There is a battle happening every day in the search engine result pages (SERPs). The battle is happening as you sleep, it’s even happening as you read this sentence.
What is the battle over you may ask? It’s for position and ranking, to get within the top 3 on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and any other search engine with the most popular being Google.
In this article, we’ll be covering:
- The battle over search results
- The data behind click-through rate
- What SEO is not
- What SEO is
- How search engines work
- Biggest 3 SEO tips for photographers & artists
- Taking action
It’s been shown that:
- 90% of searches made on desktops are done via Google (Statista)
- 34% of “near me” searches done via desktop and tablets result in store visits (HubSpot)
- 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day (Internet Live Stats)
Well, what’s all the hype?
Why are people battling over these positions?
Let me present this graph from Advanced Web Ranking then explain its importance:
This graph illustrates the Click-Through Rate (CTR) of the pages on Google.
[Related Reading: Let’s Double The SEO Traffic to Your Photography Website in 12 Weeks]
What is CTR?
CTR is calculated by impressions divided by clicks. An impression is when someone sees your page and a click is if they actually click on it. So in practice, if only one person in the whole world saw your page and clicked on it from Google, it would be a 100% CTR.
Back to the Graph
The graph shows that:
- The 1st position receives 38.02% of the clicks
- The 2nd position receives 12.46% of the clicks
- The 3rd position receives 7.46% of the clicks
From there, there is a steep dropoff. Don’t even make me show you the CTR of the second page. They are abysmally low around 1% or lower.
There is a joke within the SEO community — “Where do you hide a dead body…on the 2nd page of Google.”
Using These Stats in Real Life
You can combine these stats along with keyword volume (will discuss keywords later) to see how this data can be translated. Let’s say you are a portrait photographer in New York and you are trying to drive free, organic traffic to your website to book more clients. Let’s also say the keyword volume for “New York portrait photographer” is 100 monthly searches. This means roughly 100 people type that into Google each month.
Well, remember when I mentioned that the 1st position receives 38% of the clicks?
If you were to rank #1 on Google for “New York portrait photographer,” you’d get approximately 38 people landing on your website who are looking for a photographer, aka hot leads who are likely to book a session.
No money was spent, no ads were created, only SEO. Now that I’ve covered the importance of ranking well, let’s dive into what SEO is and is not along with some SEO tips for photographers, artists, and creators.
[Related Reading: Marketing and SEO for Photographers | Photography Business 301]
What isn’t SEO?
Before diving into what SEO is, I think it’s first important to understand what SEO is not to clear up some misconceptions that I’ve heard people have.
If you have ever heard of SEO and thought it to be wizardry or magic, you are not alone. So did I when I first started working in the field of SEO.
Once you understand what SEO actually entails and break it down into its most basic components, you will see that SEO is just actually made up of certain tactics along with a user-centric mindset.
- A One-And-Done Deal
SEO is not a one-time tactic or a “one-and-done deal.”
It’s an ongoing process, just like marketing your business. You do not just “SEO” your website and then it’s good to go.
In fact, it often takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results, and you have to keep up with the process every once in a while.
- Instant Gratification
On the note of seeing results, SEO is not instant gratification.
You need patience and consistency for SEO to start to pay off for your business.
If you want instant gratification and results, then engage in paid ads (PPC).
SEO or PPC
There is an analogy when it comes to PPC (pay-per-click/paid ads) and SEO (search engine optimization, organic traffic) using apples.
Let’s say you are hungry for an apple.
PPC is like going to the store and buying an apple with your money, SEO is like planting the first seed that will create an orchard that will eventually supply numerous apples in the future that you do not have to pay for.
It’s also important to note that one is not better than the other. Oftentimes, enterprise and mid-size businesses would engage in both PPC and SEO at the same time to accomplish different goals.
Since this is a guide on SEO, we’ll be focusing on SEO and will touch on PPC at another time.
What is SEO?
Now that we’ve covered what SEO is not, let’s dive into what SEO is.
- Strategies and Tactics
SEO consists of implementing a strategy that aligns with your overall business and marketing plan.Think of SEO as just another layer that will help you achieve your business and marketing goals. Just like social media, email marketing, sales outreach, etc. Search engine optimization is just another layer.
SEO consists of a strategy along with tactics.
An SEO strategy could have a goal of “I want to rank #1 on Google for New York portrait photographer.” The tactics surrounding the strategy could be creating blogs surrounding New York topics, internally linking from these blogs to your New York portrait photographer page, adding more client testimonials to your contact page to boost conversion rate, etc.
- Long-Term Game
As mentioned, SEO is a long-term game. In a world full of instant gratification and quick information with 7-second videos that automatically start playing the next one, swiping left and right to find dates, and quick texts replacing phone conversations, we’ve become accustomed to quick results.
SEO done right is a long-game. There are certain tactics that will result in quicker rewards, but overall, I’d say SEO is the channel of promotion that takes the longest but it bears the most fruit. As long as you go into it with that mindset, you will succeed.
How do Search Engines Work?
Before diving into some SEO tips, let’s cover how search engines work to get a better understanding of the framework. The goal of search engines is to keep users coming back to their search engines. Because of this, search engines promote pages with higher rankings that are both popular and relevant.
[Related Reading: SEO Basics For Photographers | Your Guide to Getting Started in 2019]
Crawling and Indexing
For a page to show up on Google (and other search engines) it is first crawled, then indexed. How Google works is that it has spiders, also known as “Google Bot” that crawl the millions of pages on the web. When these bots crawl the pages on the web, they look for certain factors such as how much traffic the page receives, how many people are linking to this page, the average time people spend on the page, and how fast the page is.
