He might photograph celebrities, but Brian Smith is a celebrity…
This is the sixth blog post from a new series to help you create a business plan in 2014 using our guide The 2014 Photo Business Plan Workbook. Download it here.
Step #6: Build Your SEO
Photographers are often vexed by Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because it seems like a moving target. Just when you think your website is ranking well, Google changes its algorithm, and you lose half your traffic. The frustration might be warranted, but the fact of the matter is that everyone uses search engines to find services and products online. And no matter what you search for, some website always comes up first, and subsequently gain a massive marketing benefit.
Although there are many different factors that affect SEO, we like to think of three main categories that you can focus on to simplify things.
- On-page content
- Building links to your website
- Getting people talking about you on social media
In an information-rich society, we are highly dependent on search engines to find what we are looking for whether it’s a local plumber, or a portrait photographer in Des Moines. You simply cannot drive enough traffic to your website by handing out business cards. The goal of SEO is unsolicited traffic—people looking for your products and services without knowing who you are.
Example: There are three main areas that all photographers can focus on immediately to improve their SEO:
1. On-Page Content refers to the text that appears on your website. On many photographer websites, there is very limited text, which is a huge problem from an SEO perspective. As much as you might want your photography to “speak for itself,” you still need textual content to rank within search engines. If you are a New York portrait photographer, then “New York portrait photographer” should appear on your website. So should words and phrases that are similar in nature like “I specialize in corporate and editorial portraiture in the New York and Tri-state area.” Similarly, your images need captions and titles, and the more detail, the better.
Hopefully, your website provider has automated much of the SEO techno-geek stuff for you. This might include: ￼￼￼
- unique page titles
- meta description
- <h1> (aka. HTML headline tags)
- IMG alt attributes
- optimized page load times
2. Building link to your website is the most important factor in increasing your SEO. The process of “backlink” creation can seem like a very ambiguous task, but in fact, it’s quite simple. There are two ways to build links 1) do it yourself, or 2) get other people to link to your website.
Maintaining a blog is the easiest way to link to yourself. Each time you photograph something new, create a gallery on your website, then write a blog entry which links to that gallery. If you belong to any photography trade groups or community sites, you might have a profile page where you can link back to your website.
Getting other people to link to you is a bit harder, but you really just want to have something interesting on your website. Perhaps you’ve worked on a long-term photo project that has some relevance right now. You might pitch a gallery of images to various photo blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Link aggregator sites like Stumbleupon, Digg, and Reddit can also be a great way to get a large number of people talking about your photograhy very quickly.
3. Getting People Talking About You In Social Media has quickly become an important correlative factor in SEO. In the same way that backlinks are viewed as a vote of endorsement for your website, social signals (e.g. people “liking” or “tweeting” about content on your website) is viewed similarly by search engines. Google makes hundreds of changes to their search algorithm in any given year, and “freshness” has become more important. Therefore, it’s important to be actively creating content online to succeed.
Ready to build your SEO? Download the Workbook to get a list of To-Do’s after reading through this step, along with a slew of resources.