We know SEO for photographers sounds complicated. But it’s not as intimidating as you might think.
SEO just means adjusting your photography website in different ways so you can rank higher on search engines like Google.
So, when people search something like “photography services,” your website pops up as one of the first results.
The more people who can find your business, the easier it is to get new business.
These eight SEO tips for photographers will help you optimize your website and get more visitors who want to hit your “Book Now” button:
1. Identify Strategic Photography Keywords
Keywords are terms that people use to search on search engines like Google. For example, some photography-specific keywords are:
- Commercial photography
- Business photographer Boston
- Corporate headshots
- Editorial photography
- Wedding photographer
Regularly incorporating relevant keywords into your content triggers Google into associating your business with them.
Let’s say you’re a portrait photographer. In that case, you’d want to be associated with keywords like “portrait photography,” and “portrait photographer.”
And more specific ones like “family portrait photographer” or “senior portrait photography,” depending on your areas of focus.
But it’s all about finding balance. Use keywords too sparingly and Google won’t make the connection. Use them too often? You’ll look spammy and set off red flags for the search engine.
And not all keywords are beneficial for your business. For example, if you only offer portrait photography, then you don’t need to try to stuff in a random keyword like “food photography.”
Keywords are crucial. But they need to fit in naturally in helpful content that answers people’s questions.
Here’s how to find relevant keywords for your business:
Do Keyword Research
List out terms you’d expect potential clients to use to find your photography business on Google.
Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Some keywords your customers might use are:
- Wedding photographer
- Wedding headshots
- Engagement photo shoot
Here’s what that looks like.
First, enter one of the keywords from the list you created into Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool. And hit “Search.”
Let’s use “wedding photographer.”
You’ll get a list of keywords related to the keyword you entered. For example:
- photographers near me
- Wedding photographers near me
- Wedding photographer
Take note of three columns:
- Intent: The motivation behind the search (i.e., what type of content users want to see when they search for a specific keyword)
- Volume: How many searches a keyword gets per month
- KD% (Keyword Difficulty): How difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword
As a photographer who’s new to SEO and wants more website visitors, focus on keywords that have:
- The right intent based on your goals: Informational for visibility, transactional or commercial for selling your services
- High search volume: Over 100 average monthly searches
- Low keyword difficulty: 0% to 49%
But remember, these are just guidelines. So, if you find a relevant low-difficulty keyword with traffic under 100 monthly searches, that’s OK to target. You just don’t want to only target low-volume keywords at the start.
Use the filters above the table of results to find keywords that hit the sweet spot of search intent, search volume, and keyword difficulty:
Once you have a list of filtered keywords, note all the keywords you think will suit your business. Consider these three solid examples:
- How much is a wedding photographer: This keyword gets a decent amount of traffic (1,900) but is not too difficult to rank for (19%).
- Chicago wedding photographers: This keyword is location-specific and has a commercial intent, meaning searchers are actively looking for a photographer to hire. The keyword also gets good traffic (1,600). Albeit, it’s a bit more difficult to rank for, at 49%.
- Wedding photographers near me: This keyword mentions location and has a transactional intent, meaning searchers are ready to hire someone.
Rinse and repeat this process for the other keywords in your original brainstorm list (e.g., wedding headshots, engagement photo shoot, etc.).
You can target as many keywords as you want. But for your first go, we recommend sticking between 10 and 50.
Organize Your Keywords Into Lists
Different keywords fit different types of content for SEO photography purposes.
For example, informational keywords usually make the most sense for blog posts that give readers more information. Whereas commercial and transactional keywords are best used in posts and landing pages that highlight services.
So, you could use a blog post to target the keyword “how much do wedding photographers cost.” But it’d be difficult—and ineffective—to target that keyword with a portfolio page or landing page.
Take your list of 10 to 50 keywords and start organizing them based on what type of content you want to create for those keywords.
Some content categories you can create are:
- Website: This category is for keywords that you’ll use across your entire website
- Informational blog post: This category is for keywords that you’ll target with blog articles that give searchers more information
- Landing page: This category is for keywords you’ll target with a dedicated landing page that highlights a specific service
- Commercial blog post: This category is for keywords you’ll target with a blog article that highlights your services and encourages searchers to hire you
Create a table that looks something like this:
best wedding photographers
How much is a wedding photographer
Informational blog post
Chicago wedding photographers
Photographers near me for wedding
Cheap wedding photographers
Commercial blog post
Now that you have your initial list of keywords and where they’re going, it’s time to start incorporating them into high-quality content.
2. Create High-Quality Content that Helps Readers
Quality content is well-researched, well-designed content that meets your audience’s needs.
