March 13, 2016 / SEO for Photographers
Wedding Photography SEO Part 2 | Creating Better Content in 10 Steps
Wedding Photography SEO Part 2 | Creating Better Content in 10 Steps
In part one of my wedding photography SEO series I talked about how to better setup your website’s back end. While setting up your website is important, the real payoff comes from creating content. Interesting, beautiful, inspiring and useful content. Many people asked me for more Squarespace tips after the last post, well you’re in luck because these steps are going to work on any web platform.
You might be asking yourself, I’m a photographer.. what content can I create in addition to my imagery? Hopefully this helps answer that question and gets you thinking about your blog in a new way.
Since the beginning of SEO, backlinks have been king. A backlink is a link from another site to your website. Google has made vast efforts to improve on the content they deliver in their search results since the early days. One used to be able to easily conquer the system simply by getting more links than their competition, or by having the anchor text (text that is linking to your website) optimized. But recent changes to their algorithm have made it much tougher to trick your way into their results.
Google now pays closer attention to how long people spend on your site, how many pages they click on, if they instantly bounce or stay, what your page links to and from where you’re receiving links. This is all interesting to people in the SEO industry and intimidating for those of us who are not, but we can simplify.
Google only wants to see that you’re creating content that viewers are engaging with. What matters most is that people like what you’re sharing and interacting with it. Think social media shares, reposts and linking to your site.
What types of content should we be creating?
First I think about who I’m targeting, which for me are brides & photographers. I then try to think about topics that would be helpful and interesting to this target audience.
If I’m targeting brides, my first thought is wedding venues. What wedding venues exist in my local market or in places I’d like to shoot. If I’ve already shot there it becomes as easy as blogging that wedding and targeting the wedding venue as the keyword. If I haven’t shot there, I could take the effort to do a stylized shoot or I could just go take a photograph of the space. If that’s the case a list of local venues is a great way to do a round up of many locations, offering great information to a bride planning a wedding. This is something that is often not targeted by other local photographers yet is easy traffic from people that are likely planning their wedding and might not yet have a photographer booked. Plus, the wedding venues featured and local wedding planners will share the link on social media and possibly their blogs.
More example ideas: lists of local wedding dress designers or boutiques, local florists + cake companies, tips for planning their wedding day, or timeline suggestions. As a photographer, you’ve been to so many wedding days and you have a wealth of knowledge to tap into. If you think from a brides perspective, they want the day to be as amazing as possible, but they’re typically starting out the planning process with very little knowledge of the wedding industry. Any time you can bring your expertise into a situation like this, you’ll get results online.
Brainstorm Article Ideas
I have a notebook & a google doc page that is dedicated to blog post ideas. Find a time and place that allows you to clear your head and just brainstorm. I love to do this on airplanes, where nothing else can distract me. If I’m not flying, I try to leave my phone at home and go to a coffee shop with nothing but a notebook and a pen. Quantity over quality here, I have hundreds of article ideas written down and have only written a handful in the past year.
Research the Topic
I begin researching the topic as in depth as possible. Even if I consider myself an expert, I want to make sure that what I’m putting out into the world is relevant and true. This might not be as necessary if you’re writing more of an editorial piece. This is a great time to start finding a few great sources to link to in your article, this is good for both the reader and from Google’s perspective. It’s also when you should be reaching out to any relevant experts or fellow vendors that you want to work with on the article.
Begin Writing and Take Photos
Put in the work. The more information you get into the article, the better it will do on social media and with google. BuzzSumo looked at the top 10% of most shared articles and found that long-form articles over 3000 words did much better than the typical sub-1000 word article.
This is where your research, knowledge, and effort will pay off. Give people something to dig into and they’ll reward you with shares and links. Don’t forget to organize the information into key points and use heading (h1, h2, etc) tags. For more info on writing better articles, read this.
Once I have the article finished, or close to finished, I begin researching the possible keywords that I’m going to target. Different wording of the same phrase or on the same topic can have wildly different results. The goal here is to find a keyword that has good search traffic, but low competition. Google has a free tool called the Keyword Planner, it’s generally where I start.
I’ll put in a keyword and it shows it, along with similar keyword for comparison. You can easily dive into individual keywords, like in the photos below. Here is a link that goes in depth into using the Google Keyword tool.
As you can see above, the keyword “Portland wedding photographer” has 210 average monthly searches and low competition, while “Portland wedding venues” has 260 monthly searches and medium competition. A quick note, the competition listed in this tool is Adwords competition and not SEO competition. Adwords competition relates to how many people are paying for that keyword, while SEO competition is how hard it will be to rank highly for the keyword in the organic search results.
