographers
Are there real differences between an SEO strategy for a photography site compared to other types?
Doing SEO for photography is mainly characterized by the content of the site, mostly photography or video. when a search engine examines a site it reads all the textual content and information that we make available to understand and try to determine the validity of our site, the topic we are dealing with. Search engines always understand, read and interpret the text better, unlike photographs and videos are still a gap, a search engine cannot “read” a photo.
Actually do SEO for Photography it is much more than just knowing guidelines. SEO is study, research, analysis, optimization, strategy, application, creation of quality content, which solves the doubts of users and which allows companies to act as a reliable reference for people who carry out research.
Seo is based on the content that our site offers. Search engines know how to read and understand the textual content of our site. but as photographers, much of our content is photographs. Essentially this is the difference that distinguishes SEO optimized for photographers. Below I am writing some basic tips to follow, tips that can be used by anyone who wants to devote some time to it.
They do not require special knowledge. We will start with the choice of hosting, keywords, go through Google My Business and finally we will take a look at photo optimization, you will understand how each step is important for SEO purposes, to get to the first “damn” and coveted Google page!
The best platform for your photography site
Surely your customers don’t care what platform you have developed your site on, as well as whether you use Sony, Canon, Nikon or Fuji. Search engines will certainly not rank you high just for the type of content platform you choose.
Currently I recommend three different platforms to develop your site.
WordPress is the most used platform. Although it is free and opensoruce, it requires the purchase of a Domain, a Hosting and a Theme.
WordPress allows you a lot of control over your site, but it also comes with responsibility for security and backups
Showit5 it is always based on WordPress, but implemented on a proprietary platform.
An immediate advantage is that with Showit in the registration process you will also get a domain name, hosting, a visual builder and templates to freely compose your site. Here we start from 220 euros a year to go up.
Squarespace is the ultimate in simplicity. You will be able to have a fairly complete site in a matter of hours. Even in this case you don’t have to worry about registering a domain separately, choosing a hosting and following the backups.
Of the three, WordPress is my first choice, especially considering the SEO. It needs to work harder, it takes longer to complete your site, but you will have more freedom of choice on themes, plugins and optimizations.
If you decide to go ahead with WordPress it is important to understand that not all themes are the same, others are more optimized, others less, the same goes for hosting.
In the Themeforest-type marketplaces you will find many “all-in-one” or “multi-purpose” themes, at low prices and attractive day layouts, but often cumbersome in terms of code that can lengthen the loading times of the site. The cost of a theme is around 60 Euros.
Another solution are the themes served by Flothemes and ProPhoto. Here the costs increase a lot, the themes are always developed on wordpress but with proprietary blocks and systems. In these cases the cost is also reflected in a very good drafting of the code, continuous updates and reliable assistance. We are about 270 euros
A further solution is instead a combination of Elementor or Divi type Page Builders combined with simple but light and fast themes such as Astra. You will get considerable flexibility in terms of site construction with a few more “tweaks”. Here the costs are very variable, you choose how to optimize your budget.
Personally I opt for the second or clear solution. If you need a working site, but without too many pretensions then you can also buy one of the many Themes you find on Themeforest .
Hosting for your site!
Hosting is a fundamental part of ranking. If you decide to build your site on the wordpress.org platform you will have the possibility to choose the hosting that best suits you.
Hosting is the physical space where your site resides, you can consider it as the engine of your website. A good hosting service allows you to improve the user experience by speeding up the loading, thus ensuring less waiting times.
Google does not issue a precise guideline of all the ranking factors to position your site on the front page, but one of the few certainties is that the response speed of the site is an important index that affects the Google ranking. It is a good idea not to save too much on the selected hosting and consider these 5 factors.
- Good performance from the hardware point of view
- Daily backup system
- Integrated anti spam and malware systems
- SSL protocol service for safe browsing
- Cdn services to speed up the site
That said, the minimum home base I suggest is Siteground . I use it for clients who have no particular demands or who have to stay on a more limited budget. If we want more speed we can choose Cloudways or Kinsta .
Siteground is a good compromise between costs and services offered. You can select different plans, you will get daily backups, SSL (Https) certificates, CloudFlare’s integrated CDN service, multiple email accounts, ftp panel and above all one of the fastest and best support services on the market.
Cloudways offers you extremely fast shared cloud hosting, at the expense of a few less services. You will not automatically have a mail service for example or an integrated ftp service. However, these limitations are easily overcome with some add-ons. For example, an email account via add-ons on Cloudways would cost around $ 1 per month.
Kinsta is another great service based on Google Cloud Platfrom, fast and performing. Like Cloudways, Kinsta only takes care of the space for your site, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your email accounts. Absolutely not a problem.
The basic services of both Hosting, Startup for Siteground and DigitalOcean for Cloudways, have costs that do not differ too much. basic, about € 10.00 per month. Obviously, if the budget is not your limit, you can indulge yourself with much more expensive and very high performance services. Kinsta starts at around € 27 per month.
