Your SEO Checklist
We’re pleased to present this guest article from Zach Prez, author of SEO Cookbook for Photographers. Get practical, easy-to-implement tips from Zach on how to make every blog post count and be sure to take advantage of a special offer at the end of this post.
Five Minutes to an SEO’d Blog Post
A good, SEO-optimized photography blog post has a few key features that you want to pay attention to.
Call To Action
It seems like a lot, but once you get into the habit of paying attention to and optimizing each of these areas it won’t seem like any extra work at all.
Let’s get started on working some SEO magic on your next blog post.
Blog Post Title
This part of the post tells a reader (and Google) what a blog post is about. You want it to be descriptive of what the blog post contains while also helping Google figure out where to place it in search query results. Something like “Los Angeles St. Augustine Church Wedding” is a good example, because it lets the reader know what the post will be about as well as helps Google figure out that when people search for “Los Angeles St. Augustine Church Wedding” it needs to put your blog post in the search results.
Permalinks are the text that make up a link to a page on your website. By default, WordPress will set your permalink to something random and nondescript likeyoursite.com/p=1
. ‘p=1’ tells you nothing about what that page or blog post is about. However, something like ‘yoursite.com/modern-los-angeles-st-augustine-church-wedding ‘ is much more descriptive – to both users and to Google.
If you haven’t already, in the back end of your WordPress site go to Settings > Permalinks, and choose the option that allows you to use keywords. Then, every time you create a new blog post make sure you customize the permalink so it’s descriptive of what’s located on that particular post. To make it really easy, just make sure you have a great blog post title and use the same text for the permalink.
As photographers, it’s probably pretty common that most of your blog posts have a lot of images in them that show off your work. Not only that, but images are a big indicator of a webpage’s topic, so they carry extra weight with Google. So every time you upload and insert an image into a blog post, you want to make sure that image is doing double duty and not just displaying your lovely work, but also packing a powerful SEO punch.
Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when uploading images to your blog:
How you name the image files you upload to your website is a big part of the SEO picture. When you add a photo to a website, your website turns that file name into a URL – a URL that Google uses to determine what the image is all about.
So if you’re uploading file names using your default camera file naming system (like DS0123) for example, you’re actually hurting your website and your blog posts because that file name doesn’t tell Google anything about what that image is.
Instead, give your file names a more descriptive name, something like los-angeles-st-augustine-church-wedding-ceremony.jpg That way, when it’s uploaded to your website, its default image URL will be something like www.yourwebsite.com/images/los-angeles-st-augustine-church-wedding-ceremony.jpg
This will give Google a much better idea of what the image is so that when people search for “Los Angeles St. Augustine Wedding Ceremony” they’re more likely to see your image returned in the search results.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for quality file names:
1. Use 3-5 keywords separated by hyphens
2. Accurately describe the image
3. Do not repeat a similar filename for multiple images
Alternate text, or Alt Text, describes an image in the page code so Google can understand the photo and what’s in it. In other words, Google ‘sees’ the photo through the alternate text, which means it’s pretty important.
You’ll want to add alt text to an image that’s descriptive of what’s happening in an image, such as “Bride walking down the aisle in a church.” That gives Google a pretty clear idea of what’s in the picture so it can return that image in search results for the appropriate query.
Here are some tips for well-written alt text:
1. 5-10 words
2. A good description and visualization of what’s in the image
3. It should be unique for each photo on the page
4. The alt text statement should be concise, without hyphens or special punctuation
As a photographer, you want your images to have a large enough file size and pixel dimensions so that when you print them, they look great. So it stands to reason that you want to upload those same high res images to your blog because they’ll look the best, right?
Actually, that’s incorrect.
Since no one is actually going to be printing images from your blog post, there’s no point in uploading that large of a file size. (Plus most WordPress sites limit the largest file size you can upload.) Not only that, but larger file sizes equal longer page load times – which actually hurts your SEO.
So when preparing images for blog posts, you want to cut down the file size quite a bit so the final file size is at most a few hundred kilobytes. Ideally though, you’ll want it around a hundred or less. The decrease in file size will also be hardly noticeable on your blog post. If you don’t believe us, just try it: try uploading a large-sized image to a blog post with a smaller image size of the same image right below it. The difference will be negligible.
We already mentioned the idea that Google uses text to see and understand what’s going on in any particular page or blog post on your website. As such, it’s important to have at least a little bit of text on each of your blog posts. Ideally, 300 words or more. Not only is this helpful for Google, but it’s also more engaging for your readers. If you tell stories about the images and talk with your voice, it’s going to help readers of your blog get to know you better and feel more comfortable with you. The more that happens, the better chances they have of booking you.
If you can’t think of things to write about, try telling stories about something that happened on that day, or just describing everything that went on during the day; do your best to paint a picture for the reader of what it was like to be there at that moment. If you worked with a particular vendor, link to their websites too and give them credit for anything they contributed.
Call To Action
A call to action is text or a button that’s meant to prompt a user to do something that leads them toward connecting with you. It could be different on each blog post depending on what you want them to do.
Some actions you may want them to take are:
To call you or email you
To book a session with you
To register with you
Or to subscribe to a newsletter of some sort
Check out another similar blog post
This isn’t a definitive list by any means, there may be other actions you want your site visitors to take. But in order to really harness the power of each blog post, you want to have something at the end that helps lead your readers into taking some action – ideally an action that’s going to bring them closer to booking with you. Otherwise, more than likely any reader will just navigate off of your website without allowing you to capture them as a potential lead.
More About SEO
This is a crash course on SEO-optimized blog posts for photographers, and is by no means complete; it’s only a small piece of the puzzle and will only get you some of the results good SEO really has to offer.
If you’d like more SEO help specialized for just photographers, I highly recommend picking up Photography Spark’s SEO Cookbook. Like I said, it’s built just for photographers, so it’s a really great way to get all of the SEO info you need without having to spend hours combing the web.
Plus, it’s on sale now for over 30% off (you save $35) with the code PHOTOGRAPHERCAFE.