These are all factors that were implemented in Google’s algorithm so they can determine which pages should rank higher than others. Once the “spiders” are done crawling the page and have looked at all these factors, the page is indexed and that is the final result we see on the results pages. Now that we’ve covered how search engines work, let’s dive into some SEO tips and takeaway items.
3 Biggest SEO Tips for Photographers and Artists
As mentioned, SEO is a long-term game, in my SEO Framework Guide, I mention it’s best to approach SEO into 3 phases — pre-SEO strategy, on-going SEO optimization, and SEO maintenance/upkeep.
While there is a lot more to cover with SEO in terms of all the tactics, I’ll be covering the 3 biggest tips for photographers from that guide here that will drive the biggest impact. I’ll touch on the other ones in a later post.
- Local SEO Optimization
The first tip is surrounding Local SEO. When it comes to SEO, you can think of there being 3 different types based on the industry you are in. The industries include business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), and e-commerce (ecomm).
As photographers and artists, we are grouped into the B2C category because we offer products and services directly to consumers (clients). An example of a B2B business is one that offers software for other businesses such as Salesforce, and an example of an Ecomm business is Amazon.
When it comes to B2C SEO, there is a special category of SEO that we are also privy to which is Local SEO. The main component of local SEO centers around your Google My Business (GMB) profile. If you have ever searched for a service near you such as “pizza near me” or “photographer near me,” you may have seen what is called the Local Pack:
You can only appear in this local pack if you have a GMB profile. Well, what’s the importance of showing up here?
- Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time (Joel House Search Media)
- 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours (Nectafy)
- 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information (oGulf)
These local pack results also pop up for keywords other than “X near me.”
Remember the example of ranking for “New York portrait photographer?” Well, it also appears there:>
Google’s algorithm has gotten smart enough to understand the intent behind what you type into Google combined with your location. If you even type in a keyword such as “pizza,” then Google will show you the nearest pizza spots near you, try it out!
The importance of this feature for local businesses is that we can still show up for these important keywords for our business without needing a webpage to rank for it. Since the local pack even appears before the organic search results, it’s that much more important!
How to Create GMB Profile
It’s really simple to create a GMB profile.
Head on over to Google’s page, then follow the steps to create a profile!
How to Optimize GMB Profile
This is the most important part, those who have optimized profiles are the ones that will show up in that “local 3-pack” (the top 3 spots) as opposed to those who will show up once a user hits “View all”:
Once you have created a GMB profile, the main areas of optimization in your GMB profile include your
- business name
- getting reviews
- your category
- including hours and a phone number
- including photos:
For your name, make sure to include the keyword of photography.
For reviews, make sure to get as many as possible. Get in the habit of asking clients to leave a review on your GMB profile after a photoshoot. Include the category of photographer, list your hours, and be sure to include photos on your GMB profile of you, a behind-the-scenes photo, and example shots.
You want to show potential clients that your business is active and trustworthy, not dull and lifeless.
- Create Website
The second tip is to create a website. If you don’t have a website, then you can’t have pages that rank in search engines.
It’s easy for me to say create a website, but what does that actually entail?
You need to find a domain name, get web hosting, choose a content management system and then understand basic website structure fundamentals. Luckily SLRLounge has >workshops covering these topics.
The last tip is regarding keywords.
We’ve already discussed the keyword of “New York portrait photographer,” but what is the definition of a keyword?
A keyword is a word or phrase that makes it possible for people to find you via search engines.
Each keyword has its own monthly search volume and difficulty score based on how many people are competing for that keyword.
How do you see these keyword metrics?
You use a keyword research tool. There are paid ones and a few free ones to use. The most popular paid ones include AHREFs and SEMrush.
The most popular free ones include Keywords Everywhere and Keyword Surfer which you can find in the Chrome Webstore. Here’s an example of the Keyword Surfer extension which shows the keyword volume for a keyword you type into Google as well as related keywords:
Experiment and play around with the tool typing in different keywords to see roughly how many people type in that keyword on a monthly basis. If you already have a website, you will want to make sure you have a page dedicated to your target keyword. So for example, if the target keyword is “New York portrait photographer,” you will want a page titled “New York portrait photographer.”
There are 6 areas that the keyword should exist in on your page. They include:
- URL – www.examplesite.com/new-york-portrait-photographer
- Meta Title
- Meta Description
- H1 Header
- Image Alt Text
- Within the content at least 4-6 times
To update the meta title and meta description of a page, if you are on WordPress, you should be using an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO or RankMath which will allow you to edit it. Example using the RankMath plugin:
For me personally, after I’ve read informational articles or guides, I’ve always wanted to know the action step — what I should do next.
Take action, here are the next steps you should take based on this article.
- If you don’t have a GMB profile yet, go set it up and optimize it based on the recommendations above.
- Create a website if you do not have one yet. I recommend a WordPress site.
- If you already have a website, see if your keyword exists within those 6 areas mentioned above. If not, incorporate them in naturally.
- Keep learning, check out the SLR Lounge workshop. You can also find me at imaginated.com where I’m posting marketing and SEO tips just like this one for the digital-age artists and creators.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide and have a better understanding of what SEO is and is not. If you have exposure to SEO, then I hope you learned a bit more about how search engines work. There are other tactics and strategies to SEO that were not covered in this guide for length-sake.
About the Author
Nate Torres is a portrait photographer based in Los Angeles. Outside of photography, Nate is a digital marketing consultant and is the founder of Imaginated.com, a media company dedicated to inspiring digital-age artists and creators in business, artistry, and mind.