Ordinarily, we get paid to go over these topics. However, I wrote this SEO for photographers guide to bring you up to speed quickly.
In this guide, I start by covering the primary elements and promptly move into advanced concepts.
My goal for this guide is to educate you in SEO, drive traffic to your business, and get you as a client.
I’m not going to spam you with emails or with random phone calls. I’m going to win you over by giving you this guide, equipping you with the information to grow your business.
We will cover:
- What is SEO
- What it can do for your business
- Track the ROI
- Common SEO problems photographers make
What is SEO?
“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimisation – SEO is the process of getting your website to rank higher in search engines.
For example, let’s say your website provides the service of wedding photography in London. When someone searches “wedding photographers London” on Google, you want your site to show up. If it does, you will be printing money.
It’s also important to understand that SEO isn’t the only way to display on top of search engines. Google, Yahoo and Bing offer a paid service that’s “Pay Per Click” ads, where you spend money to appear on the search engines to show up for specific searches.
Every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay the search engine. Ads show up on top of organic results but are tagged with “Ad” next to the result.
While this guide is about SEO, you must understand the distinction and benefits of both options. I always tell clients Pay Per Click ads are an excellent marketing tactic and should be executed if they have the budget to do so. SEO is more of an investment that produces a more significant ROI in the long run.
SEO – Organic Search
- The traffic is 100% free (unless you’re paying an agency).
- Organic traffic converts better than paid traffic, as users prefer to visit organic results overpaid.
- Ranking naturally on the first page of Google also gives you a chance to rank in the Google snippet.
- Very difficult to do correctly. SEO is continuously evolving & has grown very competitive over the years.
Pay Per Click – Advertising
- Quick results, show up on top of search engines day 1.
- Self serve platform that you can manage yourself. However, it’s complicated and still requires expert knowledge.
- Expensive. Some clicks can cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the keyword.
- It doesn’t scale as well as SEO. When you’re paying for traffic, you need to see an ROI. It becomes a difficult process to get profitable on your spend.
Either way, search engine marketing means growth – more clients, sales, brand reach and engagement.
There are two main goals with SEO
- Page 1 Ranking
- Google Snippet
With two ways to achieve it (simplified)
- On-page – Giving Google everything they need.
- Off-page – Building up trust in Google eyes.
Luckily there is a direct tie with page 1 listings and the Google snippet.
Here’s an example:
Straight away you get the Google my business listing directly above the 1st page results. This is prime real estate because…
- It’s above the first page results.
- It takes up a lot of virtual room.
- It’s very prominent on mobile devices.
The great news is that being on the first page of Google leads to a higher chance of being on the Google snippet. The classic two birds one stone technique gives you more bang for your buck.
As you can see from the pictures above the link of ranking with SEO in Google. A lot of our current clients are getting a massive amount of clicks to their website and calls to their business just from taking advantage of this information.
Above is a screenshot of the monthly search volume of the keyword and also the cost per click. As you can see at around 5 pound a click just getting a 100 clicks of the 4,400 monthly search volume will cost you around £500.
Let’s dive into how to get those results for free. Eeeeek… Exciting.
Tracking the return on investment (ROI)
Is doing SEO for photographers worth it? Yes, absolutely getting leads on autopilot every day is worth it.
But, you need to track and measure if your money spent equals a positive ROI.
Unlike other marketing methods where you have no idea if you’re going to get your money back, with SEO I can track the money I earn for my photography clients with analytics.
There are free tools Google provide, which are excellent:Google Analytics
This software lets you see real-time stats, the location of the users, mobile or desktop users, and you can see how people are viewing your page and the numbers coming from search (part of how we can track ROI for SEO work). And much, much more.
Google Search Console
Google search console shows you your “impressions” (how often you show up in Google) the impressions should be going up over time. And “queries” which are the keywords people are using to find you. These two metrics verify that the work you’re doing is working and shows your traffic is coming from the right keywords.