Optimize your website for the right keywords
Ok, now you have your own hosting with your preferred domain name, francescofebbo.com , in my case. Now let’s devote ourselves to choosing the best keywords through careful analysis. There are several tools, Ubersuggest , SEOzoom , entirely Italian, otherwise Ahrefs or Semrush , I personally use the latter. Get started with Ubersuggest as it is free. All these three tools will give you the best information to build good SEO, it will not themselves determine how high you will rise in the ranking, but rather how you will use the information obtained from them.
In the case of us photographers, most clients look for us using this combination of the keyword “Wedding photographer + location”. Trivial but true. Same goes for maternity, pregnancy, smash cake and the like. My site is positioned for “Wedding Photographer Pescara” plus other locations, the boys of Bimbiincorso they have decided to focus on “motherhood” and “babies”. You can check for yourself by looking for the combination “newborn photographer pescara” what position they occupy in the google serp.
Below I show you the SERP, or the Google results page, if you search for wedding photographers in the Pescara area. Let’s also see how to “read” the SERP. The SERP has mainly 4 sections.
The first section is for paid ads. It is an auction system. Compared to SEO, it has immediate effects. An ADS campaign must be planned and the budget established. Summarizing in two lines, the higher the budget, the easier you will appear in the campaign results.
The second section is that relating to the Google My Business page. It shows you the photo studios closest to your location. The My Business page must also be set up correctly and taken care of, a bit like you do for your professional Facebbok / Instagram page. The third section is the one most closely related to SEO. The fourth section which essentially reflects the first. They are always paid ads, but at the bottom of the page.
The parts are divided as follows:
- 4 results for paid campaigns
- 3 My Business results
- 10 results for organic positioning
- 3 results for paid campaigns
Optimize the structure of the site according to the thematic areas. If you deal with:
- newborn photography
- maternity photography
- family photography
- wedding photography
- portrait photography
you should dedicate a page for each topic to have an orderly and easily readable structure by search engines. You should also optimize one or more keywords for each page. The services offered should reflect those listed in your My Business.
You also need to assign the right tags and categories to your portfolio pages based on the analysis of the previously selected keywords.
Structured Data to define your own contents
THE structured data are information entered in the HTML code of a page to provide additional data on sites and pages in order to allow search engine to better understand and classify their content.
Google, BiGoogle, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex have created a common scheme to encode this data, this vocabulary is called schema.org .
Structured data show their usefulness not on the page where they are inserted, but in the Serp following a specific search. Google uses them to enable features and enhancements to special search results, the so-called Rich Snippets.
I’ll give you an example that, I think, we’ve all come across.
Google any recipe:
Here, Google shows you a carousel of multimedia results, the result of the implementation of structured data.
What are the benefits for our photography business?
For many local businesses, structured data clearly shows search engines the name of your business, address and telephone contact, the so-called NAP (Name – Address – Phone), opening hours and geo-location
Specifically, the structured data that refer to the schema Local Business show the following fields to search engines.
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Business Hours
- Geo-location Information (coordinates and map)
- Business Description
- Social Profile Links via sameAs property.
- Site Name
WordPress users have several plugins available to easily implement structured data. Here are some of them:
Let’s clarify that only structured data does not make you jump in the ranking. Google mom says it herself through John Mueller
“We don’t use it as a quality factor, so it’s not like we would say that this site has Schema markup, therefore it’s a better site.”
in the video below
So why implement structured data?
Many elements indicate that users are encouraged to click on the results highlighted by structured data. So we can enclose in these three points why you should invest some of your time:
- To make sure that the content of the web page arrives correctly to the search engine .
- To have the opportunity to access the wonderful world of Rich Snippet in the Google Serp
- They are also used in the Voice Search and personal assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Try a voice search, maybe one Seo guide for photographers . Let’s see if the result can be encouraging.
We optimize the photos
The first step is to rename the photo so that it has meaning for SEO. Don’t use photos that have only a numerical sequence as they come out of your camera.
For example, a photo called DSC0521.jpeg has no value for search engines. On the contrary, “Castello di Vicarello wedding photo.0128.jepg” or “Tuscan wedding photographer.0158.jpeg” are relevant when a bride is looking for a photographer in a specific area or at a specific location.
Another step is to geolocate them! From this point of view it is still not clear whether Google appreciates this practice or not! On line you will find many services that can be right for you. Unfortunately not always free. We come to the last step, perhaps the most important. If you use WordPress, once you upload a photo you will have a screen like this
The ALT TEXT field is essential because it is the value that search engines use to understand what the photo is about. It is good to include a brief description of the photo and a couple of keywords. Also fill in the DESCRIPTION field.
These are the steps for your photos. You should do this for every photo… maybe not all of them, but for the most part, yes!
Speed up your site even further
WP Rocket is paid, has excellent features, in many ways the best on the market, easily configurable. W3 Total Cache is free, it does its job great, but you will have to spend some time to understand the multiple configurations, nothing impossible anyway.
Optimize Google My Business
Google My Business is another fundamental aspect for the businesses that we want to position on search engines and that want to link their presence to the territory.
