Creating an Effective Photography Website, Part 5: Paid Search Listings

Have you ever wondered how Google makes its billions and pretty much rules the internet? Well, there’s another way to get visitors to your site aside from doing all the hard work we’ve previous highlighted with on-page SEO, local SEO and link building but it’s going to cost you. Google gets most of its revenue by selling sponsored search engine listings to the highest bidder. It’s a win-win situation. Your photography website gets an influx of targeted traffic and Google makes a ton of money.

Google Adwords

effective photography websites - paid google adsLook closely at Google’s search results and you’ll see two sections (one at the top and one in the right sidebar) that are devoted to “Ads.” Google sells these search listings to the highest bidder through their system called Google Adwords.

The system gives you the ability to create ads that show up only for the search terms you choose and allow for a great deal of customization. You set up an account, select a daily budget you’re willing to spend on ads, create ads people will want to click on and choose your photography keywords and bids for those keywords. It’s obviously a little trickier than that and requires a vigilant eye and bid tweaking but it’s a simple concept. You can also filter whether your ads show up by city (to make sure you aren’t showing up in Seattle searches if you’re located in Chicago) and by time of day.

For example, let’s say I’m a professional photographer in Chicago, IL. Here are the advertising rates I would conservatively expect to see in such a competitive market for a few of the top photography keywords:

Effective Photography Websites - Google Adwords

Notice anytime somebody clicks on my ad, I’ll be charged around $2 (I used an $80/day budget as a random example). You are only charged when somebody clicks on your ad and the more you bid, the higher up on the page your ad will show up. From there, you’ll need to track whether those 40 visitors produce more than $80 in sales for your photography business to make the ads worth the expense (more on this later).

Bing/Yahoo (Yahoo has used Bing’s results/ad platform since July 2010) provide similar services but have a much smaller share of the search engine market.

Facebook Advertising

Aside from paying the search engines for top listings, you can jump into Facebook ads and get your message in front of its half-billion users. Obviously, you’re not going to want to target all of them but Facebook’s ad system is pretty robust, and since Facebook has access to its members’ personal data, the ads can be setup to only show up for the people most likely to use your services.

Sign in to Facebook and go to the Facebook Ads page. Once you’re there you can create ads based on specific filters like location and the likes and interests of the people you’d like the ads to show for. Here are a few examples for the photography industry:

Filter Ads by Location (Chicago):

Effective Photography Website - Facebook Advertising


Filter By Location (Chicago) and Interest (Photography):

Effective Photography Website - Facebook Advertising


Filter by Location (Chicago), Interests (Photography, Photographer, Graduating) and age (17-22):

Effective Photography Website - Facebook Advertising

This is great for photo studios specializing in senior portraits! You can do the same for Weddings and Baby Photos. And remember, as with Adwords your ad copy should entice people to click on it and you only pay for ads that are clicked on.

Track Your Ads!

The key to any paid advertising campaign is to make sure you keep a vigilant eye on the traffic statistics. If you’re paying $400 a week for people to come to your site but they only average 10 seconds per visit, you’ll need to make changes to how the money is spent. Like all other advertising for your photography studio, it’s all about maximizing your ROI. We recommend using Google Analytics for this. It’s free and relatively easy to install on your site.

This series was submitted by Kyle Claypool. He will be representing the United States as the US Technical Expert at the upcoming Website Design WorldSkills competition in London. Kyle helps with our professional photography lab’s website.

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