I think you’ll agree with me when I say that SEO is confusing.
You often hear so-called “experts” telling you to do one thing and then others to tell you to do another thing.
The thing is:
If you hear someone call themselves an “SEO Expert,” then you should run away.
Some of the best SEO specialists I’ve ever met know that it’s impossible to fully understand “how to do SEO.”
We only follow:
- Best practices based on the documentation provided by search engines
- Strategies that we’ve personally tried that worked
- Strategies we’ve read worked that other SEOs have tried
Being a former full-time Enterprise SEO Consultant turned photographer and content creator, I offer a mix of knowledge useful for photographers wanting to step up their SEO game.
I can offer SEO advice while knowing how to apply it in the photography world.
I rank #1 if not top 5 for many photography-related keywords.
Here are just a few:
I also have experience growing websites from scratch all organically.
Here’s a screenshot from a website I grew that received over 1,000,000 sessions within 2 years, all organically, by myself:
So in this guide, I’ll be covering:
- The definition of SEO
- Why SEO is important for photographers
- 7 easy SEO tips you can implement today
If you’re more of a visual learner, be sure to watch the video version:
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is the tactic of optimizing your business to obtain more traffic from search engines.
There are many search engines in the world, but when people say SEO, they are often referring to ranking higher in Google.
But other search engines include Bing, DuckDuckGo, YouTube, and even TikTok.
For the purpose of this guide, I’ll be referring to Google which is usually what is implied.
To better understand SEO as a photographer, I like to break it into five main pillars:
- Core Page
- Link Building
The first pillar of SEO is understanding what keywords are.
In terms of SEO, keywords are individual words or phrases that users input into a search engine in order to be presented with a list of results.
If we are optimizing our website for SEO, our whole goal is to rank #1 on those search results for particular keywords related to our goals.
For example, if you are a portrait photographer in Seattle, you’ll want to rank #1 on search engines when users enter the keyword “portrait photographer in Seattle.”
I have a whole guide on keywords for photographers so be sure to read that → Keywords for Photographers Guide
As I mention in the guide, there are many ways to find keywords using free and paid keyword research tools.
Each keyword has its own search volume and difficulty percentage.
Keyword Search Volume
The search volume often refers to monthly search volume.
In other words, how many people search for that keyword a month.
The difficulty percentage refers to how difficult it is to rank #1 for that keyword on search engines.
The level of difficulty for a particular keyword is often based on what other websites are ranking for that keyword, and the domain authority that website has.
Domain authority refers to how “credible” a certain website is.
It’s primarily determined by the number of high-quality referring domains and backlinks a website has, along with how long the website has been around.
The next four pillars in this guide are the certain optimization pillars that are employed in order to give your website the best chance to rank #1 for your target keywords.
Let’s dive into the next four pillars.
Technical SEO revolves around cleaning up the technical parts of your site such as sitemaps, robots.txt files, error pages, site speed, etc.
It’s called Technical SEO because it involves a lot of technical knowledge which many of us photographers don’t have such as HTML, CSS, and JS.
Which, I mean, we’re photographers.
We take photos, we don’t code!
Luckily, I’ve been able to learn Technical SEO and I created a whole guide on Technical SEO for Photographers so be sure to check that out → Technical SEO for Photographers Guide
Think of your photography website as your home base on the Internet.
My Technical SEO Services are the first optimizations I make for photographers and their websites because cleaning up the technical errors first ensures we have a strong base to work from.
It’s like building a home.
If you build your home on a weak foundation, it’s bound to fall apart later.
Optimizing for Technical SEO first ensures you have a solid base to build from.
By the way, if you are curious how your Technical SEO is doing:
→ Get a Free Photography SEO Audit by me!
Core Page SEO
After Technical SEO, the next pillar to optimize are your core pages.
Your core pages often refer to your main “money” maker pages.
These are often your product or service pages.
By ranking well on these pages, you can drive more client leads and revenue to your business, organically!
As a photographer, these would be your “[niche] photographer in [location]” pages.
- Portrait Photographer in Seattle
- Headshot Photographer in Boston
- Wedding Photographer in Austin
Core Page SEO revolves around optimizing these pages for your target keyword.
Optimizing these pages ensures your on-page elements such as the URL, headers, meta tags, images, and content are targeting your keyword optimally.
I have a whole guide on optimizing your core pages for SEO as a photographer so be sure to read that → Optimizing Photography Core Pages for SEO Guide
After optimizing your core pages, the next pillar is to optimize your content/blogs.
