You’ve done everything you need to do as a photographer.
After taking some stellar photographs (obviously) and tweaking them in photoshop, you have uploaded them onto your intricately designed website.
So you’re done, right?
Of course not.
Because what’s the point of taking photos if they aren’t going to be seen and adored?
And if you simply upload them to your website without a second thought about how you plan to attract visitors, then your artistically captured photographs will get lost in the vastness that is the internet today, doomed to spend eternity with nary an eye to grace upon its beauty.
Dramatic? I think not.
To avoid this wretched fate, you’ll need SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, are strategies and changes to a website or content with the goal of increasing organic traffic (visitors) and increasing its ranking on search engine result pages (how high a site shows up on Google).
As a photographer, however, generic SEO tactics won’t be enough.
Your product and content are visual, meaning you’ll need to optimise your website around your photographs, not just the written word.
To help with this, we at Pearl Lemon have created a quick guide on SEO for photographers.
Below you’ll find several actionable tips and strategies that you can begin implementing today to boost the SEO for your photography website or online portfolio.
Include Your Specific Genre Of Photography In Keywords
You’re a photographer, but chances are that you specialise in a specific genre of photography.
Maybe it’s nature, journalism, sports, or something else entirely.
Whatever your speciality is, make it clear on your website by using specific keywords that define your category of photography.
So instead of using “photos,” say “fashion photos”.
Instead of saying “photography,” say “portrait photography.”
Because keywords are words and phrases that search engines use to understand what your website is about, so they can display it for relevant searches.
And the more specific your keywords are, the better.
One reason is that it will ensure that search engines are displaying your photography website to people that are looking for your types of pictures.
Without these specific keywords, you risk your documentary photography website showing up for people searching for pictures of animals or something else – and this scenario is potentially harmful to your SEO.
When visitors arrive on your website, they’ll quickly realise that your genre of photography isn’t what they are looking for and leave, increasing your bounce rate (percentage of people who leave a website without interaction) and decreasing the average time spent on site, both of which negatively affect your SEO.
The other reason is, specific keywords are easier to rank high for on Google.
There will be so many more websites attempting to rank for “photography” than “sports photography”.
The less competition will increase the likelihood of your photography website showing up on the first page of Google.
And the more specific, the better.
“UK high school sports photography” is even better than just “sports photography”.
Once you have specific photography keywords, be sure to use them throughout the copy on your photography website to help search engines better understand what your website is about and display it for relevant searches.
We’ll give you more specific places to use your keywords throughout this blog, but in general, use them in:
- Picture descriptions
- About page
- Photographer bio
- Home page
Use Keywords In Your Title Tags And Meta Descriptions
See? Told you we’d give you specific keyword implementation strategies!
A title tag is the “title” of a website that appears when it shows up on a search result page, and a meta description is the text that appears underneath the title tag.
When you create your title tag, make sure it includes your keyword for that particular page.
Doing so will help search engines understand what your page is about and display it for relevant searches.
If it’s your homepage, it should be the primary (but specific) keyword you’ve chosen for your photography website as a whole.
If it’s a piece of content, photo gallery or another type of page on your site, it should include that particular page’s primary keyword.
For example, if you’ve written a blog with tips on taking pictures of mountains, your title tag may be – How To Guide On Taking Scenic Mountain Photographs – (website name).
Or the title tag for a photo gallery from when you covered a community clean up could be – London Community Clean Up – Photo Gallery.
As for the meta description, a two to three sentence description using keywords will do the trick.
Here are some potential meta descriptions for the above title tags mentioned:
- A how to guide showing you how to take stellar and scenic mountain photography with tips and advice on lighting, framing, distance and shutter speed.
- A photo gallery from my day following the London Citizens For Better a Better Community Society. They organised a community clean up on October 15th, 2020.
What’s really cool about meta descriptions, is that when one of your pages show up in a search result, the words in the description that match terms in the search bar will be highlighted in bold text.
So if you place the right keywords in your meta description, it can potentially grab the attention of the searcher.
The platform you’ve used to build your website will make it pretty easy to edit your title tags and meta descriptions.
For more in-depth descriptions on this, check out some of our SEO guides:
- The Ultimate Guide To WordPress SEO
- The Pearl Lemon Ultimate Guide To Weebly SEO
- Ultimate Guide To Magneto SEO
You can also edit the HTML code directly for your title tag by entering:
Optimise The Technical Side Of Your Photos
As a photographer, optimising your photographs is probably the most important thing you can for your photography SEO.
