The biggest mistake I see when reading a photographer’s blog is the choice of words used in blog page titles. The words you choose may be keeping your blog invisible to the world forever. It's not necessarily a "mistake" but typically not the optimal choice of words for search engines. A page title is typically an eight word or less attention grabber used to describe the article or blog post. This common denominator is severely hurting photographer’s Search Engine Optimization, a term commonly referred to as SEO. To put it plainly, SEO helps a search engine like Google understand what your website offers. For a photographer, a blog may be your quickest ticket to visibility online. If you are haphazardly conjuring up page titles, it may be the leading reason why you have low web traffic and poor rankings with Google. While there are many articles on SEO, this strictly adheres to a blog approach for photographers.
It’s a search engines job to pair your site with people’s searches in order of relevancy. This is all based on keywords found in different parts of your website that are both visible and invisible to the reader. If your site doesn’t follow basic SEO principles, you will have a harder time generating what’s referred to as “organic hits” from people searching for things like “Oregon Wedding Photography” or “Giant Stuffed Pink Panthers with Purple Socks.” To put it plainly, if you haven’t put methodical thought into keywording your Meta Tags, Content, Images, Headings, Titles, URL, or Links, then most likely your website and blog may be invisible. If you have no idea how those seven words relate to your website then this article will be a good starting point for learning the importance of page titles.
Quite possibly the most effective and easiest thing you can do as a photographer is to put logical thought into keywording your blog titles. Let’s say I am an Oregon wedding photographer that posts two blog articles per month about my recent work. Let’s also assume that most of my blog titles read something like “Kim and Dave’s Awesome Day” or “Wedding Photos from Jon and Courtney's Wedding.” It’s safe to say that if you know Kim, Dave, Jon, or Courtney, you might click on the link and read the blog post if you happen to already be on the website or see it on Facebook. If however, you are a newly engaged couple looking for an awesome wedding photographer in Oregon, you will most likely never find the website. Why, you ask? It’s because you didn't put any thought into keywords or how they interact with search engines. Your site is basically a lost website of random words. Search results are formulaic, and if you don’t follow the keyword strategy, you may never rank high in people’s search results.
Now let’s pretend that I make one blog post per day with the page title “Beautiful Oregon Wedding Photography” or “Oregon Wedding Photographer” in the title. Let’s also pretend that every photo I upload to my blog is relabeled from “IMG_04929.jpg” to “Oregon_Wedding_Photography_©My Name_Website.jpg.” Let’s also assume that in my blog paragraph, I discuss Oregon, weddings, and photography in a few places and also embed links to other websites such as the venue where the wedding was. You’ve noticed that I used keywords in three parts of my website that convey location, adjective, and noun. It just so happens that these three words are what best describes what my business is, as well as a popular search term for what I offer. These keywords used in page titles, images, and paragraphs drastically improved my visibility with Google. One key thing to remember is that there are multiple categories that a search engine like Google searches for. Search, Images, Video, Shopping, etc. are just a few ways to filter and narrow your search results. It’s important to note that a search engine gives you more “points” for having external links to other websites, which is why it’s important to embed as many links as possible to relevant content. If these elements are part of your website and not labeled correctly, then Google has no way to find your content. To test this, search “IMG_001.jpg” under “images” in Google and look at the utter randomness in the results. The only thing these people have in common is that they don’t understand SEO. The photo atop my collage is by far my favorite “IMG_001.jpg” search result under “Google Images”. At the time I searched, this photo was number 1. If somehow you know this man, please give him a pat on the back or an "attaboy" for me. Also, if you have been wondering what the photo collage above is, or below, it's a grouping of my favorite images that appear in the image search on Google for IMG_001.jpg. Just image all of the permutations of IMG_XXX.jpg are floating around and clogging up the Interwebs.
Be As Specific As Possible
It’s also important to keep in mind that the more specific your page titles, the more likelihood you will be found. In the example in the first paragraph I mentioned the title “Giant Stuffed Pink Panthers with Purple Socks,” which is a very specific search term with 7 words. It’s important to note that the more specific a title is, the more relevant your page becomes. Consider this when mixing up your creative titles like “Beautiful Sunset Oregon Wedding Photography” and “Full Day Wedding Packages in Portland Oregon.”
SEO is a powerful tool when used properly. It may seem daunting at first, even overwhelming to the non-techies, but I assure you that most photographers can master this topic on their own. If you are you first starting out, you will need to really understand the backend of your website and how it compliments your ability to label parts of your website effectively. If you are using something like Squarespace or Wordpress, it’s laid out pretty easily and there is a vast amount of support and K-Base articles to help. On the other hand, if you are using a custom built website, SEO might be more of a challenge to understand how SEO was built into the backend. I've seen plenty of websites that make it almost impossible for photographers to utilize SEO correctly. Every website is different, so contact the person who built it for a better understanding of how keywords are built into the backend.
For now, it’s important for you to focus on relevant page titles for your blog. If you follow these simple steps like understanding how keywords work and where to use them, you will begin to see serious results in as little as a few months. It may take a few months or more because there are most likely people in your area that are already using SEO to their advantage. Google considers time as a major part of the formula, so don’t expect this to happen overnight. All good things come to those who keyword consistently. For more information on more SEO tips and tricks, check out this FStoppers article by Nick Fancher called SEO tips for Photographers and another by Zach Sutton on Five Tips to Improve Your Photography Website.
What Strategies Are You Using?
How have you learned to leverage SEO in your favor? I would love to hear other people's strategies on this topic and opinions on different strategies.