Do it properly and you’ll identify a few golden phrases that are totally relevant to your business, will put you in the right company and will drive qualified buyers to your website for many years to come![/callout2] [accordion class=’accord1′] [slide name=”Before We Get Started…”]
The very first step for any sort of web-based marketing, should be to create a Project Folder and a Scrapbook File. So first up create a new Project folder on your desktop, so you have an easy-to-access location for saving various files and text snippets we’ll be using.
Then open and save a Plain Text file to use as your Scrapbook. Do not use a Word Doc here… you don’t want any formatting or invisible character codes messing things up later so plain text is best … so you can copy-and-paste into web forms as required with no formatting issues.
We will be re-using a lot of the same written information in various places, so you want to keep track of ‘everything’ here and then copy-and-paste as required. You’ll also want to keep track of various keywords, web links, plus a few usernames and passwords, so set this up now.[/slide] [slide name=”Local Search Keyword List”]
This is a two step process that will have a major impact on the kind of results you get from your efforts here…
Step 1 is to build a list of words and phrases your target customers are likely to type into a search engine, when they need a photographer just like you.
Step 2 is to check those words and remove anything that is not totally relevant to what you do and where you operate. You will also remove any that don’t return highly relevant results in the three major search engines.
Step 3. Is to check the search traffic for those words and phrases to select those that generate the most search traffic You’ll then check each of those to see if you’re already listed for any of them!
For step one, it’s all about your customer.
You need to take a moment to think about who they are, what it is they’re actually looking for, and why they might choose you?
Then you need to produce a list of ‘photography phrases’ that include your location and your field of work. To get you started, you should try out our Local Search Keyword Tool. Just enter the requested information and it will generate a list of possible keyword phrases to get you started.
Once you have your list of keywords, you should copy those to a plain text file and see if you can trim it down some. Remove any duplicates and anything that is clearly not relevant to you or your business, and any that don’t read ‘naturally’.
You should add any additional phrases that come to mind, and also keep an eye out for ideas as you complete the next steps.
Next you want to check all of them in Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Before we go any further you want to make sure these phrases are in fact bringing up relevant results. It might seem like a tedious task to do 30+ searches in three different search engines, but it will save you time in the long run.
The idea here is quite simple… you don’t want to be the only relevant result on a page of search results.
Search engine users are super-efficient these days and they can evaluate a page of results in an instant. If what they see at first glance it doesn’t immediately match what the searcher was expecting, they’re out of there!
Your chances of catching their attention with a solitary listing are slim at best, and if you haven’t made the first page yet, it’s never going to happen!
More importantly, if there’s no matching results, then Google & Co are telling you straight up that they don’t consider it a good match, so they probably won’t list you there anyway!
So I find it easiest to open three windows, one each for Google, Bing and Yahoo, and search for each phrase in all three search engines at once.
Each relevant match is a tick on my list
Three ticks is great, one or two is borderline, and if there are no matches I drop that phrase all together.
You’ll quickly notice if one word or phrase is bringing up irrelevant results, so you can often trim your list of the phrases that use it.
The most common example of this will be when you use a city or suburb name, but a different location entirely keeps coming up… (usually the same city name in a different country!) In that case you’ll have to use the Suburb/City or City/State combos instead.
You should also find that you get some very different results for photography vs photographer, so pay close attention there and see which one is likely to return search results that best match the services you offer?
Remember, this is all about matching buyer/searcher expectations… ie. the buyer liking what they see on the search results page long enough to see your listing!
Do that now, and see if you can trim your list of any phrases that are totally irrelevant, and then we’ll take a closer look to identify your best choices from those that remain.
While you are looking at the Search Results pages (SERPS) be sure to check for the ‘Related Searches’ or ‘Suggested Searches’ at the bottom of the page.
Any time the search engines offer these lists, they’re a great sources of additional related phrases that people are actively searching for. If you see anything there that describes your specific business services or your style of photography, be sure to add it your list![/slide] [slide name=”Analyze Your Search Volume”]
Next step is to open the Google Keyword Planner.
You might need to register/login with your Google/Gmail account details. You’ll be presented with a list of options… choose to Get Search Volume on a list of keyword phrases.
