Content advice for photography websites
Photographers have their own unique set of challenges for SEO because they are heavily reliant on imagery and frequently think about their websites from an aesthetic viewpoint. But consider it this way: having a stylish website full of stunning imagery on slick rotators is all well and good. But if your site isn’t optimised for SEO, then you could easily compare it to a well organised gallery full of beautiful pictures… that is tucked down a side alley off Nowhere Street.
Unless you physically take somebody down there, which would effectively mean social media promotion or a conversation, then nobody will locate it except friends and well-wishers.
What you need is to put your gallery on the virtual High Street, where somebody can happen across it in the course of random window shopping. Unless you want to spend money on paid advertising campaigns, you’ll need one of three things: social media activity, tailored text content, or – even better – both.
Social media backup
It’s no secret that social is a huge part of contemporary website SEO. Small businesses should only ignore social media at their own peril. But there are so many factors contained within social media management that you can get quite the exquisite headache trying to decide when to schedule one post across multiple outlets.
Using media such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr is sure to get you some traction in online circles. But let’s be honest – people who like your work on Instagram aren’t necessarily going to use that medium to choose their wedding photographer. And there are plenty of people in the 30+ age bracket who wouldn’t know a Tumblr from a Tinder. With hilarious and embarrassing results.
So, if you have any interest in generating commercial traffic to your website, you’re going to want to make sure that your website can be found with organic search. And that means text content.
Step 1: Accept that you need text
Everybody loves sexy minimalist websites these days, and there are a plethora of platforms out there willing to offer them in template format. Problem is, unless you throw a bucket-load of cash – enough to compete with national and multinational organisations – at your website in the form of round-the-clock social media activity and TV advertising, then your minimalist site is fairly unlikely to rank.
Like a tranquil and scenic river, most of the sleekest minimal websites will turn out to have hidden depths. Pick your favourite minimal site of choice, whether it’s the website for Apple or Samsung or whatever other corporate brand you’re slavishly devoted to. Scroll down and click on “Sitemap”…
That’s how many pages of content their incredibly successful minimal site has working for it behind the scenes.
Unless you’ve been using the internet WAY wrong, you’ll have probably noticed by now that you type text into search engines to find the things that you’re looking for. Well, simply put, without a reasonable amount of text on your site, it is very difficult for it to be found.
Step 2: Optimise each page
Let’s start at the beginning. Search results (or SERPs) display pages based on several key criterion. If your site is branded as “Welcome to William Peltzer’s Portfolio” and the pages are named “Interiors”, “Exteriors” and “Weddings”; then there’s a strong chance that you aren’t even telling the world that you take photographs!
Check out our previous blog posts for details:
When you have unified signals being sent to search engines from your menu titles, meta titles, and meta descriptions, you’re off to a good start. So, change that “Weddings” page to “Wedding Photography” and brand your home page as “Commercial Photographer in Skegness Area” – but only if you’re based in Skegness. Obviously.
Step 3: Optimise your pictures
We cannot stress this enough. If your site is going to be heavily image-driven, then you need to label all of your images with appropriate “alt tags”. In layman’s terms, an alt tag is a text title that tells search engines what the image displays. Liberal and accurate use of alt tags can make your pictures turn up in the “Images for…” area of SERPs.
As you can see, images and video results will take priority over website results in certain searches, and photography is necessarily one of those special searches. So, don’t upload your pictures of your latest job as “Image430074.jpg” because nobody searches for that. Well, nobody with a soul.
Make sure your picture has a title like “Paterson Wedding Exterior Family Photograph” and it has a far higher chance of displaying for a relevant search like “wedding photographs”. The thumbnail displayed in SERPs will take interested parties through to your site if they like what they see.
Find room for page content
If you want your site to attract textual searches, you’re going to need two things: engaging text content or a bulging wallet plus a desire to spend money on an AdWords campaign. The former choice is the more affordable of the two.
One of the key factors in page optimisation – which accounts for some 25% of SEO factors on your page at last check – is the presence of relevant H1 tags, or a “Header 1”. This is the equivalent of a headline of a newspaper story and tells search engines exactly what to expect on your page.
Then there’s the “story” itself, or the page content. This should ideally be at least 300 words and contain organic references to the topic of the page. So, a page about “wedding photography should contain content about, umm, wedding photography. But what should your page actually be about, and where should your copy go?
Well, there are a couple of choices that spring to mind straight away…
Option 1: Put your content “below the fold”
“Above the fold” is a journalism term for newspaper stories and pictures that appeared in the upper half of the page – the attention-grabbing stuff that made people buy papers. It’s now been co-opted by developers and SEOs to mean “anything on a page that is visible without scrolling”.
Putting your content “below the fold” means it won’t jump out at your reader and make the screen seem cluttered, but will still be indexed by Google and co.
One thing, though: if you put any strong selling points in your copy, and you don’t want them to go completely ignored, make sure to put a small text or image teaser under your imagery. Something like “Read More Below…” will let your site visitors know that your text is there.
Just like there’s no point in taking beautiful pictures and displaying them on a website that doesn’t get found; there’s no point in having a page with engaging content that doesn’t get seen!
Option 2: Write a dedicated content page and link to your gallery
Your alternative is to continue to feature pages that are very much image-heavy, but then clearly link them to and from a related text page. So, if you have a gallery of interior shots for property companies, then make a dedicated “Property Interiors” page, but link to a new page called “Letting Agent Photography”. And then link back.
The name of the game here is creating a page that has a title (with related content) that will cater to search queries entered by the layman. As I noted before, it may well be that industry standards call certain kinds of photos “Interiors”. It’s just that calling your page that will not be as likely to attract any worthwhile searches – you’ll likely only attract customers for “
interior designers”, which is not going to be much use for your sales conversion.
Side note: “interiors” or “interior shots” is potentially a good term for an image alt tag though, as the above screenshot of “interiors” SERPs shows.
Make sure your pages are labelled with industry-specific labels. It may be less minimalistic, but “Interior Photography” or “Interior Photographer” will have a higher chance of driving the correct type of traffic to your site. So, what should you use as content to engage your readers?
Well, for the pages we’ve just looked at, you could do worse than selling the benefits of using either a) your own services or b) a professional photographer (aka you). You’re no doubt all too aware that everyone with an iPhone seems to labour under the delusion that they’re a photographer now.
Well, here’s your chance to explain why they should choose your services over a shot by an amateur fauxtographer that’s been Instagrammed to within an inch of reality. Sell your technical expertise and artistry.
Finally, consider case studies and blog articles
You know how we were just bashing amateur snappers like three seconds ago? Well, they could be a valuable source of informational traffic. That is, people who turn up and bask in your knowledge rather than buying your services or pictures.
Side note 2: there’s a rumour at large that a lot of photographers keep their blog and their website separate (possibly because of the text / minimalist issue). If at all possible, don’t. For all of the reasons related to text content that we have looked at above.
Back on-topic, there’s a whole realm of blogging potential out there, aside from “Skibo Castle Wedding – I used this lens and that camera”. Between novice professionals and enthusiastic amateurs, there’s an incredible range of articles that you can be writing to attract searches, backlinks and page authority. These ideas include:
- Pro tips for using your digital camera
- Pro tips for shooting outdoor photos
- How to get the most out of your smartphone camera
- My most spectacular 5 wedding venues
- Tips on dressing your family for a portrait
You get the idea. And if you’re running out of ideas, simply ask your followers on social media if they have any questions for you. Then post a blog answering that question, and link it on social media.
Click: you’re an online resource for photography issues as well as a skilled photographer!
We’re full of bright ideas on how to improve your website for better results. If you need SEO and social media assistance, contact Trendzer to discuss our Search Engine Manager service on
0800 047 6777.