Post by Allen Murabayashi

Editor’s Note:

I have been very impressed by the research that PhotoShelter has done on photographer’s websites and SEO. Few if any companies are providing this kind of valuable information for photographers. I asked Allen to write a guest post for us that would get everyone thinking about photography and SEO. Whether or not you use PhotoShelter, you can benefit from their research. I found it compelling and hope you do too.

A few months ago, my toilet seat broke. I use toilets every day, but I didn’t know, er, squat about toilet seats. So I did what you probably would do I googled toilet seats. The first result was for, and even though Im familiar with the brand, my instinct wasn’t to type in, it was to initiate a search. I clicked on the website, I researched, and I bought. Kohler made money because they were well positioned in the search results.

Although you probably didn’t search for toilet seat today, its likely that you searched for something. And when you got your first page of results, its likely you either clicked on a result, or you did another search to refine your terms. All of these examples illustrate the importance of being listed in search engines, and ideally, on the first page of results for any given term. With so much information at our fingertips, we are increasingly reliant on search tools.

What does this have to do with photography? The fact that youre reading this indicates that you have more than a passing interest in photography. Some people like to make a distinction between pro and amateur photographers. I do not. To me, there are 1) people who only want to share photos amongst family and friends, and 2) people like you who want their images to be found and appreciated by anyone and everyone.

So in that respect, search engine optimization (SEO), is important to you. Are you a wedding photographer in Chicago? Do you shoot nature photographs in Yosemite? Wouldnt it be cool and financially beneficial for your webpage to come up first when someone types in Yosemite nature photos?

Its convenient to call ourselves artists and never worry about the business side of things, but we have to market ourselves to reliably and consistently attract eyeballs to our work. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technique that helps your website rank higher in searches on Google and other major search engines. SEO is not about searching on your name and finding your own website. Its about generating unsolicited traffic against keywords that someone who doesn’t know you might use to find you.

SEO isn’t rocket science. Its a series of steps that you can employ on and off your website to build more traffic. That said, people making SEO claims are often like snake oil salesmen. There are many companies making claims about improving your SEO, or SEO support that they have built into their products that simply aren’t true. For example, Flash-based websites cannot be optimized unless they build an HTML shadow site too (a word of caution – very few vendors actually do this).

SEO doesn’t require months and months of planning, and when you get the recipe right, the new traffic visiting your website can truly change your business. There are a number of things you can do today that will improve your SEO with just a few minutes of effort. Our SEO Cookbook can give you a step-by-step methodology for improving your SEO, so get yourself optimized!

Click here to read the PhotoShelter SEO research

Allen is the CEO and co-founder of PhotoShelter