You can easily track traffic and keyword rankings (which are essential KPI’s) but monitoring traffic and knowing if it’s converting into leads and then to clients is the ace of spades.
With SEO, we can track leads!
To do that, you need to track your Goals. We’re going to use a “form submission” (when a site visitor completes your contact form) under the assumption that it then sends them to a “Thank You” page.
How to find it: Google Analytics > Admin tab > View > Goals
How to set it up:
- New Goal
- “Create an account” button under “Acquisition.”
- Click Next Step
- Give your Goal a name such as “Contact Form”
- Type -> Destination
- Click Next Step
- Destination -> “Equals to”
- Type in the exact URL of your “Thank You” page (ex: https://photomba.net/thanks/ would be typed in as /thanks)
- Click “Verify goal”
- Click “Create Goal”
Google Analytics > Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages > Segment: Organic
What it means: You’ll quickly know the pages that are bringing in the most leads (goal completions). Each page on your site should be optimised for various keywords. By looking at how much traffic they’re bringing in and what the goal completion is, you’ll be able to see which ones hold the most value for you.
Before now, you probably just got 10 contact form emails per month and thought it was great. But did they come to your site from social media? From the ad, you ran on Hitched? From that guest post you wrote or that featured a wedding, you had in the paper?
People trust their friend’s recommendations, but they also trust business on the 1st page of Google.
Let’s talk about money.
You precisely know how SEO is growing your business by tracking the metrics or having them tracked for you.
Let’s assume that I’m charging £1,000 per month for SEO and the organic traffic increases by 530 and has a website lead conversion rate of 6.41%, which equals 34 new leads a month (people who contact you). If you close at 15% into customers, that’s 5.1 clients every month… let’s say 5.
How much is a wedding photography gig worth to you?
Because I don’t know what you charge I’m going to say £1500.
Cost of SEO = £1,000
Organic traffic = 530
Website Conversion Rate = 6.41%
Organic Leads = 34
Remember if we target the right keywords the traffic will be people in the buyer’s cycle coming to the website which should convert at 6.41% and much higher.
To digest the information better, I made a visual representation in Google Sheets. You can see the photographer has over £5,000 in net profit this month, just from SEO (and after they’ve paid me).
Common SEO problems for photographers
You know the benefit of SEO for photographers, how to track your return on investment, and why SEO is so powerful.
Quick question, when is the last time you even clicked to the second and third page of Google, when you’re looking to buy a product or use a service?
Exactly you need to be on page 1, so why aren’t you ranking on the first page of Google?
Optimise your page for your target keyword
Below is an example of targeting a keyword sometimes you can over optimise, so you have to be careful but too many websites are under optimised and not targeting the main keyword at all.
- Money keyword: London wedding photographer
- URL: BrandName.com/london-wedding-photographer
- Page Title: London Wedding Photographer – (Brand Name)
- H1 or H2 tag: Hire the Best London Wedding Photographer
- Image Title: london-wedding-photographer-1
- Image Alt Text: (Brand Name) London Wedding Photographer
- Content: At least 750 words on London wedding photographer services. Not only should you be using the main keyword in there a few times, but also variations like: “wedding photographer in London” and “photographing weddings in London.”
What are money keywords? You will hear me say money keywords a lot. Because they are essential, vital. They’re the keywords that bring revenue to your business.
Money keywords = “Service + Location” or the other way round.
Basically, they’re keywords for people in your area, looking for your service.
Pro tip: With the URL I have done www.BrandName.com/london-wedding-photographer – I would target your main keyword on your homepage not a separate page (if possible). The homepage has more authority in Google and is easier to rank.
Secure using https
Your website needs an SSL certificate, Google has added this as a ranking factor so without one you’re at a disadvantage.
Plus,You have the unsecured icon at the top left of your URL that can scare visitors off.