I want to see which is harder to rank organically, so I use a free tool called KWFinder. This tool is telling me that I can achieve over twice as much traffic if I ranked for “Portland wedding venues” than if I rank for “Portland wedding photographer”, plus it is a much easier keyword to rank highly for. Or to put it another way, more people are fighting for less traffic on the “Portland wedding photographer” keyword. Since brides generally are going to search for both.. why not target the keyword “venue” and get much more traffic.
There are also tools if you’re still looking for keyword ideas, like the amazingly named Keyword Shitter. It will spit out related keyword ideas that you can then research.. very helpful if you’ve already used the easiest keyword and are looking for other options. Keep in mind, you should only target a keyword once on your entire website. One blog post or page should be dedicated to a certain keyword so you aren’t fighting yourself for search results. In the past, I’ve seen many people target “their city wedding photographer” on every post. If you’ve done that, go back and start changing titles and then follow the instructions to make your Yoast plugin give you the green light.
For more info on Keyword Research, check out this article from Moz.
Optimize Post for Keyword
Here is where you concentrate on making the Yoast plugin give you a green light, without coming off as insincere. I’d trade a well written and interesting post for meeting one of its goals every time. Don’t pressure yourself too hard, but try to use it as a guide to best practices. Here are example images from this post.
Proof your article to put yourself in the place of the reader and imagine you’re seeing the content for the first time. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Is it interesting and share worthy? Another tip is to let it sit overnight and look at it with fresh eyes the next day.
After you’ve proofed it a few times, send it to a friend or two and get their impressions.
Push to Social Media
It’s time to go live. Push your new post out on social media. I prefer to post early in the morning on a Monday or Tuesday for best traffic. I get the most traffic (by a large margin) by posting direct links on Facebook, but I might follow up with a photo post that has the link in the description later in the day or on the following day. Posting a photo to Instagram and calling attention to the link in your profile is also an effective way to get traffic. I’ll also post to twitter, tumblr, and google plus. A great tool for automating the posting across multiple forms of social media is called If This Then That, which allows you to set rules like “If I post to my Facebook page, also post to tumblr.”
I’ll tag anyone mentioned in the article on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I never tag other business pages on my Facebook page because of the huge negative affect I’ve seen on post reach. Every time I tag another business in a post, the organic reach on Facebook is ~20% of what it would normally be, that is a big deal. I explain that to other vendors up front when talking about social media posts for a stylized shoot or wedding.
This is also a good time to recommend a few social media plugins for WordPress that I like. For Pinterest, I use jQuery Pin it Button for Images because it doesn’t slow down my page load and has all of the features I need. For the rest, I use Monarch Social Sharing. It’s a paid plugin but has many nice features, like share statistics, pop up or fly in boxes and multiple customizable button locations.
Email the Experts
I’ll send a quick note to everyone mentioned in the article to let them know that the link exists and what the article is about. I also ask that they share it, if they’d like. Many people are quick to share an article that mentions them or makes them look good because duh!
Reach Out to Relevant Blogs
This is huge because it multiplies your social media effort to get new links to your site and it’s a great way to get featured online. Brainstorm any and all news organizations, blogs, or popular social media accounts that it would make sense to have your content featured on. When Sara and I did the Double Exposure Tutorial a few years ago, we had decent traffic from our own social media the first day after posting. The real traffic came after sending the link to a few photography news sites. The first to feature was Fstoppers, within an hour of that post going live we had requests to let multiple other sites feature the tutorial. That one article brought thousands of backlinks to our site, multiple print and online features, a crazy amount of web traffic and a couple great commercial photography gigs. My biggest advice here is to think outside of the wedding photography blogosphere any time you can. Every other wedding photographer is competing mercilessly for those blog features and to be honest, the traffic from a featured wedding isn’t as rewarding as it once was.
Send the Article to the Mailing List
A few years ago I was under the impression that mailing lists were dead and replaced by social media. But with changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm I’ve become a fan of the mailing list. I use Mailchimp to easily create my mailing list and campaigns. The biggest objective here is to be honest about what you are mailing out and why. If you want it to be interesting, you need to be interested. So care about what you are sharing and be clear about why it’s important to both you and the reader. There is a lot of power in having a direct line to your fans’ email inboxes, don’t abuse it. I only use it for important posts or news and try to keep the emails both brief and rare with strong calls to action.
And now for a shameless self-promo plug, if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter now, it’s right here. 🙂
Let’s Wrap This Up
Brainstorm useful content ideas for your clients, write as much as you can on the subject, bring in a few experts and try to get it shared on a relevant blog.
It really is that easy. I hope this helps you think about blogging in a new way and gives you a few ideas for interesting content that you can use to market your photography. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below or on social media.