In out today’s entry we’ll focus on the most important aspects of SEO in photography. You’ll find out why it’s worth optimizing photos, running a blog or having accounts on various social media platforms. Learn the secrets of SEO for photographers!
Probably everyone is fond of capturing the most special moments in photographs. Photos are a great memorabilia, thanks to which you can keep your memories alive for many years. No wonder that the photography industry is developing at such a dynamic pace and photographers outdo each other in their struggle to win the interest of potential clients. But this is a moment to ask the question: how to be effective and stand out from the competition on the market? And this is also when SEO comes in handy.
Why is SEO vital for photographers?
The above question has been partially answered in the introductory part of our article. The photography industry is constantly evolving so if you want to be successful you need to ensure that your photographs are visible and displayed in the search results. Thanks to it, you’ll be able to reach your potential clients. Appropriate SEO activities communicate Google and other search engines on which key phrases your website and photos should be displayed in the search results.
Let’s have an example - if you specialize in occasional photography and you publish photos from engagement sessions on your website, then, thanks to SEO, photos from your website will be displayed in the search results after users enter a search query such as “engagement session in the mountains”. This way, your services can easily reach a wider audience.
[caption id="attachment_13061" align="aligncenter" width="750"] The search results for “engagement session in the mountains”.[/caption]
Thanks to the fact that your website and photos are displayed in the search results, there is a chance that more users will visit your site and consequently, if they like your works, then you may get more orders.
Now you know why SEO is vital for the photography industry. Below we present a few guidelines thanks to which your photos will be appreciated by a wider group of recipients.
SEO guide for photographers
On our blog we’ve already written about top 10 elements of an SEO process and we’ve discussed the basic principles and components of SEO. However, in our today’s article we’d like to focus mainly on those aspects of SEO that are particularly significant for photographers.
1. Make the most of every picture - photo optimization
Obviously photos are the most important on a photographer’s website and undoubtedly they should be of the finest quality. However, you also shouldn’t forget to optimize your photos because it’s the key factor deciding whether they’re displayed in the search results. So when publishing pictures on your website remember to take care of:
A photo's file name – it should be concise and it should contain a key phrase. Individual words are separated with the use of the "-" character (dash). Avoid using underscores, i.e. "_", because robots don’t interpret them correctly. It’s also forbidden to use spaces to separate words in the file name. Remember not to include any special characters and don’t use ASCII (the character encoding system). “Wedding-session-in-the-mountains.jpg” is an example of an appropriate photo’s file name. Analogously, “wedding_session_in_the_mountains.jpg” is an exemplary bad name for a photo file. While saving your file with a photo, remember about a proper filename extension. Most often you’ll come across files saved in JPG and PNG formats.
Photo size – this is another important issue as it affects the loading speed of your website. Before sending the file to the server, it’s advisable to compress it, so that the photos don’t lose their quality and at the same time their smaller size positively influences the loading speed of the site. It’s recommended that the weight of transmitted images shouldn’t exceed 150-200 KB.
The ALT atribute – it’s essential to include the photo description in the ALT attribute. In other words, it’s an alternative text thanks to which you can provide the search engine with information what is shown in the picture. In situations when the graphics on your website don’t load properly, the alternative text is displayed in their place. The alt text is also very important for people with visual impairments because the text in the ALT attribute is read by special programs and screen readers, so that the disabled know what is presented in a given photo. Remember to include a keyword in your alternative text because thanks to it, your photos can be displayed in the Google Images search results. You can use special characters in the content of your alt text but the properly completed ALT attribute in the code of the page should look like this:
<img src=”http://domain/wedding-photo-in-the-mountains.jpg” alt=”Wedding session in the mountains – Kate and Martin”/>
[caption id="attachment_13065" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Remember to enter the description in place of the alternative text (in the alt tag). The photo presents a description entered in WordPress.[/caption]
Photo title - it serves as a supporting text. Its role isn’t crucial for the SEO process, however, it’s worth adding it in order to describe the photo in detail. Remember not to duplicate the text you’ve entered in the ALT attribute.
