What’s the point in a photography blog, if it doesn’t have pictures?
The photographs are the end result of our work as wedding photographers. They’re the things we make for our clients and the things future clients want to see.
They can also be huge and slow your page speed down.
Google is all about speed (an entire article about this is in the works!) with the majority of searches coming from mobile devices you can understand why – people’s attention spans are short and they want instant results.
Google has said itself many times that it values fast loading, lean content and that is usually reflected in the search engine rankings.
How this sits with us as photographers is a difficult subject.
On average, I post 100 pictures for a wedding blog post. I went through phases of posting 200+ and other phases of posting less than 20 per wedding.
But however many you want to post you need to factor the site speed into account.
Compression is the key here when exporting from Lightroom you want to squash those files as much as you can without degrading quality. Our entire craft is about quality imagery, so showing someone a mushed up highly compressed file just isn’t in our nature, but at the same time – if you’re serving huge files neither Google – nor the end user’s mobile data allowance is going to thank you.
I use a two-step compression process, which I will go into depth in during another post.
But essentially involves exporting images from Lightroom around 70-80% and then running them through JPEG mini, or through another compression tool, I’m currently trialling.
Another huge helper for your SEO efforts will be to cache your content and Lazy Load your images (another, in-depth post coming soon!)
Naming your images
Google understands images and Images factor into your rankings. There’s a debate about whether they can actually tell what the image contains – but I’m sure in time, with AI etc. they will ‘read’ images as they do everything else.
Right now the assumption is that Google only read and interprets your content as text.
So we’re told use alt tags to describe what your image contains, this is primarily for users with screen readers, blind and visually impaired users for example – for whom their screen reader software will narrate what’s on the screen.
I’m also a believer that Alt Text has a bearing on Google’s interpretation of your images.
In the past, it was perfectly acceptable to name every one of your images the same – stuffing your primary keyword in there –
Now, not so much. If you imagine the aforementioned blind/visually impaired person navigating your content – it’s not terribly helpful if their screen reader says the same thing over and over again. In actuality, as someone who’s grown up in a house with a screen reader being used – it’s massively annoying to hear the same thing over and over again – no quicker way to get someone to leave your site!
Now, you’ll probably think ‘But I’m selling pictures, what does it matter if a blind person can’t access my site well?’ but Google is very much in the anti-discrimination game if they think your site is going to be rough on people with different ways of accessing content, they’re likely to let you know via lower rankings.
Getting people onto your site, and staying there for a long period of time is one of the keys to success in SEO (This is referred to as dwell time, which will get its own post!) whether those folks are sighted or visually impaired and using a screen reader – they’re still users and you need to show Google that they’re catered to and want to stay on your site.
Ok, So what should I name things? And the Alt Text?
Google’s guidelines suggest giving your images descriptive, relevant file names and giving the alt text similarly descriptive titles. Now, for a blog post of 100+ images, this is going to be massively time-consuming, but the more effort you put in, the more success you get out.
In an ideal world, each and every image will have a unique, descriptive file name, some of which will have your keywords and its variations (sparingly!)
Personally, I have a bad habit of exporting my images in the above style, using repetitive file names. As a high volume shooter, any other more hands-on method would become maddening. It’s my belief that Google applies relatively little weight to the file names – but If I had definitive evidence to the contrary, you can be sure I would put the time in and name them individually.
A quick way to avoid having 100+ images with the same file name would be to export in batches using different file names. So you may end up with:
25 called ‘Some-Place-Wedding-01.jpg’
25 called ‘Rachel-Henry-wedding-some-place-01.jpg’
25 called ‘wedding-details-some-county-01.jpg’
& 25 called ‘epic-wedding-photography-01.jpg’
It’s not an ideal answer, but it better fits in with the workflow many of photographers.
I will often add unique alt text to my images, as Google has publicly stated this is important.
But, even so – this is one of the last things on my SEO list as, with wedding photographer sites in particular – it can be incredibly time-consuming, for relatively small gains.
A quick and dirty method of adding alt text to your images is using the WordPress plugin SEO Optimized Images – you can set it up to use the file name as the Alt text, making for one less thing for you to do.
But as I said above – the more effort you put in, and the more attention you give the small things, like file names – the more success you get out.
Writing the text
So, I’ve got a set of images, titles and keywords – can I write my post now?
Indeed you can! You probably don’t need much guidance on this point – but the aim is to write decent length, useful & engaging content.
My tests show that posts with less than 100 words and 50 images, do not rank as well as posts with 500 words and the same 50 images.
But don’t force it – no need to fill your post with junk just to hit a word limit, but do be mindful of writing enough. There is no firm number of what to write – some SEO experts will say you need 1000 words minimum, I tend to write between 300-500 where possible.
Try to include your keyword where possible, but again – don’t force it, Google values natural, well written, engaging content. The idea should be that you’re writing for your future couples to read, Nobody needs to read –
“I enjoyed being a some place house wedding photographer at some place house. Some place house weddings are so lovely and the light over this some place house wedding was just magnificent. Bride and Groom were so lucky to get some place house as their wedding venue. The reception room at this some place house wedding looked wonderfully grand and some place house lends itself wonderfully to wedding photographs.
If you’re looking for a some place house wedding photographer – get in touch!”
It’s a big steaming pile of crap right?
I know, I’ve been guilty of writing junk like that in the past and maybe some of my blog posts still hit those sour notes, but by and large it should be natural, nicely written and if you can stick in some solid keywords a few times without it breaking the flow, have at it!
One thing that you can use to build up both your word count, but more importantly – the usefulness of your content to future couples – is to write about things like:
- What the previous wedding couple did to the venue to make it their own
- How the venues worked for their plans
- The number of guests and any characters that made the day special
- The quality and quantity of food
- Why they chose that venue
- Where the venue was in relation to other locations on the day (church/hotel etc.)
- How that worked with travel etc.
- How they set up the venue
- How the schedule of their day fit with the venue – which rooms worked for specific parts of the day
- Any locations that worked particularly well for photographs
- Nearby facilities to consider, hotels, pubs etc.
- Other vendors they used and how they helped on the day
We’ve got keywords, titles, description, images and text – I can hit publish now and have a sleep?
Not quite. Sorry! Next we’ll look at linking