Let’s say you wrote a blog post targeting “best film cameras.” Even if you optimized the piece for the keyword, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically “quality” content.
The piece should:
- Answer searchers’ questions
- Have a seamless flow and clear structure
- Break up chunks of text with rich media (e.g., images, videos, charts, etc.)
- Be full of value and actionable tips
This kind of helpful, relevant content tends to rank on search engines organically and builds brand credibility. Meaning you get more website traffic for free.
If you don’t meet these checkboxes, you’re less likely to rank and will lose credibility with searchers. Remember: reader first.
Here’s how to create quality, optimized content that users and search engines will love.
Use Topic Clusters to Create Relevant Posts and Enhance Your Site Structure
Topic clusters are groups of related pages on your site that help you establish your authority on specific subjects. In turn, you can boost your search engine rankings.
Topic clusters are split into pillar pages and cluster pages.
A pillar page (e.g., “landscape photography”) gives in-depth info on a broad topic. While the cluster pages (e.g., “panoramic landscape photography” or “landscape night photography”) cover subtopics that relate to each pillar.
These pages also link back to one another, which makes it easy for users and Google to navigate between your content. And to understand how everything fits together.
Determine ideas for pillars and clusters with Semrush’s Keyword Manager tool.
Head to the landing page and type in a word or phrase that relates to your business into the space provided.
Select the correct database, and hit “Create list.” For this example, let’s use the keyword “how much is a wedding photographer.”
The tool will give you topics related to your keyword so you can create topic clusters. Giving you a higher chance of ranking well.
The tool will also give you important pieces of information. Like keyword intent and monthly average search volume.
Choose one of the topics. And then click on the “Write content” button to the right of that keyword.
On the following screen, click “Send keywords” in the pop-up modal that appears.
Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
Once you nail your photography-related clusters, you can create and optimize content for search engines.
Our guide to on-page SEO offers quick tips to get you started:
- Include your main keyword in the page title (title tag). Keep titles 55-60 characters long and relevant to the content.
- Write engaging meta descriptions (the text below the SEO title in Google search results). Keep them within 160 characters and include your keyword.
- Use keyword-friendly headings and subheadings to break up content sections
- Create descriptive page URLs that describe the page content
- Add internal links from other pages to help search engines understand how pages relate to each other
- Add external links to your sources to provide extra value to users
In terms of adding keywords in the body of your content, there’s no “right” number. But you also don’t want to overdo it. If you start excessively keyword “stuffing,” your readers will notice–and so will Google. And it won’t surface this kind of spammy content.
Two to three natural mentions per keyword is a good ballpark to keep in mind.
Before publishing, paste your content into the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant to get quick tips on improving your text.
Or if you’re struggling to even start writing, no worries. Choose from one of 75 different content types, fill out a brief prompt, and the generative AI copywriter will create draft content that you can easily adjust.
The tool also show you:
- Which related keywords to include
- How to optimize images, tags, and links
- Whether your tone of voice is consistent and relevant to your audience
- Any parts of your text that contains plagiarism
It helps you optimize content for engagement and SEO so it has the best possible chance of achieving its goal.
Further reading: Keyword Density in SEO: Understanding Myths and Best Practices
Follow Google’s E-E-A-T Guidelines
Google evaluates how reader-friendly and valuable your photography site is with its E-E-A-T guidelines.
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
The acronym is part of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. Real people (known as Quality Raters) use this digital handbook to evaluate content that appears in search results.
This feedback helps Google determine the success of its algorithm updates, with a goal to show results that successfully demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Here’s how you show each letter of E-E-A-T in your own content:
- Experience: Share your first-hand knowledge on the subject matter (e.g., writing about your personal opinions on a specific camera brand)
- Expertise: Include your qualifications or credentials on the topic (e.g., including your college degree in a clear author bio)
- Authoritativeness: Build your reputation in the industry you’re discussing (e.g., getting your name out there and building your Authority Score)
- Trustworthiness: Highlight who wrote your content and how factually accurate it is (e.g., including source links to any facts or studies you mention)
3. Improve Your Technical SEO
Technical SEO is “behind-the-scenes” work that helps make your photography website more user-friendly and accessible to search engines.
Here are two easy tasks that you can apply to your website today:
Create an SEO-Friendly Site Structure
Site structure (also called website architecture) is the way pages link together on your site.
An SEO-friendly site organizes pages so Google’s site crawlers can easily find and index your content.
When you add a new page to your website, it should follow a simple, logical hierarchy. Meaning that every page is, at most, two clicks away from your homepage.
