Google Maps for photographers

Google Maps is a vital marketing tool for almost all photographers. It is a free service that identifies the location of your business with a pin (or area) in Google Maps and a panel on the side of the Google search with further details about your business..

Why is Google Maps so vital for photographers?

Most photographers, like you, work in a specific geographical area. Doing photoshoots a long way from home is uneconomical, so finding local business is essential. Similarly, from a potential customer’s point of view they will be looking for a local photographer. So when our potential customer decides they need a photographer, they almost always do one of these things:

  1. They search for a photographer in the Google search. Google will usually show results from Google Maps above websites when a search is done for a photographer. So if you do well in the Google Maps search, you will do well here. 
  2. They search for photographers in the Google Maps app on their phone or the maps section of the Google website. 
  3. They look on social media. Although this is also a vital place to be found, it is not the subject of this blog, so I won’t be talking about it any more here. But you can read more about it here.

Do you have a Google Business Account?

You may also know this as a Google My Business Account, as that’s what Google used to call it. There are really three possible options here.

Example Google Business Entry
  1. You know you have one and you know how to access and edit it. If so great, move onto the next section.
  2. You may have set one up a long time ago and lost track of it. In this case login to Google with your Google account (if you have more than one you may need to try this a couple of times). Then go to the Google Search and search for your business . If your business is listed here great you have access.
  3. You have not set up a Google Business Account. In this case, search for your business on the Google search desktop. If an information panel appears on the right then Google has already added your business to Maps for you. Click on the claim now button and follow the instructions. If nothing appears, log into Google, go to Google Business and set up your new Google Business Account.


You may also know this as a Google My Business Account, as that’s what Google used to call it. There are really three possible options here

  1. You know you have one and you know how to access and edit it. If so great, move onto the next section.
  2. You may have set one up a long time ago and lost track of it. In this case login to Google with your Google account (if you have more than one you may need to try this a couple of times). Then go to the Google Search and search for your business . If your business is listed here great you have access.
  3. You have not set up a Google Business Account. In this case, search for your business on the Google search desktop. If an information panel appears on the right then Google has already added your business to Maps for you. Click on the claim now button and follow the instructions. If nothing appears, log into Google, go to Google Business and set up your new Google Business Account.

How to optimise Google Business for photographers

Business name

Make sure your business name makes it very clear what you do. Cryptic names linked to ancient Mayan rituals do not help here. James Brown Photography, or Headshots by Frank are great. Wesley’s Images is not so clear. Remember you are thinking about everything here both from the point of view of Google understanding your business and search users understanding what you offer. Being clever and cryptic doesn’t work.

Category and subcategories

You need to think carefully about what your category and subcategories should be. If you are a general photographer then your main category must be photographer. After that, have subcategories for all of the different types of photography you can do, for example, wedding photographer and portrait photographer. If you specialise in one particular area of photography then make that area your main category, for example, commercial photography. This should help you as a specialist move ahead of the generalists for your particular area in the search results.

What area am I aiming for?

Here it is good to do a little research. 

How wide an area do you want to be found for?

There are a few options here

1. Your local town/area of a city only.

2. Other nearby towns or city areas.

3. City or countywide.

Google map of Manchester


It is hard to go much wider than this using a Google Maps account. To be found across a region you need to focus on your website SEO rather than on Maps. To decide which of the above to go for first you need to see how well you turn up in the maps search in your local town. Search for photographer in Bristol (or whatever your local town/city is). Or if you are a specialist try portrait photographer (or whatever your specialism is) in Bristol (again or whatever your local town/city is). If you are listed in fifth place or lower in the search results you need to concentrate on this area first. 

If you are already listed in the fifth position or above you can think about extending to other local towns. To decide which see where you are currently in other towns and what the competition is like there. If you are doing well in a few towns you can then start to look more at a countywide area.

What should I put as my location?