Photo captions - they’re particularly helpful for the users. It often happens that people read only the shortened description under the photo and skip the rest of the text. If you want to keep users on your website for longer, use photo captions when possible.
The content around the graphics - of course this element can’t be neglected neither. The content should be related to the photos and should include keywords for which you want to run the SEO campaign. Take advantage of headers or tags (bold and italics).
Photos location on the server - photos location, meaning the structure of directories on the server, can be important for SEO for Google Images. It’s a good solution to place photos in directories that contain a key phrase associated with the graphics. However, remember that just as in the case of a photo’s file name, the name of a directory should be concise and it shouldn’t include any special characters.
The above list presents only the basic elements that should be kept in mind while publishing photos on the website.
2. Don’t forget about unique content
There is probably no need to convince anyone that content plays a key role in the SEO process. Thanks to your content and appropriate keyword phrases you can increase your visibility on the web even more. However, despite the fact that content is one of the basic elements of the SEO process, most photographers forget about it and publish photos without any descriptions. This makes it difficult for search engines to read what the photos actually show and on which key phrases they should be displayed in the search results.
Instead of posting photos only on a portfolio website, it's worth running a blog where you can add appealing descriptions to your photos. There are always interesting stories behind taking unique photos, so why don’t you share them with your visitors? It’ll also help search engines to understand better what is shown in the pictures. Therefore, your photos will be displayed in the search results more frequently and this will certainly increase traffic to your site. Additionally, such descriptions will cause users to perceive your works in a more emotional way, which in turn can make them want use your services to tell their stories as well. It’s also a good idea to post a variety of tutorials on your blog - users may be interested how to choose appropriate equipment, how to make better photos, what are the most captivating locations to take photos in a given area or what the backstage of a photo session looks like. This way, you’ll be appreciated not only by those looking for a photographer but also by those looking for advice and inspiration. Moreover, you’ll also build your image and be recognized as an expert in the industry.
Below you can find a few tips that will make your entries even better:
Use catchy titles. Don’t focus solely on relevant keywords but instead pay attention to the title of your entry. Of course it can contain a key phrase but its main role is to interest the users and encourage them to visit your website.
Concentrate on 1-2 keywords (and their synonyms). Choose 1 or 2 keywords to each entry and base it on them. This will make it easier to be ranked higher in the results. Remember about keyword density - your text shouldn’t consist only of keywords. Entries that are sufficiently long can be displayed for more than 1 or 2 key phrases and this is particularly applicable in the case of long-tail keywords. Therefore, it’s worth selecting 1 or 2 main phrases and a greater number of long-tail phrases which will help you achieve better results in the rankings.
Plan the relevant post structure. Make sure it’s transparent and legible. It’s good to divide your post into several paragraphs, interspersed with various photographs. In the subsequent paragraphs, use the appropriate tags such as <strong> and <em> to highlight your keywords. The <strong> tag is displayed in bold, while <em> is displayed in italics. The bold effect can also be achieved with the <b> tag, and the italics with the <i> tag. The difference in using these tags is that <b> and <i> provide only a visual effect, while the phrases highlighted with <strong> and <em> tags are read by Google robots as important for the website and they positively affect SEO.
Use headers. Don’t forget to use H1, H2 and H3 headers when writing a post on your blog. These headers also have a positive impact on the transparency of your entry. To learn more about how to correctly use website headers go to our previous entry: what is a website header?
Optimize your photos. Remember to provide appropriate file names, sizes and descriptions (with key phrases) in the ALT tag.
Write for your clients. Our last piece of advice is to remember that your content should be created for people, not for Google robots. It’s your clients who need to comprehend your posts and draw inspiration from them.
3. Use local SEO
The photography industry is highly mobile. Photographers take photo sessions not only in their place of residence but they are also willing to take orders all over the country or even abroad. Running SEO for general phrases, such as "wedding photographer" or "occasional photography", without providing location is very difficult due to the increasing competition on the market. Thus, when you want to be displayed on the first page of the search results, it’s worth adopting a local SEO strategy.