For example, Home > Services > Wedding and Engagement Photography
This makes it easy for Google bots to find the “Wedding and Engagement Photography” page and understand that it relates to the services you offer.
It can then display the correct page in search results.
Further reading: How to Build Your Website Architecture for SEO
Monitor Your Page Speed
Page speed is how quickly (or slowly) your website and individual pages take to load.
Slow page speed gives users a bad experience. Which makes them more likely to click away, or “bounce.”
Google also sees page speed as a ranking factor. So the slower your website, the less likely it is to rank for your target keywords.
Luckily, you can easily monitor your site speed with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
Enter your URL and hit “Analyze.”
After Google assesses your Core Web Vitals, it gives you a desktop and mobile performance score from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the better.
It also suggests ways to decrease website loading times and boost your overall score.
One key way to boost your site speed is to reduce image sizes. Large image files (anything over 3.5 megabytes) are one of the most common causes of slow pages.
According to The Essential Agency, all the images on fast-loading pages should take up less than 500KB. Your goal is to keep images as close to this as possible without compromising quality or user experience.
There are two ways to do this:
Image Source: Adobe
Both methods ensure your photos have the same impact without slowing performance.
Further reading: What is Page Speed & How to Improve It
4. Make Your Photography Website Mobile Friendly
When Google crawls your photography website, it uses mobile-first indexing. This means it looks at mobile versions of your pages to index and rank content.
So, your site and photographs must be compatible on mobile devices.
This should already be the case if you’re using a Content Management System (CMS), as web templates are set as mobile responsive. But it’s worth double checking.
Head over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool, enter your URL, and hit “Test URL.”
The report tells you if your page is usable on mobile. If not, it flags issues that affect mobile usability.
If you use Google Search Console, you can monitor performance under the “Mobile Usability” report.
Your photos should also be fully responsive. Meaning they’ll look just as great on small screens as they do on large ones while still loading quickly.
Most website builders have built-in tools that can match your image’s pixels to your visitors’ devices to create fully responsive images (e.g., Wix’s Pro Gallery).
Image Source: Wix
5. Optimize Your Photos for Google Images
Some companies might skip image SEO for the sake of time. But SEO for photographers has to include this key step.
Google knows that when someone searches for photography-related keywords, there’s a good chance they want to see photos. Not just links.
So, it shows pictures first to meet search intent.
Take a look at the results for “vintage wedding photography”:
These first results are also connected to web pages. If your pictures aren’t appropriately optimized for search engines like Google, you’ll get buried amid the competition.
Here are our top SEO tips for photographers to land those top, traffic-driving spots for your pictures:
Add Alt Text to Your Images
Alternative text, or alt text, is a written description of a picture. It tells Google what the picture includes so it can understand its context and determine how to rank and index it.
So, the right alt text helps prospective clients easily find your pictures.
Including clear, accurate alt text also improves your website’s accessibility. As noted in our 2023 study, boosting accessibility led toan average 12% traffic increase across 800 surveyed companies.
If you host your site on a CMS, you can add alt text to a picture when you upload it to your photo library. This automatically turns it into HTML code that’s crawled by search engines.
If you don’t use a CMS, you can simply add alt text to your HTML code.
Here’s what an alt attribute within the <img> tag looks like:
<img src=“portrait.jpg” alt=“portrait of a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes sitting on a wooden chair looking out of a window”>
Follow these alt text best practices each time you upload a photo to your website:
- Clearly describe the image (but there’s no need to use the words “picture” or “image”)
- Keep descriptions under 125 characters, as this is the cut-off for most screen readers
- Avoid single-word alt text
- Include one relevant target keyword
Let’s look at this example from Shutterstock:
Image Source: Shutterstock
The alt text Shutterstock recommends for this image is: “high-fashion portrait of an elegant woman in a black and white hat and dress. Studio shot”
If you were a fashion photographer specializing in studio portraits, this description hits a couple of important keyword terms:
- “High fashion portrait”
- “Studio shot”
It also accurately describes the scene and is under 125 characters. If the alt text said “Woman in a dress,” it wouldn’t paint the same picture in the mind.
And Google would lump it in with millions of other generic images, rather than a high-fashion studio shot.
Use Descriptive File Names
Google also recommends adding descriptive file names to your pictures so it can get a clearer idea of what the image shows.
Take this image from Pexels:
Image Source: Pexels
Normally, this picture would have a numbered, auto-generated file name from a computer or camera, like:
But this doesn’t tell Google what the image includes. A better file name for this picture would be:
Like writing alt text, make your file name clear and concise. But you can keep it much shorter than 150 characters.
Position Photos Thoughtfully
Your photos should complement the words next to them. Google recommends placing photos by relevant text and the most important image on the page. Ideally, close to the top.