Google My Business cards are totally free, you just need a google account to be able to access them. They must be filled in with all information relating to the company. Opening hours, services offered, website, telephone numbers, physical address etcetc.
My business also allows you to receive reviews from customers. If you go back to the Serp image, in the My Business section you can see that each company name is matched with stars that indicate the average score that customers assign to you.
For us photographers, but in reality for any activity, it is essential to pay attention to the optimization of the Google My Business profile and provide Google with as much information as possible.
Then fill out your form carefully, focusing on these points:
- think carefully and decide the name of your business
- write an accurate description of your business
- choose the correct category to which your business belongs
- upload the photos in the right resolution by adding a descriptive text with geo-localized information
- enter the opening / closing times of the business
- enter the correct address
- enter the phone number and other contacts
- ask your customers for reviews
- update your profile often
As you have noticed, some items are in bold as they are essential to reinforce the identity of your business in the eyes of search engines.
Your website, My Business, and various online citations should all be close enough to match the NAP data. NAP is the acronym of Name, Address and Phone number. It is important that your company name is as identical, if not identical, to all quotes of your company that can be found online.
If my Google My Business shows the name “ Francesco Febbo Photographer “, Then also his Yellow Pages, squarespace, wedding.com, zankyou etcetc must be” Francesco Febbo Photographer “and not” Francesco Wedding Photographer “,” Francesco Foto “,” Francesco Fotografia “….
The same goes for phone number, address, opening hours. Once you have completed the My Business tab, always use it as a reference when it is time to enter your data in any portal.
Even when you enter information for structured data
online, Use schema.org to help search engines better identify your business. This site, Schema Markup Generator, will help you in creation of the mark up .
Check that on your website, on the web and on your Google My Business profile, there is a correspondence between your business name, address and telephone number. Therefore respect the order of NAP (name, address, telephone number) and enter this data above the navigation menu or in the footer.
In the previous chapters we have seen how to optimize our web pages from an SEO perspective, you have understood that it is necessary to work organically on multiple factors to get into the graces of Google and company. The more the site is optimized in its entirety, the more you will have the chance to get new conversions.
Now we are dedicated to a branch of SEO useful for those companies that provide services in direct contact with the public, such as a photographic studio, or for landing pages.
There Local SEO concerns the local positioning , geo-localized of a site or web page on search engine .
There Local SEO it aims to obtain organic visibility in a well-defined geographical area, such as “wedding photographer in Lucca” or “wedding photographer nearby”.
More and more often, in fact, many people search for a product or service by combining the search keys to the name of a city , or generic keys that return local results , mainly from smartphones.
How many times has it happened to you too to look for: “restaurant Rome” “faracia nearby”, “b & b island of Salina”?
There Local Search is obtaining particular success thanks also to the widespread diffusion of smartphones and the research carried out by these mobile devices. According to this Think with Google article in fact, in the USA, mobile searches with the key “ near me ”Are doubled compared to the previous year.
Google ranks local results according to a combination of three factors:
There relevance or relevance indicates how well a My Business card satisfies what the user is looking for.
There distance indicates how far a search result is from the location used for the search. If you look for a pizzeria in Palermo, the results will highlight the pizzerias in Palermo and not in other cities. If you don’t use the keyword with the added location, Google provides results based on other factors such as IP address or the location phone.
3) The prominence or importance indicates how well known and strong a business is compared to others.
Google also identifies importance based on information it finds on the web, such as links and articles. In the guide, Google also states that positive reviews and ratings affect the local ranking of a business. The more positive reviews you get, the better the result.
You don’t need to repeat it anymore, but your site, especially if you want do Local SEO must be optimized for i mobile devices . The user looking for a service and product wants to find the information right away. For example, if you own a restaurant, make your phone number, address and days of opening and closing immediately visible.
On Page Optimization
Optimize your website in the best possible way, using good practices SEO optimization on page .
- Use the city name so you want to position yourself inside (if possible) the title tag , of the meta description , header tags h1 and any h2 , in the images, in the text and in url
- H1 is Title they don’t have to be the same, you can write them differently, but try to use the keywords
- work optimally on the meta description to increase the CTR
- Use keywords naturally and do not force too much so you will avoid the keywords stuffing
SEO content for Landing Page and Blog
Underlying good Local SEO optimization there are the contents. Create content of interest, enhancing the strengths of your business. Optimize institutional pages and create, without exaggerating, landing pages optimized for certain keywords that you consider fundamental for your business.
Not only that, get the most out of the blog’s potential for writing news related to your city, like events is exhibitions : through the news you could intercept potential customers.
Map on the contact page
Insert a map where you highlight your business.
For example, on the contact page you could insert a Google Map in order to facilitate the location of your business.
Here I do not indicate the plugins to insert, or rather “embed”, a map on your site since most are free, valid and easily available.
You will encounter difficulties later as Google requires an API code to let you use its maps. This guide explains how to get the API.
This is an important point for yours Local SEO strategy , so I advise you to waste some time on it.