You have probably been thinking about tinkering with your website to improve your search ranking. This is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization and simply put it’s making changes to your site so that Search Engines (google primarily) will rank you better. Search engines want to provide relevant results to their users, so they have guidelines on how to make your site more searchable. This is a big challenge with photographer's websites, which are primarily composed of images that cannot be searched easily. Here is the advice I give to anyone who asks that will help you improve your rankings.
The good news is that PhotoFolio websites perform well in search results. You can find our sites on page 1 for most photography related searches. When thinking about bettering your SEO, it’s important to understand there are things you can easily control and things that are very difficult to control with SEO.
Here’s a list of things that are difficult to control:
- How long you have owned your domain name
- How well your domain name has ranked over the years
- How competitive your keywords are
- How much high-quality content you have
- How many people link to your website
Clearly, you can improve on all those things, but I think it’s important to focus on the things you can easily change first.
Here’s a list of things you can do in order of time to execute:
First the help page for SEO of your website:
The first thing I will always say when people ask about SEO: “what keywords are you trying to rank well for”. Then I will google those keywords and see where the site lands currently and check out what the competition is doing.
Important Note: Your name is not a keyword. Unless your name is not unique and unless it’s not a part of the URL (web address) or your website, you don’t need to worry about putting your name everywhere on the site.
Keywords are things like: Durango Colorado Commercial Photographer or Durango Food Photographer or Colorado Corporate Headshot Photographer.
Keyword research is critical, and you should take time to find words that people will use to search for a photographer and try to rank them in order of importance to you. If you search out your competition, you can see what they are using to understand what keywords are working in your area.
Pro Tip: Using the Safari or Chrome browser, you can do something called “Show Page Source” where you can look at the HTML for the website. Then you can search for “description” and “title” and other things we talk about below to see what they are using for that specific page. Just google the browser you use and instructions on how to work: show page source.
Once you have your keywords, I would start by focussing on the top 5 or 6 at the most because the more you use, the more watered down it becomes. The idea here is to sprinkle them liberally throughout the site. If you are a Durango Colorado Commercial and Editorial Food Photographer, you will start by doing the following.
Change the browser title of your website to:
Durango Colorado Commercial and Editorial Food Photographer - Rob Haggart
For a more comprehensive look at the Title Tag go here:
Change the description of your website to:
Durango Colorado commercial and editorial food photographer Rob Haggart has been making pictures for clients for over 35 years and has received many awards.
For a more comprehensive look at the Meta Description go here:
Go into the About or Bio on your website and make sure these words appear in the first paragraph: Durango Colorado Commercial and Editorial Food Photographer. Possibly add them as second time further down.
Important Note: Make sure whatever you do to the site it reads well and not like you stuffed sentences with keywords. You don’t want to turn off the real humans who are doing the hiring.
On the menu, make sure you have galleries that are using your keywords if they are relevant and make sense:
On the images that relate to your keywords, add a caption (captions can be turned off but will still be seen by search engines) that uses keywords:
Durango chef David Thomas
Editorial food photography for Colorado Magazine
I think you can begin to see how this all works. Your website is comprised of pictures, so you have to add text to guide the search engines to the relevant pages. There’s a hierarchy to how they look at the site starting with the URL (domain name), browser title, description, menu items, text pages, and captions.
Now that you understand how to create an excellent foundation for your website's SEO, the next level takes a lot of time to complete because you need to introduce some variety into what your search profile looks like. If you are using the same 6 keywords over and over, the search engine will get bored and move on (not index as many pages of your site because they appear repetitive). You need to introduce more keywords and use a variety of ways to talk about your most important keywords.
One essential tool we have for advanced SEO is assigning a unique page title to every page on your site. More on how to do that here:
Of course, you have the captions where you can write a monologue about the image.
Another option is to add more text pages to your site. You could put text pages in the related galleries as well. I will caution that you should not sacrifice the human viewer's experience for a few extra points in SEO juice.
Finally, here are a few more things you can do to your site to make improvements:
You should fill out the LOGO TEXT if you are using an image logo and have left it blank:
The logo is the page title on all your pages, and text there will show up in searches.
Image names. The literal file name of the image you upload to your site can improve your SEO. So instead of 1234TDDY.jpg you would do DurangoFoodEditorial12.jpg. This needs to be changed on your computer before you upload the image to the website.
You might consider a title and description for your thumbnails:
There’s also a spot shown on the help page to add an SEO title and description to your thumbnails. This can be helpful because a group of thumbnails does not have their own title and description.
Finally, you should think about measuring your results in some way. It’s quite possible higher search ranking does nothing or delivers prospects who can’t afford your services. Here’s a good article on measuring SEO results: