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Let’s be honest, SEO is a frustrating beast… Forever changing, forever annoying to master, forever a pain in everyone’s behind. As a small business, I don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars to pay to the people that huge companies use to always be FIRST for every possible search… Luckily, I have a secret weapon… Web developer, Mary Clare Bland, owner of Bespoke Digital Solutions!

Mary Clare runs a very popular business herself and has devoted herself to staying up-to-date on SEO trends for small businesses! She took some time to chat with me today to offer up her top 8 SEO tips for photographers.


1: Get clear about the key phrases you want to rank for


Many people don’t realize this, but Google (and other browsers) work with specific key phrases. A key phrase is what someone types into Google’s search bar to find information. You should take the time to figure out a list of key phrases you wish to rank for. Pretend your are a potential customer and you are looking for a photographer for a wedding, maternity shoot, or any other type of photography you specialize in. Make a list of the search terms you would use to try and find your services. You can also use the related key phrases Google suggests.

2: Focus on longer key phrases


It is actually easier to rank for longer key phrases (called long tail key phrases in SEO lingo). This is because typically, there is less competition for them. For example, “wedding photographer” is going to be very difficult to rank for as the competition is so high. Plus, even if you did rank highly, if would be hard for people to book you unless you were prepared to travel a lot. Instead, think about your location and niche. Try to include both of those in your key phrases. Something like “boudoir photographer in Pebble Beach” will be much easier to rank for than a generic key phrase. You can tell because when you type the key phrase into Google, the first thing that shows up are a lot of Pinterest accounts, meaning Google can’t find much other content to display in its search results. If a lot of Google ads show up first, you are probably looking at a very competitive key phrase, even for SEO.


3: Write at least 400 words per blog post


Google’s algorithms are frequently updated. Practices that made for good SEO ten years ago were completely different than those that are optimal now. In 2020, Google cares about serving its users quality content. One of the main things it looks at is article length. So you need to use words in your blog posts- not just photos. In fact, if you have too few words on your pages and in your posts, Google can actually penalize your site for what it calls thin content. Getting penalized by Google is very bad- it can prevent your from ranking or even get your site blacklisted.


A post needs to have at least 400 words before Google considers it be relevant. The more words, the better as long as you are writing something useful.


Don’t know what to write? Get creative. This recent post from Heather: Top 5 Tips for Big Sur Elopement Dress is a great example of what I am talking about.¬† Why?


  • It is informative.
  • The topic hasn’t been written about before.
  • It has 638 words which is long enough to rank really well- I have written a number of featured snippets that are only a little more than 600 words.
  • The article is a perfect vehicle for one of the key phrases we chose to target: Big Sur elopement.
  • She did a great job of breaking up the text with photos and subheadings.


I predict it will eventually become a featured snippet!


4: Take Full Advantage of Alt Tags


This is arguably the most important of my SEO tips for photographers. Make sure your key phrase for your page or post appears in half the alt tag of the images you include in your page or post. This will allow them to start ranking in Google Images, which works separately from the post and page search results. It is easier to rank in Google images than in regular search for the simple reason that a lot of people don’t know about alt tags.


Don’t know how to add alt tags to your photos? Here is a short video I made for people that take my Basic SEO Course showing you how to do it in WordPress: How to add alt tags.

5: Don’t forget to add both internal and external links


Google’s bots consider two main things when they discover web pages: key phrases and links. Google’s bots look at the number of links on a web page and count them. The more links it finds, the more important they think the page is. So make sure you link to other pages. Moreover, linking to other pages on your site will help Google’s bots find other pages on your site more easily.


6: Try and get some backlinks


Backlinks are links on other websites that link to yours. Google considers these even more important than internal links in your website. They don’t necessarily have to be highly trafficked websites. As long as they get 100 hits or more per month, Google considers them to be powerful backlinks. Don’t know how to get a backlink? Ask!


The most powerful of my SEO tips for photographers is this: Volunteer an image! I make websites for many, many clients. Almost everyone, even big corporations, is starved for good images. So find a website you want a backlink on and write to the owner. Offer to let them use one of your images, in return for a backlink.


7: Resist the Temptation to Key Phrase Stuff


You need to have your key phrase in 1.5%-3.0% of the copy of your page or post. I see a lot of photographers make two big mistakes.


  1. They use key phrases randomly, rather than taking the time to write quality content. Don’t do this! Google’s bots can figure it out and might penalize your site.
  2. They put the key phrase everywhere in the article to get it to rank higher. This is an old trick that worked ten years ago, but Google bots have gotten a lot smarter. In 2020, Google hates people that try to trick its bots and penalizes them. If they see a page or post where the key phrase comprises more than 3% of the content, they will likely penalize it.


8: Be Consistent: SEO is a Marathon, not a Sprint


Good SEO takes time- particularly if you live in an area with a lot of other photographers. Don’t get upset if you write an article and don’t see it ranking right away. It can take time for Google’s bots to see your article and start ranking it. Moreover, one well optimized article is not going to cut it. You have to rank across a broad range of key phrases to have potential customers consistently see your site. I recommend getting out the list of key phrases you wish to target and make a schedule to write at least two articles per month (one key phrase for each article). If you do this for six months, you should start to see some progress.


Do you want to learn more about SEO? If so, Mary Clare has created courses for photographers and other small business owners to learn how to do SEO. No BS and irrelevant theory- just the basics you need to learn, and do, to get your site ranking highly in search results. Plus, she has made a code for all my blog readers and social media followers to get 50% off her courses! The code is HKP. Here is a link to her awesome courses: Level Up your SEO




SEO Tips for Photographers