SEO for Photographers: 7 Tips to Boost Your Website

Here's the thing, they don't really teach SEO in school, do they? You can read about SEO until you're blue in the face, but the real learning? That happens when you're actually in the trenches, optimizing websites, figuring out what clicks and what flops.

You've probably heard stuff like "do this for SEO" and "do that for SEO" all the time, right? And there you are, trying it out, but kind of wondering, "Is this actually doing anything? Why am I even doing this?" Trust me, you're not the only one thinking this.

The best way to get the hang of SEO? Start your own website. Build it from the ground up, try to grow it organically. That's the real deal.

Guess what? I've been there, done that. I've grown a bunch of sites: an EDM site, a candle site, and even a streetwear site. In fact, I rank number one if not top five for many photography-related keywords. 

My Article Ranking #1 for "what is a speedlight"

My Article Ranking #1 for "what is portrait photography"
With that being said, I wanted to share 7 simple SEO tips for photographers that you can implement on your photography website today.

7 SEO Tips for Photographers

Here are the seven SEO tips for photographers.

1. Use HTTPS

Alright, first up on the SEO tips for photographers: make sure your website is using HTTPS. So, what's HTTPS? It's Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which basically means it's a more secure version of the old HTTP, thanks to SSL/TLS encryption and authentication.

Now, let's skip the geeky stuff. The key thing is HTTPS makes your site safer, and guess what? Search engines love that. If they're happy, your site's more likely to rank well for your photography keywords. Wondering if your site's already got HTTPS? Easy. Just pop over to an SSL Checker Website, throw in your URL, and see if you've got an SSL certificate. Here's a screenshot from my site when I checked it. As you can see, I'm all good to go.

SSL Checker for Photography Website

If your site needs one, you'll have to chat with your web hosting provider. Most photography websites use popular hosts like SiteGround, Bluehost, or GoDaddy. If you need to get an SSL certificate, here are some helpful links based on who's hosting your site:

If you aren't using one of these hosting providers, then just head to a search engine and input your web hosting provider plus "SSL instructions" and you'll find an article on how to add it.

2. Check for CDN

Next SEO tip for photographers? Check if you've got a CDN, which stands for Content Delivery Network. Here's why it's a big deal: a CDN can seriously boost your photography website's page speed, and that's gold for SEO. Think of CDNs as a bunch of servers working together. They're great for SEO because they:

  • Deliver content to your visitors super fast
  • Speed up your website's performance
  • Guard against cyber threats

Curious if your site's using a CDN? There's an easy way to find out. Just use a CDN Checker Tool. When I did this for my site, you can see I'm using Cloudflare's CDN:

CDN Checker Tool

And speaking of Cloudflare, they're like the go-to for getting a CDN. All you need to do is hop onto the Cloudflare website, sign up, add your domain, and then redirect your domain name to their nameservers. They've got a tutorial that makes it super straightforward, and it's free too.

3. Optimizing Image File Names and Alt Text

Tip number three for photographers looking to ace SEO is all about optimizing your image file names and alt text. As photographers, our websites are usually chock-full of images. This is actually a great chance to boost our SEO game by including our target keyword in both our image file names and alt text. The image file name? That's what you name your image when you save it:

Image file name.

The alt text, or alternative text, is a brief description of the image on your site. It's crucial for both accessibility and SEO because search engines can't "see" images. The alt text explains what's in the picture.

Image alt text. 

So, when you're naming your files and writing alt text, try to sneak in your target keyword. Let's say you're aiming for "portrait photographer in Miami" and you've got shots of you taking photos of clients. Instead of naming an image something generic like "image1.jpg" or "DSC1002.jpg," go for something like "portrait-photo-in-miami.jpg." And for alt text, instead of just "photo," use something more descriptive like "Portrait photographer with client in Miami city on a sunny day." This approach makes your content way more search engine-friendly, helping you rank better for those keywords you're targeting.

4. Using Keyword-Rich Titles

Fourth SEO tip for photographers: get those titles keyword-rich! Your page titles, also known as meta titles, are HTML elements that define the title of a web page. They're the bits you click on in search engine results — the clickable headlines:

Meta title example for article.

They're written like this in HTML:

<title>This is title tag</title>

Here's what you need to focus on with your title tags:

  • Make sure your target keyword is in there.
  • Avoid duplicating title tags across your photography website.
  • Keep an eye on the length to avoid truncation.

What's truncation? It's when your title is too long, and the search engines chop it off with an ellipsis (...), which can hurt your click-through rate. That means potentially less traffic, less revenue, less of all the good stuff:

Truncated versus non-truncated.

If you've got a custom-coded website, you can tweak the HTML directly. But, if you're like most folks and use a CMS like WordPress or Squarespace, it's a bit different. On Squarespace, they've got settings for you to edit the meta title for each page. On WordPress, you'll need a free SEO plugin for editing HTML elements. I use RankMath myself.

5. Use Proper Heading Structure

Fifth on the list for photographers' SEO: Make sure your headings are structured right.

Your heading structure is all about the heading tags on your page, like your H1, H2, H3, and so on. These are HTML tags that define the headings and subheadings of your content. They're like road signs, guiding both your visitors and search engine bots through your page, making your content easier to follow and letting the bots know what your page is all about.

