Better SEO: Finding Keywords for Your Photography Website

Better SEO: Finding Keywords for Your Photography Website

If you know anything about SEO (search engine optimization), then you know that finding good keywords is, well, key. Here are a few ways to find new keyword ideas and how to implement them on your website.

Very little is known about Google’s algorithm, and Google wants it to stay that way. When SEO became a thing, website owners quickly got to work establishing patterns that could “game the system” with Google’s algorithm. The trickery that people used with SEO became known as “black hat” tactics. It’s because of this that Google’s algorithm is ever-changing and mysterious. Google doesn’t want people to be able to take advantage of tricks that cause the algorithm to favor website search results. Furthermore, when considering good SEO, one must think of optimization as a journey with no quick fixes or tricks. Even large-scale SEO companies know that their results for clients will depend on hard work, time, commitment, and consistency.

In the midst of the changing algorithm, one constant remains with SEO: proper keyword research and strategies are essential in helping your photography website rank higher within Google’s search results.

As a service-based business, photographers should be concerned with ranking within their local search results on Google. Ranking locally, rather than globally, is key for any service-based business so that local clientele know the business exists. Choosing well-thought-out keywords is the main ingredient in getting your website content to rank and get seen by potential clients. However, just because you may only be interested in booking local clientele does not mean you shouldn’t be interested in getting your website to rank on a national or global scale.

In addition to a strong keyword strategy, we do know that Google’s algorithm is interested in valuable content. After all, Google itself is a business and is interested in providing top-notch content to its users, and so it makes sense that its algorithm would favor websites with great content. What this means for photographers is that having a keyword strategy for local Google results as well as national or global Google results when paired with providing valuable and consistent content is a formula for success when ranking in search results. 

The Importance of Many Keywords

So what does all of this mean for photographers pursuing a professional photography business? It means that a good chunk of your time must be dedicated to thoughtfully coming up with keywords, researching those keywords, using multiple keywords, and then also providing valuable content in the form of consistent blog entries, informative web pages, and so on.

As far as a strong keyword strategy is concerned, it’s imperative to put effort toward ranking for many different keywords. To rank locally, photographers should have what’s known as a good “long-tail keyword.” Long-tail keywords are phrases that are two or more words long. The benefit of ranking your website using a long-tail keyword is that it helps to target niche groups of people. Basically, whatever your niche is as a photographer (e.g., wedding, portrait, product), long-tail keywords will help you get seen by that group of people. Long-tail keywords are great for targeting a specific group of people instead of large numbers of people. This is beneficial because long-tail keywords are less competitive and therefore easier to rank on Google.

It’s also important to rank for various keywords within blog posts. This allows your website to get potentially found using many different search terms. If you only stick to trying to rank for your main long-tail keyword, it’s the same as putting all your eggs in one basket. 

How to Rank for Multiple Keywords

The best way to rank your website for multiple keywords is to create blog posts that are both informative and focus on keywords that you feel your ideal audience is searching for. To put it simply, whatever you think your ideal audience (i.e., the audience that you’re already targeting with your long-tail keyword) is searching for in addition to your services, you want to create content that addresses those topics and that you can easily and organically include a keyword within.

When brainstorming for such content, consider the pain-points of your ideal audience. For example, as a wedding photographer in Las Vegas, my ideal audience might have a pain-point trying to plan their wedding in Vegas without having ever visited prior. This means they may search in Google for something like, “travel tips when getting married in Vegas.” This is a great opportunity for me to write a helpful article, using the term “travel tips when getting married in Vegas” to not only provide valuable information but also to get seen by potential clients.

A bonus to creating content like this is that it automatically builds trust with potential clients and establishes you as an authority in your field. 

If you’re struggling to come up with content ideas, try looking back at past client interactions and questions that your clients ask over and over again. These are often pain-points that may be suitable material for informative blog content in the future.

Carving out ample time to brainstorm keyword ideas will make researching easier. Try creating a giant list using keywords that pertain to your photography niche.

Tools for Finding New Keyword Ideas

The hardest step when creating a robust keyword strategy is the research portion. Often, photographers don’t know where to look when trying to decide whether a keyword is worth pursuing. 

When I set out to think of new keywords, I often do a big brain-dump. I make a big list of all the keyword ideas I can come up with and then I systematically start going down the list and researching each idea. Often when doing this, I’ll come up with different or better keyword ideas that I can then add to my list of research. Remember, keyword strategizing needs to be thought of us a process and a project and not a quick fix.

This can all be overwhelming. Luckily, there are a few websites that can help when trying to figure out what keywords are worth your time to invest in.

1. Google

What better place to start than by using Google? Try typing in a keyword and first checking to see what Google suggestions pop up when you’re typing in the search bar. This is a great place to start and to get a glimpse into what people are searching for that pertains to what you're inputting into Google. Before you do this, make sure you clear your cache and cookies to make sure the suggested searches aren’t skewed to your past search inquiries.

2. Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a goldmine when doing keyword or content research. What the website does is compile popular searches based on whatever search term you’re looking for. Search results are sorted by questions (who, what, where, why, and how), followed by popular searches with prepositions. For example, when I input “wedding photos” into Answer the Public’s search bar, I get results with questions like, “are wedding photos worth it?”, “how long do wedding photos take,” and “what are first look wedding photos?”. By doing two minutes of research into “wedding photos,” I already have three excellent blog ideas that would probably appeal to my ideal audience. 

3. Serpstat

Serpstat is a great tool that tells you if a keyword has enough search volume to be worth pursuing. Ideally, you want keywords with a high search volume and low keyword difficulty meaning that plenty of people search for the term, but not many other websites are trying to rank for that same term. Of course, photography is a saturated market, so this is why it’s critical to research your keywords and try ranking for many keywords as it’s likely your competition will also be trying to rank for the same keywords you’re ranking for.

Once you’ve done all your research and brainstorming, it’s time to decide what keywords and phrases to begin trying to rank for. It’s a good idea to rank for both long-tail and short-tail phrases so that you don’t limit yourself or your audience. You can create a content calendar ahead of time to help plan consistent, valuable content.

Remember that even though a particular keyword may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to find out what the search volume is. If the search volume is too low, it will not be worth your time trying to rank for it, and if the search volume is too high, it may be too challenging to rank. Try choosing keywords that are in the middle of volume and difficulty, a sweet spot, if you will.

Finding the right keywords isn’t hard, but it is time-consuming. Thoughtfully approaching the process and doing proper research will help your photography website to rank higher, without spending time on keywords that don’t matter. SEO is an essential and permanent part of a business, so make sure that you include it within your marketing for your business. It is just one more tool to help you get found by new clients.

Lead image by Pixabay via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

Danette Chappell's picture

Danette is a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer who's photographed over 1,500 weddings and elopements in 14 different states. She has a passion for teaching business and helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. She also loves cats, Harry Potter, and the occasional video game.

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Really interesting article, thank you Fstoppers. I have a question: what about sites without blog like, for example, Mike Kelly's website? How are these kind of photographers getting visibility in search engines? Do they also work their SEO? If yes, where are they doing this? on every image metadata info? I guess this is not as valuable and affective as having a blog, right?

Great question Anthony! SEO is multifaceted and good keywords are just a part of an overall strong SEO strategy. Websites without blogs can still rank high by providing valuable content to other websites in the way of guest articles, video tutorials, etc. Getting backlinks (i.e., providing valuable content to other websites who, in turn, link back to your website) is seen as very valuable to Google. Ideally, you want to have a strong keyword strategy in addition to great content marketing and backlinking in order to rank well on Google.

The problem with too many multiple keywords is not focusing on a more specific clientele or region. If I try to use multiple web pages (like galleries) forr multiply clientele like weddings, portraits, family, models, schools etc. each page on my site has to fend for itself.

However, if I try to consolidate my keywords and focus on a couple of genres and a more local clientele I should have better chance in being found by my prefer clientele, right?

But, I may be wrong :-) Three years after building my web site, I am now in the process of refreshing it and again my head is exploding trying to decide on the best SEO strategy.

Not fun..

Comprehensive and thorough. Thanks a lot, Danette!
But, the question is what about the keyword density in any site? Keyword density is also important for SEO nowadays? I've read a post ( and now, with voice search it's even more important, moreover it's changing, isn't it?

I don't want to be disrespectful, but I checked the author's website and it sucks at SEO...
There is only one keyword I could find "las vegas photographer" and the website shows up at spot 70 on Google SERP

FYI I'm a SEO since 2004 who also takes photo.

I like the idea of ranking for multiple keywords if am in digital marketing my clients will be looking for digital marketing agency for photography industry nice idea

So, before you start the keywords research you need to identify your target audience and to segment it. It is so difficult and interesting task. In result you will understand your clients. And you can use no SEO tool to find keywords. You will know how do clients search photographer. Also you may use Google suggestions.
But the main idea to understand clients or, rather, your clients. To create website, cintent strategy we use few approaches to understand customers of our clients. We prefer use Value proposition canvas approach in our agency because it is easy to use for UX designers and web developers.

Before embarking on your keyword research, it is essential to identify and segment your target audience. Although challenging, this task is also fascinating, as it provides valuable insights into your clients. Conducting this research can help you understand how your clients search for photographers, and you can even use Google suggestions for this purpose.

However, the most crucial aspect of this process is to understand your clients, specifically your target audience. At our agency, we use several approaches to understand our clients' customers when creating their website and content strategies. Our preferred method is the Value Proposition Canvas approach, which is easy for SitePrism designers and web developers to use. By focusing on your clients' value proposition, you can create a website that resonates with your target audience and increases your chances of success.