You know that blogging should be part of your marketing gameplan as a photographer, but I’m here to tell you that if you don’t have a strategy behind your blogging, then you’re likely wasting your time. (We’re friends so I know you won’t mind me shootin ya straight). In this post, I’m answering all your blogging questions, from why you even need a blog to best strategies for making sure your blog is optimized for SEO. Let’s start with the basics…
Blogging is important to your photography business for 2 big reasons.
One, quality content is king when it comes to developing an SEO strategy. You want potential clients to be able to find you easily, but not just any content is going to bubble up to the first page of Google. You need to have trustworthy, authoritative, relevant content on your blog in order for Google to see you as worthy of a first page rank.
Second, your blog is a place to share your best work in a beautifully curated way. Have you ever had a client share an image from a portrait or engagement session and it maybe wasn’t the image you would have chosen to be the most share-worthy? By sharing your work on your blog, you are in control of which images are shared and in what order. Plus, writing a bit of copy with your images about your client’s experience will make others want to work with you as well!
Let’s talk SEO optimization
Did you know that there are more than 1.1 billion websites currently active on the internet? That’s a lot of noise to compete with in order to get your content in front of readers. By learning how to write blog posts for SEO, you will find that getting your content found by others will be easier than ever. However, before we jump into my best tips for SEO, you will first need to understand the basics.
What is SEO?
First, let’s back way up in case you are brand new to the search engine scene. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It has everything to do with how search engines, like Google, find your content on the internet. Google spiders “crawl” across the internet, taking in and categorizing all the information on all the websites they can find. Yes, that is a lot of data. Google sorts, analyzes and stores all of this data on a large database called the Google Index. Next, Google uses it’s advanced (and ever-changing) algorithm to show lists of website search results to the queries of its users – these website results show up on SERPs (search engine results pages). If you’ve ever done a Google search, you’re likely very familiar with a SERP.
So how do you get Google to show your content to relevant search queries? It starts with keywords. Keywords are the words that someone types into Google’s search bar when they are looking for a piece of information. Keywords can be as simple as “photographer” or as complex as “dallas wedding photographer that specializes in film photography.” These simple 1-2 word keywords are called “short-tail keywords,” while keywords with more than 2 words are generally considered “long-tail keywords.” I recommend trying to rank for more specific, long tail keywords because they aren’t as competitive and will generally result in reaching a more targeted potential client.
The goal of any SEO-friendly blog post is to get more traffic and, hopefully, more potential clients. However, in order to show up in the search result of a potential client, you first need to know what keyword they’re searching for. In order to put together a good list of keywords for your brand, you’ll need to do some keyword research. I recommend sitting down with a pen and piece of paper and thinking through what a potential client might type into Google when they’re searching for your service offering. What problems do they have that they’re trying to solve? How would they describe the solution they’re after in a search bar? Once you’ve got a few ideas for keywords, type those into Google and scroll all the way to the bottom of the SERP. Google will provide you with related keywords that people have searched and often times, these are great to add to your list. You can also use tools like The Hoth (a free tool) and SEMrush (a paid tool) to do keyword research.
Writing the post
Now that you have your list of keywords, it’s time to choose one and write a piece of content related to it. I’m going to share my 5-step process for optimizing a piece of content I’ve written for SEO. I recommend writing your content in a word document software like Word or Google Docs. Once you have the copy written, copy and paste it into your blogging software (likely WordPress or Squarespace). Then follow these steps to optimize it for SEO:
Step 1 – Add a keyword rich title and permalink.
The title of your blog post you should include your keyword, ideally toward the beginning of the title. Take this post you’re reading for example. My target keyword is “blogging for SEO.” I could have titled this post “how to blog for SEO” or “the ultimate guide on blogging for SEO” and those would have be decent titles. But the best practice is to put your exact keyword as close to the beginning of your title as possible. You also want to include your keyword in the permalink or URL of the post. Most blogging softwares will fill in your permalink using your post title, which is usually fine. You can take this one step further by removing any unnecessary filler words like “and” or “for.” Google spiders don’t need these filler words to make sense of your permalink.
Step 2 – Add headings and sub-headings
In order for users to consume your content and stay on your page longer, you want to break up your text using headings and sub-headings. These allow readers to skim through your post and find the content most relevant to their query. The folks at Google know that their users like to skim and speed-read. Therefore, they rank sites that use headings and sub-headings higher than sites that do not.
Step 3 – Optimize image filenames and add alt text
Images and videos are great for breaking up large amounts of text and giving a visually stimulating component to your content. Google spiders crawl things like file names and image titles so make sure you’ve optimized these to include your target keyword. You also want to make sure every image includes alt text. A common misconception is that you should assign your target keyword as the alt text for every image. This actually isn’t ideal. Alt text is an accessibility feature that helps those who are visually impaired to know what an image represents. I recommend adding alt text that first and foremost describes the photo for those who are impaired. If you can do so in a way that includes your keyword, that is great! But alt text isn’t necessarily an SEO tool, so I don’t recommend keyword stuffing here.
Step 4 – Change the page title and meta description
The page title and meta description are the words that show up on your SERP result. These should include your target keyword as well as give the reader an indication of what they will find if they click through to your post. You can use a free tool like Yoast to change theses settings.
Step 5 – Add internal and external links
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Google spiders index the web. One thing that these spiders organize is the links from website to website (external links), or the links from page to page inside a particular site (internal links). You want to include external links that are relevant to your post and would be helpful to your reader. You also want to include internal links to your own site. By linking your content to more of your content, Google will be able to see that there is a connection between those pages. This will make your content more trustworthy and reliable. As a result, search engines will want to promote your website more so others can see it.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into writing and optimizing a blog post for SEO. If the idea of adding this task to you already long list of to-dos, we want to help! Our content marketing strategy and implementation service is perfect for the photographer who wants to reach more clients through search, but just doesn’t have the time to pump out valuable, rank-worthy content. For more info on this service, click HERE.