Photography is one of the most competitive businesses to be in. Years of study, high quality equipment, and a passion for capturing memories help photographers get started in the industry, but ultimately finding new customers is what will keep your company in the black.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to building a website that drives new customers to your business. If you can’t be found online, it’s challenging to launch and grow a business long term. We’ve put together a list of SEO basics that will help improve your photography website and give you the skills to start making small changes that can grow the numbers of visitors to your website.

Step 1: Determine where your website currently ranks

Open a private or incognito browsing window and navigate to Google. If you do not use a private window Google will not provide real rankings. Search for phrases that you want your website to appear under. This may be the type of photography you do plus the area you do business in. Example: Denver Newborn Photography.

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If your website is not on the first two pages of Google, it’s likely no one is going to find your business unless they are specifically looking for you.

Search for your business name. This should bring your business up in the first one or two pages. If not, reconsider what your business URL is and how your business name is listed on your website.

Step 2: Measure your Domain Authority

Domain authority is a measurement (1-100) of how trusted your website appears to be from the perspective of a search engine. For instance, Apple scores a 99 in Domain Authority. This metric is used to compare one site to another, or track the relative strength of a website over time.

You can use Open Site Explorer to gauge your domain authority and that of a few competitors. The basic report information is free to view and will give you a good idea of where you stand in comparison to your competitors. Websites with higher domain authorities will appear higher in google rankings.

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As you work to improve your SEO, domain authority is a tool to measure your progress. Changing domain authority takes time, but as you improve the interior of your website, the number should continue to go up.

Step 3: Select Keywords you want to Rank for

Looking at your competitors, create a short list of what types of phrases you want your business to appear for on search engines. These may be specific to where you live or generic to the industry.

For a family photographer in Castle Rock, Colorado you may want to start with a list that looks like this:

  • Castle Rock Family Photos
  • Castle Rock Photographer
  • Family Photos in Castle Rock

From there, look to surrounding areas that might be within where you want to market. Castle Rock is close to the town of Parker, so in this example, you could also optimize for phrases using the town name Parker.

  • Parker Family Photos
  • Parker Photographer
  • Family Photos in Parker

You want to pick 10-20 keywords that you wish to rank highly for. Anything beyond that is going to have a negative impact on your rankings overall.

Step 4: Write Keyword Rich Content

While photography is your business and tells the story of what you do for your customers, search engines can not ‘see’ what makes your photos unique to the keywords you want to rank for. You have to write content that integrates those keywords into phrases throughout your website.

One of the biggest issues many photographers have is a lack of written words on their home page. The home page is what tells the search engines what your website is about. Write a minimum of 300 words that includes up to 3 of the keyword phrases you want to rank for.

Remember that your goal is to write content for people and not search engine robots. Write full complete sentences and do not include a block of all the keywords anywhere on your homepage.

Step 5: Create brochure pages on your website

Brochure pages are the about (About/Pricing/Services) sections of your business. Each page should include 2 keywords each (and no more than 4). These are different from blog posts where you might feature customer photos.

Each brochure page should have a minimum of 300 words and be very specific. If you are a family photographer, create a page about your favorite ways to dress for family photos. Think of these pages as educational tools for your customers.

Step 6: Blog your customer photos

Create short features of your customers after each photo shoot. Customers love to share blog posts with their family and friends, and the additional exposure will help search engines see that your website is visited regularly.

Remember to include a minimum of 300 words on each post and use a maximum of 2 keywords throughout the copy. Blog posts often have the ability to add tags. Tags are not a place to add a dozen or so phrases you want to be found for. Tags should be limited to 3-5 for each post, as this shows search engines that the post is very specific and relevant to what someone is searching for on Google.

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As you add photos, name them in a way that will help your images show up in Google image search. If you have a family of four in red flannel, name the file family-photo-red-clothing instead of IMG_24923.jpg. The dashes (-) show search engines that the phrase has spaces and the words all go together. Do not use underscores or spaces.

Step 7: Download plugins to help

Dependent on the type of website platform you use, there are many plugins that can help you properly optimize your website. For WordPress users, Yoast is a great plugin to try out.

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When using Yoast, select a single keyword you want each page or post to be about. Yoast will walk you through all the steps to making that specific page optimized for the keyword you have in mind. If you’ve done it correctly, all the bubbles will light up green.

Step 8: Keep Trying

Search engine optimization takes time to be successful. The more you work at it, the higher your website will rank. Don’t be discouraged if your rankings do not improve immediately. SEO is a marathon, and anyone who promises overnight success is not being realistic with the amount of work you need to put in to increase your search rankings long term.

Running a business is hard work! No matter where your website ranks on search engines, if you continue to grow your customer database, use best practices on your website, and invest where you can, you’ll see success in the long run. Are there other business tools you’d like to learn more about? Leave a note in the comments, and we’ll work on additional Momtrepreneur posts to help you build your business savvy.

Looking for more skills you can learn? Check out our post on photographing kids in motion.
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