Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed dramatically as search engines incorporate the notion of authority to derive search rank. This evolution in how search engines provide us information creates opportunity for photographers.
SEO elements that have always mattered — keywords, links, site architecture, page code and other technical aspects — remain important. Authority is a game changer, though.
Search engines consider what people do with our content to determine authority. A widely shared blog post, for example, is an important signal of authority because this sharing is interpreted to mean the content is good (i.e. beneficial to a specific audience). This has important implications for photography SEO.
First, authority elevates the importance of fostering an engaged online community. People we connect with online are now a conduit to search rank. If we hope to achieve visibility for relevant searches, we must foster community.
People we connect with online are now a conduit to search rank. (tweet this)
Second, we must provide prospective customers a reason to connect with us online. This reason is content. “Content” does not mean our photographs. It means information that engages our interests, helps us learn, and drives our buying decisions. I’ve written about this here, here, and here.
This equates to opportunity for photographers. There was a time when SEO was a misunderstood craft practiced by the few. Certainly, it’s a marketing specialization, but any photographer can create great content and use it build online community. When we do, we can capture organic search traffic.
An SEO Paradigm for Photographers
Imagine that your website is a car. When we build a website without optimization, we assemble a car with no wheels. Its engine runs, but the car can go nowhere. Site optimization bolts on the wheels.
Off-site optimization is your website’s SEO fuel. While on-site optimization preps your car to run on certain keywords, creating great content, building an engaged community, and earning links and social signals by promoting our content effectively is search fuel that your site cannot run without.
Finally, to get the car truly humming, social profiles should also be optimized. The idea is that if it can be searched, it can be optimized. This includes our profiles on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. These profiles can be searched.
Our communications — our posts, tweets, and pins — can be searched, too. Consequently, we should incorporate keywords into these elements of our online presence, in addition to our websites, blogs, and content.
Setting Realistic SEO Goals
Photography SEO is not rocket science. You do not need to be an SEO expert to achieve search rank.
Creating an optimized online presence does take time and effort. You do need to be informed about how to attain search rank, strategic about how you develop it, and methodical and diligent in pursuit of results.
For example, a landscape photographer would need many, many moons to achieve page one results for the term “landscape photography”. Realistically, this term may not deliver qualified traffic to the website. Furthermore, given the competition on this term, ranking for it simply may not be possible.
But we don’t need that traffic in the first place. As a second example, consider a landscape photographer who conducts workshops for advanced students in the Columbia River Gorge. She can achieve page one results for a more relevant search.
Imagine the person searching for such a workshop. He might begin with a general term such as “landscape photography workshop”. As he refines his search — a process we all follow when using search engines — he may try “advanced photo workshop oregon”. For the landscape photographer offering the Gorge workshop, this search is highly relevant and entirely possible to rank for.
The keys to doing so? Start by following the fundamentals of developing an effective online program.
Share Your Thoughts
In the coming weeks, I’ll publish posts that focus on all aspects of SEO in greater detail, from keyword research, link-building, identifying influencers, and gallery website and photoblog optimization. Subscribe to my free newsletter to be notified by email when new posts are published.
Meanwhile, what questions do you have about SEO? Leave them in comments, and also take this poll to share your view of SEO.
Image credit to KROMKRATHOG via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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