Copy and paste your keywords into the form, and select your location. How specific you go is up to you… in a major city you might want to restrict it to surrounding suburbs, in a country area you might select the whole region. If in doubt, just ask yourself how far a customer might drive to get to you, or how far you’d be prepared to drive to do a job?
When you submit the form you’ll get some data back on the number of monthly searches for those phrases. Make a note on your list of those that get the most traffic and could be good to target. If you want to spend some time on this, you can download the data and then open it in a spreadsheet to sort by different factors.
Alternatively, if most of your keywords aren’t getting much traffic at all… very likely in some smaller cities and towns… you can look for some broader terms to target and try again.[notify_box font_size=”13px” style=”yellow”]Don’t be too discouraged if the traffic numbers seem quite low… that’s to be expected for such specific phrases. We’re just looking for a phrase that get’s *some* traffic and will be relatively easy to rank for and we can target higher-traffic phrases later![/notify_box]
Even 5-10 searches a month is quite viable because this is just once traffic source… by the time we’re done you’ll have dozens more sources sending potential customers your way!
Finding More Keywords & Variations
If your list is a bit short or you’re not seeing any search volume at all, you can go back a page and use the tool to generate additional Keyword Ideas… just enter a phrase that got you the best results from your initial test, and click ‘Get Ideas’.
What comes back will be a much broader list and a lot of the material won’t be relevant, but you might find a few hidden gems in the mix.
In this case, my first list generated a grand total of 50 searches a month… this second list is closer to 1500… so definitely a lot more popular search phrases, but also it’s clear to see a lot of irrelevant phrases I’d need to clean out.
In this case there were a couple of useful phrases… probably the best one that I’d previously missed was ‘wedding packages cairns’… which had similar search volume to my top phrase but considerably lower competition.
So if that was my gig, that’s probably what I’d be targeting![/slide] [slide name=”Selecting Your Best Keywords”]
Now it’s time to consider all the information we’ve just gathered and select one or two standouts you can focus your SEO efforts on…
- Phrases that are relevant to the services you offer
- Specific to your location, and
- Generate some sort of traffic in Google each month?
If they also have low or medium competition that’s a plus, but high competition is not a deal-breaker.
Most photographers with these high listings haven’t done the work you’re about to, so I’m confident you should be able to compete successfully in most situations.
Obviously the size of your target market is a factor…
If you want top listing for ‘New York Wedding Photographer’ for a brand new page you’re probably dreaming.
But if you can focus on conquering a specific suburb first, then in time, you never know…
Good low-volume listings plus more relevant content tends to create more good listings with even higher volume!
So start by targeting the low-hanging fruit and build on your successes!
For now though, you need to pick the best phrase of the bunch. This is the one we’ll be targeting and focusing our efforts on.
To keep things simple, we’ll refer to it from now on as your Primary Keyword.
You should also pick out another 3-4 phrases to use as your Secondary Keywords.
These should be totally relevant you your business but they don’t need to include your location details. These are phrases you’ll look to include in your written content on your website and on the various listings we’ll be setting up.
Everything else that is relevant can go in your Long Tail Keywords list.
These are words and phrases you should use appropriately any time you are writing new content for you website, for your blog or for your social media accounts. These content pieces all help create authority and relevance on your broader network, to support the main themes suggested by your Primary and Secondary keywords.
Using Your Keywords
As we move onto the next steps, it might help to know the big scheme of things…
On a web page level, the Primary Keyword would be your website’s title, the Secondary Keywords the headings on the page, and the Long Tail Keywords as content in the actual page content.
On a web site level, you could imagine the Primary Keyword as the theme for your home page, the Secondary Keywords as the secondary pages, and the Long Tail Keywords again are used as content and headings within the various pages/articles.
On a network level, the Primary Keyword becomes the theme for your main website, the Secondary Keywords become the focus for your main social media accounts and business listings, and the Long Tail Keywords again are used as content and headings.
So throughout this process you’re simply building layers of content around the same structure or hierarchy.
The search engines consider all three elements when evaluating your individual webpages, your complete website, and your place in the internet. And when they see this consistency of content and structure across all three levels, it helps convince them that your website is relevant to those phrases your targeting, and in fact worthy of a high ranking.
