Making it on the first page of Google results, let alone the first spot, is typically considered the Holy Grail for small business owners. Many photographers complain about the lack of exposure on Facebook, but they usually aren’t taking full advantage of another free source of exposure, Google. Although finding your website listed on the first page of Google won’t happen overnight, it can and will happen in a short period of time if you focus your time on blogging, creative writing for your target market, and sharing your blog for more results!

We have all been there. We have hundreds, if not thousands of fans on Facebook, but we post a picture that we love only to find that it has only been seen by 100 people or less. I posted a link to a blog post last month and was extremely disappointed with the results. Only 70 people were shown this photo, and only one person “liked” it.

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Conveniently, Facebook places a bright blue button right next to that pathetically low number of “people reached” and encourages you to push “Boost Post” to get your images and content seen. Although there are some benefits to marketing to Facebook users, I have found far more success in putting my energy and time into marketing myself on Google, as a result of having strong content on my website and blog.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can sometimes be intimidating and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. I remember when I first turned my love of photography into a business I was so overwhelmed by everything that went along with it. A friend asked if I had thought about SEO and how to use it to my advantage. Even as someone with an MBA, I hardly knew what SEO was and the thought of it terrified me. It turns out it doesn’t have to be scary and can actually be quite simple if you have the correct tools to get started. I had the website and the blog, but I wasn’t taking advantage of the fullest potential of either. When I searched for “My city + Newborn Photographer” I don’t think I saw my website listed until page 4 or 5 of Google. Based on a recent study completed by a company called Chitika, only 4% of Google users click past the first page of results and only 0.1% make it to page 3 and beyond. Obviously, being on page 4 or 5 made it difficult for potential clients to find me.

Where do you start?

Write! You need to blog as often as you can. I recommend blogging at least once a week, and as you get more comfortable with it, increase your frequency. I had blogged before, but not as often, and the content within my blogs weren’t getting me anywhere. You can probably get a good idea from this screen shot when I started really focusing on SEO. I think I blogged every session I had that month plus some previous sessions that I hadn’t blogged yet.

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Blogging was my nemesis; I always had excuses for why I didn’t blog often. “I’m too busy,” or “I’m not a good writer.” I had used every excuse in the book. But, once I got into the groove, SEO and blogging became a lot less intimidating.

What do you write about?

This is the most important part. Make sure that you are writing material that will deliver the most value to your prospective clients. Google can tell when you’re writing just for the sake of writing. Value of content is the biggest key to increasing your organic rankings on Google. You want to make sure your content within your blogs is finding its way in front of your potential clients. A good way to ease into blogging is to make schedule. If you are slow one month, include blog posts that may not only be current sessions but something that might interest your prospective clients. Your clients send you questions weekly. Think about what they are asking and write about it! “What to wear,” “5 reasons why you should hire a newborn photographer (or whatever your specialty is),” “3 tips to preparing for the perfect photo session.” Not only are these great ways of getting content out there for better SEO, it is a great way to have a spot to refer your clients to when they ask you similar questions, which will ultimately save you time in the long run!

After writing a blog post titled “5 reasons why you should hire a birth photographer,” updating some keywords within my website content, and blogging my birth sessions consistently, I quickly soared to the first spot on Google for my city’s birth photographer.

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Last fall, when I offered mini sessions, I posted the details and sign up sheet on my blog instead of only creating a marketing piece and posting it on social media. After posting the blog, I posted a link to the blog on my social media sites and invited followers to view the blog for more details and to book their sessions. This ended up landing me the first spot on Google for my city’s mini sessions. Eighty percent of my clients that booked a mini session last fall told me they found me on Google.

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Sometimes when I search for one of my top keywords I will find my page listed three or more times on the first page of Google, increasing my chances of being clicked on, even if I am not the first listing. Notice this keyword search for Newborn Photographer in my City. I am not first or second on the list but I am listed three times in spots five, six, and seven. This gives viewers more opportunities to click on my page, even if it isn’t in the first spot.

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How do you incorporate keywords in your blog?

When writing and using keywords, don’t try to outsmart Google, it isn’t possible! My main advice is write a blog post as if you were talking to someone in person and as descriptively as possible. Use keywords throughout your writing rather than only tagging keywords in the end. Google will know if you are trying to trick them by tagging a lot of keywords. Instead, use your keywords in your writing and be as descriptive. Search engines generally will draw from the first 200 words within a page or blog post. Because of this, it is very important that you make sure your keywords are used in your description at the beginning of your blog post. It is also extremely important to consider the use of keywords in your headings or titles. These titles should be short (1-5 words) and contain keywords potential clients will likely be searching for.

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What to do after you blog?

Why write a blog if people aren’t reading it? The first thing you want to do after writing your post is share it! Share it on social media during peak times. When sharing, make sure you make it easy for people to access, and give them a reason to click the link., like “You won’t want to miss this adorable nursery.” Typically, I will only share one or two sneak peeks from a session on social media, building anticipation with my clients and their family/friends. I finally end with a blog post with more of my favorite images. I will always post this blog before sending my client their digital files. That way, this is the first place they are seeing them, falling in love with them, and hopefully sharing a link to your blog on their social media pages. The more interaction you get on your blog posts, the faster it will help increase your SEO.

Put yourself out there

Stop all the excuses and get to writing! Practice makes perfect and we all have to start from scratch at some point. Keep in mind, Google and other search engines are constantly updating. Just because I am in the number one spot today, doesn’t mean I will be there tomorrow. The key is to stay on top of your blogging schedule and update often. Google favors websites that are updated more than once or twice a year. Most importantly, remember that value of content is what matters the most. If you provide it and are pointing your current and potential clients in the right direction, visitors will respond. Follow these steps and you will soon see your name at the top of the list on Google.

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Need more?

Last summer, I stumbled upon a workshop at Click Photo School, called Internet Marketing, SEO and Online Presence, taught by Beth Wade. I wasn’t making a lot of money from my business and I was having a hard time justifying the money for a workshop, so I almost didn’t register. After reading some of the reviews I convinced myself to join as a study along. It was a game changer for my business. I will forever be grateful for everything I learned from Beth and her wonderful course.

Getting your site to the first spot on Google won’t happen overnight, but if you focus on these tips, you will see your website only go up in ranking!