Creating an Effective Photography Website, Part 4: Local Search Engine Optimization

local seo for photographersAfter four weeks of our broad tips on creating effective websites for photographers, you now have a clearer idea on how to design a website with conversions in mind, optimize that site for the search engines through keyword usage, as well as optimizing the site through backlinks. If you master those three tactics, chances are you’ll have a successful website. There are so many more ways to gain an audience though (and even if you’re not doing these, your competitors probably are), so let’s begin to focus on the more important (though time-consuming) ways of getting useful traffic to your website. First Up: Local SEO.

Keywords and Links

Whenever you’re talking about SEO, keywords and links are going to be at the front and center of the conversation. Simply follow the guidelines from the second post in our series, placing a strong emphasis on the city you are located, as well as the surrounding area. In other words, try to work “*City* *Keyword*” into the content of your site (especially in page titles). Take the following examples:

  • Milwaukee Photographers
  • Dallas Wedding Photographer
  • San Diego Senior Portraits

Take into account regional preferences and trends as well. Certain terms may be used in Atlanta, GA to describe your business that wouldn’t be used elsewhere in the country. Google Insights is a great place to research search data by region.

For backlinks, all the same rules apply as in the third post in our series; you’ll just want to be sure to spend extra time building relationships within your local community. Your focus here should especially be gaining links from local websites that are related to your business. Links from suppliers, partners, associations and everything else related to photography with trusted websites will boost your authority from the search engine’s perspective. Links from your Chamber of Commerce, local schools and charities are great too.

Local “Directories”

Directory sites have long been key to search engine visibility, factoring into the Google Map listings at the top of local searches that you have surely noticed. Recently though, Google has moved towards “blending” these results into normal search listings, causing the entire first page to be based on a mixture of on-site SEO and these more localized tactics:

  • Optimized Google “Places” Pages – Google’s “Places” pages are essentially Google’s version of the Yellow Pages. It’s an online phonebook of every business they can find any data on. Ranking factors from these pages have recently been integrated into Google’s normal local search rankings, making optimized content (and consumer reviews) here more important than ever before. You can claim your “Places” account by searching for your business through Google Maps and clicking on “Place Page” when you find your listing. Yahoo and Bing also have directory listings, though they’re a lower priority since Google has a massive 65% share of the US search engine market.
  • Optimized Directory Pages – Sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle, InsiderPages, City Search, Manta, etc. First, make sure your contact information is exactly the same on every directory site. Google uses local “citations” such as phone number and street address to match listings across multiple sites to the same business. The only catch is to make sure each listing has unique content, and that you do not copy content from your website. Slight variations of the same thing are OK from directory to directory, but the content should be unique.
  • Consumer Reviews – All of the sites mentioned above are great places for consumers to learn about products and see reviews from their peers. If Google notices there are a lot of (positive) reviews for your business throughout the internet, they’re going to assume you have a higher standing in the community, and improve your rankings accordingly.

You Can Also Let Google Do Some of the Work for You (For Free)

It’s in Google’s best interest that their “Places” section looks professional, so they’re literally going out of their way to help your business present itself in the best light possible. Google will send their photographers to your business for a “Places” photo shoot. For FREE. No hassles necessary, they pop in, take the types of pictures they know will entice the consumer and then get them up on your page. As professional photographers, you have the skills to diminish the importance of this service but it’s hard to ignore something so convenient and free.

Be sure to subscribe to the photo lab’s blog so you don’t miss the rest of the series. You can get updates by RSS or receive each post by email. Stay tuned next week, we’ll continue our ongoing series by discussing how to utilize paid search listings for your website.

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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