So for all the technical jargon and complicated strategies, most of what follows is simply a way of demonstrating that structure and then confirming relevance and value.
Google is constantly telling us that their goal is simply to deliver the most relevant search results to their users.
And while their tactics might be questionable at times, they are still the biggest player in the game, so it’s in our interests to play by their rules.
So our goal here is to make sure all the elements of our web presence are working together to give Google the information and structure it needs to see to consider us a valuable & relevant authority on that Primary Keyword phrase.
Don’t worry if that doesn’t make perfect sense though, we’ll cover it in a bit more detail later… and this approach should work even if you don’t get all the theory![/slide] [slide name=”Business Descriptions”]
We’ll be setting up quite a few listings for your business, so it will all go a lot easier if you get some basic text ready before you start, to use as a starting point for each submission.
So take a moment to put together 3 descriptions of your business: one short, one medium and one long.
Long / Detailed Description: (500 words minimum)
It’s probably easiest to start with the long one. Aim for 500-1000 words covering ‘everything’ you do and we can trim it down for the shorter versions.
Try to include your Primary Keyword and each of your Secondary Keywords. You can also include any of the Long Tail Keywords as long as it reads naturally and not forced.
Make sure you write it for your customer… the services you offer, the advantages to the customer of working with you, the benefits they’ll enjoy as a result of your special skills, experience and knowledge. Make sure you use ‘You’ more than you use ‘I’.[notify_box font_size=”13px” style=”green”]Quick Tip. Use the F.A.B formula when talking about your services. Feature – Advantage – Benefit. ie. You should name the Feature and the Advantage it offers, but your main focus should be on the Benefit to the Customer… what’s in it for them?
We have a large studio space (feature) with multiple sets (advantage) so you can choose the perfect theme for your next family portrait session (benefit).
In case you missed it, the key phrase there is ‘So You Can…’
Every time you work that into you business profiles and services descriptions, you step out from the crowd big-time! [/notify_box]
Whatever you do, don’t list your camera gear!
So many photographers feel the need to do this and buyers glaze over with boredom and leave. They really don’t care!
They just want to know about the images you can create for them so focus on that. (The exception is is you have specialist gear that you can describe using the FAB formula above!)
Do list your experience, qualifications, awards and specialist training… but again, write it from their perspective and show how it benefits them.
Don’t be afraid to drop a few names if you have done work for well known Clients, especially famous people, large organisations or well-known brands.
That creates what we call ‘borrowed authority’ … the search engines recognise the name as someone with authority and credibility, and they assume because you mention them in your text, you must be important and relevant as well.
This works even better if you can link to their website in your text, so keep an eye out for those opportunities as well!
Make sure you break this text up into lots of short, self contained paragraphs, so you can re-arrange it a bit with different submissions. We don’t want identical text on every profile page, so shuffling a few paragraphs and changing a few words here and there can make a big difference with minimal effort!
Medium / Simple Description (200 words minimum)
OK, once you’ve got your long version done decide what the most relevant parts are, and rework those into 3-4 short paragraphs of 2-3 sentences each.
If someone was needing a photographer with your skills and services, and you only had one minute… what are the most important things you should tell them?
Again you want to make sure it includes your Primary Keyword, and possibly 1-2 of your Secondary Keywords, as long as it’s natural.
Again we want to be able to easily make variations of this, so break it up into a few paragraphs that are readily interchangeable.
Short / Tagline Description (150 Characters)
This is the essence of what you do! You need to distill your Medium Description down to a mere 150 characters that describe your offerings in an appealing and interesting way.
The places we use this one don’t give you much leeway. You can go a bit longer, but be aware the most important listings will cut you off at 150-165 characters.
The most important place you’ll see this is in the Google Search Results. They currently go to 155 characters, but special characters can mess with that, and things change, so work on 150 for now and you’ll have a bit of room to move in the future.
The primary function of this phrase is to get the click… it needs to tell the searcher enough about what you offer to prompt them to click the link and visit your site.
Nothing else matters if you can’t get that click, so you need to spend as long as it takes on this to get it right. If you want to get technical, it needs up be a Unique Selling Proposition, a description of your services and a Call-To-Action, all in one.