This pillar does revolve around the fact that you should have an existing photography blog or are thinking about creating one.
By ranking well for blog content, you can:
- Drive more traffic to your photography website
- Funnel potential clients to your core “money” pages
- Brand yourself as a thought leader within your niche
Let’s say you are a portrait photographer in Seattle and you write a blog article titled “Best Places in Seattle to Take Pictures.”
This article would be targeting users with the intent of getting their picture taken in Seattle.
On that article, if you promote your portrait photography services, you can “funnel” the users who read that blog to your portrait photography services.
By ranking well and optimizing this article, you would be able to drive more traffic, funnel potential clients, and produce thought leadership content!
I have a whole guide on optimizing your blog as a photographer so be sure to check that out → Optimizing Your Photography Blog for SEO Guide
The final pillar of SEO is link building.
Link building is often regarded as the most difficult pillar of SEO.
This is because acquiring high-quality backlinks to your website requires the approval of other websites.
With that being said, there are two ways you can acquire backlinks:
- Manual Outreach
Organic Link Building
Organic link building revolves around obtaining backlinks naturally.
You can acquire organic backlinks by producing high-quality blogs that people will want to link back to…
Or by providing high-quality services or products that people will want to mention on other websites.
This is the way I prefer to build my backlinks.
Manual Outreach Link Building
Manual outreach link building involves the process of manually reaching out to other website owners or contributors to mention your website on theirs.
Perhaps you can already start to see the difficulty in this method.
There are many different ways SEOs have tried to “disguise” this form of manual outreach link building, such as through:
- Guest Posting
- Link Exchanges
- Comment Link Building
- Link Insertions
In today’s current SEO landscape:
Manual outreach link building is very difficult especially because more and more people are trying to do it after learning about the benefits of it.
Website owners have become jaded with people bombarding their email inbox with “guest post” requests.
I receive dozens of those emails as well, see for yourself:
This is why I believe optimizing your core pages and blog/content and providing high-quality service and products is the best form of link building.
If you create or provide high-quality content and service, then people will want to link and mention you naturally.
This allows you to invest all your time into refining your craft so you can put out the best quality work.
Why is SEO Important for Photographers?
SEO is important for photographers the same way it’s important for any other business.
Search engine optimization allows you to drive more traffic to your business so you can achieve your business goals, organically.
Whether you want to build more brand awareness, get more clients, increase sales, increase product demos, increase downloads, etc.
Here’s the bottom line:
If you’re not focusing on SEO, then you’re missing out on the best channel in digital marketing in terms of traffic and conversion potential.
Not sure how your photography website is performing in terms of SEO?
→ Get my Free Photography SEO Audit to find out!
7 SEO Tips for Photographers
You often hear, “do this for SEO” and “do that for SEO!”
You may follow along but think to yourself, is this actually helping, and why am I doing this?
Well you’re not alone.
They don’t teach you how to do SEO in school.
You can read up on SEO all you want, but you can’t actually learn it until you optimize websites, see what works, and what doesn’t.
And the best way to learn SEO is to build your own website and try to grow it organically from scratch.
I’ve done this, numerous times.
I grew an EDM website, candle website, streetwear website, and another photography website.
Each of these websites have acted as forms of sandboxes for me, allowing me to test certain techniques in SEO both black hat (against the rules) and white hat (following the rules).
Some have been successful, some not so much, allowing me to learn what works and what doesn’t.
So let’s take a look at some 7 easy SEO tips photographers can implement on their website today that will improve their SEO:
1. Check for HTTPS
The first SEO tips for photographers is to check whether your photography website is using HTTPS.
I mention the importance of this in my Technical SEO for Photographers Guide.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
HTTPS uses the SSL/TLS protocol for encryption and authentication.
Sparing you the technical details, you need to know that using HTTPS as opposed to HTTP makes your photography website safer.
Here’s the bottom line:
Search engines like it when we use HTTPS.
If search engines like your website, then you have a higher chance of ranking for your target keywords as a photographer.
To check whether or not your photography website has an SSL certificate, simply head to this SSL Checker Website, enter your website URL and check SSL:
As you can see, when I run my website through the SSL Checker, I do in fact have one and my site uses HTTPS.
In order to obtain an SSL Certificate for your photography website so it can use HTTPS, you need to check with your web hosting provider.
Most basic photography websites use common web hosting providers such as SiteGround, Bluehost, and GoDaddy.
This website is hosted on SiteGround.
Here are the links you can learn more about obtaining an SSL based on your web hosting provider:
Don’t want to do this yourself?
