By TJ McDowell
Chances are good that as a photographer, you’ve got a blog that you use to promote your studio, but if you’re not tapping into the power of Search Engine Optimization to bring in more blog readers, you’re missing out on the opportunity to show your work to a lot of potential clients. If your main website is an SEO-killing Flash website, having blog content show up in search results means that you’ll still get your studio name in front of searchers who are looking for photographers. Even if your main website shows up in search results without help from your blog, you can still use your blog to target hundreds of additional search terms that you wouldn’t be able to effectively target on your main site.
Keywords In Post Title And Page Name
Knowing which keywords to target can seem like a guessing game at times, and in some ways it is. If you follow one guideline though, you’ll start to see good results over time. What you want to do is to choose a keyword phrase that includes location-specific words. The location you choose for your keywords could be as general as a city, or it could be as specific as the name of a park. It’s completely up to you. Some keywords get more traffic than others, and you can use the Keyword Tool in Google AdWords to get a general feel for how much traffic a term gets. With some of the smaller locations, like a church or reception venue, the terms won’t get enough traffic to even register with Google. You’d be surprised how quickly the low-volume searches can add up, though, so don’t think of low-volume search terms as irrelevant. Once you have your keywords picked out, include them in your post title. I have my Wordpress blog set up to generate my page name from my post title, so I don't have to worry about changing my page name manually. If your blogging platform doesn't use the right page name automatically, you'll have to set your page name yourself to include your keywords.
If you’re going to be targeting search terms with lower volume, you’ll need to post more frequently to bring in the kind of traffic that brings regular bookings. Posting frequently with easy-to-rank keywords is a great way to get in front of searchers even in a crowded market. If they’re even considering SEO, most of your competitors will be going after the high competition keywords because that’s where they think all the traffic is. They’re skipping out on the low-hanging fruit because they may not even realize people are including very specific locations in their searches. The more you post on specific locations, the more you bring in traffic that no one else had even thought about targeting.
Aside from increasing the number of posts a user visits and the average time spent on your site, interlinking posts can also do wonders for improving the ranking of your blog posts in Google. Adding a link from one post to another can be a little tricky at first—at least if you’re doing it correctly. After a while, it becomes almost second nature though, so stick with it. The key when linking to a post is to fit the link in naturally with the rest of your content. As you get better, you’ll be able to include the link in the middle of a sentence, so the fact that there’s a link in the sentence won’t make the sentence seem awkward. The other trick is to have your keywords included in the link text. So for example, if you’re writing a post on how to prepare for a session, and you’re linking to a previous post on clothing choice, your link text may be “how to choose outfits.”
Link Building For Posts
To get each of your posts to rank higher in search results, you need links built to each specific post, not just links to the main blog url. The links to the individual blog posts are called deep links, and they’re usually hard to get. Don’t worry though, I’ve got a solution for you. There’s a Wordpress plugin called CommentLuv that links out to blog posts for people who leave a comment using the plugin. You don’t have to install the plugin on your blog. You just have to know which blogs have CommentLuv installed, and leave comments on those blogs. I’ve got the plugin on my blog at www.larissaphotography.com/blog, so that would be a good place to start. Feel free to introduce yourself on any of my posts so you can get a feel for how the CommentLuv plugin works. A word of warning though, most other sites with CommentLuv will expect you to leave relevant comments that you’ve put some thought into. Comments like “nice post” are rarely approved by the blog owner. Also visit www.ishootshows.com and erickimphotography.com/blog, which are other photography blogs with the CommentLuv plugin installed.
What To Expect
Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics installed on your blog so you can start tracking blog visits. How quickly you start to see results with your SEO depends on how much authority your blog already has as well as the competitiveness of the keywords you choose to target. On my blog, I can usually get a lower competition keyword to show up in Google within about a day. When I started out, it took weeks to show up in results because I didn’t have a lot of blog authority. After you’ve invested enough time into SEO for your blog, you should find that you have to do less work with each post to get good results.
TJ McDowell runs a photography studio in St. Louis with his wife Larissa, and he’s the owner of a blog for photographers at www.larissaphotography.com/blog.