New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

News & Insight

Website SEO Alert: The One Thing Every Photographer Should Do in March 2015

By Guest Contributor on March 23rd 2015

Website SEO Alert: The One Thing Every Photographer Should Do Today

Google has drawn a line in the sand, go mobile-friendly or get penalized.  According to Google’s Webmaster Blog, you have until April 21 to go mobile-friendly before their new search engine algorithm takes effect. The good news, mobile friendly sites should expect a slight boost in rankings.

Rarely does Google say much about the inner workings of their secret search engine algorithm before a change arrives. When Google tips its hand, I pay attention.


So I checked out my websites. My main photography site failed.  Google failed it for:

    • Text too small to read
    • Links too close together
    • Mobile viewport not set

Even more worrisome than Google’s penalty for mobile unfriendly sites, my potential clients can’t navigate my website!  I’m losing income by being mobile unfriendly.


Google analytics showed 83% of visitors from Facebook in the last 10 days were using a mobile device.

How to Check If Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly

AllebachMike-Alice3-HighResThe Solution: Go Responsive

Responsive websites resize themselves automatically and provide mobile specific navigation.  I decided that my next website, which will launch before April 21, will be responsive. If you use wordpress, make sure your gallery is responsive.

 Let us know in the comments how your website faired with Google’s Mobile Friendly Tools.

 For more tips on SEO, check out the SLR Lounge PHOTOGRAPHY SEO AND WEB MARKETING E-BOOK. 

About the Guest Contributor


Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer,” Mike Allebach started a movement to make Tattooed Brides acceptable back in 2008.  Since then, he started Photographer’s Brandsmash and maintains a portrait and boudoir studio in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

If you’re interested in becoming a guest contributor, contact us!

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Greg Townsend

    Zenfolio was a complete failure. As it happens I was planning to move to Squarespace and once done my site passed with flying colours.

    On a side note I’m less concerned about page load times. I’d rather not compress images on my site as Google suggests. As photographers I do think our portfolios are more important than good SEO results. What’s the point of driving a lot of traffic to a site only to provide them with substandard examples of your work?

    I do worry about Google and how their arbitrary rules might affect SEO on my site, but I can’t change things so I’m just going to have to hope Squarespace do their best to satisfy Google without butchering my work too much.

    | |
  2. Emily Okerson

    Yay! I’m glad to see that google likes my site.

    | |
  3. robert garfinkle

    Officially – apology for all the negativity, it hasn’t been helpful. Above posts of mine depict a complaint.

    I Just don’t think it’s right that a band of photographers or anyone for that matter may suffer a business loss, from now until responsive compliance (whatever date that is…) at the hands of google – they are in essence nobody who has authority with respect to standards / protocol as to how the web “should” be – i.e. they are not a governing body.

    They are however “somebody” in the sense that they are “king of the hill” as everyone uses them – for virtually everything, even me. I trust them over any other search, period – it’s just easier to find something – restating the obvious.

    I have been developing web applications / sites for 20 years. Humbly, I’m a nobody in the sea of developers / users on the web… Having said that, I will cite a “practice” we developers have been taught and keen to for quite a while, and that is the principle of “lowest common denominator” as a function of compatibility / visibility – build it using the lowest common denominator as it’s simplicity paves the way for highest visibility…

    Sure, we all want the best functional / ergonomic sites where no user struggles to view / use it – hence keeping it simple, but it comes as a shock more or less that a company, like I said, has the arrogance to just change things up like this and throw a whole bunch of sites over the cliff or consider responsiveness as a function of SEO – it was not the right thing to do IMO…

    | |
  4. Paul Empson

    Another little side note.. we think in terms of a website, however Google and others see individual pages under a domain name. So as Rob mentions above, check each page and that includes for content too. Make each page specific with unique titles, descriptions and info and that’ll improve each pages ranking ( but don’t hold me to that.. I’m just a photographer :-)

    | |
  5. Rob Greer

    Unfortunately, neither one of the two sites you listed pass BOTH of Google’s mobile tests. Check this out:

    and this out:

    P.S. I’ve never seen as score as low as the score provided to this page ^^^^^^^^

    | |
  6. Matthew Saville and both pass. Which is good, because I really did not have the time to worry about this before April 21st! :-P

    | |
  7. Rob Greer

    There are two more major points to consider here that weren’t mentioned in in the article.

    1) You need to check / test every page on your website–not just your home page. Your home page may pass but other pages may not pass.

