Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 More Ways Photographers Fail to Optimize for Search

Because five was never enough, and you knew it!
If you missed my first post on How Photographers Drive More Traffic to Their Pages by Optimizing for Search, you're going to want to catch up and read it first :)

As Promised: Here are 5 More Ways Photographers Fail to Optimize for Search.

#1. Not Keeping Current

very old picture of a boy coding a webpage
Your webpage should never be complete. 

Google knows that searchers want what’s current; it’s up to you to stand out from all of the stale pages out there.

Always be adding new content, and whenever possible, updating old content with new information.

Run seasonal promotions on your index page & Blog: “Now Booking 2015 Valentine’s Day Sessions”.

Search optimization aside, all things equal, a webpage that effectively communicates to visitors that you are active and ready to take work will always see better conversion to bookings.

#2. Weak Page Titles | Wasted Meta Descriptions

"Index Page" as a page title.
Attention: if your index page is titled index page, that's why you don't show up in search. 

Well, you might for the search query "index page". These guys sell web development services... Moving on,

Does This Storefront Look Familiar to You?

Very old storefront that resembles a SERP listing.

What about Now?
A SERP snippet example.A second SERP snippet example.

Being a top search result isn't like getting a spot in the Google hall of fame. Too many people view getting their website on the first page as an end goal rather than what it really is – a starting point.

Ask yourself: why be a top hit?

An Effective Title & Description Should:

  • Demand attention
  • Confirm search relevance
  • Inform searchers of what's in it for them
  • Entice searcher to visit your page!  

Click-through ratios are not only the first step to converting a search into a sale, they're also strong signals to Google of where your website deserves to be ranked.

I get it: You only have 55 title & 157 description characters (roughly) to pitch your brand name and establish your main ranking search terms, Google is finicky at best, and you’re still expected to somehow be more compelling than everyone else doing the same thing. 

It's not easy, but nothing worth it ever was.

Checkout this list of my Top 3 Search-Engine-Results-Page Title and Description Sins

Note: It’s very important to have a balanced click-through and bounce rate. If your search link is enticing but misleading, searchers may land on your page, but they’re not going to stay. In this case, Google is receiving signals that your website is not what searchers are looking for and your ranking will suffer.

This is far more common than you might think, and is often the product of poor planning rather than ill-intent. Have you ever shared a promotion on social media that links back to your index page where the offer is nowhere to be found?

#3. Undervaluing Online Reviews 

Yelp registration page "Your Review Awaits"
Dollar for dollar, having an active presence and collection of positive references on off page review sites like Yelp is possibly the best thing you could ever do to get your site ranking higher.

Here’s why

Every review is vouch to your authenticity. These are real people confirming that your business exists as you have claimed, and that’s something very difficult to fake. Google is skeptical by nature; the more legitimate you appear to Google, the more likely you are to get a place in local search listings.


When done right soliciting for reviews or even offering a small incentive is anything but shameful. Make it part of your followup to ask clients how satisfied they are with your services and if they will consider leaving a review. 

This is also a must have practice to address any problems or concerns before they go viral.

Having a review plugin/widget on your page is another great way to boost your review activity and give prospective clients piece of mind :D

#4. Declining to Work for Free | Photo Credits & Inbound Links

Reads "will work for links."
Before you all go grabbing your pitchforks, hear me out.

Offering services in exchange for something that will in turn help your business, in most cases a photo credit, has merit. In fact, what we have here is not at all “free” work, but rather, in a very real sense, a sale taking place.

In the absence of cash, value is still being exchanged for value – in the business world we call this barter.

How it’s gotten such a bad rap lately is that in most cases the people asking for your services at no cost to them don’t really know the value of what they are offering in return or how it will supposedly help your business. They’re just jumping on the “free” bandwagon.

Keeping this in mind, it’s often up to the photographer to determine value. Remember, most good opportunities won’t come bagging for you to take them; you’ll have to search them out yourself.

It doesn't have to be all about photo credits

Yet another example of how networking can give you a huge edge.  
  • Be a guest writer
  • Participate in interviews
  • Collaborate with other artists
  • Volunteer at, or host events
  • Think of something I haven't

Here’s a few things you should know:

Inbound links, sometimes referred to as backlinks, can be one of the strongest ways to convince Google that your webpage matters. If you’re offered a photo credit, ask for a backlink contained within a text reference – no backlink, no deal.

e.g. Photo courtesy of P-Lemon Photography. (link to your webpage)

Not all links are created equal. What you want are links on established authoritative webpages relevant to what you hope to rank for.

The value of a backlink on a brand new blog is nil. While sure, the blog could go viral and that would be great news for you, but if you’re going to be making these kinds of investments, expect the majority of them to flop.

Having links on pages that are spammy and irrelevant to your business can actually be detrimental to your search ranking. 

  • A wedding photographer with a backlink on the Weddings page of a local floral design shop – OK.
  • A music & events photographer linked to on the Upcoming Events page of a popular blog – great.
  • A portrait photographer with a photo credit on the product page of a skincare affiliate website – That's a no.

Learn more about what links to avoid (coming soon)

#5. Misuse of Social Media

The Jury is still out on what signals Google can, or will, use as ranking factors from various social pages. What you can be sure of is that social media remains one of the best ways to organically boost site traffic and promote referrals & inbound links from other content creators.

Anyone can use social media, but not everyone is good at it. 

Source: my Facebook page is sad :(  do as I say, not as I do.

Reads "Tag someone with a lonely social page".

Social Media Best Practices:

Engage Your Audience | Be Social!

Being social on social media is one of those "no duh" things that in concept seems obvious but in practice is often overlooked.

The follower-count ego race claims many victims. These people lose sight of the bigger picture, forgetting that the number of page likes one has is only part of the equation. 

The true power of social media is exponential, not incremental. The success of a page is determined by how active its users are, how willing they are to disperse your content throughout their own channels, and of course how much of the resulting traffic converts into bookings.

Surprise! Turning customers into advocates for your business works online too.

Alright, But How?
  • Make it about them, not you
  • Act as a curator of other's content
  • Be helpful
  • Ask questions
  • Respond to comments
  • Thank people for sharing your content
  • Write dirty
    e.g. "Winter Weddings are Prettier - Like & Share if You Agree"

Network with & Promote Other Photographers - It's Okay

A reference, share, backlink, +1, re-tweet, (whatever) from an industry expert or established online entity is the Holy Grail of online marketing. Don’t be so worried about your Facebook followers jumping ship to another photographer a province away that you isolate yourself from the greater community.

Don’t Be Too Eager to Recycle Content

Effective use of social media isn't about opening one of every account and posting the same generic content to each of them. Different social platforms are just that – different. Try and cater your content to the strengths of these differences whenever possible.

Quit uploading entire albums to Facebook!

Remember, your webpage is where you make bookings and should be the star of the show. Always begin by creating content on your site and then dispersing it through social media. This way, your cumulative social presence supports your personal URL ranking.

You've Made it This Far Again? | Congratulations!

The world of search engine optimization and online marketing is vast and always evolving. There's a lot here for anyone to digest, and still quite a bit more out there. My goal in writing this series however was not to overwhelm, or to ruin anyone's webpage innocence. Remember, this isn't a to-do list, it's an approach to online business. Keep doing your day to day with these practices in mind, and in no time you'll be ranking with the best. Good luck!

Will there be 5 more? Perhaps :)
Connect with me and find out!

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Did I miss one?
Let me know in the comments bellow and I'll be sure to get back to you.

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