SEO For Photographers part two – Improving your website

In the first blog in this series I talked about keyword research. This is essential, please ensure you have read it before you move on to this blog. In this blog we are going to talk about the changes you can make to your website setup. There will follow more SEO blogs including on content. There may seem like a lot of different things to work on here, and there are. But there is no need to work on them all. Get a few areas right and then move on to some others.

Page headings

Each page has a heading. This is not necessarily shown to visitors. But it is hidden in the pages code and Google can read it. Ensure your headings are helping with the keywords you are aiming for. For example you could have a page originally titled “photographs”. But if you changed it to “wedding photographs in Glasgow”, and you were aiming for wedding photographer in Glasgow that would help. Do ensure that the images are of weddings in Glasgow.

H1 Headers

Within a website text is designated as a header or paragraph. Within headers there are 6 levels. H1 being the most important and H6 being the least important. Ensure each page only has 1 H1 piece of text. Also ensure that H1 text is relevant to the key terms you are aiming for.

Page meta-description

This sounds complicated but isn’t. When you search Google you get given page titles and a description for each page. That description can be automatically generated by Google. But, you can also provide it. This is done in WordPress sites using an SEO plugin like Yoast. The wording here is not thought to effect your SEO directly, but visitors to Googles search read it and so it helps them make a decision if yours is the website to visit. So, it’s better to craft a good description than let Google make one automatically.

Your links
The links to your pages can be made descriptive and this can help with SEO. So instead of a page being

thephotographer.com/about

it could be

thephotographer.com/about-the-lincoln-portait-photographer

Site map

All websites should have a sitemap. This is a document that Google looks at to know more information about your site. Providing this information to Google will help with your SEO. If you have a WordPress website plugins like Yoast SEO will provide a sitemap for you. You need to provide Google Search Console with this information. There is more information about Google Search Console below.
Alt tags

This is the one that most photographers tend to know about. Google is still pretty hopeless at reading images. So alt tags tell Google what your image is of. An alt tag for an image is text describing that image. They are also used by screen readers to help blind people. Having alt tags on all of your images is good practice and helps with your SEO.

Google Search Console

I mentioned this briefly in my blog about SEO research. This is a powerful tool provided for free by Google. It has several purposes. One of them is to tell Google that your website exists and is the place where you provide the site map too (see site map above for details). Within search console you can request the Google bots to crawl your site. Great for when it is new or content has changed. Otherwise Google will do this automatically about once a month. Search console gives you data on how you are doing in the Google Search, What terms you are being found for, what number you are in the search and more. It is also the system that Google uses to give you feedback. This is important. If Google thinks there is a problem with your website Google Search Console will send you an email about it. Just make sure you then do something about it once they’ve sent you the email.

Website speed

Google measures your website speed as one of it’s core metrics. If lots of other areas of your SEO are great, but your page is slow, Google will supress you down the rankings. The first thing to do is test your websites speed using a speed test website such as GT Metrix. GT Metrix is great as it gives you an exam grade like score. A or B are brilliant. C or D and it’s time to make some improvements and E and below need some serious work. For photographers, having images that are too large on your website is often something that will slow your site down. No image needs to be larger than 2000 pixels on the longest length, and most of the time I would aim more for 1200 ,or even less for smaller images. Introducing something called caching also speeds up your website. Caching means a ready made version of your website is stored for quick easy access for the next visitor. If you have a WordPress website there are apps such as Litespeed that will make use of caching. Just be careful, there are lots of settings and some of them can break your website.

How good is your website?

There is no point putting all this effort into SEO if your website it not very good. SEO aims to deliver visitors to your website. Putting in the effort should help to increase those visitor numbers (although don’t expect results overnight). But, if the website they arrive at is not very good then your SEO work is wasted as your conversion rate will be really low. By conversion rate I mean the conversion of website visitors into leads for your business. Good SEO won’t improve the conversion rate of your website, it will just (if done well) increase visitor numbers. If you want more leads then working on your website to improve the conversion rate is a good idea. That maximises the effort you are putting into SEO. How to improve the conversion rate of your website is a series of blogs in itself. But some basic ideas are:
Ensure your website looks professional
Ensure there are no broken links or other errors on your website
Ensure your website makes good use of Call to actions (link to CTA podcast)
Ensure your website is talking to the visitor about their problems and how you can help. Not about you and what you can offer.
Finally

If you are wondering where to start fixing the speed of your website and connecting it up to Search Console are two great places to start. From there work on one or two areas at a time. Within a few weeks you should start to see some improvements. Remember to keep monitoring site data for changes in visitor numbers and behavior. The data doesn’t lie.