→ Feel free to get your Free Photography SEO Audit and I can take a look for you!
2. Check for CDN
The second SEO tip as a photographer is to check whether or not you have a CDN.
A content delivery network (CDN) helps with SEO by improving the overall page speed of your photography website.
CDNs are essentially a network of servers.
They help with SEO by:
- Distributing content to your website users with minimal delay
- Speed up site performance
- Protect against cybersecurity threats
To check whether or not your photography website is using a CDN, you can use a CDN Checker Tool:
When I run this test on my website you can see I’m using a CDN from Cloudflare.
The most popular way to obtain a CDN is through Cloudflare.
All you have to do is go to the Cloudflare website, sign up, add your domain, and point your domain name to their nameservers.
They have a tutorial on how to do it; it’s very easy and free.
If you get stuck, or have any questions on how to set it up, feel free to email me.
3. Optimize Image File Names and Alt Text
The third SEO tip for photographers is to optimize your image file names and alt text.
As photographers, our websites are usually very image-heavy.
This provides us with the opportunity to maximize our ranking potential by ensuring our target keyword is within our image file name and alt text.
The image file name is the name you give your image when you download it to your storage device:
The alt text, short for alternative text, is the short description of an image on a page.
Its primary purpose is for accessibility and SEO.
You see, web crawlers can’t see images so the alt text helps describe the image to the web crawlers:
To optimize your image file name and alt text for SEO, you’ll want to try and include your target keyword.
Let’s say on your Core Page, you are targeting the keyword “portrait photographer in miami,” and on this page you have images of you on a photoshoot taking photos of clients.
An example of a poor choice of image file name would be “image1.jpg” or “DSC1002.jpg.”
An example of an optimized image file name would be “portrait-photo-in-miami.jpg”
An example of a poor alt text for the image would be “photo.”
An example of an optimized alt text for the image would be “Portrait photographer with client in Miami city on a sunny day.”
This example file name and alt text would be more descriptive and include your relevant target keyword, making it more easily understandable for search engines.
Search engines would better understand these over non-descriptive names.
Allowing you to rank higher for your target keyword.
4. Use Keyword-Rich Titles
The fourth SEO tip for photographers is to use keyword-rich titles.
The title tags on your page, also known as the meta title, is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.
It’s written in HTML like this:
<title>Title of Page</title>
The title tag is what you click on in the search engine results page (SERP).
You know. The clickable part:
For the title tags, you’ll want to make sure:
- You have your target keyword in it
- You don’t have duplicate title tags across your photography website
- Your title tag is not too long which will cause truncation
Truncation is an issue with title tags because if it’s too long, then it will show the ellipsis (…) on the search results page, leading to a lower click-through rate.
What this means:
Less traffic, less revenue, less everything.
This is what it looks like when your title tag/meta title is too long:
How to edit the meta title:
If you have a custom-coded website, then you can edit the HTML directly.
But I’m guess you don’t have a custom coded site and you’re using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress or Squarespace.
In this case:
On Squarespace they have settings that allow you to edit the meta title for each page.
On WordPress, you’ll need an SEO plugin (they’re free) that will allow you to edit certain HTML elements for your page.
The plugin I use is called RankMath.
During my Photography Core Page SEO Service, I’ll scan and check all the meta titles across your website and then optimize them for you!
Want to see if your photography site is healthy?
→ Get a Free Photography SEO Audit!
5. Ensure Proper Heading Structure
The fifth SEO tip for photographers is to ensure proper heading structure.
The heading structure refers to the heading tags used on your page such as your H1 header, H2 header, H3 header, etc.
These headers are essentially HTML tags used to define the headings of a page.
They look like this in HTML:
<h1>This is an H1 Header</h1> <h2>This is an H2 Header</h2> <h3>This is an H3 Header</h3>
This is how they would look on the page:
The heading tags, also referred to as the headings, are signposts for both the users and for search engine crawlers.
They help structure your writing making it easier to read while also letting the crawlers know what your page is about.
The most important part to remember is that you should only have one <h1> per page and it should have your target keyword in it.
Let’s say you want to rank #1 for “new york headshot photographer,” then that should be the H1 Header of your page:
As you can see from this example, Dorothy Shi has that as her H1 header, and she’s ranking #1 on Google for that keyword:
While that isn’t the only reason her web page is ranking #1 for that keyword, the fact that she has her target keyword in her H1 definitely helps!
The question remains:
What do you put in the other headers, such as the H2 or H3 headers?
You would put secondary keywords into those headers.
Secondary keywords would be keywords we identify together that align with your primary keyword.