Here's how they look in HTML and then how they look on the page:

<h1>This is H1 Header</h1>
<h2>This is H2 Header</h2>
<h3>This is H3 Header</h3>

Heading Tag Examples

Here's a key tip: each page should have just one H1 tag, and it's a great idea to include your target keyword in it.

For instance, if you're gunning for "new york headshot photographer," that should be your H1 header. This isn't the only thing that'll get you to rank #1, but having your target keyword in your H1 definitely helps.

Now, what about the H2s and H3s? Here's where your secondary keywords come into play. These are the keywords that support and relate to your primary keyword. Say your main keyword is "new york headshot photographer." Your secondary keywords might be "new york headshot photographer for fashion," "headshot photographer in new york," "ny headshot photographer," and "new york headshot photographer for actors." Each photographer will have different secondary keywords that fit best. Figuring out which photography keywords are ideal for you will require consultation in order to tailor your keyword strategy to match your business goals.

6. Mobile Responsive Website

Sixth SEO tip for photographers: make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

It's a big deal to have a website that's optimized for mobile devices. Here's why: nearly 60% of all global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Plus, search engines like Google use mobile-first indexing. This means they look at your website as if they were using a mobile browser and use that version for indexing and ranking.

In simple terms, your site needs to look great on mobile, perhaps even more so than on desktop. If it's not up to scratch on mobile, it could be hurting your rankings and your ability to attract traffic.

Wondering how to check if your site is mobile-friendly? Use Google Chrome's DevTools. Just open Chrome, go to your site, right-click and hit Inspect. Then click the Toggle Device Toolbar icon and select a mobile device to simulate. This lets you see how your site looks on mobile.

For example, I checked how one of my articles looks on an iPhone 12 Pro. If things look wonky on mobile, like the padding, margins, images, or text, you might need to tweak them or get a developer to help out.

Testing mobile responsiveness.

7. Local SEO

Seventh and final SEO tip for photographers: tap into the power of local SEO.

For photographers servicing local clients, local SEO is crucial. Actually, it's vital for any business that customers would typically visit locally, like restaurants, contractors, salons, shops, and stores. Local SEO is a specialized niche within the broader SEO landscape, focusing on search results in a specific area. You'll often see local results when you add "near me" to your search or when you're looking for services that generally need local providers. This is a screenshot of the "local map pack" where you can show up with proper Local SEO:

Local map pack.

Here are the key factors for nailing local SEO:

Google My Business Optimization

This free tool from Google lets your business appear in Local Map Pack and Google Maps. If you're a local photographer without a Google My Business profile, it's time to set one up. Fill out all the details like services, images, contact info, and website link.

Local Citations

These are about having your business listed on popular online directories and citation sites with consistent name, address, and phone number. For photographers, being on Yelp is a good start. Just like with Google My Business, make sure your Yelp profile is complete and consistent.

Getting Online Reviews

The third big piece of local SEO is gathering reviews on your Google My Business Profile and other local directory listings, like Yelp. A good practice is to ask clients for a review right after a successful photoshoot when their satisfaction is high and the experience is fresh in their minds.

That wraps up my SEO guide for photographers. Hopefully, you've found some valuable insights here. If you realize you're missing out on any of these optimizations, now's a great time to start implementing them!

Got questions? Drop a comment or shoot me an email.

Nate Torres's picture

Nate Torres is a portrait photographer servicing the Orange County and Los Angeles area. He specializes in portraits of individuals, couples, groups, and headshots. Nate also educates other photographers on portrait photography on his YouTube channel and personal photography blog. He also teaches SEO to photographers on his website, Shutter SEO.

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Nice, I was waiting for your second article to kind of "rate" you. Not that I am an expert, I've been actually trying to get all this info together but it's been very difficult to find such a great explanation until today! I guess I have learned enough in the past to make sense of all the steps in your article.
One question, is a CDN count of 3 bad, good or not relevant to anything important?
Tomorrow, I have to spend a couple hours getting ready for an upcoming big shoot but I'll be working the rest of the day on my SEO for sure.
Thanks for the article!

Hi, you should first check, if you need an CDN at all. It makes the requests faster, especially if you have many visitors and a lot of content. But there are many other ways for optimization that are free and can be done before that. Make sure to use to see how fast your page loads and if there is need for optimization.

PS: from experience, most photographers sites are slow, but a CDN alone will not help ;-)

Some good points Nate. I'm also on the SEO journey myself and I guess I'll chime in with some additional articles soon :-)

A very important basic tip for photographers you only have mentioned indirectly: Optimize your page speed. A CDN helps, but there's a lot photographers should do before that. Most pages I visit are slow on mobile.

What an incredibly informative and practical guide, Nate! 🌟 Your firsthand experience and candid approach to SEO for photographers make this article truly valuable. I appreciate your emphasis on the real-world learning experience in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO. The breakdown of essential tips, from using HTTPS and CDN to optimizing image details and implementing local SEO, is clear and actionable. As a software developer myself, I find your insights accessible and applicable, providing a great resource for photographers looking to enhance their online presence. Kudos on sharing your success in ranking for photography-related keywords and for empowering others in the field with these invaluable tips! 📸💻✨