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SEO for photographers

.. or how to get traffic for free!

It’s a dream for many photographers to rank highly for terms in Google that they would like to rank for. For many, how to even start with this just seems impossible. My own rankings have been helped considerably by being an SEO (phildrinkwater.com). 

So let’s make the impossible possible shall we?

How does google work?

Google uses “hundreds” of different ranking factors to determine which pages should rank first, second, third and so on. 

First, it will crawl your site, going through each page you have linked from other pages on your site. 

It determines roughly what each page on your site is about and connects it to several to several hundred search terms that are related to it. This might mean this page will rank for “SEO for photographers” as well as “SEO for wedding photographers” and “SEO for portrait photographers”.

When someone types a search into Google, it looks up all of the pages which relate to the search and builds a list.

Then it will applies a “magic formula” for each page and calculates a number for each of them. It ranks the ones with the highest number at the top. 

exactly what's this magic seo formula!?!?!

If I knew that, I’d be a very very wealthy man! However we do know quite a lot about what Google likes, thanks to the tireless work of SEO’s who test Google.

They launch many or many hundreds of sites in order to determine just the right mix of everything that Google wants to see. It’s laborious work!

how to make your site relevant to google

LINKS

High quality and relevant links will make your site shine in Googles eyes.

Most photographers try to build links using the cheapest methods though and Google has already closed those down. Don't bother.

CONTENT

What's on your page is incredibly important and Google has a mix of what it expects.

Photographers will tend to stuff relevant words onto a page though, and that just doesn't work and is unattractive to users.

PEOPLE

This final one is controversial in the SEO world; does Google use visitor behaviours as part of ranking?

Some SEO's say yes. Some SEO's say no. I'm on the fence, so I assume it is relevant.

links

First up, links. They’re arguably still the most important part of ranking in Google, but only if you’re trying to rank for a moderately competitive phrase, like “cheshire wedding photographer”. If you’re trying to rank for “whitby wedding photographer” you probably won’t have to worry too much though, even without a lot of links pointing at your site. However, you should be aware that the amount of people search for any single location local term will be very low and it won’t create a sustainable business. This is why most photographers would prefer to rank for “north yorkshire wedding photographer” since this will have many hundreds of searches every month.

Gaining links

Getting links into your site is actually not easy, and it’s further complicated by Google knowing which ones are worth having a which ones aren’t. In the photography world, the best links you can get easily would be from the major wedding blogs. Find a blog which is in your style and contact them about doing a shoot, or posting one of your weddings. In the UK wedding industry, blogs like “rock my wedding” and “love my dress” are at the top of their game here, but there are hundreds of other smaller ones you can try too.

How many links?

Photographers often wonder … how many links do they need? Well, it’s totally down to the competition you’re against. If the competitors have loads of amazing links and you have hardly any, you’re going to struggle. You should also be aware that it’s much better to get links from as many sites as possible, rather than a single site. So aim to get a single link from 50 sites, rather than 50 links from one site.

Content

Photographers aren’t always good writers. If that’s you, you should employ a writer to work on your blog posts for you. It will be worth the expense.

Keywords

Everyone focuses on keywords, and its because … actually they are important. However, once you have your keywords on the page 3 or 4 times, you can stop.

Equivalent words

I’m often asked “does Google understand that photographer, photographers and photography are largely the same” and the answer is a resounding “yes”.

However, they also treat them differently. So, while if you rank well for “cheshire wedding photographer”, you’ll likely also rank well for “cheshire wedding photography”, your rankings will not be identical. Including a variety of words on your page – in this case both “photographer” and “photography” – is sensible. I wouldn’t bother with the plural though.

Make it good!

The most important element in content is to make it great! Make it amazing! 

If it’s a post about a wedding, bring it alive with a combination of text and images. If it’s a post about a piece of equipment, include as much information as you can, such as unique photography and videos. 

Put it this way: If you wouldn’t want to read it, it’s not good enough yet. Now go and hire a great writer!

People - user signals & UX

By far the most controversial element here is how people see your website. Does Google take notice of them?

There is strong evidence that Google at least take notice of the amount of people who click on your listing, so make sure your page titles are accurate and attractive.

Time on site

Is this a thing for Google? Google themselves will tell you not, but I believe that they will take note of poor signals on your site. For example, if every time people click on your website they return back to Google, that’s a negative signal.

User Experience

Less controversial is user experience. Most SEOs would now agree that Google check elements of the UX of your site. We know that they will inform you if buttons on mobile are too close together, for example, and there’s discussion about whether Google will consider white space to be connected with a site which is high quality.

However, the most important reason to have a good website is actually your users. So if you’re not a web designer, do spend the money on a good one.