The Twelfth Year would like to introduce you to the GURU of SEO, the one and only Zach Prez of Photography Spark. Lori and I have personally taken a SEO Workshop from Zach and we learned so much! We highly recommend reading this and purchasing his SEO Cookbook! You won’t regret it! Thank you Zach for the tips!
WEBSITE: Photography Spark
FACEBOOK: Photography Spark
10 Things Photographers Do Wrong with SEO
When it comes to search engine optimization, many photographers have it all wrong. It’s not that they’re doing bad stuff that is going to damage their Google reputation, it’s just that they are focusing on the wrong things. Most of the commonly known strategies photographers are using to rank have not been considered ranking factors by Google for many years.
Recently I held an SEO review session for the Twelfth Year where I looked at a bunch of photographer websites and critiqued them in a live online event. Everyone was making the same mistakes! Here are some major things you want to avoid when optimizing for Google.
Most Common SEO Mistakes
Optimizing for a single phrase
When you walk into a bookstore you’ll find more than just copies of Harry Potter. If the bookstore only sold one book, it would go out of business fast. The same is true of search. No single phrase will transform your business. The best approach is to cast a wide net and try to rank for tons of stuff.
Potential clients search for photographers in many ways. They can get extremely specific, for example “church wedding photo ideas.” A solid search strategy attempts to optimize for dozens or even hundreds of different phrases.
Repeating the same keyword
Let’s expand on the above example. I see many photographers adding the same phrase to all of their page titles.
Mistake: Zach & Amber’s Wedding – Sacramento Wedding Photographer
You may have done a wedding last week that took place in a church. Ideally, the name of this page would include the words “church wedding photos” so Google knows your page is exactly what the searcher is looking for.
Optimized: Beautiful Church Wedding Photos in Sacramento
Google already knows you’re a Sacramento wedding photographer by looking at your homepage. Thus, you don’t need to tell Google again on all of your sub pages. Repeating words through all your posts tell Google you only do one thing, and should only rank for one thing. We already emphasized above that your goal will be to rank for many things.
Lack of Text
Now you have a page about church wedding photos, but so do 100 other photographers. To rank #1, Google is looking for a page that will satisfy a user with comprehensive information on the subject they searched. A page without text certainly can’t be considered comprehensive.
300 words of text is about the industry standard for adequate text on a page. Adding more text to your pages accomplishes a few things:
Allows you to rank for more things (like the name of the church, colors, time of year, styles of photos, etc)
Adds important details for the reader
Gives you an opportunity to talk about yourself and why people should hire you
Helps images to rank (more on this next…)
I don’t see captions very often on photography sites, yet this is the easiest way to add text to a page. 10 captions on a page will add about 100 words, all of which help Google understand you as a photographer. Simply describe the photo with some text underneath it, and you will use great keywords!
Wasting time on tags
Google stopped looking at keyword tags like a billion Internet years ago. There is absolutely zero need to tag pages with lists of keywords. That goes for blogs too. You can immediately stop adding “tags” to blog posts. Simply a waste of time.
There is one “meta” tag that retains relevant and that is the meta description. This is page summary appearing in Google to describe a page. Meta descriptions don’t appear anywhere on your website except hidden in the code.
Since they can appear in Google, it is worth writing quality descriptions for your pages. It doesn’t matter what keywords you include in the description since these don’t help you rank higher. What does matter is users may read this and decide to click your page from Google instead of someone else’s page. Ask your website provider how to access the meta description field, or use a WordPress plugin like the All in One SEO Pack to add this field to all your pages and posts.
Forgetting to ask for the sale
Pick any page from your website and assume it ranks well in search. When a user comes to that page, loves the photos, and scrolls all the way to the end of the page – what do you want them to do next? You want them to hire you!
Currently the user is hitting a dead end at the bottom of the page and will quickly return to wherever they came from (Google, Facebook, email newsletter, etc). If you’re ranking in search and still not getting new business, it may because you don’t ask for it. The bottom of pages is a great place to remind readers they can follow you on social media, subscribe to a newsletter, check out some awesome related posts, or call you right now to book a session.
Missing opportunities to get links
So far we’ve covered all the things to do on your own website to get found. Getting found by Google doesn’t mean you’ll rank near the top. That’s where links come in. Photographers who get featured on other websites are perceived by Google to be more experienced and popular, and therefore rank higher. It takes a talented photographer to speak at a local event, get interviewed on a podcast, be mentioned on a vendor website, or contribute an article to a magazine. Google sees this activity in the form of links, and the more times you’re referenced by trusted websites, the higher your pages will move in search results.
The BIGGEST mistake you can make in the SEO world is to outsource. High search rank comes from writing quality content, and getting linked from quality websites. These are two things that another company can’t do on your behalf! You don’t want someone else writing about your sessions on your blog, and you certainly can’t trust them to make quality connections for you in the photo industry to get featured across the web. Most SEO companies gather lots of low quality links from other websites that hurt you in the long run. You are the company you keep, and when you get low quality press on the Internet, Google assumes your business is low quality too and penalizes you for it.
SEO is about writing quality pages for your readers and naming them appropriately so they can find you. Add enough content to the page to be substantial. Get those pages featured on other websites. Those are tasks you can handle!
About Zach Prez
With 10 years Internet marketing experience, Zach has consulted for huge photography companies, contributed to dozens of popular websites and have been featured in magazines like Professional Photographer. He’s personally helped hundreds of photographers with SEO strategies via workshops and one-on-one coaching, plus thousands more through his do-it-yourself SEO guide.
Don’t miss the list of Black Friday deals for photographers on Zach’s blog, Photography Spark.