As part of a group zoom call the other day, a photographer friend of mine wanted to know if we had any website and social media tips that could help her stand out from the Google results crowd. While there were quite a few good ideas about social strategy, it got me thinking about how to help from a website perspective and even more specifically, a WordPress website perspective. Here are a handful of tips that I think would help boost her SEO and optimize her users’ experiences, which hopefully leads to more bookings and conversions.
P.S. – These tips would also work for other visual artists, like interior designers, illustrators, or anyone else who may use a lot of high-quality imagery to display their work.
Image Optimization is a Must
Everyone knows I’m big on optimization and speed, etc., so it probably comes as no surprise this is my top tip. Photographers want to (and should!) showcase gorgeous imagery, but that often comes with hefty file sizes, which can slow down a website. That is not only frustrating for users but also bad Google juju. Many are using gallery website services like Pixieset to display their images, which makes sense, as that service and others like it are optimizing imagery for you. The bad news is that those types of sites take potential clients away from your main site and most importantly, contact/booking info.
This is one of the main reasons I would recommend you select 3-5 images from each particular gallery you would like to showcase and put those on your main website. Include a link to view more, which directs users to your larger collection on Pixieset. (Always, always, always make sure your Pixiesets open in a new tab or window, so that your main site is still up and accessible without having to use a back button.) With those teaser images, users should get a clear idea of your style and the Pixieset gallery is just an added bonus.
But what about those 3-5 images?
Glad you asked. WordPress has some fantastic image optimization plugins, which should do the trick for the teaser images. Smush is a very popular plugin, with plenty of positive reviews, as is Imagify, which is the plugin I prefer, but mainly because they have a paid unlimited-image, unlimited-website plan. Since I offer image optimization as part of my website insurance, that fits my needs better. Another popular free plugin is ShortPixel, which may work best if operating on a “number of photos” basis works for you. Any of these plugins will get the job done, so it comes down to how many images you will be uploading and how frequently you’ll be posting.
Less is More
Speaking of photos, this probably goes without saying, but make sure you’re only posting your very best work. I know it can be hard, but be very selective about what images you decide to feature and make sure they are 100% reflective of your style.
How Does Your Website Design Stack Up?
Take a few minutes to really audit and evaluate your website. Does your website design reflect your style as a photographer (or other industry professional)? If you like to take bright, airy shots, are those the ones featured? If your vibe is more moody and natural, is that easy to see when someone visits your site?
A major key to conversions is whether or not your website is intuitive. Take a look at things like navigation and the title of your menu items. Ideally, I recommend keeping the main nav to 5-6 links and limit the dropdowns. Everything the user needs to view your work, learn about you and ultimately reach out, should be in those main nav items and not hidden in a dropdown.
Also think about verbiage when naming your pages and nav items. Those are elements that Google uses to help people find what they are looking for in the sea of SERPs (search engine results pages). A perfect example comes from one of my early clients. During her research prior to launching her business, she found peers using the term investment instead of pricing as their nav title. I’m all for a warm and fuzzy word choice, but investment can be confusing to a potential client. Plus, dollars to donuts (mmm donuts…), a potential client is not googling wedding photographer investment. They are putting wedding photographer pricing in the search bar and you want to be on that list that comes up.
Utilize White Space
One last note on overall website design, that I can’t stress enough for photographers and visual artists: White space is so important and while I know photographers who love bright, bold colors and have that as part of their brand, color shouldn’t compete with your images. Select 1-2 colors at most to complement your style, i.e., if you are that bright and airy photog, maybe fire engine red isn’t the color that would best serve your website. Select something in the family of your photography style and let your photos do the talking.
Consider a Blog
If you think that you can create a blog post at least once a month (ideally 2-3 times), then you may want to think about adding a blog to your website. Blogs are one of the best ways to get organic traffic. Not sure what to write about? Think about your ideal client and for what they will be searching. If you’re a photographer who specializes in senior portraits, why not create a blog post that includes a graduation checklist? Of course, senior portraits would be included and thus you’re relevant to someone searching for graduation checklist.
Many of my friends are wedding photogs and the topics there are plenty. Just think of all the things that brides-to-be search for online! Best Napa Valley wedding venues – blog post, with a few of your photos from those places mixed in; top Napa Valley wedding caterers – blog post, with some drool-worthy food shots; Napa Valley wedding cakes – another blog post with decadent cake photos… you get the idea.
You are providing valuable content, which Google rewards with traffic and you’re also establishing yourself as an industry specialist, which just adds to your credibility.
If you’re unsure about how your website stacks up, reach out, and I’ll take a look at your site. Let’s see if we need to make small tweaks to get big results.