An Interview With Parkway Digital
On the Importance of Having an SEO-friendly Website for Photographers
We know it might feel like having social media accounts is enough to drive new business to you, but after 11 years of having a live website and working with professionals to make is search engine optimized, we know to understand more than ever why it's so important to nurture a beautiful, professional SEO friendly website! While starting a photography business on social media can be one of the easiest and quickest ways to get your business started, investing in an SEO friendly website helps cast a wider net to more potential clients, which comes in handy when you start to develop your niche and raise your prices.
As a business coach for wedding photographers, I can not stress the importance enough to my clients of having a working website that helps confirm to potential clients that you are a professional. When we started our business 11+ years ago it was with a simple, free Tumblr site. We quickly realized that if we were going to make this a full-time career, we needed to have a storefront that could grow with us. Within a year we switched to a WordPress site but we really didn’t know what we were doing. It wasn’t until the first brand re-do that we started to realize the effects that a professional, SEO website had on our inquiries.
About three years ago we connected with Parkway Digital to help us take our website to the next level of SEO friendly and professional. The results we saw were dramatic. Even though we had raised our prices and had the starting prices listed on our website, inquires were steadily streaming in and almost all of them were saying they found us on “Google” or “Internet Search.” Not only that, but we were reaching further locations to place we had blogged about during our travels.
In this interview, we hope to share the importance of why using SEO strategies to build your website is so important as a wedding photographer. Even more so, why we feel that working with a professional company is the way to go! SEO is absolutely something you can do yourself, but because of the dramatic shift in inquiries we saw after working with Parkway Digital, we knew there was something special about working with people that knew how to optimize the site past our knowledge.
A lot of my photography coaching clients come to me with really great Instagram or Facebook followings. They have thousands of followers and are busy working, sometimes even to the point of burn out: BUT they can’t seem to raise their prices to sustainable levels for some reason. It seems when they do, their current following, customers, and reach are priced out. What I stress to them in coaching is that having a website helps bridge the gap by casting a much wider net to prospective clients that haven’t met you yet but are searching specifically for your services.
Here are some of the questions I’ve talked to my coaching clients about along with answers from the team over at Parkway Digital
1) I’ve been using Instagram and Facebook to grow my business for years and it’s working great. Why is a website still important? While social media provides a great online platform for growing your business, it doesn’t offer the same functionality as a website. One cannot replace the other, but rather, they should complement each other and your other marketing efforts. Social media can help you reach new clientele and invite your current customers to get to know you, while a website strengthens your brand, deepens engagement, and helps you meet your marketing and sales goals.
You can build trusting relationships and credibility with your customers with a professional website that’s integrated into your overall marketing strategy. When users click through to your website from other channels, such as social media, they can learn more about your business in-depth without other distractions. A website allows you to showcase all of the unique features and offerings of your business with customers and encourage them to take action while you have their full attention.
A website also offers many other advantages for businesses, including search engine ranking ability, insight into analytics and customer behavior, the opportunity to share your expertise through in-depth content, and so much more. Your website ties all of your marketing efforts together, giving customers the opportunity to engage with your business through multiple channels, from your blog to your email newsletter.
2) What is SEO and why is it important? Search engine optimization encompasses many different tactics to help improve your website’s visibility in the search rankings and as a result, increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. If you want search engine users to find you online, you need a strong SEO strategy.
Google, Bing, and other search engines use a complex algorithm to rank their search results. Understanding which algorithm factors have the most significant impact on how the search engine determines what a searcher sees is the key to search engine optimization. Your website’s structure, user experience, and content are some of the most important parts of SEO that appeal to both searchers and search engines. Attracting the “right” people (potential customers) to your website will increase traffic to your site, as search engines recognize the authority that you have online.
3) I created my website all by myself and didn’t pay attention to site-structure or SEO and now that I’ve learned a little bit about it, I realize it’s a mess. What are some suggestions to help get it back in working order? Do you offer services that help? Start by thinking like your customer. It should be easy for them to find what they are looking for with only 1-2 clicks. Reorganize the navigation in a way that is easy to understand and follow. A simplified structure helps both users and search engines find the most important details. Streamlined navigation will also serve you well as your website and portfolio grows! Lastly, design your website with conversions in mind. Consider placing a contact form at the bottom of each of your pages and a prominent call-to-action in the navigation – ex. Contact Us, Let’s Talk, Schedule an Appointment, Free Consultation, etc.
And yes, we do offer services and you can explore them here.
4) Is blogging a tool of the past or is it still important and why? Content creation is one of the most effective, low-cost marketing efforts you can implement today. A blog can help you establish a strong relationship with your current customers, as well as potential customers. Blogging gives you the opportunity to engage with your audience conversationally while building their trust as an expert in your industry. Blog posts make great shareable content for your social media and email newsletters. Fresh, updated content is also a great way to improve your SEO and bring in more traffic to your website!
