SEO – A Primer For Photographers

SEO (search engine optimization) has been the most talked about strategy throughout the last decade. But what is SEO? And how can you as a photographer use it to get top placement in the search engines?
SEO for photographers
To answer that question, let’s first look at what SEO is. According to Wikipedia, SEO is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via natural or un-pain search results. Typically, the higher a site appears in the search results, the more traffic it will receive from people searching through the search engines.

Now let me ask you another question. What key term would you like to rank high on?

If you’ve never thought about it before, its time to start.

Google has around 31 billion searches every single month. If you hope to capture even a tiny fraction of that search, you have to understand what is important to rank high on.

Long Tail
Would you want to rank #1 under the key term “photographer”?

Hopefully you answered no. Photographer is a very broad term, and at this level, we don’t know what the searcher is actually thinking. They could be looking for a wedding photographer, or for a college to help them become a photographer. It’s just too broad.

The average person will search 5 times in Google before they narrow down their search phrase enough to truly find what they are looking for.

So in the case of “photographer”, they may continue on and search:

  • Wedding photographer
  • Wedding photographer California
  • Wedding photographer California beach portraits
  • Wedding photographer San Diego California beach portraits

As a searcher, you know what you want and keep looking until you find it.

Once a searcher has a page of results, they will quickly click in and out of sites until they find something interesting, and relevant to what they are looking for.

More Content, More Love
Now that you understand how a person searches, how does your website match that search process?

Let’s imagine a website with five pages. It has one page dedicated to services, and has a laundry list of everything they provide. So if this photographer offers weddings, the services page has a little content about their wedding services, perhaps a price list, and maybe a little information about their wedding philosophy.

Nowhere on that page does it go into detail on individual keywords. [I have seen a lump paragraph with dozens of keywords at the bottom of the page – but this doesn’t capture the attention of the search engines anymore, and may actually hurt your ranking more than help it.]

The new SEO is all about content. Google loves content, and because it’s the biggest search engine, if you make Google happy, all other search engines will pretty much be happy as well.

Instead of having one page for services on a site with five pages, why not blog about what you do and create dozens – even hundreds of pages of content that is very specific about its target keyword.  [I wrote an article on Blog Title concepts this week – it may help you come up with ideas for titling your blog posts.]

If someone types into the search engines “Wedding photographer San Diego California beach portraits” you pretty much know what they are thinking. They are definitely looking for a wedding photographer in the San Diego area, and they are probably getting married on or near the beach and want some fantastic beach portraits.

What if you had a blog post titled, “Beach Portraits In The San Diego Sun – Sarah and Justin’s Dream Wedding”. If your blog had authority and ranked highly in the search engines, that title would definitely pop up close to the top when the searcher typed in, “Wedding photographer San Diego California beach portraits”. And if the post had dozens of photographs showcasing this beach wedding, the searcher would probably stay on that page for a long time. And probably connect with you. And maybe even hire you as their wedding photographer.

That’s the goal of SEO. It takes time. It takes effort. But even just a little every day can have astounding results a short time from now. I have a client who’s been blogging for four months, and we’re already seeing significantly more traffic to his site because of ranking well under long tail phrases.

So are you ready to use SEO techniques to grow your business? What are you waiting for?

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1 thought on “SEO – A Primer For Photographers”

  1. I agree with your points. As my business gets more complexed and more niche keywords such as “Arizona Photography” don’t cut it but a term like “Tempe Concert Photographer” may be too narrow.

    I try to optimize my sites for keywords like “Phoenix Concert Photographer” or “Phoenix Special Event Photography” – these terms are more in line with my business.

    Thanks for the post – I’ve subscribed to this site in my reader.


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