SEO for photographers, or how to get found on Google

Jul 27, 2023 | Marketing

“Show Notes”

Getting found on Google is important for most businesses. For many types of
photography businesses, it can make the difference between a successful and
failed business. For photographers moving up the Google ranking can be easier
than for other businesses. You tend to be only competing on a local level with other
photographers. There are no big regional and national players to complete with. As
Sam says you only have to be better than the people around you.

We go through a few important things to think about for SEO.

What words and phrases do you want to be found for and where do you want to
be found for them? As we have discussed on other

shows ( Ep 5 Generalise or Specialise) having a niche will help, as all your content
will be focused on one area of photography.

Technically your website needs to be error free and well setup with correct use of

page titles, meta descriptions and other technical details:
Google Search Console

is a free platform that can help you with some of this.
Visitor numbers. Its a bit of a Catch 22 but visitor numbers are a key metric
Google uses when judging how useful your website is. If Google sees lots of
engaged visit to your website, it’s thinks it must be useful. So, sends more people
there. You need a plan to getting visitors to your site. Giveaways and great content
on your site are you friends here. You then need a place to send them from social
paid ads and an email list are great ways to do this. Backlinks These are links from other websites to your website. These a great way of moving up the Google ranking, especially when the back |inked sites are of a high quality/value. A great tip is to get a free listing on business directories. Also produce great content that others will want to link to.

Content is key. If your site contains engaging, unique, useful content that’s really
important. It engages visitors and tells Google what you do. You can also create
blogs specifically to help with SEO on specific search terms. Creating blogs that
answer your potential clients questions is a good place to start, Sam has a great blog about blogging
here

Engagement or “bounce rate” is important so have a site that is rich in
information, easy to navigate and engaging. Bounce rate is simply a measure of
how many people leave your site without interacting with it. Don’t worry, lots of
people do this. Some people are simply in the wrong place, and others simply
wanted your phone number, so have no need to interact.

We go on to discuss the use of Al content engines such as Chat GPT and how this
may effect your SEO. Marcus’ dream where unique images on your websites will
have a positive effect on SEO still seems a long way off!

“Show Transcription”

Sam: Hi, Marcus.

Marcus: Hi there, Sam.

Sam: How are you doing?

Marcus: I’m pretty good, yeah. I’m looking forward to this show because it’s a subject that I think is really important and you can be talking about SEO.

Sam: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. SEO search engine optimization or basically getting found on Google. So we’re going to talk a little bit about this for photographers, what you can do, some hints and tips, the main things you can do. And I think an important thing for photographers is for photographers, this is a relatively easy win. For example, if you had a property for rent and you wanted to try and get found on Google, you’re competing with booking.com and Airbnb. That’s hard work for photographers, you’re only competing against other local photographers. There are no big-boy players in the field who you must work against. So you’ve only got to kind of be above the other people locally. There’s no national player who you’ve got to beat. So SEO for photographers is something you can work on and make good gains.

Marcus: Yes, I think that’s a really important point about it. Even though you might seem like we’re being overwhelmed with competition, really, it tends to be only on a local and small scale.

