How to land the first spot on Google in six months or less

How to land the first spot on Google in six months or less

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!

About the Author:

Stephanie Horton is a military spouse and mother to two toddlers. Her photography journey started out as a hobby and quickly turned into a passion for lifestyle photography and capturing memories that would otherwise go undocumented. She currently resides in Bossier City, LA and specializes in birth, lifestyle newborn and family photography. Visit Stephanie Horton online.
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12 Comments

  1. Courtney April 19, 2016 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Great post, Stephanie! Looks of good information in here to help people grow their business!

    • Stephanie April 20, 2016 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks Courtney!

  2. Claudia May 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Excellent post, Stephanie! I have to admit I’ve been very lazy about blogging, even though I’m an excellent writer! I have all these ideas for posts. I just need to sit down and organize them so they can come to fruition so I can add a blog to my website (which is currently undergoing a major renovation). And of course I have lovely photos to go along with them.

    Facebook really isn’t the best tool for advertising. I will start using it more as a gateway to my blog & website. So glad you touched on that because too many businesses rely heavily on Facebook as the sole way to get their name out there, most likely because it’s “free.” But does limited post engagement and being required to boost a post to get more likes and shares worth “free”? Definitely not!

    Thanks again for the great post!

    • Stephanie Horton May 8, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Claudia! You’re right about Facebook, although I do have a love/hate with my business page I too was one of those that heavily relied on it in the beginning stages of my business. It can be useful in many ways but I think focusing on getting yourself in front of your target market (those searching for your keywords on Google) is the way to go! I’m glad you liked the article!

  3. Michelle Valantine May 10, 2016 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Stephanie! SEO feels like such a steep learning curve, but your post makes it easy to understand and DO! I was just thinking today that I need to write another blog post for my past sessions, and this gives me the motivation and INTENTION for doing it!

    If you have any advice on keywords, would you be willing to share that with us, too? Maybe give an example?

    Thank you! Thank you!

    • Stephanie Horton September 18, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Michelle,
      I’m so sorry for the late reply! SEO can be complicated, but it doesn’t always have to be! I would definitely encourage blogging a lot of your sessions for the best SEO. As far as keywords go, every photographer will have different keywords. Keep in mind things like your location and what kind of genre you specialize in. You don’t want to use keywords like “baby” or “newborn” if you don’t like to shoot newborn photography. Because I specialize in Family, Birth and Newborns, I try and focus on keywords pertaining to those genres. Hope this helps!

  4. Julie Picardi June 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Stephanie, I greatly enjoyed your article on finding one’s way through SEO. I am a new professional with great aspirations and will take to heart all your advice. I had not given blogging such value but you have changed my perspective. I have a question however. Do you post your blog links on your Facebook page? Are there other ways to publicize your composition? Thank you ever so much for your insight into the mysterious world of recognition.

    • Stephanie Horton September 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Julie! yes, blogging is so important! I do share all of my blog links on my Facebook page, although depending on the day, and how Facebook is feeling, they don’t always get a lot of attention. I am a part of several photography groups that we do “Blog Days” where we post links to recent blogs that way we can get more comments and attention on our blogs to better SEO. Hope that helps!

      • Erika Sneeringer October 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm - Reply

        This sounds great. Often times Facebook posts don’t see a lot of eyes. What FB groups are you a part of?

  5. Hannah September 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    I have a blog through a third party site that I just have a link to on my website. Would it be more beneficial to have my blog and site all in one? I’m not sure I know how to create a blog through my website but I can find out if that will get more flow directly to my site!

    • Stephanie Horton September 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Hannah, I do think it is more beneficial for myself to have it all in one spot, but I also know a lot of photographers that are successful having a separate blog. For me personally, when visitors and potential clients visit my blog, they will also see the header and the footer of my main website so they can easily click around. I don’t know who your website provider is or who your blog is through, but I would definitely think you should try and combine the two to be in one spot. I think this would really help with SEO as well!

  6. Erika Sneeringer October 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    I wanted to let you know that this article has been so extremely helpful! I went from being now where on Google to now being found as number 1 with certain searches and number 3 with other searches – all relating to mini sessions. Still hoping for that number 1 spot with a more vague search such as my city and photographer – but baby steps. I booked my first client that found me through a Google search and was shocked when more followed! AND this is only after 2 months of blogging and sharing my blog posts! I’m actually going to be publishing my own blog post about my journey in improving my SEO, much of the credit goes to starting with reading this article. Thank you, thank you for these awesome tips!

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