Just over 2 years ago, Caitlin and I took this business full time when it wasn’t ready. We knew we had to make it work and this was the time to take a shot at it. In order for us to work smarter and not harder, we started to think about how we could bring in more clients easier. Well, that’s where SEO came in. It was simple. The more eyes you have on your business, the more potential you have to make more sales. I know SEO is boring and may not be the easiest to understand so we decided to create a list of 4 things that every photographer should be doing to grow their SEO game.
Some of these tasks are repetitive tasks and others are a one time thing. I promise that if you stick with this, it will help grow your business significantly!
Let’s get to it!
01. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
This task is simple, but it is so powerful. I will first explain how to create a Google My Business account, so if you already know that, keep reading to find some more fantastic information. If you don’t have a Google My Business account, head over Google and type in “Google my business”
From there click on the first link that says,
“Google My Business.”
That link should take you to a page that looks like this…
Click on the GREEN button in the top right labeled “Start Now.”
From there, it will ask you a lot of information regarding where your business is located. If your business does not have a brick and mortar location, simply select “yes” for the statement
TIP: We selected “Yes” when we were using our home address for our business’ address. We thought it would be safer to hide our address from the public.
After completing that part, Google will want to verify your
address. They will send you a piece of mail that you will receive in 5-7 days that has a verification code on it, and that’s the code they will be asking for when you complete your set up. It is SO important to verify your listing; Google doesn’t show your listing until you are verified!
After you are all set up, you will be able to view business insights. This is so huge because it’s telling you where people are finding you. Look at this example…
There were 601 total searches, and most of them came through discovery. Discovery means that people are finding you without typing in your exact business name in their searches! When you first start optimizing your site, you might notice a large part of your insights showing direct searches. As you work on your SEO, people will start to find you through discovery!
I have an account… now what?
Update your pictures frequently on your Google My Business account. This will make sure you have up to date information online, plus, I can almost guarantee your competitors aren’t doing this. Up to date images show that your business is still alive and well, rather than gathering dust on the shelf! You’ll also have insights on how many times your images are being viewed.
Always, Always, Always! Keep up to date information on your Google My Business account. Google hates when businesses try to confuse people. Don’t make SEO more complicated than it is. Think of it as giving your user a good experience, whether it’s through something like a Google My Business account or even your website. Imagine going through your site… would you look at your site and find it easy to navigate or is it complicated? Have a few of your friends go to your site and see what doesn’t make sense to them. Use a tool like Hotjar to record visitors coming to your site so that you can catch any mistakes or parts of the site that confuse visitors.
02. ALT TAGS
I’m sure you have heard of alt tags before… but what are they really? Alt tags are the descriptions that come up when you hover over an object online. Why should we use them?
First off, the obvious reason you should use alt tags is that they help with SEO. Did you know they also are used for the hearing and visually impaired? If you had an image and just labeled it “cookiesandcakes_1,” it wouldn’t make sense to a visually or hearing impaired person browsing the web because that is not what is in the picture.
Here’s an example…
In this picture, you see a couple getting engagement pictures taken. For an alt tag for this image, you might write, “Fall engagement session by a lake at deer creek state park.”
An easy way to come up with alt tag ideas is by using google. For this example go to Google.com and type in “fall engagement photos.” Google will then populate the search with other popular searches people are using. Use those keywords to your advantage when you run out of descriptive words for alt tags. An example could be “ fall engagement photo outfit ideas”
This is huge, and not many people are doing it because it’s mindless work and let’s be honest…not really that fun. I promise that this will help SO much if you put editing your alt tags into your workflow. It WILL set you apart. The goal would be to also eventually add helpful keywords into these alt tags, but don’t overwhelm your description with them because Google can sniff that kind of thing out.
Do this for all of your images, and make sure you don’t copy and paste the same alt tags onto every image when doing this. That is where it gets a bit challenging but I guess that’s why they created the thesaurus!
03. CONSISTENT N-A-P
Next let’s talk about N-A-P and moz.com. The website’s purpose is to help create consistency for your NAP’s (name, address, phone number) across the web.
Let’s back up for a second…
A key way for local SEO success is making sure all of your businesses info on the internet is the same. Specifically your Business name, address, and phone number!
This is especially helpful for local SEO because again, Google is looking at user experience. You need to make sure that Google doesn’t have different NAP’s in different places across the web.