Sam: Exactly. That’s it. You only got to be better than the people around you. Search engine optimization. I’ve got a few things to think about. And the first and most important you’ve got to think about is what do you want to be found for and where do you want to be found for it. If you say, I want to be found for photography in the UK. Then that’s pretty optimistic, and it’s going to cost you a lot of money and a lot of work. But if you’re saying, I want to be found for product photography within a very small area in the center of Leeds, that’s quite achievable and something you can work on. And then maybe once you’ve got that area in the center of leads, you could work out, or maybe you could work to slightly different areas. But you’ve got to know before you start what you want to be found for. Lots of people come to me and say, I want to be at the top of Google.  And I say, what for? And they go, the top of Google. And of course the top of Google depends on what you search for. And most people are at the top of Google for their own, you know, it’s what are people going to be searching for to find you? So you’ve got to think about that. And there are research tools you can use. And I’ll put the links in Google that will tell you for different search terms how many searches there are for that every month in what geographical area and what the competition is like. So before you start, do your research and work out what it is you actually want to appear for, which search terms do you want to come near the top of Google for? Because until you know that it’s hopeless, you’ve got no direction. So that’s the first thing. Until you’ve done that it’s hopeless, do that. So the second thing, there is then some technical setup on your website. I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but hardly any time because it’s just in the background. Your website needs to be technically correct so Google can read it effectively, no errors. Yeah, you can register your site with a service called Google Search Console. It’s free, just Google it, connect your site to it. And the most important thing about that is Google will email if you think your site has a problem and it registers your site with Google so Google knows you exist. So that’s pretty keen. There’s some other techie stuff in the background I don’t go to, but getting your site technically set up well is good. The third one is visitor numbers. Now this one always seems like a bit of a catch-22 because if you have lots of visitors, Google will send you more visitors. It’s a simple process. So Google is always thinking of its customers. Yeah, Google customers are people who make Google searches d it wants the best experience for them. So when it looks at websites, if it sees one website that’s getting 1000 visits a month and another one that’s getting 50 visits a month, google thinks, well, the one that’s getting 1000 visits per month is getting those for a reason. There were 1000 people going on there. A good chunk of them are clicking, and are staying on there for a long time. That must be a useful site, so I will send more people to it. While you’ve also got the site with virtually no visitors a month, hardly any clicks, people are leaving straight away. And it goes there. Clearly not much useful on here. I’m not going to send anybody here. So that’s obviously quite a hard hurdle to get over because if you’ve got low Vista numbers to start with, what do you do? And the answer is you put some hard work and effort into which I think we’ve talked about before on this podcast, social media. Send people to your sites, even possibly pay for some ads. Temporarily send people to your site, find ways to get people there, encourage them there, give free stuff away, send them to your site to get to it, whatever it is, get people to your site. Great content is really key. Write great content. Blogs, blogs, podcasts, whatever it is, get them on your site and point people there to build those visitor numbers. And until you put in that work or spend that money, no one’s going to visit.

Marcus: Do backlinks still have Kudos or wait, do you think? Sam.

Sam: They do. Marcus and that’s my next back. So let’s just explain what we mean by backlinks. A bit like SEO. It’s one of those terms banded around that isn’t always explained. So what backlinks means is links to your website independently. So what Google’s rationale is, if websites are linking to your website, it must be for a reason. There must be good, relevant, useful content on your website that people are linking to. It also judges the quality of the website that is linking to your website. So if it is a website that nobody visitor it won’t help very much, if it’s a really popular site, then that will really help you. Google also spots reciprocal links. So if you go to your mate, I tell you what, I link to your website, you link to mine. Happy days. Google spots that it’s reciprocal and that’s not truly a proper backlink. The key is that it’s somebody has just seen. Wow, your blog on that topic is amazing. I’m going to link to it. Yeah. Your pictogram showing photography creativity is stunning. I’m going to link to it. So it’s people linking to your website one way and you got to find ways to encourage that. You can pay people to do that for you, but that’s not always very cheap. But you can think about ways to do it. And there are some ways you can make a start. For example, getting listed on things like Yelp. Get listed on business directory links. Yeah, if you’re listed on a business directory, you’re already getting links from there to you. Now they’ll get the free version. They’ll try and get you to go to their premium package and just ignore them. Get on as many as you can. You’ve already got links to your website and they’re high quality websites. And then you can try tell people about your blogs. Get your blogs out there, get your content out there. Like we said before, blogs, blogs, podcasts, whatever it is, tell people about them. So they start to know about them and they will start to refer to them, they will start to link to them. And that’s really powerful. So, yes, those backlinks, you’re right, are really important. If they’re from high quality websites, it can be quite a lot of work, but it does make a big difference because it’s just one of those ways Google is judging how good your website is because people are linking to it.

Marcus: So it must be I mean, as far as traffic goes, it’s something that I’ve sort of learned to live with in some way, because I’ve mentioned this before to you, Sam. In my area, I do branding photography, which hasn’t got a great traffic. There’s not a lot of people search for branding photography, which is fine, but I’ve noticed photographers who do wedding photography and branding photography and family photography they have a lot of people going to their website, so they always rank above me for branding photography. There’s not a lot I can do about that, is there, Sam?