Essentially what you’ll be doing is making it, so Google and other search engines understand what is in your pictures.
This is because Google can’t actually see your photographs; just the code.
But if you implement the following SEO strategies for your photographs, it will enable Google to understand and “see” your pictures before displaying them for relevant searches.
Create Descriptive Alt Text
Alt-text is a piece of HTML that describes what your picture is of. And HTML is code what search engines see to “read” and then properly index (organise for searches) your site.
Screen readers also read the alt text to help a blind person understand your website.
In other words, you need alt text if you want Google to know what your picture is and to make it accessible to everyone.
All you need is Microsoft Word.
Open up Word and insert your image to a document.
Then right-click on the image and select “Edit Alt Text…”
A sidebar on the right side of your screen will pop open with a text box to write/edit the alt text.
Then you’re done!
Yes, it’s really that simple.
If you have a WordPress website, you can also edit the alt text of your pictures thereby opening the image settings of the block tab on the sidebar.
As for writing your alt text, Google recommends that you, “focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page.”
In other words, make your alt text:
- Descriptive of the image
- Use keywords (but not too many)
- Short, simple and to the point
Here are some examples of both good and bad alt text from Google.
Write A Keyword Rich File Name
Another technical aspect of an image is its file name, which also shows up in a website’s HTML code.
Like the alt text, giving your photographs a filename that indicates what is in the picture and contains keywords will be extremely beneficial for your photography SEO.
To change the file name of a picture, right-click on the image file wherever you have it saved (your computer, an external drive or a cloud service), and click “rename” on the drop-down menu.
You’ll then be able to type in a name for your picture.
The file name will be a lot shorter than the alt text of your photograph. Alt-text is a more detailed description of an image (still only 100-125 characters), while the file name is a shorter 20 to 50 characters.
It’s more like the title of the image.
For example, if you were to write a file name for the above image, it might be: photograph-red-truck.jpg
While the alt text may be: <img src= “photograph-red-truck.jpg” alt= “Photograph of an Old Red Truck with a plain background” />
Include Keyword-Rich Descriptions
In addition to reading alt text and filenames, search engines will use the on-site text surrounding an image to gain even more context.
This means that you should be aware of the text that is around your photographs and be sure to use keyword-rich descriptions when possible in your website copy and content.
Some tips for optimising the surrounding text of your on-site photographs:
- Include captions that describe your photographs with keywords
- When placing images in a blog post, put them near paragraphs that are the closest related to what is inside your picture, for example: place a picture of an athlete near the section where you mention his/her name
- Have a particular photograph in mind when writing website copy, for example: if you are describing your passion for photographing nature, you can talk specifically about what terrains you’ve captured (like mountains, deserts, forests) and have corresponding images ready
Write Photography Blogs To Improve SEO
Blogs are an extremely valuable tool to help with the SEO for a photography website.
One reason is that blogs can be used to house some of those specific photography SEO keywords you came up with.
A photography blog can also help you bring in more traffic by creating pages that serve as opportunities for people to discover your website.
For example, if you write a blog titled “7 Lighting Tips When Taking Scenic Photos At Night,” people searching for lighting tips can stumble upon your blog and land on your website. This is a visitor you wouldn’t have gotten without your blog because they weren’t searching for your photography website, but photography advice.
So the more blog posts you write, the more opportunities you’ll have to bring people to your photography website.
When coming up with potential blog posts, be sure they:
- Are relevant to your photography website
- Have specific titles with keywords
- Include your photography category keywords
- Are valuable to the reader
Types of posts that will work well for a photography blog are:
- Photography tips/advice, for ex: “8 Tips On How To Capture Fast Motions When Photographing Live Sports”
- Camera buying guides, for ex: “Best Cameras For Tough Weather”
- How to explanations, for ex: “How To Properly Frame A Headshot”
- Anecdotes, for ex: “My Experience Photographically Documenting My First Film Festival”
Use The Right Image File Size To Optimise Your Website Speed
Nothing leads to a quicker bounce than a slow loading website.
Just think of how annoying it is to sit there, waiting for a website to finish loading.
That is why optimising your website to have quick loading times is an essential aspect of SEO, especially for the SEO of a photography website.