    2) In addition to the Mobile Friendly Test (, you should also run your site against Google PageSpeed ( BOTH of these tests are going to be used to determine if your site is mobile friendly enough to warrant inclusion in mobile search results.

    | |
    • Mike Allebach


      | |
    • robert garfinkle

      again – google is deciding to include or exclude a page on search results as a function of if “they” determine if it’s sea worthy enough to be consumed on a device –

      they are so headed for a lawsuit –

      | |
    • Steven Pellegrino

      Thanks for posting about the page speed because I hadn’t considered it and my site needs some work on that.

      | |
  8. Ingrid Charalambous

    My Smugmug webpage is not mobile-friendly :(

    | |
    • Mike Allebach

      Mine smug mug is, I wonder if that’s an easy fix. I imagine most of their options are.

      | |
    • Matthew Saville

      Yeah, my new SmugMug page is; what layout are you using, and how much customization do you have?

      | |
    • Josiah Dewey

      I have smugmug also and it works just fine. Are you using their old version still? The new version adjust to any screen size.

      | |
    • Ingrid Charalambous

      SmugMug is currently working on a fix to ensure that sites pass the Google Mobile-Friendly test. My site has ‘Slideshow’ content block and it’s one of the major failure causes.
      Thank you so much for your help and suggestions.

      | |
  9. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing. I Just checked my website and it is compliant.

    | |
  10. Paul Empson

    Saw this the other week.. my site had issues, turned out it was just my Robots.txt & sitemap… I updated those & instantly awesome…

    mobile accounts for about 25% of my traffic at present….

    | |
  11. Nick Viton

    “Awesome! [Your] page is mobile-friendly.”

    (Note: technically, the message does not indicate that your website is awesome…)

    | |
  12. patricia cash

    awesome Google gave me an awesome feeling special now :) … great article thank you !

    | |
  13. Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    I’m glad you put this out there, Mike. There’s so many WordPress themes not getting with the times. So it’s important for photographers know they can change themes and comply with Google’s new changes. The Photocrati Theme is not only responsive but allows photographers to customize their “look” without needing any html knowledge at all.

    | |
  14. Josiah Dewey

    My site checks out :)

    | |
  15. Roberto Ricca

    thanks to your post I checked my website and found a page with flash content.

    | |
  16. Gurmit Saini

    Welll that is a good news as my website is Awesome as well!! and thanks for the heads up, need to work on this SEO monster, it is a whole new world for me.

    | |
  17. Charles Magrin

    I checked my website and this is a perfect match! thank you for this great article!

    | |
  18. Steven Pellegrino

    I’m using WordPress with SLR Lounge’s Photo Theme and Google says it’s fine.

    | |
  19. Brian Stalter

    Using SquareSpace… of course it is mobile friendly. :)

    | |
  20. Daniel Thullen

    Michael, thank you for the valuable information. Thankfully I can echo Kim’s sentiments: “WOOHOO!” Google says my web site is AWESOME, as well.

    | |
  21. Paul Argeşanu

    This article forgets to mention the most important thing about this change. Only the mobile search (when searching google with the phone) will be changed for a better viewing on your phone. So you should mention this in your article. Desktop search will remain the same.

    | |
    • robert garfinkle

      thanks for clarifying — makes more sense

      | |
    • Mike Allebach

      Thank you, this is true at the moment. In the future Google may require all sites to be responsive and won’t tell us as their ranking algorithm is a trade secret.

      | |
  22. oscar campos

    so glad i switched to squarespace, I tested my website and everything is awesome

    | |
  23. robert garfinkle

    This is a new chapter in net neutrality opening up, right here… I will bet their will be legal repercussions from this…

    can anyone see where I am coming from –

    what if you have 20,000.00 invested into a non-compliant site, and you subscribe to google’s pay for services @ 1000 / month – what did they just do to you? and you have less then 30 days to do it…

    cmon!!! it’s not the internet according to google..

    | |
    • Mike Allebach

      This is a usability issue. If a site won’t work on mobile, it’s in your best interest as a user not getting sent there while browsing on a mobile device. It’s also in all companies interest to be mobile compatible. Everyone benefits from this change.

      | |
    • robert garfinkle

      Google should not have a rank based on a sites usability – that’s a discriminatory set of factors to judge a set of search results on…

      case and point – my parents jewelry business, the site is completely 100% functional / workable, but looks small when you first hit it on a mobile – but keep in mind, it works 100% – you can browse it, shop it, cart it, and make purchases – operates excellent..

      a feature on a mobile device, just like ANY touch screen allows you to pinch and zoom the site, still works just fine large or small, again, 100%

      yet Google’s little discrimination applet (the link above) fails it because it’s not responsive to their liking and my parents will take a hit because of googles definition of what they want to deliver to a phone…

      c’mon – that’s not right…


      here is one better – try SLR Lounge on a mobile device – it is responsive, and probably passes muster just fine according to google – yet not ALL the functionality is on the mobile responsive version – I, personally find it harder to work even responsively on a device… three features on SLR Lounge that do not propagate on a mobile device are the cart, search, and comments to the webmaster – so, should it pass muster, it does according to google, yet I still cant access the entire site on my samsung note 4 – a standard phone, standard broswer…

      | |
  24. Kim Farrelly

    WOOHOO, Google says my site is AWESOME. Thanks for sharing the update.

    | |