Sam: Well, it depends because Google knows what your content of your website, you’re really good at predicting what I’m going to say next markets. Because my next thing is content. So if all the stuff on their site is there’s bits of wedding, there’s bits of branding and there’s bits of dog portrait, google can read that. And Google is very, very good nowadays at reading content. If your website is all about brand photography and you’ve got a lot of great information on there a lot of great content, blogs about brand photography, maybe blogs about branding photography in different locations around the city where you are to bring in that location element, maybe about a few local businesses. If you’ve got lots of really good content, then that will help you to rank, to move up the rankings. Because Google wants the search to match the website it goes to. So if it’s looking at the two sites and going, yeah, because it matches quite a few factors and we’re all guessing as to what those are and we’ve got a bit of an idea, but it’s also slightly guesswork, but definitely visitor numbers are one, but content is the other. If your content matches what the person is searching for far better than the other website, then it’s not necessarily them that’s going to move to the top. It could easily be you. And if you’re not there, then you could start to work on your content to help you move there. Think, what extra content could I put in there? What are people searching for to-do with brand photography locally? Are they searching for what they need to wear? Are they searching for good locations for it? And then you can start to come up with blogs linked to all of those sorts of things. A blog, what should I wear for my brand shoot? How should I prepare for my brand shoot? And you can use Google to see what people are searching for and then get relevant blogs to help with that, to help you get found for the right things. And you’re right, so visitor numbers are part of it, but that content is key. And I think the content is the backbone of all the rest. Because if you’re trying to build visitor numbers, the only way to build visitor numbers to have good content, otherwise why the hell is anybody going to get there? If you’ve got a five-page advertising site, great, you want that, but nobody’s going to engage with-it much until they’re ready for your service, which isn’t going to be that many people before then. You’ve got to have the content there. So people are going regularly, seeing, reading, watching, listening, whatever it is, absorbing your content, staying on your site. And then Google’s going to say, even if you say, like, the Vista numbers are less, but it’s going to say, wow, the people who are going to that site are staying, and they’re going to three or four podcasts or three or four different pages, and they’re staying there, and they’re engaging with-it, because Google will look at that engagement too. So, yeah, I think those getting relevant content is the key. Content is basically the backbone. Once you’ve got your obviously you need to think about the terms and the location, like we’ve said, and after that, it is really content. In the olden days, back in the day, if you wanted to be found for brand photography in Bristol, you could make a white website and write in white, I am the best brand photographer in the world, and repeat it 40,000 times and Google would absorb it and go, by God, he’s the best website. But thankfully, those days are long gone. Google is amazing at reading English, understanding subtleties, reading every tiny bit of content to your website, absorbing it, working out if people are trying to squish in keywords because it doesn’t, like, know if you go, I’m a Bristol web photographer and I spend lots of time in Bristol, and when I’m in Bristol, I do this. And in your what’s it called, keyword stuffing, and it spots things like that. It looks the natural English. So, I mean, one of the most important things fez iOS, if not the most important, is just good, relevant, useful content for people. That really is key.

Marcus: What about tweaking your website every now and when thebe’s call it, is that something they still look for, Sam, that you’ve been working on your site?

Sam: Well, but if you’re adding content, you are working on your, you know, yeah, you obviously have your static, you know, the OD time wants to change, but you are tweaking your website constantly. If you’re adding content, you’re adding new blogs, you’re adding podcasts, that’s key. That’s doing more than tweaking your website. That’s adding really good, like we keep saying, relevant, useful content on a regular basis and yeah, that gets spotted.

Marcus: What about adding some new images on there something that we can do as photographers a little bit that’s not just writing words.

Sam: Yeah, photographs aren’t massive in terms of SEO.I mean, we had a podcast a little while ago, didn’t we, about case studies. I mean, they’re brilliant for SEO. Case studies would be really good, I think, to be honest. You’re going to have to bite the bullet. Get some words. Or video. Video works just as well. Or podcasts we’ve been talking about, do a quick video of yourself chatting about something, do a quick podcast, whatever it is. But it is that content. And yeah, switching out your photos isn’t going to cut the mustard.

Marcus: Well, I was interested to see how Google was going to react to Chat GBT is now it’s becoming quite ubiquitous and everybody’s using it for blogs, posts or whatever. And it’s obviously how will that be judged by Google?

Sam: Not, well, artificial intelligence, let’s be honest, that Chat GBT is getting its information from other blogs out there, other information in the web. It’s got to get its stuff from somewhere and it’s getting it from the web. So effectively, what you’re getting is are hashed version of something else, and it might be ten different articles hashed together and sewn together with nice English. It does it well, but it is rehashed content. And Google, one of the things Google doesn’t like is duplicate content. So if you’ve got two websites, don’t forget the same blog on both. Well, it’s not just plagiarism, because it could be like, for example, you could have two websites, so they could be both be your content, but your websites. I see. And so it would be perfectly valid you to have the same blog on both. But Google doesn’t like that because one of the things it’s looking for is that your content is unique. And so if you’re using Chat GBT, Google, my thought is Google is going to think this isn’t that unique, it’s not going to be exactly the same as another blog, but it’s going to be quite similar to quite a lot of, you know, on the unique scale. I don’t think it’s going to help you using it.

