Local SEO for Photographers:
Free Local SEO Guide

If you are a photographer, you know how tough it can be to drum up new business. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that when someone needs a photographer, he generally runs a Google search and then calls the first few photographers on the list. To increase your client base, then, you need to find a way into that critical top slot.

SEO for Phototgraphers

We will walk you through our proven 5-step process to bump your photography studio to the top of the rankings. But first, let’s examine why local SEO plays a crucial role for all photographers.

3 Reasons Photographers Should Invest in Local SEO

Google Has Taken the Place of the Yellow Pages:

At one time, you could gain new clients by simply taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for prospects to call. Today, however, a shocking 97% of people search for local businesses online, and Google is the king of the hill.

Free Traffic:

Although the Yellow Pages are gone, advertising is still a huge expense for the majority of small businesses. Boosting your Google rankings gives you a constant stream of free traffic that you only need to convert to paying clients.

Speedy Results:

National and international companies must wait, on average, 6 months to a year to see much boost in their Google rankings. As a photographer, you have a significant advantage, since you are competing only with other photographers in your local area. And many of them are not yet taking advantage of local SEO. This means that you could move to the first page of Google local results in as little as 30 days!

Step 1: Choose Your Keywords

Your first step is simply to create a list of potential keywords that reflect your services. For instance, you might choose “commercial photographer”, “pet photographer”, and “portrait photographer”. Once you have a fairly extensive list, sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

You do not need to create or fund an ad campaign, The AdWords account simply lets you access Google’s free Keyword Planner. This tool lets you research your listed keywords to see how much traffic they get, and suggests additional related keywords.

Now you are ready to choose your final keywords from the list. All keywords can be loosely categorized into 2 basic types:

  • Buying Intent: As their name implies, prospects who search for buying intent keywords are imminently ready to make a purchase. As an example, someone searching for “wedding photographer Charleston” is likely getting married soon and looking for someone to photograph the wedding.Place your primary focus on buying intent keywords, as they drive the quickest conversions. Feature them on your homepage, and create service pages around them.
  • Research Intent: Prospects who are “just looking around” tend to search for research intent keywords. They might hire you eventually, but are at the earliest stages of the sales funnel. For example, someone searching for “what is pet photography” might have heard of the trend, and is thinking about whether it would be something they would like.These keywords should be of lower priority in your local SEO campaign, as they do not drive fast conversions. However, they are still useful for blog posts and FAQs, which introduce your studio to prospects who might hire you later.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

With your keyword list finalized, you need to optimize for them in 2 spots—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s a step by step guide:

Google My Business

Google My Business pages are featured in the “Map” section of Google local business results. Your page is a sort of mini-website that gives prospects a quick overview of your studio. It increases your online presence, and can give you a quick Google rankings boost, as it is easier to rank highly on a Google My Business page than on a website.

Your Google My Business page must be accurately and entirely filled out:

  • Verification: The first step is to claim your page and undergo Google’s verification process. You will see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your studio name when this process is complete.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be correct and consistent on your Google My Business page and across the internet. To highlight the fact that you have a local business, list a local phone number instead of an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google requires all category listings to focus on services instead of results. Include your specific services as well as your general category. For example, in addition to Photographer, you might choose Portrait Studio and Wedding Photographer, if you provide those services. Try to list 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: The description is a brief overview of your studio, followed by a call to action. Make sure it is 100-200 words long, and format it similarly to: {Name of Studio} offers professional {portrait, wedding, and pet photography, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your expertise and/or why clients love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first session!
  • Hours: Your hours of operation must be up to date and consistent across the internet. If you offer photography services at different times than your office hours, list that information in a separate paragraph.
  • Images: As a photographer, you know that your online portfolio is vital to converting prospects to clients. Add a few examples of your best work to your Google My Business page, as well as some shots of you in action. Make sure your images have a sharp focus, are sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Begin with your “core” pages, or your homepage and service pages. Be sure to optimize them for your buying intent keywords. Later, your “content” pages (blog posts and FAQs) will focus on your research intent keywords. Here are the key elements.

  • Homepage: Similar to a book’s chapter title, the title tag is the most important element on your homepage. It should be 50 to 65 characters long, and formatted similarly to: Photographer in {Your City} | {Name of Your Studio}.The next element is your meta description, a 100 to 150-character overview of your core services. Try this format: {Name of Studio} offers quality {portrait and commercial photography, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first session!Your visible headline, or H1, must be descriptive yet concise, and include your primary category. This format works well: {Photographer} in {City, State}.Finally, consider your page copy. It should be a 500 to 1000-word overview that is well-written and edited. Provide background information, briefly explain your core services, and close with a strong call to action.
  • Service Pages: Create a separate service page for each of your primary services, and make sure it is tightly focused on a relevant keyword. Optimize each service page as you did the homepage, making sure to substitute the appropriate keyword.

Step 3: Develop Citations and Links

With the basic framework of your local SEO campaign in place, you can move on to developing citations and links. Both will boost your Google rankings and improve your reach.

  • Citations: A citation is simply a listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) in an online directory. There are general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your Chamber of Commerce website, and targeted industry directories, such as photography services and wedding services.Many citations are free, but some directories offer only paid listings. Before paying for a citation, check Google Analytics to see if that site is driving traffic and conversions.
  • Links: Inbound links from top-quality, authoritative sites are critical to top Google rankings. Build relationships both online and offline with other companies that provide complementary services, such as wedding planners. Then ask to trade website links. You can find out where your competitors’ links are coming from with a tool such as the Moz Open Site Explorer.

Step 4: Gather Reviews

Reviews play 2 very important roles: they convince prospects to try your services, and they signal Google that your business is legitimate. All review sites can be helpful, but Google My Business reviews will drive the quickest boost in your Google rankings. Send your satisfied clients an email with a link to your Google My Business profile, and ask them directly to provide a review. If you do this regularly, you will soon have a constantly updated stream of reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

Tracking is the only way to tell how well your campaign is performing, and to identify which areas need tweaking. Although there is a mind-boggling array of data available, focus on these 3 metrics:

  • Rankings: Google search results are customized based on past browsing activities. This means that the only way to know how a page truly ranks is to use a tool. A great place to start is the free Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools). Ask your webmaster to install it, and check your results at least once per month.For more detailed results, consider moving to a paid tracking tool. We like the one provided by RankRanger.com. This will provide automatically updated ranking information from all of your SEO campaigns, and will track your Google My Business page as well as your webpages.
  • Traffic: The best way to track your website traffic is with Google Analytics. You can view your overall traffic, learn what percentage of visitors come from Google search, and find out which page draws the most traffic. Check your reports once per month, and look for long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a specific behavior that you want your website visitors to perform. For example, a common conversion for photographers is to set up a discounted photography session. In Google Analytics, you can track both telephone and web conversions, learn which services drive the most conversions, and discover which of your pages have the highest and lowest conversion rates.

Let’s Get Started!

By now it should be clear that a comprehensive local SEO strategy is crucial to driving more prospects to your studio. Make your way through the steps in order, and fully complete one before moving on to the next. Here’s a quick recap:

  1.    Keyword research
  2.    Keyword optimization
  3.    Citations and Links
  4.    Reviews
  5.    Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping photographers attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

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