Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 Ways Photographers Fail to Optimize Websites for Search

Girl searching for her photography page on Google

With the advent and popularization of digital SLRs, the business of being a photographer has become increasingly competitive. There are far too many would-be photographers out there - myself being one of them. This is why it blows my mind when time and again I see the same mistakes being made not by armatures, but by top ranking photographers in major cities.

Here are The Top 5 Ways Photographers Fail to Optimize Their Websites for Search Traffic.

#1. Ignoring their Biggest Asset |Not Ranking Images!

Google images search screen capture
Images can be an amazing way to bring additional search traffic to your website, compete for a plethora of search terms you otherwise might not, and get you found & shared on social media.

Some businesses, brands, websites, etc. stand to gain tremendously from ranking images in Google search; while others, not so much.

The Question: Should Photographers Focus on Ranking Images?

girl planning image keywords in front of computer
I’m willing to bet that the answer to this question will be an overwhelming YES, but if you’re not doing the following:
  1. Planning search terms
  2. Making unique pages catered to these search terms
  3. Creating great in-demand content to back them
then you’re not ranking images

Common Misconceptions:

You Can Rank Images through Image Properties Alone

  • EXIF Data: Helps with custom search parameters 
  • ALT Text: Reinforces search query relevance, acts as a quality signal 
  • File Name: Potentially Reinforces relevance 
  • Title Tag (of the image): Does little to nothing 

These factors shouldn't be ignored, but if you think that you will rank your images by keyword stuffing every available property field, you’re going to have a bad time.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When it comes to search the reverse tends to be true. 

To Google, an image is worth the content surrounding it. All things equal, an image supported by relevant in-demand content will always rank higher. This is one of the key reasons of writing a blog that most photographers miss. 

Fatal Mistakes:

Non-Linkable / Unshareable Images

Are you using a slideshow to present your images? 

Can you right click those images and open them in a new tab?

If the answer is NO, then these images are very unlikely to appear in search.

Best Practices: the search potential of your pictures with this master guide to ranking images

This is really a must-read for any photographer. Click it!


Create a branded Pinterest & Instagram account that links back to your page & share share share!

Know your market, get creative, and target all kinds of keywords.

Prospective clients already in their buying cycle should never be more than a few clicks away from your product/service.

i.e. There’s no reason a Pinterest search for wedding backdrops shouldn’t lead brides to your wedding photography page!

#2. Not Planning What Search Terms to Rank for.

Now some of you are going to say “well sure I do!” I believe you, but if your keyword strategy can be summed up as:

I photograph weddings and want my Webpage to rank for ‘wedding photographer’

I implore you to do some keyword research. Keeping your target market and unique selling proposition in mind, build a keyword portfolio and really think things out. 

Follow the provided link to create a Free Google AdWords account and make use of Google's Keyword Planner.

Google AdWords keyword research screen capture
Your business plan isn't – shoot weddings, get cash- so why would you approach your webpage this way? 

Some keywords may be searched in higher volumes but convey less intent towards making a booking; for example, wedding photography vs. toronto wedding photographers. While other search phrases may be part of an under-served market, having seemingly insignificant search volume but extraordinary conversion.

It’s important to think about these things!

Some Tips:
  • assume nothing
  • be where others are not
  • the devil's in the details (no variation is insignificant)
  • volume doesn't tell the whole story
  • it's not a onetime deal (keep up on search trends!)
  • there's always something you haven't thought of

As a Brampton Ontario photographer, is it alright to rank for GTA (greater Toronto area) alone, or is it important to rank for other nearby cities by name?

You tell me: 
Average monthly searches by location. Keyword Planner screen capture

283 "Toronto wedding photographer" searches a month are made from Brampton Ontario.

(Check Out This Short Guide on Where Keywords Count)

#3. Writing Hollow Blogs

Shot a wedding with Linda & James, it was fun. Great couple! is not a blog post.

Save these types of updates for your Facebook or Twitter page – you can even tag their names! Your blog is the guts of your on-page SEO strategy and should be so much more. 

girl writing a blog post
Focus on creating original interesting dynamic content: become a knowledge source, tell a story, review different locations and venues; 
whatever it takes to be share-worthy!
I know it’s hard, but try thinking outside of the box. You’re supposed to be creative, right?

(Let me be clear: that isn't an invitation to deviate from your core topic)

Google is gluttonous and will eat everything you give it. Give Google a variety of content rich with relevant substance and it will reward you; starve Google and it will find someone else. 

The last thing you want is every blog post being a one-liner followed by a page of images – that’s a gallery. Galleries are great, but you don’t need two.

Some Pro's of Having a Well Written Blog:

  • more social shares = more page views = a wider reach
  • greater chance of being linked to or referenced
  • the opportunity to target a larger variety of search terms
  • a positive reflection on your brand image
  • acts as an image search ranking factor!

#4. Undervaluing Local Search 

Already on Google Maps, but don't appear in the local listings? Check out this post on How to Get Your Business Outranking Others in Local Search! 

New to this? Keep reading and bookmark that for later :)

Local listing for Toronto wedding photographer
The maps list is an entirely separate ranking set from the rest of the results page. Meaning, it’s possible to rank twice on the same page, or achieve prime real estate in the maps section even if you don’t appear on the first page originally!

Okay, so how do I get my business listed on Google Maps?

It’s easy..ish. You’ll have to jump through a number of hoops to ultimately register and verify your business with Google, starting off by creating a Google
"My Business" account. In the end it will be more than worth it. 

Make sure to be as thorough as possible; the stronger your profile the better!

Tell Me Again: What’s in it for me?

  • Be favored in local search results - Not only on the maps listing!
  • Rank twice on the same page (three times with a Google ad)
  • Get a detailed side listing - with a picture!
  • Add to your online presence with a Google Local page
  • See more ratings and reviews + social engagement
  • Look like a legitimate business (appearances are important)

Attention: even though Google scrapes searcher’s IP addresses and knows where they are searching from, two distinctively different search results will arise from
Toronto wedding photography and alternatively wedding photography without “Toronto” specified.

Since a majority searches will include a desired location in their search phrases -especially when they are looking to make a purchase - it's still very important to rank for your location(s) as a search term.

#5. Long Page Loads & Forgetting to Optimize for Mobile

Two separate issues here, but they both come down to improving user experience and reducing your page’s bounce rate.

When you upload a massive photo to Facebook the site is kind enough to compress the file to an appropriate web size for you. When it comes to your web page, you’ll have to do this yourself. 

People are generally impatient, especially on the internet. Every millisecond your page takes to load is a back arrow waiting to happen. Furthermore, Google knows when you have a poorly optimized webpage and will demote you for it, which brings us to the mobile issue.

using a mobile phone to browse the internetMobile is now, and you can’t afford to ignore it.

How many searchers are you turning away because your webpage uses a flash player not compatible with most or even some mobile devices? 

Answer: a lot more than you think...

How do I know if my Webpage is Mobile Compatible?

Here are two vital Google Developers tools that anyone with a Gmail account can use for free to get Page Speed Insights and test for Mobile Friendliness.

If you scored poorly, it's alright. Google wants you to have the best website possible and is more than happy to point to in the right direction.

Wow, You Made it This Far? | Congratulations!

How about five more?
I hope you didn't really think I was going to let you off this easily... I mean, Come-on! It would be doing you a disservice to let you think think there were only these five. I bet you facepalm at #2

 5 More Ways Photographers Fail to Optimize for Search!

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