Day 27: Really Understanding SEO

Welcome to day 27 in my 100 posts in 100 days! I’m so excited you’re here because today were talking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)!

Did I ever tell you that I worked for a hosting company for nine years? It’s true, I did. In that time, I had a very frequent conversation with new website owners. They would call in and ask me why their site wasn’t up. I would go to their site and see it was up and after a few minutes of troubleshooting, I would realize they were looking for their site on Google. I then had to explain to them that their site, being only a few hours old, would need some time to rank with Google and even then it likely wouldn’t be on the front page. This was usually outrageous to them and I had to go on to ask exactly what they were searching for in Google to find themselves. They would say something like “Arizona Wedding Photography.” Great search phrase… that’s a good phrase to want to rank for. The downside is, when I search that exact term on Google, over THIRTY TWO MILLION results come up. 32,000,000. And everyone is competing for the top seven or so spots.

If that scares you, that’s totally fine. It only makes that top spot more valuable for the people who can climb to it, and I will tell you, it takes time and effort. Just like anything else.

Now the first 2-4 spots are ads. So, you can just pay Google to show you up there. About 30% of the clicks will go to those ads. The other 70% go to the “organic” or unpaid results. You can probably see huge sites that are nearly impossible to beat out are next. Wedding Wire, The Knot, Junebug Weddings, Yelp. So, logically, it would be a good idea to create a profile for those sites. That way, when someone clicks on them, you’ll be included among the listed photographers.

understanding seo for photographers denise karis photography blog

So, what exactly do you have to do to earn a top rank on Google?  The way you can make SEO as simple as possible is if you think about it as building a relationship with Google. You need to let Google know you’re there, you’re consistently posting good and valued content on your specific niche, and that you’re there for the long haul. There are several ways you can do this and you should do them all. We’ve all heard of keywords and meta tags… those are things everyone does. So it’s hard to ride that wave alone to the front page. So, we’re gonna do a list… because I love lists.

  1. Register your domain out ten years. This was a rumor at the company I worked for, but it was such a popular rumor that we believe it does have merit. Plus, it’s cheap and easy to do. In some SEO circles, it is believed that the age of your domain and how long it’s registered for has an effect on your SEO and that makes complete sense. If Google looks at your domain name registration and sees it’s been registered since 2005 and expires in 2025, that looks a lot better than a domain that was registered in November and expires this November. Register your domain out 5-10 years to let Google know you’re around to stay!
  2. Get on HTTPS. For a long time it was also a rumor that Google would rank you lower if your site didn’t have an SSL Certificate, and now that rumor has been confirmed. This July, Google started making a huge push for people to get an SSL Certificate. So much so, that now if your site doesn’t have one, there is likely a warning at the top of your site saying “This site isn’t secure” which can absolutely scare visitors away. Now, all an SSL does is encrypt information sent through your site. So if you’re asking someone for their names, email and wedding date, that information is sent through either an encrypted or unencrypted connection to your email. It used to not be as important, but the internet is changing and this is super important now! Pro Tip, if you’re a Showiteer like me, you can contact them to have an SSL added. It’s likely included with your plan!
  3. Get a Google My Business account and use it! Capture reviews from past clients, (84% of online customers trust user reviews!) update your photos and profile information, post content and links and GIVE reviews! Google likes that too! Basically, you’re becoming besties with Google… you’re showing up to Google’s birthday, you’re texting Google when she has a bad day, you get it. You+Google=BFFs.
  4. Make sure your site is mobile friendly. This one is one I dragged my feet on until I started getting actual clients texting me saying “I can’t view anything on your mobile site.” Then I checked and it was a mess! More and more people are going to sites on their cell or iPad and it’s just something that needs to be done now. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to do with your website provider!
  5. More and more I’m hearing to get Google Search console which is another free tool. It’s search analytics that shows which of your pages are getting the most traffic and click-through rates. This isn’t one I’ve used but I plan to in the very near future. If you’d be interested in a full post on using this tool later in my 100 days, let me know in the comments!
  6. Backlinks. This is where the real work comes in. If another website that has an authority on your search phrase and they link to you, that will massively strengthen your SEO. Contact some of these sites and see if you can write something for their blog if they will link back to your site. Make sure this is something that adds value to THEIR readers. Also, make sure you’ve followed that site on Instagram or Facebook, have commented on their past posts, and have SOME kind of relationship with them before asking for something like this. They are more likely to collaborate with a long time follower rather than a stranger that came out of nowhere!
  7. Use Schema.Org to gather reviews. Schema.org is an HTML code that gets placed on your website through the HTML code and as Google reads that information, your site will display those stars below your site listing on Google.
  8. Optimize your keywords and meta descriptions. This one should be number one because it’s the first thing everyone does, but it’s also so baseline it’s almost not worth mentioning. Like saying “in order to have a good day start with brushing your teeth in the morning.” Well, yes, that’s assumed that everyone does it. So, if you have not, get on that right quick! Along with that, add alt tags to your images. Alt tags will be what Google picks up in their image searches and what shows up if someone PINS your image from your blog. Alt tags on images go a long way for photographers.

Whew. How are you feeling? That was a lot of info and kind of a heavy post! Hopefully you learned something, let me know in the comments which one you’re excited to try first and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 28: Finding More Hours in a Day!

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!  If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is an Arizona wedding photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

Really Understanding SEO for photographers Denise Karis Photography Blog

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