As part of being a photographer as a profession, we assume many responsibilities outside of our artistic realms. Some of which can be very intimidating when you are just learning the ropes of good business practices. One of the key elements to gaining new clients is making sure you are showing up in search results on the internet. It’s not just by chance that your biggest competitor is on the front page. There is a lot that goes in to understanding how Google and other search engines work. To boost your ranking on search results, you have to practice good SEO (search engine optimization) habits. I am going to give you 10 easy things that will help you boost your ratings. P.S I will refer to “Google” as the primary search engine, but note that this is true universally among other search engines.
- Blog often. In addition to a website, you need a blog..and yes, you have to use it.A lot of photographer websites have interfaces built in for blogs already such as Zenfolio uses blogger.com . You can also use sites like ProPhoto with WordPress.com . A bog is essential for ranking higher with Google because it updates with fresh content. Google wants to know that your site has things that are fresh and interesting to being viewers back for visiting. The more “interesting” your site is, the more Google says “Hey, she has a cool site, let’s bump her up a bit.” With frequent blog posts, you have new content that Google searches and adds to its data base. Also, with each blog post, your host such as Blogger or WordPress likely gives you option to include things such as “keywords“, “meta data“, “meta description” and of course, the title and content of your blog. Every single one of those elements will contribute to better rankings. A blog is also a great way to display a more thorough portfolio for your viewers. The next big step is getting people to read/view your blog site. The more viewers it has, the more Google reads, “Oh hey, she has a popular blog post and people must really like it. Let’s bump her up a bit.” So make sure you blog regularly and make sure you use all possible forms of SEO options available with each post.
- Name Your Files. When you are saving your files after editing, the way you name your files is important for your SEO efforts as well. Name your images in a similar format to this, “image file number – Fayetteville, Arkansas Newborn Photographer.” Yes, it’s tideous for sure. Google looks for the name of the file to describe the content of the image. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to go rename all the files on your website and blog and re-upload. In fact… don’t do that. Google has already started recognizing your content on your website and if you start completely over, it will take longer to build that up again. So just leave the images the way they are and in the future, rename them.
- Search engine based reviews. Try to make sure you are getting reviews on Google, Yahoo, etc. from your clients. It is important to make sure they are truly authentic reviews and they are all coming from different IP addresses. This means you cannot create 20 Google accounts and leave yourself 20 different reviews 😉 .This also means that if you have a studio, you cannot have your customers log on and leave a reviews from the same location. Google knows everything and Google doesn’t like that. In fact, they will penalize you for doing that. So make sure they are coming from your client and at your client’s home.
- Get your website linked by other websites. So far another analogy here… If another website links to www.kalarathphotography.com Google says, “Oh, Kala must have something interesting going on if someone else wants people to read her site.” so they bump you a bit. This is a great reason to partner with other local businesses or get your work published online or write contributing articles. Examples: http://www.lookslikefilm.com/blog/2015/4/23/kala-rath , http://www.terra-tots.com/2015/04/picture-perfect/ , http://beyondthewanderlust.com/finding-your-confidence-kala-rath-photography/ , etc.
5. Learn your website SEO options. If you are using a website such as Zenfolio, they have built in options ready for SEO. I created a video shown below on how to utilize Zenfolio’s built in SEO for you!
6. Use your social media. When it comes to social media, some of them generate true SEO, while other’s generate attention to your business which will then refer to your website boosting SEO. For example, Google Plus is a social media built by Google. Therefore, the more you use, post, network, etc. the more Google will boost you. Facebook will also appear in search results. YouTube is owned by Google, so don’t be afraid to create videos as well! Instagram is a site that will not appear in organic search results..however, there is an option for you to enter your website, use hashtags for networking, and more which can then refer your followers to your website. When you make a new blog post, blast it out to all your social media outlets allowing your followers to click back on the link to go to your website generating more traffic!
7. User Experience. Google wants to make sure that your website is going to create a good user experience by providing them with fresh content that get’s updated, text, links, etc. The better content you have on your site, the better Google likes it. So make sure your website is designed for your customers and it will allow them to find what they are looking for and keep them coming back (also where the blog comes in to play).
8. Make sure you have a mobile friendly site. Google recently announced that it would penalize (not bump you up) for not having a website that is mobile friendly. To make things a little easier for you, they created a tool that allows you to test your site. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
9. Google Webmaster Tools. Google has several tools of their own to help you with SEO. One of them being the Websmaster Tools. This basically links your website to Google so that it is searchable. Again, if you have Zenfolio, this option is built in for you – you just have to make sure you set it up.
10. Stay up to date with Google’s algorithms. Unforantely, Google often changes their minds about their own rules. This can be incredibly frustrating and discouraging when trying to build your website and ranking. To make sure you don’t get behind, you need to keep up to date. I highly recommend connecting with Search Engine Land and visiting their site regularly for any updates.