There are services across the web for photographers, professionals and amateurs both, services like Flickr, Instagram, TwitPic and Facebook Camera. But not many of them can be truly optimised for search and being found for work. It is for this reason wedding photographers and other such niche market photographers love having their own website and web presence - it can make the difference between little work and lots of work. Today I want to share 10 top tips for optimising photography websites in general.
Choose the Right Platform!
Number one and with great reason. Choosing the correct platform for showing off your photography work and having it optimised (in some cases by default). There are many platforms, some which you can control completely like Wordpress (controlled via a CMS and themes from places such as themeforest and woothemes) or other services such as WIX which offer pre-built instant solutions, these generally aren't as flexible or seo friendly though. If you need advice picking leave a comment below.
Use the Right Plugins (Wordpress)
Plugins for wordpress are pretty much essential. You can leave wordpress defaults in place and you can choose to let Google or Bing decide what your meta descriptions would be. But would you not rather have control of these? The answer is of course, yes. There are 3 plugins which a wedding photographer should look at; Yoast SEO, BWS Sitemap and Smush.it - all are talked about in a previous post about my favourite wordpress seo plugins.
Choosing Your Photography Keyphrases
Keyphrases (or keywords) are you focus topics and words. They are the terms you want a given page to appear for in search. For wedding photographers these are fairly simple to think of and the same for niche photographers - usually combining the niche market and area covered. For example "Christening Photographs in Manchester" or something similar. For more information about choosing the perfect keywords check out my previous post.
Creating a Photographers Page Title
The page title is that "blue link" in Google results and the title that appears at the top of the browser / tab. It is usually around 60 characters long and is a 5 second pitch. In the page title you should mention the main theme of the page and where possible your brand (though that is evident from your site and it's not a requirement!). For example on a wedding gallery page you may have the Bride and Grooms names along with the venue and perhaps "wedding photography". An exmaple of this comes from Mick Cookson Photography - "Lauren & Stephen's wedding at Grayrigg, Cumbria >> Mick Cookson Photography" - as you can see it conforms to the example I gave. Though this example is a little long due to the addition of the brand name which would be truncated in a search result.
Pitching Your Page With a Page Description
Do you know the bit of text below the "blue link" in search results? That is what is called a page (or meta) description. This is you chance to give a 30 second pitch, it's about tweet length (just over) so think like twitter, but no shortening words! I won't go into much details as I've discussed this previously in a post called "crafting the perfect page description" - but to put it simply elaborate on your page title. Talk about the contents of the page and what the main subject is. Mick for the example above uses "Wedding Photographs of Lauren & Steven's Lake District wedding in Grayrigg, north of Kendal."
Content is the King of Photography SEO
Photos make fantastic items to share online, we've all seen Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Google Plus filled with glorious photos of landscapes and weddings and babies. It's lovely and it shows that photos are made for sharing. So yes add some social icons but remember without a few sentences explaining the photos no body will EVER find them. So add a paragraph or two of text and explain the photos, talk about the venue and location in general. Talk around the subject without being specific, dump in a few keyphrases naturally in your text and you're away.
SEO Friendly URL's
As always user-friendly is key. URL's (the web address) should be simple and easy to follow. For example .com/wedding-gallery should lead to your gallery page, .com/venues should lead to maybe a list of venues you've shot at .com/contact or .com/hire should lead to your contact info. Your blog should be .com/categoryname/blogname - again simple. You do not in most cases need a date or a postid or anything like that which adds to both the length and complexity of your urls. Think about urls like your page titles, if you can't remember them no body else will either (and that can include search engines). In wordpress look for a section called "permalinks" these make changing your urls easy.
Given you are a wedding photographer who wants to be found it maybe an idea to optimise your photos a little. So include alt tags - these should describe your images, if you can have a caption - this should again be a short description of the photo and also optimise the filesize. You don't want to upload a huge file onto your site for everyone to download so crunch it in photoshop to just a few hundred kb or less. Also run smush.it (wordpress plugins above) this will further enhance the speed of photo loading. Using these tips you are more likely to appear in google image search than not.
Use Social Media for Promote
Social Media is huge, how did you not know this? There a groups across facebook offering areas for you to potential advertise or advise. There are directory groups on facebook too such as "the white room" which is in essence wedding supplier directory, there are other groups too for different niches and different areas. Remember don't just stick in your "photo" niche, have a broad spectrum of coverage to make the most of social media. Also use twitter to post about your site, tease about where you are generally have a chat. Here's an exmaple from @MickCookson
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js In addition to this recently Mick has added a "pin it" button to photos on his site, this means those looking for wedding photographers can share it with others on pinterest looking for photographers too. The great thing about using Pinterest for this is that many many brides and grooms use that network to research wants for a wedding and so it is instantly a good way to get onto their radars.
Set up Analytics and Webmaster Tools
Analytics is a well known tool for tracking your website visitors, it shows whats hot and whats not and potential places to improve. But did you know about Google webmaster tools, a simple to set up set of tools where you can submit a sitemap, see website errors and generally check all is ok on your site? if not go check it out at google.com/webmasters.
UPDATE: Share and Get Attribution
I have long been an advocate of sharing content in return for credit through the Creative Commons license. CC allows you to say this image can be used for X,Y & Z for commercial uses or non-commercial uses, it maybe adapated or modified etc and (the box to always tick) if attribution is given. Attribution in most cases will be given in the form of a link to your website, though may just be your company name. The links can be followed or no follow, its obvious for SEO you'd like followed but that doesn't mean that a no follow link isn't valuable - it is just for driving traffic.
If you would like to no more about how to use Creative Commons or the reasons to use it, leave a comment below or tweet me @andykinsey.
With kind thanks to Wedding Photographer Mick Cookson for use of the above photographs.