What is SEO and why does it matter for your photography business?
SEO is the process of making calculated changes to your website so that you show up higher in organic search results pages for search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
When you first started your photography business, you most likely relied on word-of-mouth to get clients. You reached out to friends and family, told them about your new business and asked them to spread the word.
Before long, you made sure your clients had a wonderful experience working with you and they started spreading the word too.
This creates substantial buzz for a lot of new businesses out there, but it’s not always enough.
So then we look to social media sites like Instagram to help pick up the slack. This is great for brand recognition and getting your work out there, BUT with Instagram’s flakey algorithm, it’s tough to predict how many people are going to see your posts.
Engagement is dropping FAST! It’s scary for a lot of photographers out there who rely on Instagram for the majority of their new clients.
SEO provides a buffer to your marketing efforts. By optimizing your website and adding quality content that supports your ideal clients while they are making a buying decision, Google rewards you big time!
Google is always looking to promote businesses in search results, unlike Instagram that prefers friend-to-friend relationships.
Google wants people to find you when you focus on providing value and the content you create is going to attract more people overtime.
The goal is consistency. You want clients finding you on a regular basis.
This helps you to become the booked-out photographer you wanted to become when you got started in the first place!
If you’re ready to get started with Squarespace now, click here to save 10% off your first subscription of a website by using the code PARTNER10.
Why Squarespace is good for SEO
Squarespace makes content creation so freakin’ easy and Google LOVES content.
It’s a match made in heaven.
Is Squarespace the perfect platform for SEO? No and it doesn’t claim to be.
WordPress does have some features that make it ever so slightly more SEO friendly, BUT that comes at a price.
With WordPress, you’ll constantly be dealing with plugin updates, conflicts, upgrades. It’s less user-friendly overall and not as flexible if you aren’t a web developer.
Adding content is not nearly as seamless (and it’s definitely not as fun as it is with Squarespace).
I built custom WordPress sites for years for my clients and I loved WordPress, until Squarespace came along.
Good design (from a user experience perspective) is of the upmost importance to me and WordPress hasn’t kept up in my personal opinion.
Squarespace has added a ton of new SEO functionality over the years and they are making it easier and easier to get started.
A couple of these features include the ability to…
easily add and preview your page title and meta description on the settings of each page
hide certain pages from search results
quickly create redirects to prevent 404 errors
customize your URL structure to keep it clean + simple
At the end of the day the best website builder for SEO is the one that allows you to easily make changes and improve your content.
Looking for help with SEO? Did you know you can hop on a call with me to get my eyes on your website with a one hour collaborative consultation. Together we’ll work on your website one-on-one and come up with a strategy you can use moving forward.
Squarespace 7.0 vs 7.1 for SEO
You probably know that Squarespace has recently released version 7.1 which adds a lot of new design functionality and removes the need for picking a template based on specific features.
With Squarespace 7.1, all templates are interchangeable in terms of design features which is great news! No more switching templates because you want a different blog layout.
We have a blog post all about making the switch from Squarespace 7.0 to Squarespace 7.1 if you have any questions about the process.
If you want to learn more about the new version of Squarespace, read this post about getting started with Squarespace 7.1.
But what about SEO?
Squarespace added a ton of SEO features to version 7.0 in 2019 and those changes are also seen in 7.1. In short, nothing is really changing here in terms of SEO.
How to rank your photography website in 2020
The #1 thing you can do to improve your SEO rankings as a photographer in 2020 is to get crystal clear in your content strategy.
Do your research. Know who your ideal client is and what they are interested in.
Niching down and focusing on one specialty can make this a whole lot easier.
The more focused you are in what you offer/who you serve, the more you stand out from the competition.
For example, ranking for the keyword “wedding photographer xyz city” is going to be so much easier than trying to rank for “wedding photographer,” “family photographer,” AND “newborn photographer.”
Not to say it’s impossible, but it’s definitely going to make things more challenging.
Once you know your niche, start by optimizing your homepage with content related to that subject. How can you educate your potential clients? What content would they like to know about you before they decide to hire you? Include that here!
Then, focus on the other pages of your website. Do you have a portfolio page, blog posts, etc.? Add more content to those pages as well.
Don’t worry too much about keywords
Google is getting smarter, and as the algorithm gets better it starts to think more like a human. That means you don’t have to focus on specific keywords. Instead you should think about becoming an authority on a topic.