Unless you have a studio you should use your home address as your location. When the account is created Google will send you a postcard with a code to prove you are at that location. But then please do not leave that location public. It does not make you look very professional when one of the main images shown for your business is your drive. Google loves to show the exact location. If your location is at home then change the settings to focus on an area. Use the information above to help you choose that area, but it needs to be focused around your address. 

Keywords

It’s essential to think carefully about what keywords you want to be found for, and try and ensure these are used in your Google Search Profile. These can be in your description, post and  products and ask customers to use them in your reviews. What keywords should you be using?

  1. Locations (see the section above on the area you are aiming for).
  2. Type of photography you specialise in (portrait for example). Also then try to go into more sub-areas, dog portraits, family portraits etc. 
  3. Words link to your ideal client. This might be Sports women or middle-aged men who own businesses. 
  4. Words that describe your service such as ‘reliable’ can also help.


Description

  1. Use your keywords in a natural way. Google spots when sentences don’t read well because you have been trying to stuff keywords in artificially.. 
  2. Think about the client. What are they interested in? It’s the service, it’s 100% not about you. Write about the service you provide e.g. the quality, attention to detail etc. Do not talk about how you got a camera when you were 17 and have never looked back. Someone looking for a photographer really doesn’t care, and it wastes your limited word count.
  3. Based on the above, use the word “you” more than the word “I”. Keep “I” to a minimum. Someone looking for a photographer cares about themselves and their problem (they need a photographer). So feed their ego, talk about them.
  4. Make full use of the number of characters you are allowed.

Products

Use this section to show off what you offer. If everything is bespoke then either invent some packages for this or at least have different services, eg portrait photography, wedding photography etc. If you are a specialist then you probably are going to need to have some packages you can add here. Remember to think about your keywords when adding products. This is another great time to make the most of your keywords. “Helping the people of Swindon get the best portraits.” That’s a location and a service you offer in one sentence.

Posts

Post regularly. About once a week. Think about the use of keywords in your posts. Talking about shoots you have done allows you to show off your images, and add keyword locations and services to your posts. “I have just finished photographing (don’t use shooting that should not be one of your keywords) the new ovens at Jane’s bakery in Beverley”. 

Don’t expect to receive likes and comments as you would on Facebook. The posts help with your keywords and help to keep content fresh for your Map visitors. 

Reviews

Reviews are really important. The number of reviews, the quality of the reviews and how recent the reviews are are all strong factors that influence your position on the Google Maps search results. Get as many Google reviews as you possibly can. I would go as far as to see this as the most important platform on which to get reviews. 

Ask your past customers to leave reviews and then put a system in place to ensure you ask all of your customers to leave you a review straight after they have received their images. Don’t just ask once, but remind them a few times. Maybe the odd phone call would also help. The key is asking once is not going to be enough for most clients, so make sure you have systems in place so that it happens automatically, or you get sent reminders to do it manually. 

When you are reminding your customers to leave you a review, be sure to include the link for them, to make it easier. When you are logged into Google Business and go to reviews  there is a button called “get more reviews.” You can get a link to share with clients that takes them to where they can leave you a review. 

Think about prompting your clients to include your keywords in their reviews. By this, I don’t mean to tell them what to write. But a little guidance can be helpful. Often guidance can help you get more reviews as one of the barriers to leaving them is knowing what to write. So if you say something like. “I would appreciate it if you could leave me a Google review. This would help me and other people locally. It’s great if the review includes, What the photoshoot was for, where it was, how you felt during the shoot and your feelings about the photographs you received. Thanks so much”.

You can also think about offering a small incentive for leaving a review, for example, a free small print of one of the images or a discount on future work. Getting those reviews is worth a little cost. 

Finally

Any change in the right direction is good. If you can put aside a few hours and really overhaul your Google Business Account that is amazing and will go a long way towards getting you more leads. But if you feel you don’t have the time, work on it gradually. Perhaps work on one area and add one post per week. Any change in the right direction is a positive change. Just ensure you set aside the time and keep making those changes. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes a week.