So if you’re struggling with this, go do some searches for photographers… imagine you were in the market for your services in a major city… and have a look at what comes up. Which are the listings that you’d click on to visit the site?
What was it about those listings that caught your attention and convinced you they might deliver the goods?
Are there common words and phrases that would work in your short description?
Also look at the ones that don’t work and make sure you don’t repeat any of their mistakes![/slide] [slide name=”A Few Final Items…”]
OK, just a few more things to get prepped and we can start on the fun stuff…
Your Web Links
You obviously need a webpage to promote. This can be a standalone website, a personal blog type site, or a page on a photography portal or business directory. It really doesn’t matter what the platform is, as long as it has suitable content and you have the ability to tweak it a bit if required.
So you should add that URL to your Scrapbook file now for easy copy-and-paste.
If you have multiple webpages…
Check now to see if any of them are listed for your target search phrase. It will be easier and faster to improve an already listed page, than to start from scratch, so see if any of your pages are already ranked, and then consider whether it would be a good one to work on…
Got to at least the 10th page of results in Google, Yahoo and Bing to see if you’re already listed? If you find multiple pages are ranking, choose the highest ranking page that you can easily edit and already has plenty of text on it.
If you have your own domain you might find it easier to use a Rank Checker tool. Just be aware that most are designed to check the Domain rather than individual pages, so if your site is on a portal of any sort, a manual check will be more accurate.
You can of course start this process with any page, but you will usually get faster and better results with a page that is already performing!
Make sure you use the full URL including the http:// part. If you’re not confident about it, just open the page you want to promote and copy the URL from your browser location bar.
Now is a good time to make a list of all your other pages as well… make a note of your home page, your work profile, your portfolio or main gallery pages, your blog or news updates page. If you have additional galleries and portfolios on photography portal sites or libraries, make a note of those as well.
You should also all social media accounts you have, plus any existing listings on various photography and/or business directories. If you have a blog, make a note of the RSS feed as well.
The exact sizes required vary for every site, so the sizes below are a maximum and are greatly reduced in most cases when you submit & save. If you prefer, you can of course check each site’s specs and resize each time before you upload.
You need a Portrait Image. It should be a good head and shoulders shot that clearly shows your face. 500px x 500px will be ample for most sites.
It should be a high quality shot… so many great photographers publish terrible self-portraits for some reason, and it has to make some potential customers question their skills!
If you can’t set it up yourself, find a photographer colleague and shoot a head-shot of each other… just don’t publish a bad shot… ever!
You may want a Logo Image. This is not essential, but if you have one, have a copy ready, something around 400px wide by 250px high should be ample.
You’ll want some large Banner Images. A number of the social media sites will be looking for these, so if you have a couple of large images ready about 1800px x 800px, you should be able to upload and crop appropriately in most sites.
If you are worried about unauthorized use, you can then just download the cropped image from each site, layer some semi-transparent text over the image, and reload it. Just make sure you delete your original from the site when you’re done.
You might also want some Sample Images to display on some sites. Generally I prefer to keep these a bit smaller… 500-800 pixels longest edge, with a watermark on the larger files… so pick out a small selection of samples that represent your style of work… relevant to your Primary Keyword!
ie. If you’re targeting Wedding Photography, don’t include wildlife shots as samples. It sounds obvious but I’ve seen it many times. If you try to be all things to all people you’ll only end up being irrelevant to everyone. Keep your focus on that Primary Keyword![/slide] [slide name=”Preparation Checklist”]
Just a final check before we move on… please make sure you’ve done each of the following tasks…
- Have you decided on your Primary Keyword?
- Have you got a few Secondary Keywords?
- Do these keywords return relevant local results?
- Have you grabbed Google’s suggested terms from the search results pages?
- Did you use Google’s Keyword planner to find variations?
- Are you targeting the terms with the highest search volume?
- Have you written everything down in your Scrapbook file?
- Do you have your portrait, logo and sample images ready?
- Have you made a list of all your main website pages?
- Have you listed all your pages on 3rd party sites?
- Have you listed all your social media profile pages?
If you have all this done and ready, congratulations! That’s the hard work done and things will move along a lot faster from here.[/slide] [/accordion]