It’s common knowledge that a website is a requirement for any business, especially for photographers. But did you know that a proper search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is just as important? Without utilizing a clear and strategic SEO plan, your website simply will not achieve its true potential of attracting new clients.
SEO is a complicated topic, so this article comes to you from Eugene Feygin, an SEO expert and photographer with almost 10 years of SEO experience and the founder of Raw SEO. As part of his role at Raw SEO, Eugene helps clients do everything they can to maximize their search engine potential.
SEO is a constantly changing field that dives into how and why search engines determine the order in which results are displayed, which is measured by an algorithm. Search engines change that algorithm as often as several times a day, which is why following a method called white hat techniques is key for any online business.
White hat techniques are a style of optimizing content that falls within the search engine guidelines. By following these guidelines you are creating a favorable chance that your website will show up toward the top of the search results.
These guidelines favor: adding optimized text to your pages (including the homepage) describing the services you offer, ensuring other websites link to you using strategic keywords, utilizing keyword-friendly URLs, and many others. If you ignore these guidelines, search engines will have a difficult time understanding what your website is. As a result, they may position your competitors ahead of you. Keep in mind that the first spot in the search results receives more than 30 percent of the clicks, the second barely 18 percent, the third roughly 11 percent, and after that the percentages drop drastically. Which spot do you want to be in?
Your website can have a massive impact on your business simply by utilizing a strategic marketing plan, search engine applications, social media, and the continuation of developing SEO optimized content.
You can help ensure online success by utilizing a sound SEO plan with clearly defined success metrics. First, you need to establish who your customers are. It’s very important to realize that not everyone is your customer. After defining this part of your plan, you can then begin developing your SEO strategy.
Google offers a free tool called the Google Keyword Planner – this tool provides partial information on how often a keyword or phrase is searched based on a variety of metrics such as your location.
Once you have logged in to the Google Keyword Planner, select ‘Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.’ But how do you choose a keyword? We recommend selecting phrases that have a low search volume, or long tail phrases, in order to dominate those first and then move on to more competitive ones.
Once you have established your list of keywords, the next step is to utilize them properly in your strategic SEO plan. An SEO expert can to help you expand on that plan in order to properly utilize your keyword list.
The majority of people in the U.S. use Google and Bing as their primary search engines. Your job is to make sure that you are using every free search engine application available to maximize on your strategic SEO plan.
Google & Bing Maps
Both search engines will often display a map with local businesses at the top of the search results based on the searcher’s location. Both offer a free and easy option where you can add your business to that section by simply filling out a form.
Google Analytics is an online marketer’s best friend. It provides insightful data on who is visiting your website. The analytics provide a lot of data, such as how many people visited your site, where they came from, and much more. Keep in mind that this tool is not 100 percent accurate, but it’s pretty close. It is recommended that you use it to get a general understanding of how your customers are interacting with your site. You can then analyze this data and use it to enhance your SEO strategy.
Google Webmaster Central & Bing Webmaster Tools
Both search engines offer technical insights on how the search engines read your site. These tools are great for discovering technical problems with your site, such as dead links and penalties. Dead links occur when you have a site that no longer exists. Penalties can occur for a variety of reasons, such as duplicate content and utilizing certain black hat techniques. If your website is penalized – depending on the severity – search engines may remove you completely from their database until the issues are resolved.
Google & Bing Images
Naming your pictures for search engines is very important, and (Don’t forget meta data) – confused what this is utilizing strategic keywords (e.g., Chicago-botanic-garden-wedding.jpg) will provide search engines with additional information. That additional information, coupled with SEO compatible content on the page, will help boost your ranking for that strategic phrase. Also don’t forget that many clients utilize Google and Bing images to search for venues and ideas, and if they find your images, they could possibly reach out to you.
Creating attractive keyword-rich content by using YouTube is a very effective SEO strategy. Very often search engines will return video results as answers to a search query. Your job is to ensure that your video shows up in the targeted results and that you’re linking back from the video to your relevant landing page using anchor text. Anchor text is typically a keyword or phrase that you are trying to rank to link back to your website or strategic landing page (e.g., Chicago Photographer). You can also place the video in a blog post on your site, which will assist in informing the search engines what your landing page is about.
An effective social media presence can enhance your rankings. A lot of businesses we work with ask how often they should post. We recommend a minimum of three times a week. As for the time of day, we suggest that you test different dates/times to determine which times produce the highest engagement.
Don’t have the time to post often? We recommend HootSuite, a free Web service that let’s you pre-write and schedule posts for all your social media channels. Overall, likes and retweets do enhance your search engine ranking, so we suggest that you develop a sound and consistent social media marketing strategy.
Even the best SEO strategies will stop producing results unless you implement them on a consistent basis. Simply building a website and adding pictures does not guarantee an increase in rankings. Sure, you’ll initially see an uptick in traffic but you’ll eventually begin to drop. Why is this?
It’s simple. Search engines love to read fresh optimized content (i.e., pictures, video, and text). When you stop producing that content on a consistent basis, your rankings falter. Imagine buying great looking plants to put in your office. The first week you consistently water them, they look amazing. What happens when you stop watering them for a week or two? They begin to wilt. Taking care of your website is very similar to maintaining anything living — it requires constant attention. For this reason, most sites run a blog with a scheduled flow of original optimized content. It is important to ensure your content and website are always fresh and consistent. Don’t forget your keyword list.
When considering the best practices for your website, it’s never a bad idea to seek advice from an expert. As a Zenfolio user himself, Eugene knows the Zenfolio SEO tools inside and out. Find out more about his company Raw SEO within the Zenfolio Toolkit.
Eugene Feygin is the founder of Raw SEO with almost a decade of experience in SEO strategy and online marketing as a Chicago SEO consultant. He also has more than a decade of experience in photography – from sports to events to portraits and much more. Check out some of his photography here: https://feyginfoto.com/