For any Photographer that wants to build a successful website, they will at one point come across the rather technical subject that is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So if you are just at the point you need to learning a little more about SEO then here is a handy beginners guide to SEO.
But first a little background:
For the traditional brick-and-mortar store, the shop window was an important part of its marketing mix. It had to be attractive and inviting, drawing potential clients through the door.
Of course, with a traditional store that was very much dependent on the concept of footfall, which is the number of potential clients passing that storefront each day.
In modern online marketing, we can think of our website as our store window, and our footfall is effectively the website traffic that visits our site each day.
If you’ve owned a website for any length of time you will soon realise that this traffic doesn’t arrive at your site without some work being done on your part.
On the web, traffic comes in one of two ways. Either “organic” traffic, or “paid” traffic.
Organic traffic is the result of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques being used on your website to make it more attractive to search engines like Google and Bing. The aim of SEO is to improve your website’s search engine rankings so that when people search for photography-related terms, your website appears as high up the list of results as possible.
Paid traffic is where you essentially pay to have your website advertised on search engines or other websites. This is known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The most common form of SEM traffic is through Google Adwords, where you bid on certain keywords and then your ad appears next to the search results when people search for those terms.
There are pros and cons to both organic and paid traffic. Paid traffic is generally quicker to get results, but it can be much more expensive in the long run. Organic traffic takes longer to get results, but it is usually much cheaper and more sustainable in the long term.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
SEO is the process of making your website more attractive to search engines. Generally when we talk about search engine optimisation, we focus on either “on-site” optimisation, which is work directly done on your own website or “off-site” which relates to activities on sites linking back to your website.
We are going to focus on “on-site” optimisation and the work you can easily do to optimise your photography website to improve your search engine rankings.
However, before we can do any work on optimising our website, we need to decide what search terms are relevant to our business and how many times these search terms might be used by our potential clients.
These search terms are generally 2-4 word phrases which are known as a “keyword”.
For example, someone searching for a wedding photographer in Leeds might type the phrase “Leeds Wedding Photographer” into Google. They may also type “find me a wedding photographer in Leeds”, or one of many similar phrases.
So how do we know what is the best keyword to rank for?
This is done using a process called Keyword Research and it involves using online tools to analyze Google’s traffic data to establish what keyword is the most popular and is relevant to my business.
Google used to provide this information readily using their Keyword Planner Tool, which you can access when you setup a free Google Ads Account. However, the problem with this tool is that it is not granular enough and they don’t provide enough details for keywords with low volumes of searches.
You can however set up a free trial account for a short period on these services and grab the data you need before the (sometimes expensive) billing period starts.
The key focus when doing keyword research is the “monthly search volume”. This is the number of times that keyword is typically used each month. For most Wedding Photography keywords, this is typically in the 300-600 range, although keywords for larger areas such as London will generate much higher volumes.
The other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is keyword difficulty. Typically keywords with higher monthly search volumes have more websites vying for the keyword’s attention, so the better optimised your website is, the more chance you have of being found nearer the top of the search results.
My advice, therefore, for newer photography businesses, is to seek the “lower hanging fruit” first. Look for less competitive keywords (around the 100-150 level) and seek to rank for those search terms first.
At this point, this is when things start to get a little bit more complex and rather than continue here (and to complete your beginners guide to SEO and go a lot further!), I would suggest downloading my FREE eBook, Search Secrets Exposed which documents the entire process of optimizing your photography website for Google.
You can download your FREE copy here: https://members.marketingforphotographers.com/free-seo-ebook