Here’s an example…Let’s say that on your website you have your address listed as 123 N First St. but on your google my business listing you have your address listed as 1200 N Washington. That doesn’t match up across the web which doesn’t go well with Google.
This service charges you to create consistency across the web. Again, this is solely for convenience and if you don’t have the cash flow coming in I wouldn’t recommend investing in it. You can do the same thing they do on your own it would just take a little time!
Last, but not least, is learning to gather reviews. We have spent the last year really focusing on getting reviews. We make sure that we ask for reviews for our Facebook, Google, and Yelp accounts for sure; after that, we would recommend also asking for reviews on other industry-specific review sites. For example, for us, this might be weddingwire.com or theknot.com. It is so important to get reviews, not only for SEO purposes but also for building future clients’ trust. Focus on getting reviews from clients on Google and Yelp for local SEO!
Simple answer is that it creates a sense of security for potential clients because they can read through other people’s reviews and know all about their experience. Reviews are huge with millennials! Most of the time they will make their decisions solely on whether or not reviews are good or bad. Having those reviews is important for a good client experience, and as we know Google loves that! Reviews also create Social Proof, the more people having a good experience not only creates trust in potential clients but it creates a sense of demand. When you have demand or are perceived to have demand, it is such a good thing for your business! It’s not necessarily bad to get a, singular, review. It’s more important on how you handle that negative review. Always respond to your reviews whether they are positive or negative. It shows you are present and professional!
We have tried multiple avenues to get clients to review us. Our business has a lot of client interaction, so we choose to text the client after we delivered our product and asked for a review at that point. That seemed to work best for us. If you offer
products, you could give out a discount code or something free when they review you. We find that making the review process simple is the easiest way to get reviews. There are also paid review sites out there, like Get Five Stars, that are helpful, too.
Get on those reviews!!
This is huge when it comes to SEO. Think of SEO as a spider web. If a spider web is only connected to 2 trees, there is only so much it can do for catching insects. Same with your business. If your website is linked on other sites, there is more of a chance that potential clients will come across it. Also, the more established sites that link back to you tell Google that you are more trustworthy thus ranking you higher!
WHAT DO I DO?
For starters, you need to find out ways to link back to other people in your industry. You can guest blog, guest podcast, guest anything ha! Also reaching out to vendors with photos after a wedding can help a lot. If they decide to blog about your photos they SHOULD link your business. Unfortunealty, it doesn’t happen every time!
If you are running out of ideas I’d recommend taking advantage of the free account on Moz.com because they have FREE SEO tools that you could use to your advantage! One of those tools is called the Moz Bar. This tool is GOLD, and let me tell you why. I use this tool to find out where my competitors are linking.
Here’s an example…
I searched “best photographers in Chicago IL” and this was the result that came up:
Now, here is what that same search would look like with the Moz Bar.
Let’s look a little closer at this. This is a random site I choose, and as you can see on the bar, there are a couple things you notice right away.
First off, there is a PA and a DA number. Those stand for page authority and domain authority. Domain authority is much more important in ranking; the higher the DA, the higher you rank… in most cases. Use this data to track progress as you start to optimize your site for search engines. As time goes by, you will start to see your PA and DA numbers increase… and in turn so will your ranking!
The other part of this bar I want you to notice is the part that says “Link Analysis.” This is huge. That tool will tell you everything your competitors are linking to, and from there you can find out how to link to the same site or similar sites. Imagine SEO as a spiderweb. Each link grows your spider web, and as you grow your spiderweb more and more, you start to get noticed by Google and visitors start to discover you!
Let’s click on that link analysis button.
This is what should come up…
Let’s scroll down a bit, to the words “Inbound Links.” Below that are a bunch of URL’s.
Each of those URLs are links that this person’s site is connected to. This is GOLD. Use this to find out what your competitors are linking to, and do the same!
Remeber, a link back to your site tells Google that you are a reputable site and boosts your SEO. The more links the better. But remember that it matters WHICH sites you link back from, so try to get on bigger or more popular sites related to your industry. Don’t try to be sneaky with linking because Google will find out and punish your rankings.
TIP: For local SEO, it will set you apart to have backlinks to a lot of different local business’s websites! This will help increase your ranking on Google and get you into what’s called the “3 packs,” which are the top 3 Google maps listings that come up under searched keywords.
I hope this gets you going in the right direction. If you keep doing these things I’ve stated above, it will only do good things for you!
Comment with any questions!