Images are often one of the main contributors that can significantly slow a website down due to their large file size compared to on-site text.
SEO advice for normal websites would be to reduce the number of images on their site.
But the problem is, pictures and photographs are the main features of your website!
You can’t get rid of them, so how do you optimise your photographs to improve website speed?
The best way is to reduce the file size of your photographs by compressing them.
The rule of thumb is that the smaller the file size of an image is on a website, the quicker the page will load.
You can’t go crazy with compression though, because if you decrease a picture’s file size too much, it ruins its quality.
How big is too big? How compressed is too compressed?
Well, here are some numbers to help you
To give you some numbers to help understand, a high-quality image will likely have a file size of 400 to 600 KB.
While an image of that size will look great on your photography website, if you have a lot of other content on the page (text, buttons, graphics, embedded videos, links etc.) along with it, your website speed could be drastically slow.
This is because ideally, a web page will only have 1 to 2kb of data for an optimal load time (less than two seconds) and a 500MB (1KB is 1,000MB) picture will take up a good chunk of that.
So on pages with a lot going on – like your blog, homepage and photo galleries – it may be worth compressing your image to save room and increase the page loading speed.
You can compress an image down to 125MB-300MB without a noticeable dip in quality (but you can always mess around with the size to find the best file size for your pictures).
Then, on pages dedicated to a single photograph, you can keep the file sizes higher – 400MB to 600MB – as it won’t affect the load times as (for example if someone clicks on an image in your photo gallery, it could send them to a page with just that picture).
Alright, you may be wondering at this point, “well, how do you compress an image and what size should I compress it too?”
To compress an image, we recommend using tools like Adobe Photoshop or Affinity Photo.
There are likely some other online free tools you can use, but we advise against those because Photoshop and Affinity will give you more control over customising the file size and changing the quality.
They are also reputable tools, so you know they are safe.
Besides, as a photographer, you’ll likely already have a professional photo editor that you can use.
Last few things on image compression; here is some vocabulary you should be aware of:
Lossy compression – Permanently reduces data and reduces the quality of the image when compressing, however, can significantly reduce the size. Cannot be reversed without losing quality further.
Lossless compression – Maintains the quality of an image but the file size typically can’t be reduced as much as lossy compression. Images will need to be uncompressed prior to rendering. Can be reversed.
PNG. – Lossless file type. Results in high-quality images.
JPG. or JPEG – Lossy file type. Results in lower quality mages compared to PNG. But it can be reduced to smaller sizes.
Use Your Images To Get Links
The aspect that has the biggest impact on your SEO and improving your page’s ranking is backlinks.
A backlink is a link on another website that, when clicked on, sends the user to your site.
Another way of looking at backlinks is that they are essentially like a recommendation by a website, and because of this, Google has included them in their algorithms when ranking websites.
So, the more backlinks that direct users to your site, the better your SEO and ranking will be.
Pictures and photographs are excellent ways to get backlinks because when someone uses an image that they don’t own on their website or blog, they will source it by including a link to where they found it (at least they are supposed to).
You can sit around and hope people start using your images and giving you backlinks, or you can be proactive by conducting outreach and offering your pictures in exchange for backlinks.
This is an extremely effective method of obtaining backlinks because writers are constantly looking for high-quality images that they can use for free.
Use Google and search for websites/blogs/articles/authors that you believe could benefit from your pictures, and offer them free use on the condition that they include a link to your website.
Not everyone you reach out to will accept the offer, but every link matters. If you can get even one link for every thirty people you reach out to, it will pay off.
You may even be able to develop professional relationships with people you reach out to and get more backlinks in the future.
When reaching out, using email or LinkedIn messaging will do the trick.
Another strategy you can use to generate backlinks for your website is to use a reverse image search.
You can learn how to do this strategy by reading this guide on How To Use Reverse Image Search To Generate High-Quality Backlinks.
But essentially, what you’ll be doing is finding websites that have used your photographs without permission and asking for backlinks (or asking them to take it down if you believe the website is of low quality).
If you implement the above SEO tactics for your photography website or online portfolio, you’ll be boosting your organic traffic in no time!
You can also book a call with us!
Pearl Lemon is a professional and award-winning SEO agency, and we’ll undoubtedly be able to take the SEO of your photography website to the next level!