5) What should I keep in mind when I blog? First, find out what information your customers are searching for, exactly. Remember, your blog is meant to help you engage with your current customers and potential clients searching for your services online. If you are sharing a new gallery, including the details of the shoot that your clientele might be interested in, such as the location, the occasion, and the time of year. Keyword stuffing is unnecessary but keywords are still important. Keywords and ideas make your blog posts more relevant and searchable. Develop your blog content based on questions that you are commonly asked. If a specific question or topic continues to come up in client conversations, then you know others are likely wondering the same thing!
6) What are some other strategies to make my website work well and/or be strategic? Add to your blog and portfolio continuously to show clients and search engines your most recent work. This keeps you relevant to the search engine, (And to your potential client!) Check-in on your website content frequently to ensure that everything is accurate and up-to-date. Another way to check-in is to have your friends or family give your website a test drive, and provide you with helpful feedback!
7) What is a call to action and why is it important? A call to action is an invitation for your audience to take the next step, whether that’s booking a session, signing up for your email newsletter, or entering a giveaway. If potential customers aren’t given an obvious opportunity to take action, they may never revisit your website or become a customer. Incorporate CTAs in your social media, website, and email campaigns that stand out with clear action verbs to trigger a response from potential clients.
8) Should I list my prices on my website? We’ll leave this one to you to talk to your coaching clients about 1:1, Christina! Personally, as someone who just got married, we enjoyed being able to see pricing options before reaching out to a photographer, but I notice plenty of photographers in the industry that have a pricing page on their website that was purposefully not listed in the navigation and shared only upon request.
Christina Weighs in: We list our starting prices on our website as a way to filter out clients that we are out of budget for, but we absolutely know that part of the reason we are able to do that is that our SEO is strong and bringing lots of people to our website. We don’t’ want every one of them hitting the inquire button because that would be overwhelming for us to respond to if they can’t afford our base collection. For someone starting out that might want to practice talking to clients on the phone about what their offerings are, it might be a better idea to leave their price off their website to start.
9) I don’t have time to work on my website or blog, what are your suggestions or easy and helpful tools? Setting aside time for your website or blog can be a challenge- even for us! For your blog, we highly recommend using a content calendar. An organized content calendar will actually make keeping up with your blog easier. Instead of struggling to come up with blog topics on the spot, you’ll have a schedule with deadlines, blog categories, and topics to help you stay on track. Determine a good posting frequency first, and go from there. You may want to start out with just one or two blog posts a month, just make sure you’re being consistent!
10) What is the difference between creating my website myself and hiring a professional to do it?
Website builders like Squarespace and Wix offer a simple and fairly inexpensive solution for nonprofessionals to make a website. While these builders might get the job done for a little while, they might not provide your online business platform with all of the functionality that it needs- that’s where the professionals come in. For example, if you’re expecting your website to generate the majority of your sales, you may need powerful eCommerce capabilities.
When you hire a professional to take care of your website, they’ll ensure that your website is performing its best behind the scenes, with high page speed, accessibility functionality, sound site structure, responsive design, and more. They have the skills and tools to make sure your website provides an excellent user experience and performs well in search. They’ll also equip your site with analytic data tracking to help you improve your business and meet your marketing goals!
At Parkway, we use WordPress, a much more powerful system than Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, that allows our designers to customize a website that meets our client’s needs without starting from scratch. Our developers can add just about any plugin, from SEO to social sharing, to make your website work best for you. Being an open-source content management system, it’s also designed to be accessible and user-friendly so our clients can manage and edit their website content on their own!
11) What is turn around for a new website? This answer fluctuates greatly but can depend on a number of factors like the size of the website (number of pages), whether you need content created or not, resizing images, etc. and other factors outside of the client’s control like our current workload. If the client is prepared when they come to us and have already collected their website assets and review/provide feedback in a timely manner, the process moves much faster. Currently, (Fall 2020), our websites start at $4,500 for a standard 5-page website.
12) What other ways does Parkway digital specifically help small businesses such as a local wedding photographer who is looking to grow? Parkway Digital is passionate about serving small businesses in the city we share. Together, we’ll look at your goals and develop a digital solution tailored to your specific needs. We want to help you showcase the unique facets of your business and build meaningful connections with your customers. Aside from web design, our services include SEO, content marketing, advertising, analytics, social media management, and software solutions. You can take a look at some of our work here!
Coaching helps you manage one of the most important tools you have in your success: Your Mindset. When you coach with me not only do you get access to all of the strategies we used to take our business from $5K to $150K in three years, you’ll receive the mindset tools to help get you ready to expand to your fullest potential as a wedding photographer!
If you want to grow your business, I can not stress the importance of working with a professional on your website. Parkway digital has the tools to help redesign your site to be strategi AND SEO friendly which helps bring more leads in the door. When you work with Parkway Digital, not only do you get to use a team of the smartest website and SEO people I know, you also get access to some of the best customer service I’ve ever received!