What does SEO mean for you? If you are thinking what even is that? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Fundamentally it is the practice of consciously targeting key terms that your potential customer may be using to find your service on search engines and then including them on your website.
For some of us it might seem like a mysterious dark art and for others it is almost a competitive sport. But SEO is an important part of marketing your business, whatever level you are at in your career. Wedding photography is a saturated market and in some parts of the UK it is challenging to rank well in search engines as they are already populated with many photographers. Some are as skilled at SEO as they are at shooting and it can be daunting to try to compete
The good news is that it’s never too late to start applying an SEO strategy to your website and if you are savvy and intentional then you could even get ahead of your competitors by following my tips.
1. Build your Foundations
Every single website has a meta title and meta description. Search engines use this to decide if your page should appear for a term. So first of all decide on what is your most important search term that you wish to be found for. This might be based on what area you wish to cover or what style of photography that you offer. For me, I am currently targeting my local area so I want to be found for Wedding Photographer Brighton. If you search for that term, you should find me on page one of Google. I devote my Meta Title to this term and I also repeat it in the Meta Description. My website is on wordpress so this is easy to do using a plugin like Yoast or All in One SEO. Either will guide you through setting your site title and description up. Make sure that you do not go over the recommended characters for either – 70 for your title and 160 for your description (including spaces).
2. Aim to Stand Out
Now most people will have a dry, perfunctory approach to writing their Title and Meta Description, seeing them solely as a way of showing up in searches. However, I think if this is my only way to make a connection with a potential customer on a list of other people trying to show up for the same thing, then I want to use my digital space to preview my personality somewhat. We can all easily do this, think about how you can interrupt the normal here and make your kind of customer stop scrolling and choose to click on your site. My site title is Wedding Photographer And Utter Legend – Brighton, Sussex and my description is Hi, I’m Lisa Devlin, a wedding photographer in Brighton, Sussex. I love an alternative, creative, natural, or relaxed wedding. I also love gin. I want to start relationship building right from the very first point of contact, so although I include the key term for Google, I then make it conversational and amusing for the couples. Think about how you can do the same and don’t be afraid to experiment here.
3. The ‘People Also Ask’ Questions
For most search terms, Google will also suggest related searches with a section called People Also Ask. This section typically appears after ads, then the map and before organic results. They could be questions like How Much Does A Wedding Photographer Cost? Is 4 Hours Enough For Wedding Photography? These are valuable insights into what people are putting into search engines and can inspire you to create content. See what they are for your chosen search term and then create blog posts devoted to answering them.
4. Aim to Rank in Google Image Search
It is easy to think that improving your SEO is all about words and copy but don’t forget the Image Search option too. Being good at SEO is all about being able to preempt how your potential customer might be searching for services around their wedding. They are highly likely to search images, it could be for decor ideas, style inspiration or to see images of venues setup for weddings. Chances are you could have those images either already on your website or lurking on a hard drive. There is a process to making them more discoverable and it starts before they are exported from your editing programme.
- Rename the images with a chosen search term in mind like Brighton-Town-Hall-Wedding-001
- Repeat this phrase in the metadata keyword list then export them resized for the web.
- Fill out the Alt Text for images when using them in a blog post. This should be a fair description of the image but that includes your search term.
5. Actively Work on Getting Quality Backlinks
No matter what you do on your site for SEO, it is also important in Google’s eyes that other sites link across to you. It wants to see that other sites value yours. Think of the internet as a giant network full of connections and the more that connect to you the better. But of course Google is clever and this isn’t something that you can bluff. Don’t be disheartened if you are relatively new and this seems like something that is impossible to compete on. Your well established competitor in your area who ranks well may have many historical backlinks but also they might be lazy about seeking more. Backlinks get rated by search engines so the higher quality the site that links to you is the better. I’ve been featured on huge international sites like the Huffington Post. This came about as they were doing a feature on brides wearing jumpsuits and found my images via a hashtag on Instagram. In our industry, wedding blogs could be a great place to have a link so keep submitting your work to them. Also keep an eye on their socials for image requests. Blogs use images all the time to illustrate features so you can get onto their sites with a credit without having a full wedding feature. Wedding directories can be a good place to have a link, some are pretty cost effective or even free as are some of the business listing sites. Similarly, if a venue or a supplier asks for images from me, I always say yes as long as they link to my site. This is because I am always happy for more backlinks.
6. You have to EAT
Another important factor in your ranking was revealed by Google as EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness + Trustworthiness. It wants you to prove your worth. Filling out your author bio when you create a blog post is good practice (there is a block for this in WordPress’s Gutenberg) as this shows that you have expertise. Authoritativeness is going to come from your backlinks and Trustworthiness could be improved with some online reviews for your work. So this might be clients filling out Google reviews for you.
7. Have a Fast Loading Site
Search engines will give priority to sites that load quickly. Now you know this, do your best to keep your load speed nice and zippy. You can test what it currently is using Google’s Speed Test Tool. Good practice means never loading images that haven’t been optimised for the web, I do this with an action in Photoshop and I also use a plugin on my site that ensures all of the images are compressed enough. I also never load videos directly onto my site. Instead I host them in Vimeo and embed them via links. Also don’t have too many images on your site, even though you are a photographer. Don’t get carried away creating blog posts with 100 or more images, I see this all the time. It’s not usually that engaging for your customer and it will slow down your site.
8. Create Interesting Content
As well as thinking about answering those questions that Google suggests for your search terms, think of content that stands you out as an expert in wedding photography and is helpful to your potential couples. Above writing for search engines, write for humans. Your blog is your chance to show off your personality and connect to your ideal customers. It’s also a showcase for your lovely images and demonstrates your skills. Don’t feel that this has to be a dry place, try to have fun with writing blog posts. If you see it as one more chore that you never get around to, you are missing a key part of your marketing plan. Sending relevant blog posts out into the world, can attract future clients and keep your business moving forward. I love brainstorming ideas for blog posts with my mentoring students. Even those that have shot very little real weddings yet, can still be creative with content.
9. Get Ahead of the Pack
Almost every photographer that I’ve mentored says that they want to rank well for ‘Wedding Photographer Their Area’. This is fine, of course but I think that’s missing a trick. In addition, I put work into trying to appear when they are searching for venues. I want them to discover me before they start the photographer search. This might give me an edge over my competitors but also venues are nowhere near as competitive a market as wedding photography and so it’s easier to rank well in searches.
10. Make some Cornerstone Content
Search Engines love a wordy page or post – The more text the better. Creating a post that has around 1000 words will bring you lots of ‘Google Juice’. Writing that much on someone’s wedding would be a challenge but the good news is, you just need a handful of these kinds of posts to make a difference. Plan out some really useful pieces that could rank well, bearing in mind who it is you are trying to attract and potentially trying to get ahead of your competition. This is exactly why I created a post that lists Micro Weddings in Brighton. This is a cornerstone piece of content that will hopefully appear early on in the wedding planning journey for my future couples and get me onto their radar. I’ve written a paragraph on why I think each venue would be suitable for a micro wedding and so it wasn’t difficult to get to 1000 words.
Hopefully this has given you some great tips and ideas for improving your own SEO. Recently, I enlisted the fantastic Martin Watts from 8 Cats Digital to host a Barn Live day for me, doing a deep dive into SEO. This can be accessed in The Barn, the online learning part of Photography Farm. Like many things in business, applying a little method and strategy can go a long way. Like Martin said, if you even just devote one hour per week to your SEO, you will get results. It’s about creating useful content that lures the right client for you across from search engines into your kingdom where you can control their experience and build a genuine connection.