If your target keyword is “new york headshot photographer,” then secondary keywords could be:
- “new york headshot photographer for fashion”
- “headshot photographer in new york”
- “ny headshot photographer”
- “new york headshot photographer for actors”
And as you can see, Dorothy Shi also does a great job of including the secondary keywords to her primary keyword in her H2 and H3 headers:
Identifying which secondary keywords to include and where to fit them in naturally is different for each photographer.
In my Photography Core Page SEO Service, we would identify the best keywords for you and tailor the keyword strategy to your specific business goals.
Not sure if you need these optimizations?
→ Get a Free Photography SEO Audit!
6. Ensure Mobile Responsiveness
The sixth SEO tip for photographers is to ensure mobile responsiveness.
A big part of optimizing your website for search engines is to ensure it’s mobile responsive.
Almost 60% of global web traffic was via mobile devices.
Google and other popular search engines use mobile-first indexing.
This means Google will crawl websites from the eyes of a mobile browser and use that mobile version for indexing and ranking.
What this means:
How your photography website looks on mobile is even more important than how it looks on desktop.
If your website is responsive on desktop but not on mobile, then this is hurting your rankings and traffic potential.
How to test:
In order to test if your website is mobile responsive, you can use the DevTools provided by Google Chrome.
- Open up Google Chrome, go to your website and press F12
- Click the Toggle Device Toolbar icon in the top left corner of the window
- Choose a mobile device to simulate
- The mobile view of the website will appear
- View your website and all the pages through this view making sure all the padding, margins, images, and text look good
In the image above, I am testing how one of my articles looks on the iPhone 12 Pro.
If your pages look off on mobile, you’ll need to contact a developer or fix the padding and margins yourself.
If you need help, feel free to contact me, and I’ll help you fix it.
7. Leverage Local SEO
The seventh SEO tip for photographers is to leverage Local SEO.
If you service clients in your local area, then Local SEO is very important as a photographer.
Local SEO is important for any type of business you would visit locally such as restaurants, contractors, salons, shops, stores, etc.
Local SEO falls under the general umbrella of SEO, but it is often regarded as a specific niche within SEO because it focuses on the local results.
Local results often appear when you append “near me” to your keyword or you search for a service that often requires local workers, such as the ones listed above.
The biggest ranking factors when it comes to Local SEO are:
- Google My Business Optimization
- Local Citations
- Getting Online Reviews
Google My Business Optimization
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool from Google that allows your business to show up in the Local Map Pack and Google Maps:
If you are a photographer who services local clients and you don’t have a Google My Business profile, you need to set one up right now.
When you set it up, be sure to fill out all the sections available such as services, images, information, contact info, website, etc.
Local citations refer to ensuring your business is listed in the popular online directories and citation sites with a consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP).
As a photographer, one of the directories you’ll want to ensure you’re on is Yelp.
Similar to Google My Business (GMB), make sure you create a Yelp profile and fill out all the same information to ensure consistency.
Getting Online Reviews
The third most important part with Local SEO is to get some reviews on your Google My Business Profile and within your local directory listings such as Yelp.
Ideally, when you have a successful photoshoot, ask the client to leave a review on Google My Business and Yelp.
If they’re happy with their photos, make sure to ask right after they receive their photos so it’s top of mind!
In conclusion, that’s my guide on SEO for photographers.
I hope you took something valuable away from this guide.
If you noticed you aren’t making a certain optimization that I mentioned, be sure to add it in right after you read this!
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment or email me.
And if you don’t even know where to start with SEO or aren’t sure if you need these optimizations:
→ Get a Free Photography SEO Audit from me!
Nate Torres is a seasoned photographer and marketing consultant, providing educational photography content while also teaching photographers how to grow their business and brand through SEO. Nate shares his insights on his YouTube channel, “Nate Torres,” and on his personal photography blog, Nate Torres Photography. Beyond the lens, he’s an authoritative voice in the photography industry, serving as a speaker and photography author for renowned photography publications such as Photofocus, SLR Lounge, and Fstoppers. An entrepreneur and lifelong learner at heart, Nate is also the co-founder of Imaginated, an educational platform. Nate shares his insights on his YouTube channel, “Nate Torres,” and on his personal photography blog, Nate Torres Photography. But his expertise doesn’t stop at photography. Whether it’s elucidating the nuances of marketing within the realm of photography or sharing broader marketing insights, Nate Torres brings to the table a wealth of expertise, ensuring readers and audiences benefit from both his photographic acumen and marketing knowledge.