This strategic placement allows Google’s search bots to better connect the dots between visual and written content. And readers instantly get an idea of what the piece is about.
Take this article by NY wedding photographer Susan Shek on “101 Engagement Photo Ideas From Real Couples:”
Image Source: Susan Shek
A relevant image of an engaged couple kissing is right under the title. This text and image positioning signals search bots to include this specific picture in search results snippets.
6. Invest Time Into Local SEO
Nearly 33% of mobile searches are location-specific. Like “wedding photographer near me” or “family portraits Boston.”
Enter local SEO. This type of SEO makes it more likely that searchers in your area will find your photography services.
The end goal is to end up on Google’s local pack. The local pack features a Google Map alongside a list of local businesses related to the search term.
Google bases these top listings on:
- Relevance to the search query
- Distance between the user and business
- The prominence of a business against its competitors
Get started with these easy tips from our guide to local SEO:
- Use location-specific keywords in your content
- Claim your free Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)
- Add your name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations to local directories
- Ask customers to review your business on Google
When people hear “SEO,” they usually just think of Google. But social media platforms also act as search engines that can turn visitors into customers.
Nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials use social media to research new products and businesses. And yours could be the next they find.
And use these three social media SEO tips to improve the visibility of your photography business across these platforms:
Use Relevant Keywords in Your Profile Info and Posts
According to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, Instagram looks at four elements to understand a profile when indexing it:
- Your handle
- Your profile name
- Your bio
- Your captions
Each of these are prime spots for including relevant keywords. Do the same thing on TikTok and Pinterest.
On Instagram, when you type in “interior photographer,” all of the top-ranking accounts have those keywords (or similar) in their handles, profiles names, or bios.
Also, include a few hashtags in your posts that align with the context of your message. These will help algorithms to better understand the type of content you’re sharing. And you can get more relevant viewers.
Connect with Your Audience
Getting viewers to engage with your content increases the chances that they’ll see your content going forward.
Because some social algorithms, like those on Instagram, look at user interactions (i.e., likes, shares, comments, and posts) to determine what shows up in people’s feeds. TikTok also confirmed that user interactions contribute to which content lands on the For You page.
Focus on creating unique, relevant content that shows off your unique skills. For example, this astro photographer’s TikTok recording of the Orion Nebula got 4 million likes:
Image Source: rajs_astrophography
And make sure you like and respond to comments on your content. Building a sense of community keeps users coming back for more.
8. Track Your Photography SEO Performance in Google Analytics
SEO isn’t a set-and-forget practice. Google changes its ranking system often, so the SERPs change too. That’s why you need to stay on top of your performance to continue to gain visibility and traffic.
Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool that helps you understand how your website is performing. In Analytics, you can find out:
- How many visitors your pages get
- Where visitors come from
- Which keywords visitors use to find your site
- How visitors navigate your site
- What visitors do on pages
- How long visitors spend on pages
You can use these metrics to see where users are encountering friction or where there’s room for improvement. Then, you can make adjustments to improve your SEO strategy and create a better user experience.
Let’s say your GA reports show that people are finding your website by searching for “New York fashion photographer.” You would then work that keyword and variations of it into your landing pages to drive more traffic.
On the other hand, let’s say you see page views have dropped on one of your top landing pages. Start by analyzing where it’s ranking in the SERPs. If the ranking has dropped too, you may need to refresh the page with updated information. Or reoptimize for a new target keyword.
Check out our guides to help you get started with GA:
Bonus Tip: Invest in Online Ads
Paid advertising and SEO strategies should go hand in hand. Together, they can strengthen your online presence and help you achieve long-term digital marketing goals.
For example, Tte “Sponsored” content results at the top of SERPs are paid Google Ads:
While paid advertising is not an SEO tactic, investing in paid online advertising can indirectly support your SEO efforts in several ways:
- Paid ads can increase your web traffic and visibility, signaling to search engines that your site is relevant and valuable to users
- Consistent advertising boosts brand recognition, which can lead to higher click-through rates (CTRs) on SERPs
- Testing keywords in online campaigns can help you discover which are most effective at driving targeted traffic to your site
- Eye-catching ad campaigns may lead to increased backlinks and social shares, boosting your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines
Further reading: Online Advertising: All You Need to Know (2023 Updated)
Semrush Can Help with SEO for Photographers
SEO for photography websites is a continuous process. But the end goal stays the same: to improve the ranking of your web pages.
Keep your rankings (and traffic) climbing with Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker. You’ll get a comprehensive review of your performance. And a list of SEO tasks to help strengthen any weak areas.