Everything you need to know to get ranked at the top!

I know how important it is to understand the importance of ranking well in the online world and also understand what a struggle it is to accomplish. As a business owner, we often have to learn all aspects of our business including SEO. You could very easily hire someone to spend endless hours optimizing your site, or you can learn how to do it and understand how it works. 

Since you asked for this information, I can already tell that you are like me and like learning how to do these things because it’s essential for you to understand HOW something works. After finishing this guide, you’ll have a firm understanding on how SEO works, how to research the right keywords, get an unlimited amount of data and information and most of all understand how to use the right keywords to get on page one. There are many guides out there on SEO, and many of them end up leaving the reader more confused. My goal is to keep it simple. Give you the important information you should be focusing on. And guide you in building a new set of tools you can use to build your business.


“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results.”
SEO is something a lot of people struggle with, they get so much information on it and then have a hard time implementing the essential aspects of it. Let me explain SEO to you. When you’re a business, you’ll use specific keywords that describe your business. If you're a photographer, you’ll use terms like “photographer.” “Newborn Photographer,” “wedding photographer.” If you’re someone who makes props for photographers you might use keywords like “newborn photography hat,” “maternity dress” etc. You’re using words to describe whatever you are doing in hopes that the person who is searching for that keyword is going to search for one of your keywords and end up on your site. The whole point of searching for something online is to find what you are looking for. Keywords are what makes the connection between business, and the person looking for something online.

EXAMPLE: Beth is a wedding photographer will use the words “wedding photographer” in one of her blogs. Anne is currently looking for a wedding photographer so she googles “wedding photographer”. Google will cross match these two things and match up the keywords that fit the best. This is how Anne finds Beths website and hires her as her wedding photographer.
The example above is how MOST people picture SEO to work, it’s entirely correct in that sense, but it’s missing some very important points.
Imagine all the photographers using the term “wedding photographer” in their blog posts and on their website. The online world would be flooded with the same keyword making it very difficult to get ranked on page one and getting found for a common keyword.

This is where the fun part comes in. I’m going to teach you exactly how to search for keywords, how to analyze them and find the keywords that will work best for you. There are THREE key parts to analyze when looking for the perfect keywords.
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 KEYWORD. Specific word, or group of words bundled together to create a ‘keyword.’ It is SO important to use keywords that apply to what you are offering. Don’t use keywords unless it applies to what you have. 

AVG. MONTHLY SEARCHES. The number of times a specific keyword gets searched per month. You’ll see exactly how many times a particular keyword gets searched for each month. Pretty amazing right? It’s amazing insight to have on keywords because you’ll quickly see which keywords are searched the most, and which ones aren’t. 

COMPETITION. High Competition means that this specific keyword is being used a lot, it will be tough to jump in and use that keyword and compete against what is already out there. I stay away from these keywords. Often they are the ones you’ll first think of because they are the most common. Getting ranked on page one using these keywords would take a very long time, so it’s best to go after lower competition keywords.
So when you search for a keyword, you’ll see that the competition for it is HIGH, MEDIUM or LOW. The high competition ones are the ones that are already being used by a lot of people. It would be tough to jump in and start using those keywords and get anywhere close to page one. I avoid using those keywords. Those keywords are often ones that are easiest to think of. Low competition means that not a lot of people are currently using these keywords and it would be easy to start using them on your own website and start getting ranked on page one for those specific keywords. I love using low competition keywords because they make it easiest to get ranked better. Medium competition keywords are obviously in between. I usually recommend people to use a lot of low competition keywords with a few medium competition keywords.
Now that we went over the three most important aspect of finding the right keywords you’re probably wondering how to find the perfect keywords to use.
Keywords that apply to what you are writing about, selling, or blogging about.
Keywords that are low in competition with a few medium ones mixed in.
Keywords that have a high monthly search volume.

Now that you have a good understanding on what SEO means as well as the important three parts that are most important when figuring out what all needs to be added it’s time to do your personal research on what keywords are the best ones for you to use. In the video below I'll show you how to go about researching keywords. 

Things to remember:
  • Research only keywords that apply to your business.
  • Use the keyword ideas to get inspiration for more keywords you could use.
  • Build your personal creative list of BEST keywords.
I’m going to show you how I would research keywords as a local wedding photographer.



