In the past, photography studios and other businesses got new referrals from clients, advertising, and the yellow pages. Online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) has replaced traditional advertising.
Online marketing is advertising and marketing your business on the web and using email to reach clients and drive direct sales. SEO, on the other hand, is simply making sure that your content can be found online when people search for certain keywords that relate to your business. After all, there are millions of web pages and thousands must be related to yours. How do you make sure your website will be above others?
For example, you’re a wedding photographer and you’re based in Phoenix. How do you make sure that when clients search for, say, “wedding photographer Arizona,” your site will show up on the first page of the search results? By doing SEO on your website, you can make sure it does get found!
SEO is a trendy buzzword. It can even seem very technical. However, I have learned SEO on my own and have taught it to others in a simplified manner. I am excited to share some basic SEO tips with you that you can do for your website.
There are two types of search engine traffic: organic and paid. Paid search traffic comes from ads run on Google, Bing, or other search engines – these are the results on the top or side of search engine results pages (SERPs) with the “Sponsored Results” or “Ad” label. Organic results are the “natural” result found on the rest of the page when people search for certain keywords.
For our purposes, we will just talk about how to maximize your organic results through SEO.
It is shocking to see how many photographers are not writing important information on their sites, like where they are located and what their services are.
It is also important to include keywords related to what you want to be found for. The number one mistake photographers make is instead of trying to be found by other terms that people are actually looking for.
People love stories and photos, and they share them with friends, and their friends will share with their friends. As photographers and videographers, you are visual storytellers with a much higher chance of marketing yourself online.
A great place to share your stories visually is Pinterest, especially since 80% of the content on Pinterest is just re-shared. We as photographers need to make up the 20% that is providing original content with photos and video.
However, remember that when you upload pretty graphics and videos, Google can’t see them, so it is important that you rename your images and keyword your videos, too. Use important keywords in your title, description, and tags.
You can batch-rename photos using Lightroom and export them not as DCIM or NEF but with keywords you want to use. That is, instead of just uploading the photos named as “DSC_1000,” rename it based on the photo’s subject or your keyword.
Blogging tip: Don’t use more than four tags, and use tags you keep reusing over and over. Tags are kind of a thing of the past and if you mix too many of them, it can work against you in ranking.
Online directories have replaced traditional yellow pages, and Google uses a lot of these directories to help determine if your website or blog should get pushed further up in the local ranking. Get Listed is a great free tool to check opportunities for places to get listed.
The number one thing to remember is to check up on your NAP (Name, Address and Phone). When using your smartphone to do searches, you will notice that next to call, there is the question, “Is this the right number?”
If Google lists you and the number is wrong, Google will start pushing your page down, so make sure all of your online profiles, including websites, blogs, and listings, match your NAP.
Even if you are a photographer and not a videographer, you should be putting samples of your photo work on YouTube. Why not harness this great online tool?
You don’t have to be a professional videographer to be able to use this. You don’t even have to be in front of the camera! However, your work does have to be seen. Most DSLRs nowadays have a video function, so turn that knob, press that button, and try video. Do snippets in seconds and create a beautiful fusion piece.
There are lots of things you can try: one is to create video slideshows using your photos. I love Animoto Pro‘s feature where we can download the slideshows and post them both on YouTube and Vimeo. The key is to not just have the Animoto slideshows on your own sites and blogs, but to also upload them to Youtube and keyword them. If it was a wedding, put the name of the venue on the title and don’t forget to always put a link to your website in the description. Last but not least, add a call to action button asking folks to either become a fan, sign up to an email list, or check out your other portfolios. After all, we want to drive the traffic back to our websites and blogs.
I make my Animoto slideshows with some video clips in them and it has been amazing for marketing with venues and vendors. The element of surprise, first of even having a slideshow they can use, and then secondly a slideshow with video, makes vendors want to post your videos to their social media and websites, which is great for your SEO.
A lot of photographers fuss and complain about Google Plus, but if you want your business to be found online, you need to start using it. It’s owned by Google, after all, so anything you post there will get indexed immediately.
If you’re not using it yet, start by filling out your profile information and creating a business page for yourself. Then whatever blog posts you usually post on your Facebook page, start posting on your Google Plus wall as well.
Another feature is Google Places, which is now Google Plus Places. You should use it because the more Google sees your site everywhere, the more it recognizes you and where you are located, and the better your chances are for ranking locally.
Then add friends, other photographers, and other people you know in your circles. Later on, when you’ve gotten your feet wet, start reading up on how to get more engagement on Google Plus.
Overall, SEO is like dieting. It seems boring and a lot of work. It sure is, but if you want to maintain results, you must monitor and keep up with Google’s changes. As long as you make SEO part of your workflow, and you are monitoring your online presence and listings, your ranking stats will improve.
Now, go Get Found!
To learn more about website optimization, check out small business expert Alan Berg’s guide to optimizing your site for clients.
Then see how other successful pro photographers use video to fuel photography sales!