If you haven’t seen it yet, I launched a new area in the blog called “Ask Fuse.” I want you to post your SEO and online marketing questions, which I may feature on my blog. You get my answer, others with the same question will be so relieved, your website will get exposure and a link back, so WIN-WIN!
“How do I get my photo business found in searches for larger cities?
photo credit: Kirk Mastin (Mastin Studio)
Our first Ask Fuse listener… (as if I had a radio station or podcast… but I do have Periscope TV! Make sure you follow me!) Well, as I was saying, Tyler is looking for advice on how to have a larger reach for his business, which is based in a small town. Tyler says: “I know some of the surface-level basics, and I’ve been doing okay with organic search in my tiny local area, but I need to branch into larger markets that are still close to me. It seemed too difficult to do when starting out. My site is tylerrippel.com and it needs work, but there are so many things that need to be done that I feel like I should just jump in and fine tune later on. I would love your thoughts on my situation and what services you offer to help out. Thank you! Tyler”
Website Name: http://tylerrippel.com
Profession: Wedding Photographer
Location: New Philadelphia / Dover Ohio area
SEO desired: Local and bigger towns for wedding photographer serving a larger region as well as small local area.
I love Tyler’s question about how to reach bigger cities. Service-type businesses of all varieties have this question, and there is this myth that you need to be optimizing for the “big city” near you, and forget the “little town.”
I disagree. I believe the small town can be your best friend.
How so, Fuse?
First of all, it’s likely (speaking about keywords here) that big city + your profession is most likely very saturated. This means other professionals in your field are paying for their Google ads to appear on page one of the results, and that’s going to get in your way. Also, there are many people who have been optimizing their sites for years, making it difficult to outrank them. While sometimes you can have a short burst of good rankings, our goal with getting found online is a long-term relationship with Google and not a one-night stand. If you are working towards local SEO, your surrounding towns can be your SEO BFFs.
Issue: Local SEO and bigger towns for wedding photographer in big town as well as little town.
Google knows stuff.
Google somehow understands IP address and relatable terms as well as relatable locations. Let’s say I’m optimizing for Springfield, IL, but I also want to be found for Chicago. Google, of Google Maps fame (think about it), already knows the distance between these cities. Therefore, a potential client searching for a wedding photographer using a regional area or a large, nearby city can still find one working in a small town.
Is that like a freebie?
Well, the reason you can still be found is that you should have included big cities in your general SEO efforts anyway, like in the page titles and site description. (I go in-depth in my WordPress SEO class for photographers, or you can check out this blog on getting started with keywords.) So you can surely list the big city as well but don’t ignore the little surrounding towns. Another point is that many brides are also living in the outskirts of the big city and if they are searching from home, Google knows proximity and your site may still show up in results.
So, how far is too far?
Let’s say if you live hours away from the big metro area, you will then need to do extra work and incorporate specific pages for the big cities you want to include. I don’t have an exact number for you but suggest within 50 miles of bigger town you also want to be found in.
Google personalizes results for the user.
Many brides-to-be are not living in the big city, but that’s where they want to get married. Optimizing your site for Smalltown, USA will also bring in results for Bigtown because the searcher’s location, their social media connections, and other social factors are coming into play behind the scenes. If you’ve been renaming your images and managing your Pinterest SEO correctly, you can most definitely be found in the big city searches.
And now, feedback for Tyler for asking such an awesome questions!
Website SEO Feedback
Page Title: ( text above URL in gray bar) you want your main keywords to be put together right away. I dont see the word wedding, so it should be Dover Wedding Photographer, New Philadelphia wedding photography, for example.
Footer: Great job there. Navigation Bar As a full website, you will need more pages to fill it out. For example, you need to showcase your portfolio via a gallery page.
You speak about your photography, but not about you, the photographer. Who is Tyler? Surprisingly, paying attention to branding and user experience on a website affects SEO, so this is more of a front-end SEO feedback. So this should be more about you. Then, create another page called My Photography Style, where you speak about why you work with film, and there you can show show show! Fine art photographers miss the boat by not educating their clients about what it is and what makes what you do special. It will be more about showing the results, though, and not so much optimizing for words “film,” “fine art,” etc. Great job on the call to action, making it easy for your clients to reach you, and on stating your locations. I feel the About Page is a great place to restate your location.
Why not have categories to expand on the kinds of work you offer? For example, your latest engagement photo post should be under an “engagement photo” category and not just in general photography.
Title of blog post Ace Hotel Styled Engagement | Palm Springs, CA
This should have the word “photos” after the word “engagement” and I would add the city and state on it since it was a destination shoot, but if this was an at-home shoot, city name/state is not necessary. I see that your other post had the word “photography” for the permalink, so good job with that. You can have a mix, with most titles having the word “photos,” but also including a few without.
Renaming images The files should be named by location it was photographed, or venue, etc. So Ace Hotel should not have Ohio-related words.
For this blog post, http://tylerrippel.com/downton-canton-ohio-engagement-photography/ , I would have variation in the photo file name, and also adding alt text to include the type of style. For example, it was a night engagement shoot, but it’s also funky, stylish, and unique. Use descriptive words as keywords. Also add “ideas,” as in “rainy engagement photo ideas.” Think about how people title Pinterest boards and run with those phrases.
(Readers, if you are a photographer, you should sign up for my image-rename cheat sheet on side bar where I give you the step-by-step on what you should be renaming your files.)
Blog post text
Don’t forget to restate your keyword. If it’s engagement photos, state that somewhere in the post, or use a variation like “engagement pictures.” One tip is have a link out, so if you state “I had great time doing Jordan and Susan’s engagement portraits,” you can link that phrase to their portraits on your engagement photo gallery page, or to your main site, or to the blog category if you want. BUT, do this only once in blog posts and use different text each time so your anchor text isn’t always the same.
Overall, you are doing a good job with setting up the framework! You’ve chosen a really beautiful, clean, and classic theme for your site, and I love your logo and font choices. Don’t stress about getting all the SEO in place all at once. Just keep going at it in a structured way, and you will really be glad you did.
Tyler, thank you once again for allowing me to use your site and your question as an example to help fellow photographers with the same concern. Everyone, please go check out Tyler’s amazing film and digital photography website!