Although no longer a ranking factor in Google, the meta description is vital to get right. Adding keywords to your meta description doesn’t give you a ranking boost, but they do turn bold when somebody uses the keyword in the search. (see pic)
- 1-2 sentences (160 characters) long
- Include your keyword
- Have CTA if it’s relevant
- No duplicate meta descriptions
- Meaningful and descriptive, matching content
- Target an emotion
The meta description is all about getting the click to your website.
Referring domains and backlinks
Backlinks are a critical factor for ranking in Google. They may mean the difference between getting 20-30 leads per month, living the high life or hustling for 3-4 leads per month.
Referring domains (RD) means the number of different domains that link to your website. RD is the key metric when it comes to backlinks and needs to increase on an ongoing monthly basis.
Google picks up on the number of different mentions of your business around the web. Which helps rank your website because Google loves brands and businesses it can trust.
Think about it this way, if a brand new website wants to rank for SEO for photographers, it’s not going to happen because it’s a hard keyword. However, a trusted site with authority can rank if the on-page SEO factors are to Google’s specs.
3 ways we build up noise about your business online and Google loves it. Is a GEO relevancy push.
Getting consistent coverage from media outlets, both online and offline. Builds backlinks from high authority local news websites and helps overall with marketing. If you don’t have access or resources to work with an expert, start at the bottom and do it yourself. Apply to write at big sites, hustle to get on podcasts and start your own blog filled with great content.
Social signals are links from social media platforms that help boost your website and brand mentions. Although most social links don’t pack too much of a punch when trying to move up in rankings. They do provide information to Google that you are a real business.
People can find you on social media and type your brand into Google, which increases your branded searches.
Plus, when being active on social media, can drive leads, so it’s kind of a bonus that it helps your SEO efforts slightly too.
If done correctly, business citations are one of the safest and powerful ways to increase referring domains. A citation is a mention of your business NAP which stands for name, address, and phone number. You want this to be the same on your website, on directories like YELP, Foursquare, YELL, Bing, on Facebook, and other relevant places for photographers.
Like I keep saying its more noise for Google to pick up on and prove you’re a business. However, I said it was done correctly. You need to make sure your NAP is the same in all of the places; otherwise, it confuses Google and does more harm than good.
Backlink Anchor Text
Not all backlinks are equal; some are better than others, much better. But one key aspect neglected most of the time is anchor text. It’s a quick way for Google to tell if you are buying links to game the system.
As you can see from the example above it’s the quickest way to get slapped by a Google penalty. (I couldn’t find a photography website example but you change the keywords around and you get the point)
I’ve had SEO’s come to me and go i don’t know why my rankings have had major decreases over the last few days. I would go in and look at their site and find the anchor text (like above).
And they have over optimised there anchor text above 15% for target keywords and Google instantly kicked them down the search.
I went in and found the issue in 15 minutes and dialled the link profile to a natural amount and the website recovered it’s rankings.
You want to check the going percentages of the first page results because your link profile could vary but here is the best rule of thumb:
- 50% Branded and URL
- 15% Target Keyword
- 10% LongTail Keyword
- 25% Misc
It varies but the more natural, less spammy looking link profile is what we’re after. If you have paid for links or over optimised your linking text this could be an issue to check.
A few SEO things to note
Search algorithms sift through data and rank the pages almost instantaneously based on over 200 signals, according to Google. I can’t cover everything in one post otherwise, you will have to make another coffee. But make sure you have these topics down too.
- Be mobile-friendly
- Load decently fast
- Have clear navigation and UX
- Be free of other glaring technical SEO issues
- Have well-written content
- Site structure
- Internal Linking
There’s a lot of information to digest. So make sure you bookmark this page for later use and share it with some of your friends.
SEO for photographers is hard, and it’s only getting harder. If you can complete everything I’ve shown you in this post, you’ll have people beating down the door to work with you.
Although it takes a ton of time, and best practices are always evolving. A better alternative is to hire a pro and get a 10x return on your investment.
If you need help, you know how to reach me.