I may have downplayed the effect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a little in the first part of this series – which covered the importance of word of mouth marketing. However, it does not mean that SEO should be ignored by any means. In fact doing so would be folly. For the most part, photographers and creative professionals don’t want to spend time obsessing about SEO. However, we realize that it’s an important aspect of running a successful operation online. The good news is that setting up the basic parameters of SEO best practices is not difficult, and doing so will give you a leg up on competitors who are not inclined to put in the little bit of extra effort.
Where Do I Start?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technique that helps search engines find and rank your site within their organic search results. The higher you rank in results, the more web traffic can come through to your site, which in turn gives you more opportunities to convert prospective clients into buying customers. Search engines strive to provide its users with relevant search results.They analyze your site and what is on your site. If the search parameters match, then the Search Engine will offer up your site as a result. Where your site ends up in the results will depend on how relevant the search engines think it is, and how many competitor sites seem equally relevant. Part of the equation is knowing how people search for what you have to offer, and the other part is knowing how to make what you offer clear to search engines.
Ok, But How Do I Start?
You may think that what you do is obvious to anyone that sees your site. Though that might be true, it won’t be obvious to search engines, and if it’s not obvious to search engines, its less likely that actual people will see your fantastic site. The best place to start is describing what you do, not who you are. By what you do I mean the type of photography you provide or the services you offer. The main goal of being effective in SEO is to help people find you even if they are not aware your company exists. You need to attract potential clients who are looking for what you offer. In search engine jargon, describing your business and services is referred to as keywords. You can spend a lot of time analyzing search engine data and fine tuning your keywords based on what people are searching for, but to start off with a little common sense will go a long way. State what you do and where you do it. If you are an event photographer, you should mention that on your site. If you are an event photographer in Boise Idaho, you should mention that as well.
Once you know your keywords, you need to apply them both in your site content and in a few areas that most people won’t see but search engines will. Learn more about incorporating SEO in your Redframe website here.
A Few Quick Tips:
1. Pay attention to your Page titles and meta descriptions. These usually end up as what users will see when your site does turn up in search results. Having relevant information there will increase the likelihood that someone will click on your link over the others on the page. Showing up in results is really only half the battle. Once you do rank well and show up, you still need the user to click on your link to visit your site. Again, the best way to be successful here is to describe what you do, not who you are in the title and meta description tags.
2. Rename your images with SEO friendly names. Search engines look at the name of the image to serve up search results, especially if someone is doing an image specific search. It seems pretty obvious, but if someone searches for Napa Valley Wedding Photography, a search engine is more likely to return a result with an image named napa-valley-smith-wedding-12.jpg than one name DCS546783.jpg. You can further impact your marketing by watermarking your images with your website URL.
3. Mention where you are in your keywords. If you are a wedding photographer in Bend, Oregon, have that in your keywords. You most likely want to rank based on where you live, especially if you are offering a localized service. Make sure location keywords are part of your SEO strategy.
4. If you can, get other sites to link to you. The easiest way to start is to ask companies or groups that you work with or partner with to mention you on their site. It’s even better if they use some of your keywords in that link. For example Boise Idaho Event Photographer is probably more effective than Phil Smith Photographer. If asking colleague seems daunting, you can also just wait until you get really famous and then all sorts of sites will link to you without you needing to ask.
5. Be sneaky. Take a peak at your competitors. When you do a Google search for a term that you think your clients are using, and your competition keeps appearing, take a peak at their code and see the terms they are using. It is not private information, and copying them directly will probably not get you the results you hope for, but seeing what they are using can always provide you with some ideas.
Search engine optimization can seem like a daunting topic but it doesn’t need to be. If you want to learn more there is no shortage of advice to be found online. However, if you want to concentrate on creating your content, you can follow a few basic tips, and still be going in the right direction.