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Go to www.google.com and search “google keyword planner”. Click on the first link.
(To use this tool you do need a Google AdWords account. Once you have that set up log into Google Adwords, and this will be your GoogleAdWords home page. Once you're here, click on the tools and analysis button at the top. Then, click Keyword Planner.) Having a google AdWords Account is FREE.
Once you are signed in, you’ll see a new screen. The one you want to click on is: Search for new keyword using a phrase, website or category. This is where you need to add your keyword or phrase. Since I am going to show you the full example by being a wedding photographer in Ocala Florida I would type something like Ocala Wedding Photographer as my keyword.
Analyze Data. The next page that comes up is going to give you all the data that you need to figure out what your perfect keywords are. The important points you need to keep an eye on are the relevancy to the keyword (make sure it applies to what you have). The Avg. Monthly Search. (look for those that are searched a lot!) And the COMPETITION of it. (look for low & medium competition!)
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With those three rules, your goal is to find all the keywords that apply to what you have. Those that are low in competition but are being searched a lot! If you follow those three rules you’ll get ranked better and closer to page one!

  • Go to www.google.com and search “google keyword planner”. Click on the first link.
  • (To use this tool you do need a Google AdWords account. Once you have that setup log into Google Adwords, and this will be your GoogleAdWords home page. Once you're here, click on the tools and analysis button at the top. Then, click Keyword Planner.) Having a Google AdWords Account is FREE.
  • Once you are signed in, you’ll see a new screen. The one you want to click on is: Search for new keyword using a phrase, website or category. This is where you need to add your keyword or phrase.
  • Since I am going to show you the full example by being a wedding photographer in Ocala Florida I would type something like Ocala Wedding Photographer as my keyword.
  • Location: I keep location on all locations (it could be someone who is from out of town that is looking for a local wedding photographer).  You could change this to your city, or a radius around where you want to find more potential clients.
  • Date Range: To see a full year worth of data and trends I keep it set to last 12 months. It’s always good to see a full year because you’ll also get insight on when certain things are being searched for most. If you have something seasonal, knowing when people are looking for it is key.
  • Once all that is set you’ll hit the GET IDEAS button.
  • Analyze Data. The next page that comes up is going to give you all the data that you need to figure out what your perfect keywords are. 
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The very first thing I’d like you to notice is the yearly trend. You can see that when you hover over the blue graph you can see how many times a month keywords associated to this keyword is being searched. Notice anything interesting? There’s a huge spike in February. What does that tell us? A LOT of people are looking for wedding photographers around that month ;) No surprise there!
Next thing I want you to take a closer look on is the actual keyword Ocala Wedding Photographer. I can see that there are about 30 monthly searches for this so I’m going to add it to my list since it is only medium competition.
Now my goal is to expand on this keyword and find the ones that apply, that are LOW competition. Those are going to be the best keywords for me to use as a local wedding photographer.
You can see the keyword Ocala Photography (50 monthly searches) and Ocala Photographer (20 monthly searches) are both low competition and would be some great keywords to start using when blogging and optimizing my website.
Next, I’m going to rearrange my keywords based on competition, showing me the low competition first. On page two I see bellemoor plantation(170 monthly searches) as a keyword, which is low competition and has about 170 searches a month. It’s a wedding venue here in Ocala and might be a good keyword to use if I have shot there, or plan on attracting clients who are getting married there.
Tip: You could write a blog post featuring the venue (contact the owner, maybe you can come by and take a few photos if you haven’t shot there before). If you have shot there before, be sure to blog about it a lot!
I keep looking and on page 5 I see Golden Ocala (1600 monthly searches) which is another local wedding venue. A great way to get more traffic from potential brides would be to add them to the list and blog about it. 
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You can continue adding more keywords to your list by looking for low and medium competition keywords. Once you have a few keywords to use it’s time to think a little bigger. Ocala is a smaller town BUT it’s centrally located to a lot of big cities in Florida, which is great for me since I travel all over to shoot weddings and sessions.
I’m going to do a new keyword search and look for Tampa Wedding Photographer. Since Tampa is a big city there will naturally be a lot more searches. More searches also come with more competition so it’s important to dig around to find the perfect ones to use!
Tampa wedding photographer gets 590 monthly searches and is medium competition. (to compare it to the same Ocala keyword which was only getting 20 monthly searches) you can see why it’s important for me to look at the cities around me as well. Since it’s medium competition I’m going to add it to the list.
Tampa fl Photographer
(140 monthly searches) is low competition so I’ll add it to the list.
Photographer Tampa Fl (210 monthly searches) is low competition. Sounds a lot like the one above right? Same words, in a different order = new keyword phrase even if it’s using the same words. 

