WATCH: Demystifying SEO – Best Practices for Photographers

WATCH: Demystifying SEO – Best Practices for Photographers

Search engine optimization (SEO) for your photography website is more important than ever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the work needed to keep your SEO in great shape, you’re not alone. 

Last week we sat down with our co-founder and General Manager Grover Sanschagrin and Senior Technical Support Specialist Jelan Coley to discuss SEO best practices for photographers, recent insights and how to boost your SEO with PhotoShelter.

Watch to learn about: 

  • Five things you can do to improve your SEO today
  • IPTC metadata and keywording tips 
  • What to prioritize and how some SEO practices work better than others
  • PhotoShelter’s recent improvements to ensure our members appear in search results, including the Google Image License Metadata program (currently in beta)

On-Demand Webinar: Demystifying SEO – Best Practices for Photographers

All your questions answered

Thank you to everyone for submitting questions throughout our conversation with our co-founder and General Manager Grover Sanschagrin and Senior Technical Support Specialist Jelan Coley. Read through some of the answers below and feel free to tweet any lingering questions @photoshelter.

This Q&A was lightly edited for clarity and length.

How long will it take to see results? 

That’s a very hard question to answer. There are so many factors involved with search engine algorithms changing so often and without notice. It takes generally about three months for your off-page factors – backlinks and all the work you’ve been doing there – to take effect. But as long as you’re making an effort to market your site and you filled out all of your IPTC metadata and did everything on our SEO checklist, you’re setting yourself up for success.

What goes into my images being indexed on Google Search? 

So based on all the slides we’ve shared, we optimize every single image that’s publicly listed on your site and mark them searchable so that they are technically compliant with Google Image Search. In order for all of it to work, you have to make sure you have it all filled out and mark your images as searchable. 

Who can help me with SEO strategy? 

We don’t really have a service at PhotoShelter to help you sit down and say, “This is where you should market yourself. These are the keywords you should use.” Other than these general tips, we’re happy to walk you through anything that was in this presentation and show you where to find things. If you have any questions in general, we can definitely help you out with that. 

For specific strategy, there are a number of SEO experts that focus on SEO strategy who can be found online. We have a list of certified consultants that can be found on our homepage at photoshelter.com, under the “More” section. Some of them specialize in SEO strategy. You can hire them to follow your work and walk you through all of these practices related to your very specific business.

How do you know if Google has indexed your site? 

If you can find your website in Google, then you know that your site has been indexed, but if you’re having trouble finding your website, consider creating a Google Search Console account. In Google Search Console, you can see what specific links are indexed by Google with their URL Inspector tool.

When it comes to blogging and backlinking, is it more valuable or recommended to have a blog on your own site, or hosted somewhere else such as Tumblr or wordpress?

It’s hard to say that one will work better than the other, but if you did have a blog hosted elsewhere, you have the opportunity to backlink to your other website to bring traffic from your blog to your portfolio site. As Grover mentioned in the webinar, Google and other search engines will use the anchor text used in backlinks to give context to what the website you are pointing to is all about, so you can try to leverage an externally hosted blog that way. On the other hand, if your blog is organically getting high traffic, there is an opportunity for users to navigate around the same website without necessarily having to click backlinks. They both have unique potential. 

Are the Web Statement URL and Licensor URL usually the same? (ie the photographer’s URL.) 

Google requires that they both be a valid URL. If you have a contact form on a page that also contains licensing information, then there won’t be any issue with them being the same URL. One should contain information about how licensing works, the other should be how to actually acquire a license (which is normally a contact form). Use these guidelines from our support center to determine what goes in each field:

Web Statement URL

This field should be a link (starting with https:// or http://) referencing a page about copyright ownership for the image. In most cases for PhotoShelter users, this would be a link to our licensing terms.

This field is labeled differently in different products:

ProductIPTC Field Name
  PhotoShelter  Web Statement URL
  Lightroom & Photoshop  Copyright Info URL
  Photo Mechanic  Copyright URL

Licensor URL

The Licensor URL should be a link (starting with https:// or http://) to a page with info on how to acquire a license. For most PhotoShelter members, this will be your contact page.

This field is labeled differently in different products:

ProductIPTC Field Name
  PhotoShelter  Licensor URL
  Lightroom & Photoshop“URL” under “Licensor”
  Photo Mechanic“URL” under “Licensors”

Is there a penalty at some point for too many keywords? Keyword spamming?

There is a penalty for keyword stuffing, but because of Google’s fast-changing algorithm, there isn’t an exact number that we can provide. You should always write your meta descriptions and IPTC information with a human reader in mind. Here is more information from Google to define keyword stuffing. There are other related pages linked there describing practices that will negatively impact SEO.

Can you show an example of a “custom page”?

Here are a few examples of custom pages from our members (please note, these pages are active at the time of this article and are subject to change at the discretion of the site owner):

Does it “count against me” if I use the same text in the Headline, Title and Caption of a group of images in a gallery?

Since each image URL is unique and the photo is unique, you won’t necessarily be punished for using the same metadata on multiple images, but you are missing out on an opportunity to be specific to that particular image and what is going on in it. You have an opportunity for each photo to use a different keyword in your headlines and titles and the caption specifically, should vary from image to image.

Where do you find the sitemap to share with Google? And then where do you submit the sitemap to Google? Is there a link?

Follow the instructions here for finding and submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console.

Can you show an example of a title and headline for any image? Which of them is more important for SEO?

You should fill out both fields. PhotoShelter will display the Headline as the Page Title on single image pages in the archive (visibile in the browser tab), then the Title if no Headline, and then Filename if neither exist. On the page next to the image, we will display the Title, then if Headline, in the cascade, and the filename displays in the archive regardless as seen below. Google may use these fields differently. The headline should be a summary of the caption and the title should be a way to identify the image that is human readable. Think about how you’d name the file instead of the filename and use that for the Title. 

Using this file as an example:

The Headline is “Lisa Loeb Backstage with Jakob Dylan at CBGB 2013,” and a good Title is “Lisa Loeb and Jakob Dylan Backstage.” 

I have thousands of images without title and headline, just with description. It’s important that these fields are different or can I just copy and paste descriptions in those fields?

By IPTC standards, the Headline and Title are different fields than the description/caption. We advise that you take the time to come up with Headlines and Titles using the example in the previous question.

Check out our Twitter thread that includes a list of SEO-related support articles and watch the on-demand webinar today.

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PhotoShelter Community Marketing Manager

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