I remember when I first started my photography business and launched my very first website, SEO (search engine optimization) was something that completely overwhelmed me. I honestly had that “build it and they will come” mentality, and expected that I would just magically show up in my client’s online searches. Little did I know that SEO would be just the beginning of hard business topics that I would need to learn over the course of the next few years! There are many wonderful resources out there on SEO tips these days, and even many experts who offer custom individual SEO services for your website. I am definitely not one of those experts, but I will be sharing the top three things that have helped me, that anyone can do to boost their search ranking.
Clarification: When I say the term “ranking”, think of it like this. Let’s say an expecting mother is looking to find a maternity photographer in her city, Portland, Maine. When she types into that Google search bar, being a maternity photographer who lives in the Portland Maine area- I want my website to show up as close to the top of her search list as possible, so that she can see my best work and see if I am the right maternity photographer for her. How far your website falls in the list that comes up, is your “rank”. So when I mention I want a better rank, or higher rank, or boosted rank, it just means that I want my website to be the closest to the top of search results as possible- because it increases the chance of that expecting mother to click on my website before anyone else’s.
The FIRST thing you can do: Make sure the title of your website and/or blog is search friendly. I have a ProPhoto WordPress blog, and a Squarespace website- both of which you can customize the title. Instead of my website just saying “Tiffany Farley”, both my website and blog are titled in a “SEO friendly” way- they are titled something close to “Portland Maine Maternity and Newborn Photographer | Tiffany Farley “. Remember that expecting mother example I gave above? Well yes there are times when my clients find me by word of mouth, and because their friend worked with me for their maternity and newborn pictures and then shared about how wonderful their experience was- so their friend would then find me by typing in my name “Tiffany Farley” to google so she too could book a session. But I want to make sure that families who have never heard of me, can find me by searching for what they are looking for- which in my case is a Maine Maternity and Newborn Photographer. So I make sure that sentence is first in my site titles for a little extra boost, and it also helps clarify on that Google search result page, by having right in my website site title exactly what they are looking for.
The SECOND thing you can do: Make sure you are renaming every single image that you upload to your blog and website with something that will help your SEO. This is a big reason why so many photographers spend time blogging so often, because it gives the opportunity to post fresh new written and image content for Google to share and use. When I upload an image, I am naming it according to what the image is. Let’s say I photographed a summer family portrait session on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine. Every image I upload, will be renamed something close to, “Kennebunkport Maine Family Photography on the beach, by Maine Family Photographer Tiffany Farley.” I want to include, in a readable sentence, something my ideal client may type into Google, as well as a description of the photo.
You know how when you search for something in Google and you sometimes will see image results pop up? This is because the description of those images, how they were named when they were uploaded to that website, possibly fit the search description you were looking for. We all know how images catch people’s attention! If I can not only rank higher in a family’s search with my website near the top of the list, with a clear site title, but also have images show up as well- it’s a win win!
Every website may be different, but I am always sure to rename the “Title” of the image, and the “Alternative Text” of the image. In ProPhoto/Wordpress this is easily done when I upload any image through a menu to the right. The Alternative Text, or “Alt Text”, is currently the description that will carry that image to Pinterest. When people pin images from a website to a Pinterest board, especially from their phone, 9 times out of 10, they don’t change the description. So for the example given above, I would make sure that my Alt Text is something close to, “Kennebunkport Family Beach Photography by Maine Family Photographer Tiffany Farley, www.tiffanyfarley.com”. I like knowing that my images at least begin on Pinterest with my website and name clearly defined in the caption. It also helps with search results!
The THIRD thing you can do: Pay attention to your blog post permalinks. When you create a post in WordPress, right under your title you will see a place to edit your permalink url. If your permalink is not built off of the title of your post, you will want to change that in your WordPress site settings. For example, sometimes your permalink is set to include the date. I find this unnecessary. Once your permalink settings are set to be built from the title of your post, you can easily change it to something more SEO friendly. Let’s say I photograph a newborn portrait session in Camden, Maine and I titled the blog post, “Welcoming Baby Sarah | A Camden Maine Newborn Portrait Session”. I would then go in the permalink, and delete the first half, so that it says something close to “…com/camden-maine-newborn-photographer”. Basically I want to rid that url of anything that wouldn’t be of extra help to me in a google search.
There is so much more to be mindful of when it comes to getting found online, but I would definitely say that these here are the top three things I count on to keep my SEO boosted, so that potential clients can find me. But as I mentioned, I am most certainly not an expert! That’s why I have linked below to some of my favorite educational blog posts on SEO and getting found here below!
SEO Made Simple by Elle & Co
Build a Website that Grows Your Business with The Rising Tide Society
Three Simple SEO Tips for Photographers by Natalie Franke
A Quick Guide to Google & SEO by Katelyn James & Krista Jones
An important thing to remember is that Google changes the rules for SEO somewhat often. It’s something that is important to learn and use as a business owner, but don’t neglect the other avenues of marketing once you are confident that your SEO is working well, because as we all experienced with Facebook Business Pages in the last couple years, when you aren’t the one in control of the platform, you don’t get a say when they change things up. Do I count on SEO for new clients to find me? Absolutely! But do I depend entirely on it? Definitely not.
Stay tuned, because next I will be sharing how I refuse to depend on ONE avenue of marketing. Have questions about anything I shared here today? Feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer!