These simple tips on improving your SEO will make all the difference in your online visibility.
In the days before the digital economy really took off and changed everything, as a photographer, you could get by with a great portfolio of your work and a winning, persuasive personality. That was enough to help you get noticed and land jobs.
Today, that’s no longer the case.
The Internet has affected almost every industry, and photography is no exception. Nowadays, you need to be more sophisticated than ever with your website and online portfolio for customers to find you and get a sense of who you are and how easy you are to work with.
It’s tough, but on the upside, your potential audience is now global. In fact, with just a few lucky breaks, you could position yourself as a globe-trotting photographer. But you won’t be discovered if you don’t start taking care of your search engine optimization, or SEO.
SEO can be a confusing term, but all it means is correctly setting up each and every photograph online so they can be found via a search engine when someone is looking for the kind of work you do. Think of SEO like your mom telling you to “eat your brussel sprouts before you get dessert”. You may not like it at first, but you know your mom is right, and these “brussel sprouts” are going to help you get more jobs. Believe us, you’re going to benefit from eating your SEO “brussel sprouts”.
But how do you begin to set up or increase your SEO? It takes practice, and you need to start with these basics.
When creating content on your site, you will want to think about the keywords you are using on your website’s pages, blog posts, and filenames of images. These are the words that someone might type into Google when looking for your specific type of photography service. Let’s go through a few examples:
- If you are a wedding photographer in San Diego, California, some of your most useful keywords would be things like:
- San Diego Wedding Photographer
- Wedding Photographer in San Diego, California
When creating content, specifically blog content, you also have to think of other topics that are related to your specific target market. You can then talk about these topics on your blog in order to help drive traffic to your website. For example:
- Best Wedding Venues in San Diego, California
- Top Wedding Caterers in San Diego, California
You get the idea. Use keywords to provide the search engine with the right clues that will bring up your website, blog posts and pictures during a search. Try thinking of this by asking yourself the question, “What would I search for in Google if I were looking for someone who does my same type of work?”
If your files are too big, they will slow the loading time of your site. Find the optimal size that allows people to see the detail in your pictures without overloading their browsers. 500kb files should be perfect for people to really get a sense of what you do.
Alt Text for Images
Because Google doesn’t actually have eyes (at least not yet) to see what images are, it uses alt text to be able to “see” what the image is. When uploading an image, change the alt text to be a description as to what the image is and/or where it was taken. This text is also widely used as a descriptor when an image is shared via social media platforms like Pinterest or on Google Images.
Think of the alt text as the way you would describe the image to a friend who is on the other end of a phone and can’t see the picture. A few words that can help conjure up the image.
Search engines reward the pictures that have short descriptions with better rankings. You will find a field that asks you to describe a photo – don’t leave it blank. Write a short, simple sentence that describes exactly what you can see in the picture in clear, concise language.
Don’t be over-descriptive and flowery; just keep it simple. Suppose you’re an events photographer and you’re covering the main speaker at a Canon conference. Your description would read something like this: “Keynote address in Main Hall by [fill in name] at Canon conference, April 16, 2017.”
Google measures your popularity and usefulness based on how many sites you link to (outbound) and how many sites link to you (inbound). Reach out to an online community of photographers and connect your digital lives. Write blogs with useful links in them, give away photos on social media, follow the right influencers, have an opinion, and connect in ways that work for you and are sustainable.
Nobody looks forward to doing SEO (remember, brussel sprouts). It’s behind-the-scenes, unglamorous housekeeping. But if your goal is to have a thriving online presence, a great website, and more leads/clients then you need to understand SEO and work it into your routine as a photographer.