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Below you can see all the keywords that I found to be useful. You’ll have your own list by now and will be ready to dive into using these keywords to create strong content that will get you ranking on page one in no time! I recommend making a list like the one below of any keywords that you'd like to use to optimize your site so when you are creating title, metadata etc. you have them on hand to look at. 

  • Ocala Wedding Photographer   (30 monthly searches)   Medium Competition
  • Bellemoor Plantation   (170 monthly searches)   Low Competition
  • Golden Ocala   (1600 monthly searches)   Low Competition
  • Ocala Photography   (50 monthly searches)   Low competition
  • Ocala Photographer   (20 monthly searches)   Low competition
  • Tampa Wedding Photographer   (590 monthly searches)   Medium Competition
  • Tampa fl Photographer   (140 monthly searches)   Low Competition
  • Photographer Tampa Fl   (210 monthly searches)   Low Competition

After analyzing keywords and creating your personal list of the best possible keywords to use it’s time to learn how to use these keywords. Lets face it, figuring out what keywords to use was only half of the magic. The second part is plugging those keywords in the right places.
To explain where they go I’ve created the ultimate SEO checklist which will give you all the info you need to know. I’ll also include some great examples so you can really understand how to use them.
Before I get that started here’s what came up on the first page for California Newborn Photographer. I want to point out a new thing so you can understand how your own SEO will show up on search engines.
You can see that the Blue writing is the TITLE, the Green is the link, and the Black is the META DESCRIPTION. This is where you want to pay very close attention to because this is what google sees when looking at your website, blog posts etc. This is why optimizing SEO is so important. You want to make sure to have the right keywords in the right place to make it really easy for people to find what they need. 

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Every website platform has different ways of optimizing for SEO. Below I’ll add a quick image of what it looks like on the back end of a site, your site should have a place to add this information. The important things to fill in are: Title, Meta, and Keywords in the right place.
Now it’s time to show you how to use keywords the right way. Below I will show you samples of headlines, and Meta Description (for the link just pretend like it’s your website link). I will highlight the keywords that are being used in the title, and the Meta description so you can see how exactly they fit in.
Important: Don’t stuff your headline and Meta with lots of keywords, use the right ones and make sure that everything flows. The goal is to have search engine recognize the important keywords but it’s also important that everything flows nicely for when a potential client comes across it online.
The first example is using those keywords I had found earlier. You can see that I use Ocala Wedding Photographer and Golden Ocala in my title, and Ocala Photographer, Wedding Photography, Central Florida, Golden Ocala as keywords in my Meta Description.
You can see how it would look like in the search engine, and see where I actually add the writing on the back end.
Notice that my title is 55 characters long? Keep it under 55 so search engines don’t cut anything off. For the Meta Description, you have 160 characters to use.

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If you’re a newborn photographer, here’s an example for you. 
Ready to start optimizing your own SEO? Here’s a checklist to help you stay on track!
TITLE – make sure to use keywords in this!
70 characters maximum
50 characters optimum
Grab attention
KEYWORDS – use only the best keywords!
Use best keywords (the ones you researched!)
Only use keywords that apply to what you have
Don’t overuse keywords
TEXT CONTENT – don’t overuse keywords and make sure it flows!
300-1000 words per post.
Use keywords 1-2%
300 words total (use keywords 3-6 times)
400 words total (use keywords 4-8 times)
500 words total (use keywords 5-10 times)
600 words total (use keywords 6-12 times)
700 words total (use keywords 7-14 times)
800 words total (use keywords 8-16 times)
900 words total (use keywords 9-17 times)
1000 words total (use keywords 10-20 times)
META DESCRIPTION – make sure to add keywords here, make sure it flows!
155 character maximum
Include keywords
Make sure that writing flows  
Rename all images.
Include image description
Include Title
Add appropriate backlinks to previous content. (past blog posts)
Add appropriate backlinks to information. (pricing, sessions etc.)
Lastly, I will cover some common questions that have been asked about SEO and optimizing your site: 

Q. Will it help to go back and fix past blog posts too?
A. Absolutely, once you understand how SEO works, and how to use the right keywords to get ranked better in search engines always go back and optimize. It can be a little time consuming but it will be worth it! I recommend creating an excel sheet where you can write down all your past blog posts, pages etc. and then work on a few every week until it's completed. Depending on how much content you already have, it might just take a few weeks or a couple months. Stick with it and optimize everything you can! 