Marcus: interesting. Interesting? Yeah. I mean, anybody who knows me while I’ve been banging on for years about whether will come a stage where Google will actually look at your images in the same way they look at copy. In other words, if you’ve got unique images on your website, will that make you rank higher? Are we getting close to that, Sam? With more intelligent reading of photographs and AI

Sam:  whether Google wants that to happen. Because if you think about it, it depends what people are searching for. But most searches for information. Now, if maybe people would search for an image. But if you think about most of these arches you do in a day, you want to find something, you want to know something. People do image searches you write, but it’s not that often. Most searches are for information, so I’m not sure how much it’s in Google’s interest. How helpful is it to them? They want to get people to useful, relevant, unique content. And by scanning images, is that helping them in that aim? I’m not sure it is that much.

Marcus:  Well, okay. Thank you, Sam. You’ve just ruined my hopes. And visions for a brighter future for photographers everywhere.

Sam:  they do have the image search, so maybe for the image search side they will. But then in many ways, it’s not necessarily the image search the photographers want to be coming up on. Do they? For the kids doing their school project, wanting a photograph of X and paste it into their PowerPoint.

Marcus: Yeah, I get you. I was thinking more as a sort of backlash against stock photography, really, that is what I was thinking. But you make a good point. Why didn’t you do a summary?

Sam: Okay, excellent. Thank you, Marcus. So, as we said, SEO for photographers is actually easier than for many other industries because you don’t have that big boy competition that you’re trying to compete against a really big player. Like, for example, like we said, Airbnb or booking.com. If you’ve got accommodation, the most important thing you’ve got to start with is to work out what words you want to be found for, what phrases, and where. And my recommendation is to aim small to start with and then build on that. Don’t aim to be found for product photography anywhere in the UK unless you’ve got a lot of time and budget and skills. Yeah. Then make sure your site has a good technical setup. Work on your visitor numbers. We talked a bit about this in other podcasts, too, but you need to start with building visitor numbers and making an effort, which is two-pronged. One is making an effort on social media to pay for ads to get people there. And two is having good stuff there so that they’re actually engaging once they arrive. The next is backlinks, which, as we said, are people linking to your website. Yeah. Tell people about your blogs get on those business directories, and find ways for people to link to your website. And the last is content, which we’ve kind of talked about already. Google loves to read your content. Google can index you better the more content you have. And good content means the people who do visit your site, engage with your site, enjoy your site, follow your links, click on the buttons. And that helps Google realize that the site is useful, relevant, unique, and helps to direct more people there.

Marcus: Great synopsis. Thanks, Sam. Thank you for that.

Sam: That’s right. And Marcus, do you have some news of the day for us?

Marcus: Sam. Yes, I do. Well, I don’t, actually. It’s not news. I’m just going to go slightly off-piece, as it were, this week. And I’ve got a quote I was watching, I should say a YouTube program yesterday about how they got the drum sound. Led Zeppelin got the drum sound when the levee breaks. And they mentioned this quote, and it was like, wow, that is a really interesting quote. That really, I think, for people who are photographers who are struggling out there in these trying times, I think this is a great quote that might inspire, and it’s by Winston Churchill, and the quote is very short, and it is, success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. That’s quite a deep quote there. It is.

Sam:  I like it. You really did say that. I like that.                  

Marcus: Success is the ability to go from failure to failure.

Sam: Yeah, no, and that’s very relevant to business in general, I think, isn’t it? Every really successful business person you talk to or you hear about has always had major disasters as well, but pulled themselves out of it and learned from it.

Marcus: Yeah, you’re right. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. And I think we can sometimes feel that we should be more successful when we are, and we’re not doing very well. But failure, you can learn a lot from failure by making mistakes. That’s what it means. Yeah, there we go.

Sam: But I think it’s time to finish. So it’s been lovely chatting with you, Marcus. I will see you next week.

Marcus: See you next week, Sam.

Sam: Bye.