If you’re a wedding photographer, be an expert on the topic of wedding photography. Show off your expertise by talking (i.e. writing content on your website) about your style, your approach, and what makes you different.
Community building & SEO
Trust (i.e. authority) is a big ranking factor and that’s not going to change. Building links from other related websites to your website is still a valid SEO strategy in 2020.
What does that look like for your business?
Connect with complimentary business owners in your town or city. As a photographer that means other vendors like event planners, florists, prop stores, caterers, etc.
Write content that features these vendors and they may just link back to your website or promote you on social media.
The goal is to introduce yourself to someone else’s audience which can also build up trust in the eyes of Google.
Other important Google ranking factors
If you made it this far, you know that creating quality content and building authority is important, but what other ranking factors matter when it comes to SEO?
Here are a few you should keep in mind…
Age of your domain – domains age like fine wine. The longer your domain has been around, the more trust you have with Google right out of the gate.
CTR (click-through-rate) – You want people clicking on your listing in search results and hanging out on your site for a while. When someone clicks on your website in search and sticks around without hitting that back button, it’s a key indicator that your site is relevant!
Mobile-friendly – This is a big change in the last few months. Google is now looking at the mobile-version of your website as the primary version instead of the desktop view.
That means if your site isn’t easy to use on mobile, you’re going to get bumped down a bit in search results.
Site speed is also important here as people visiting your site from a phone may not be on wifi. If your site doesn’t load right away, those people are clicking away.
How blogging impacts your SEO strategy
Blogging is a great way to reach new audiences, but blog posts are typically poorly written and improperly used to attract clients.
More is NOT better when it comes to writing blog content. You NEED to focus on quality.
If you write a post about every new photography client, you are wasting a ton of time and probably not seeing great results.
Write posts that serve your potential clients. For example, as a wedding photographer, you may want to write a post that covers the top wedding venue locations in your city.
Or maybe you want to share a post that includes a round up of all your favorite fall weddings photos which may catch the eye of a bride planning her October wedding.
If your posts are mostly images with a teeny bit of text at the top… Houston, we have a problem.
Sadly, Google can’t reliably read images (although they are getting closer).
This is the one time I will ask you to ignore what your English teacher taught you: “show don’t tell” doesn’t apply here.
The more you can explain to your readers what the theme of your blog post is and why they should care, the better!
At the end of the day, it’s all about educating and supporting your potential clients as they decide who to hire.
Keeping your website tidy
A quick note on cleanliness. In the process of creating your website and editing it over the years, you may have a ton of pages you no longer use.
Check Google Analytics to see which of your pages are getting the least amount of traffic. You may want to hide these pages from Google.
Having too many pages with less than optimal content quality can actually hurt your rankings.
Think about combining pages with similar topics so that you have one really valuable page instead of two or three somewhat valuable pages.
Then, remove pages with little to no valuable content from search results.
You can easily take advantage of the URL redirects feature in Squarespace to make sure that no links are broken in the process.
Using Google Analytics to improve your SEO efforts
It’s way easier than it sounds 🙂
This is something I recommend every photographer do before getting started on their journey to better SEO.
That way you can track your results as you make progress.
Once you have data showing up inside Google Analytics, here are a few things you should be checking…
Which pages are people landing on first when they find you in Google? This one may surprise you.
Are those landing pages optimized for conversions? — this is marketing speak for how likely are these people to inquire about your photography packages? — you can find this information by setting up Goals.
What queries (i.e. search terms) are people using to find you in Google?
Find “low hanging fruit” keywords where you’re already ranking in position #8-20 for a particular keyword. Then improve the value of the content on that page to bump yourself up in rankings.
Google Analytics also helps you understand where most of your new leads are coming from so you can do more of what’s working. Wouldn’t that make life easier?
How long does it take to see results from SEO?
This is a question I get all the time, and it’s a good one! If you’re going to put all this work into optimizing your website, you want to see results. The sooner the better.
First, you don’t have to make all these changes at once. You are running a business here and I don’t expect you to drop everything and become an SEO expert.
Instead, focus on small changes you can make bit by bit.
It can take a few weeks after you make changes to your website for Google to notice so don’t freak out if you don’t see instant improvements.
The good news is that once Google does notice the new content you’ve added, the results tend to snowball and build overtime.
Where are you at with your SEO progress now and what are your big goals for 2020? Let me know in the comments below.