Q. How to label photos on our website for SEO?!?
A. If you're uploading an image from a recent session, let's pretend it's a newborn session, your image should not be labeled MBP4738.jpg, it should be called newborn-image-lucy-yourstudioname.jpg or something like that to make it relatable to what you are writing about. 

Q. Should I resize my images?
A. Yes, the less work your site has to do while loading, the fast it will be. If you can resize all your images to make sure that your loading time is as fast as possible it will work in your favor. Think about how wide your blog or website is. If it's 800 px then there is no need for you to upload an image that is 2500 px wide. 

Q. How long does it take before all the things you do to improve actually starts making a difference? When can you expect to see results?
A. SEO is absolutely something that takes time to see a real result in. Making the correct changes is the best way to guarantee to get more traffic organically which is something you should notice within a couple weeks of using the correct keywords. This is something that will continue to grow over time. Slow and steady wins the race!

Q. What exactly are 'trigger words' and how to correctly use them in your content.
A. Trigger words is related to the emotional reaction we get from those that are reading our content to inspire them to take action. These words won't necessarily help us rank better but will help our readers connect to what we have to say. A good way to think about it are those animal shelter commercials, in those they are using the power of images to get those that are watching to connect emotionally to what they have to say in order to inspire them to take action and join their cause. When you're writing you have the power of words to do the same thing. A few trigger words that come to mind are; You, Free, Save, Proven, Important, Limited, Amazing, Simple.  

Q. What is the best way to get your name out there when you're first starting your business?
A. Learning about SEO early on in business is an awesome way to get more organic traffic. (FREE traffic you don't have to pay for). Many people starting out are not aware how to do SEO properly and if this is something you can learn early on it will get you more traffic which will hopefully in return get you more bookings. For those that are new, they might not yet have a large client base to get a lot of word of mouth referrals, or large social media account followings to translate into bookings. SEO is something that will grow over time and is completely free to do. It's a great strategy to start early on! 

Q. What are the benefits of having SEO?
If you're a small business you have to have multiple ways of bringing in bookings. It might be via Facebook, might be via Instagram, or it could be via SEO. Since it is your website it's your 'home' and should be used to optimize getting more traffic and bookings. If you have a strong SEO game, then it makes your business a lot stronger because you won't have to depend on platforms like facebook, Instagram or twitter who are constantly changing the rules about who sees your content. SEO is important for any business that wants to make sure to get traffic organically. 

Q. Wouldn't my fellow local photographers basically have a lot of the same "words" that my site would have? How do you set yourself apart? 
The video earlier went over how to do keyword research. When you are choosing keywords you are choosing them based on how many times they are being searched as well as what the competition for them is. If a keyword is searched a lot and is low competition, then that means no one is using to this keyword to the point of making it too hard for you to use as well. So use those keywords. They COULD be keywords fellow photographers are using as well but that's not what you should worry about. If it is a great keyword that you should use, and following the three golden rules of finding great keywords then go for it! 

Q. Do SEO plugins work or should you do it yourself?
SEO plugins like YOAST are great tools to ensure you are not missing anything important. However, they have no way of knowing which keywords are the best keywords for you to use (which is something you should know after doing your keyword research). So should you completely depend on the plugin? Nop, you should be aware of how SEO works, know your important keywords and then use plugins like YOAST to ensure you are not missing anything important. 

Q. What are 3 major things that a photog can do to boost SEO?
A.  1. Do keyword research to find the BEST keywords. 2. Tag your images correctly. 3. Blog consistently. 

Q. What is good content for blogging?
A. There are a million things you can blog about. Don't limit yourself to the obvious ones like sessions alone, but think about what related topics your potential client might be researching about? If you're a wedding photographer you could blog about shooting at specific local venues (which might be searched a lot) or interview a local popular florist. If you're a newborn photographer you could blog about how to prepare for a newborn session, or what to look for in a newborn photographer. There are so many great topics that you could blog about. 

You can see that everything we have covered can be quite simple. This is the base of understanding SEO and you'll be able to go to your website and start optimizing it and get it closer to page one. 

SEO is something that takes time. It's not something you will see an instant result but by putting these tools to work you'll see yourself moving closer and closer to where you want and will be found organically. If you have never bothered with optimizing your website, take time to do it. It's so worth it! 

C O N T E N T   D O E S N ' T   W I N,
O P T I M I Z E D   C O N T E N T   W I N S.