A website is one of the most important tools for any professional photographer. A website allows your work to be found through searches, can be used as a great digital portfolio in a pinch, and is an excellent way to interact with your potential clients and fans of your work. However, when I look through others photographers websites, I find a long list of ‘No-No’s’ on a design level. So here are five tips to help improve your website's presence on the internet.
1.) Avoid Adobe Flash at ALL COSTS
I cannot echo this enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love flash, and I was one of the photographers who stood by flash when everyone else started abandoning it. It just no longer serves a purpose for photography websites. While it makes a seemingly boring website look pretty, it can also make it load slow, and in many aspects, make your website unavailable to mobile devices.
And the mobile devices is a big thing. Looking at my websites own stats for example, shows that over 40% of the people viewing my website are from a mobile device. That's a huge segment of viewers that would no longer be able to view your website, and your work, with a flash-based website.
Another problem with flash based websites is the inability to add keywords to your images alt tags. This makes your site very difficult for search engines to read, which will hurt you dramatically in Google search rankings. Which brings me to my next point...
2.) SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
A great breakdown of SEO was posted by our very own Nick Fancher last week, so I’ll try not to repost too much of his information on this. However, Search Engine Optimization is likely the most important thing you can do for your website. We no longer live in the internet era where you can just make a website, and search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo will eventually pick up your content and start displaying it for those who search. We must now use creative keyword placement, backlinks to popular websites, and create an easy viewing website, for both humans, and robots.
This is all done through continuous research, and is considered a full time job for a reason. SEO is the difference maker for shooting a paid gig once a week, and being fully booked 2 months out. One basic and great tip for SEO is to name your images. Most photographers websites are portfolio based, with virtually no words within the content of the main site. You must counteract the lack of keywords in your website with alt tags in your images. This is done very easily with Wordpress based websites, but can be done easily through adding alt=”keywords keyword keywords”> to the html within the < img > tags. Simple adjustments as this can push your website from being nonexistent to Google, to being among the top websites within your market.
It’s a pain in the ass, no doubt, but blogging has some huge benefits to your website, as it gets people coming back. The average portfolio on a photographers website gets updated once every three months or so. With that being said, how do you expect to get repeat visitors if you rarely add new and interesting content to your website?
Blogging has huge benefits for SEO too. Its adding continuous content to your site, making it ever expanding and hitting multiple areas of photography. My website is portrait based, however, I’m able to put some landscape photos on my blog, and that might help me with getting some landscape gig in the future. As photographers, we dabble in everything, even though we have one specific focus to what we do. By having a blog, it enables us to be more scatterbrained in our work, and it’ll help our business grow as well.
Blogs also add personality to your website. People want to work with someone who is interesting and easy to work with. By having blog posts, about anything, it’ll help your potential clients get a general sense of who you are.
4.) Multi-platform Your Website
The internet is used for social media more than anything these days. We’re all addicted to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, so why aren't you using all those forms of media to present your work?
Lets take Instagram for example. Personally, I was absolutely against Instagram for the longest time. I thought it was devaluing the photography industry, and that it was a fad that would pass in no time. Eventually, some friends who are photographers talked to me about it, and presented it differently. Instagram is a social media device, that allows millions of people to view some of your work, that may not have the opportunity otherwise. Not only that, but it also presents your life and personality in day to day photos, so why wouldn't you want to use that medium to help gain your own exposure as a photographer? All social media has their purpose, and its important to use them all to help grow your business. More importantly, you need to link them all together, so that your work is easy to find on all mediums.
5.) Organize Your Content
Your website is your digital portfolio, and there are tactics that you should use to help present your work more efficiently. A portfolio is designed to show off your best work, in different categories. My tactic, has always been the same one I have shared with many photographers in print portfolios. You present your very best work first, and last, and have the middle portion of your portfolio with the filler. This strategy is used as you want to grab attention initially, with WOW factor, show them diversity in your work, and then wow them again.
A great tool I use is to look at the bounce rate of my website. Bounce Rate, in laymen terms, is the rate of which people are leaving your site without viewing a second page of it. So an important strategy is to move your pictures around, and see which combinations have the best success rate.
For a further look into improving your website, I recommend checking out the Fstoppers DVD "How To Become A Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer".