We recently chatted with Brian and Christina Shaw of Shaw Photography Co about the importance of an SEO-friendly website, specifically for photographers. About three years ago, our team built Shaw Photography Co a professional, SEO-friendly website that helped them take their photography and coaching business to the next level. An optimized website helped them reach prospective clients searching with Google rather than Facebook or Instagram. They were immediately impressed by the dramatic increase in leads they received through search, even after visibly raising their prices.
There is plenty to take away from our discussion for all types of businesses, small and large!
Website vs. Social Media
Shaw Photography Co: I’ve been using Instagram and Facebook to grow my business for years and it’s working great. Why is a website still important?
Parkway Digital: While social media is a great platform for growing your business, it doesn’t offer the robust functionality a website does. One cannot replace the other. Instead, 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, and helps you meet marketing and sales goals.
A professional website integrated into your overall marketing strategy helps you build credibility. When users click through to your website from other channels, such as social media, they can learn more about your business without any distractions. A website allows you to showcase all of your business’ unique features and offerings. You can also encourage website visitors to take action while you have their full attention.
A website also offers many other advantages for businesses, including search engine rankings, insight into analytics and customer behavior, the opportunity to share your expertise through in-depth content, and so much more. A well-planned 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.
Shaw Photography Co: What is SEO and why is it important?
Parkway Digital: Search engine optimization encompasses many different tactics to help improve your website’s visibility in the search results. As a result, you’re increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. If you want searchers to find you, you need a strong SEO strategy.
Google, Bing and other search engines use complex algorithms to rank their search results. Understanding which factors have the biggest impact on 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. Attracting the “right” people (potential customers) to your website helps search engines recognize the authority you have in your industry.
Shaw Photography Co: I created my website all by myself and didn’t pay attention to site structure or SEO. 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?
Parkway Digital: Start by thinking like your customer. It should be easy for them to find what they are looking for with only 1 or 2 clicks. Reorganize the navigation in a way that is easy to understand and follow. A simplified site structure helps both users and search engines find the most important details. Streamlined navigation will also serve you well as your website and portfolio grow! 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. We like Contact Us, Let’s Talk, Request a Quote and Free Consultation.
Professional Website Development
Shaw Photography Co: What is the difference between creating my website myself and hiring a professional to do it?
Parkway Digital: Website builders like Squarespace and Wix offer simple and fairly inexpensive solutions. While these builders might get the job done for a little while, they probably won’t provide all of the functionality you need. 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 fast page speed, accessibility, functionality, sound site structure, responsive design and more. Designers and developers have the skills and tools to create an excellent user experience and SEO-friendly starting point. They’ll also install Google Analytics or another tracking tool to help you measure progress toward your marketing goals!
At Parkway, we use WordPress, a much more powerful content management system than Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. The platform allows our designers to customize a website that meets our clients’ needs without starting from scratch. Our developers can add just about any plugin to make your website work for you. As an open-source content management system, WordPress is designed to be user-friendly. Many of our clients manage and edit their website content on their own!
Shaw Photography Co: Is blogging a tool of the past or is it still important? Why?
Parkway Digital: Content creation is one of the most effective, low-cost marketing efforts you can implement today. Blogging gives you the opportunity to engage with your audience conversationally while gaining their trust as an expert in your industry. Blog posts make great shareable content for your social media accounts and email newsletters. Fresh, updated content is also a great way to improve your SEO and bring more traffic to your website!
Shaw Photography Co: What should I keep in mind when I blog?
Parkway Digital: First, find out what information your customers are searching for, exactly. Remember, your blog should 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 you are commonly asked. If a specific question or topic continues to come up in client conversations, then others are likely wondering the same thing!
Shaw Photography Co: I don’t have time to work on my website or blog. Can you suggest helpful, easy-to-use tools?
Parkway Digital: 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 realistic posting frequency and go from there.