The first step is to choose the right key phrases, however, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you work in the photography industry and come from Chicago, you can freely position yourself on such phrases as "photographer Chicago" or "wedding photographer Chicago". Below you can see the search results after entering the phrase “photographer Chicago”.
[caption id="attachment_13068" align="aligncenter" width="653"] The search results for “photographer Kraków”.[/caption]
Phrases including the industry name and the city or region where your business is located should be directed to the homepage of your website. If you want your website to be displayed high in the search results, even after entering other city name than the one in which you operate on a daily basis, you should create separate landing pages where you can publish content with key phrases (names of various cities) on which you want to be displayed.
Geolocation also plays an important role in the local SEO. This functionality enables to determine your location and on its basis displays you personalized search results. If you enter the phrase "photographer" in Google, it’ll match the results and show you the photography services that are the closest to you. But what to do to be displayed like that in the search results? Make sure you provide the search engine with the information where your business is located. Because this information is collected from Google Maps, it’s vital you set up and optimize your business card in Google My Business. The main benefit of such a business card is that you’ll be displayed both in the standard search results and in Google Maps. On your card, you can place sample photos or other important information that may draw clients’ attention. This is what an exemplary business card in Google My Business looks like:
4. Be active on social media platforms
If you want your photos to reach a sizeable audience and get recognizable then you mustn’t forget about social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram are particularly important for photographers but very recently also Pinterest and Flickr have become increasingly popular. Thanks to regular posting and being active in social media, you’ll not only gain new orders and stay in touch with your clients but, above all, you’ll also make your website more recognizable.
Thoroughly analyze the hours at which your followers are the most active on given social media platforms and then publish your meticulously prepared posts. Take care of a consistent feed on your Instagram and appropriate hashtags which will facilitate reaching your potential clients or followers. Remember to respond to comments and be active under posts of other users. This will undoubtedly help you to attract new followers who probably are also your potential clients.
5. How to boost your photography business?
Running your own photo website or having a Facebook and Instagram account isn’t the only way to reach new clients and become recognizable. There are plenty of photo portals where artists can publish their photos with links to the website and thus increase their position in the search engine rankings. Below you can see our proposal of the most effective portals that can help you boost your photography business.
500px - this is one of the most important photo portals in the world. Here you can not only admire the works of professionals but also mutually evaluate and comment on different photos with other users. If your photos gain popularity on this site, you’ll be surely appreciated and noticed as a photographer, which in turn will certainly result in numerous proposals for cooperation and new orders. It’s also worth mentioning that on 500px you can offer your photos for sale.
Behance - is an online platform where you can publish your photos with links to your site. It’s based on searching by categories and location and it associates the finest photographers and graphic designers from all over the world. Behance is an excellent platform for those who want to deal with photography professionally - companies very often make cooperation proposals to users found on this platform or search for photographers who will perform orders for them. The registration is completely free and the portfolio you’ve created can be easily synchronized with your website.
Flickr - this is a platform where you can publish and store your photos. Its main advantage is the possibility to share your photos very easily. It also provides quick access to EXIF information and you can quickly check the statistics of your photos.
[caption id="attachment_8945" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Źródło: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosie_hardy/[/caption]
Pinterest - this is another portal which enables you to publish and catalog your photos. It’s a place where thousands of people find inspirations every day. Pinterest allows you not only to add descriptions where you can put appropriate keywords but it also enables you to add pins from the web. Because of it, you can increase the traffic to your website and reach potential clients.
Indisputably, photos are the most important elements on the photographers' websites. Make sure your pictures are of the finest quality because otherwise they won’t attract the users’ attention. In order to reach a wider range of recipients, it’s advisable to follow the SEO guidelines. When running an SEO process for photography websites, you should focus primarily on optimizing your photos so that they’re displayed high both in the standard search results and in Google Images. It’s also worth taking care of unique content of your website and this can be done by running a blog or being active on various social media platforms. We’re sure that implementing our guidelines will help you to gain new clients and make your website even more recognizable with each day!
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