When I decided to work seriously on my SEO, I did some research and decided that my goal was to rank as high as possible as “child photographer” and “baby photographer” in my area.

I worked on a few other key words such as “family photographer” and “newborn photographer” as well.

After many months of working on it and blogging regularly, I was proud to show up on Google’s first page for these expressions but a few of my competitors were still ranking higer than me. They had the advantage of being older in this market which is really hard to compete with in Google’s algorithms.

At that time, I also started to monitor my Google Anayltics results seriously and the figures were clearly not mind-blowing.

However, having a close look at my stats taught me a very interesting and unexpected lesson: the keywords people were using to reach my website were very rarely the ones I had been working on so hard (I was finding results such as “street photography” or “smiling young girl” instead).

People had typed a lot of random (and often weird) expressions in their search engine and found me through this very unpredictible way.

The fact is that I blog a lot. I don’t just post images, I like to tell stories, write articles about my products or my favorite topics, and I give photography tips too from time to time. All those words, that I hadn’t used for SEO at all, were finally my SEO best friends. This was a huge aha moment: I had discovered the reality of the long tail concept.

What is this “long tail” thing?

This expression is used to describe very specific keywords that lead to low search volume (since they are not the most common keywords) but also to low competition results.  Let’s look at an example. There are probably dozens (or hundreds if you live in a big metro area) of photographers listed in Google if you type “Your Area family photographer”. But how many will be listed if you type “Baby and parents photo session in Your Area”? Not that many. Most importantly, are you in there?  Probably not.  Okay, you may not be missing huge blog traffic because you’re not listed for this specific keyword but if someone googles it and you’re the only one listed then you are much more likely to get hired than with the most common highly competitive keywords. So it might be worth a try.

Once I realized the magic of long tail, I was hooked and it changed forever the way I work on my SEO.  Now, I make sure that every single blog title is unique. No more “Marseille baby photographer” all the time. My challenge is to find all of the different variations around this topic. From “baby session” to “parent-baby pictures” to “Mom and baby photography” to “Baby and sibling portrait”… there are thousands of combinations possible.

One day I brainstormed all of these possibilities on a sheet of paper (you can do it with “baby”, then do the same for “child”, “children”, “family”, “newborn”, “toddler” and so on and you will end up with a myriad of possible blog titles).  Not to mention that you can also vary the locations in your title, the ages (“3-month baby session” instead of just “baby session”), etc. The possibilities are endless.

Why do I vary my blog post titles?

You will always rank higher if your title matches exactly the search request.  Let’s say that I rank as #3 for “Marseille Baby Photographer” but a potential client typed “Mom and baby pictures Marseille” and I have this exact expression as a title of a blog post. Bam! My blog post will rank first, better than any other competitor’s website.

This is something I do for my tags too. Instead of repeating the same ones over and over again, I try to add a few words that really describe the images I am blogging even if those words are not photography related (i.e. swing, bubbles, joy, smiles, water, or whatever is happening in your photos) because they will lead to search results too.

Now you might think that since someone who is typing “bubbles”, “swing”, or anything like this in Google is not looking for a child photographer so I am wasting my time. Maybe you are, but probably not. Obviously, most of the people who will land on your website through those random keywords weren’t looking for you but some of them have kids or grandkids and they might discover your work and realize how much they need you without even knowing it!  Don’t you think it’s a better situation than to be found through a highly competitive keyword which means that your potential clients will find all of your competitors at the same time?  With all those random keywords, you will reach thousands of unexpected prospects who will find only YOU and not a crazy list of all the photographers in your area. They might not book you right away but they will know you and are more likely to come back to you when they will need a child photographer or recommend you to their friend who was just looking for one.

Lets look at a few basic facts of SEO and keywords.

Over a year ago, I averaged 2,500 visits on my blog among which 300 came from search engines.  When looking at those search engine results, I could see that around 90 different keywords had been used to reach me.

Last month, I reached 6,000 visits on my blog. Quite a growth. But what is even more interesting is that 3,200 of these visits came from search engines (10 times more than a year ago!). And guess what? They used 1,600 different keywords to reach me. Yes, you heard me right, one thousand six hundred.  I think it was worth the change of strategy in my SEO even if it gave me a bit more work.

Just for fun, a few examples of keywords from last month, translated for you (I figured they wouldn’t be
as interesting in French!):

  1. 20 visits for “running child”
  2. 10 visits for “Dad and baby”
  3. 10 visits for “I am not photogenic” (this is the title of an old blog post of mine)
  4. 5 visits for “2-year-old-child” or “laughing baby”
  5. 3 visits for “16-month-old baby”
  6. 2 visits for “kids hugging”, “baby flying in the air”, “kids on the beach”, “baby balloon”, “tickling”, “stuffed animal” or “wall art”

Who would have guessed?!

Now that you know the trick, just use it everywhere: blog titles, tags, but also your image titles!

And last but not least, don’t forget to write your articles with your heart. The new Google algorithms are more and more sensitive to keyword spamming. You will get better results with real heartfelt content than with artificially keyword stuffed articles (not to mention that your readers will appreciate it more too!). In addition, it might help your SEO in an unpredictable way. When you write naturally, without thinking of anything else than your genuine message, you’re creating keywords too. Maybe not the ones you would think would bring you clients but you will be amazed when monitoring your blog statistics by the unexpected keywords that actually lead to your blog, words that you clearly never used for SEO purposes!

Now, it’s your turn! Happy long tail keywording!