When I do SEO consultations, I often start off by asking “what are your goals when it comes to SEO?”
The response is almost *always* some form of: “I want to rank on the first page!”
While it’s an understandable aspiration, this type of goal is not specific or action-oriented.
SEO is a broad field, with thousands of factors impacting search rankings. In reality, there is no one thing that can easily be identified as “doing SEO.”
Instead, you need to identify specific tasks that can help you accomplish your goals. Knowing your objectives will enable you to select the most effective strategies and ultimately achieve better results.
Having specific goals allows you to:
- Prioritize tasks that contribute directly to your desired outcomes
- Monitor your progress more effectively
- Refine your approach over time
- Communicate clearly with team members or external partners (like an SEO consultant or copywriter)
With this in mind, let’s dive into some specific SEO goals for photographers! While this isn’t an exhaustive list of SEO strategies for photographers, it should give you some great examples of how to set specific SEO goals.
Map + Local
If you are a photographer who serves a specific geographical area (and *especially* if you have a studio), the Google Maps, the map pack, and local organic searches should be high on your SEO priority list.
1. I want to optimize my Google Business Profile and make sure I have a steady stream of new 5-star reviews
When people find you in map results, you want to make sure that they have up-to-date information. Google will even show notifications on the listing that let visitors know when it was last updated in some cases. Having accurate and recently updated information increases the confidence that contacting you will be worthwhile.
Similarly, having recent positive reviews shows that you are *currently* a great candidate for the searcher. Having a process to ask for reviews is an important part of any SEO strategy, and is something you can easily implement into your workflow today!
2. I want to rank #1 in the map pack when people are searching for in-studio newborn photographers in my city
When you want to rank in the map pack (the set of 2-3 map results that show up at the top of some organic results), it is important to realize that the results are heavily influenced by the address you use to verify your business.
While it is not impossible to show up in the map pack with a service area business, it may be significantly more difficult when other businesses have studios near the city center. If you are a photographer with a studio, and you have clients who are specifically seeking an in-studio experience, the map pack and map results should be a high priority for you!
3. I want to create cornerstone content for the 5 towns and neighborhoods surrounding my main city so that I can easily rank on the first page when searchers are very specific with their queries
Often I see that people do some keyword research, then decide they want to rank for every area near them. Then they will proceed to stuff those keywords into page titles, footers, and other random places hoping that it will be enough to get those rankings.
Instead, define the specific areas where you want to rank, and create specific pages that serve the searchers in those locations. Think about why they specifically searched for that location, and make sure the content of the page will be exactly what they were looking for!
4. I want to be in the top 3 organic results when someone searches for [city] + [specialty] + photographer
This is a pretty classic goal, and isn’t too different from “I just want to rank on the first page.” However, this can still be an important goal for many photographers. While it seems like an obvious goal, you might be surprised at how many photographers don’t even get this specific.
In some markets, this may be a long term goal. It may require a more complex plan that includes backlinks, citations, and building your local reputation. Be sure to scope the difficulty and consider adding some other specific goals to your list while you work on this one!
5. I want to show up on the map results when people search “photographers near me”
Near me terms are becoming more and more common as people search primarily with mobile devices and voice commands. Even though searchers don’t always need a photographer to be close to their current location, the term “near me” has become a shortcut for typing out a city/state.
Raking for near me terms will require letting Google know exactly which area you serve, and where your business is located. If this is at the top of your priority list, you’ll want to do whatever it takes to get an address verified close to the area that most people are searching for your business.
You might be tempted to take it for granted, but managing the search results when someone searches for your name (both your personal name and your business name) is an important part of any SEO strategy.
6. I want my site to be the first result when someone searches for my business name, and I want Google to display helpful sitelinks that help visitors get to my most popular pages directly from search
You might think that this will happen automatically, but that isn’t always the case. Google may choose to show a social profile, an internal page, a directory listing, or an article where you’ve been featured as the first result when someone searches for your brand.
Even if you get your home page ranking, your site may not display helpful sitelinks. Be sure to check out this video where I talk about the top ways to influence Google’s decisions about which sitelinks to display on a branded search.
7. I want people to see where I’ve been interviewed and featured when they search for my name
When someone searches for your name or your brand, you may also want them to find places where you’ve been mentioned online. This is especially valuable if you’ve had high-profile coverage and want to showcase that.
Think of it like the “as seen on” badges you often see on photography home pages. In this case, you’re adding even more social proof because it is easy to fake a logo on your home page, but if they see the link show up in a Google search, they will know it is the real deal!
8. I want to control all of the results on the first page when someone searches for my brand
When possible, you want to control all of the links that show up on the first page when someone searches for your name/brand. In this case, “control” means that you have some influence over what is displayed. This could be a social profile, a directory listing, or a secondary website that you own.
At the very least, you’ll want to make sure all results on the first page are positive and that there aren’t confusing results related to someone else’s brand that is similar to yours.
9. I want a knowledge graph panel to show up on the search when someone searches for my business name
When Google is confident that a searcher is looking for a specific brand, they will show a knowledge graph panel on the results. This panel will include details from your Google Business Profile, as well as links to reviews and profiles from around the web.
If you aren’t getting a knowledge graph panel, it probably means that you haven’t set up your Google Business Profile, or that there is another possible intent when someone searches for your brand (eg. a competitor with a similar name, or your name has a more general meaning like a song, movie, or poem).
Google and other search engines (think Pinterest) often feature images prominently for users that are likely to want visual inspiration.
Image search is a popular way for searchers to use Google, and there are specific strategies to take advantage of image search. Be sure to check out our podcast episode on image search strategies!
10. I want my images to rank in an image search for [city] + [specialty] + photographer
Many searchers go straight to the image results, and this is especially true when using photography terms. While many people who search for “[city] + [specialty] + photographer” are looking to visit a website or browse the map results, some searchers may want to narrow down photographer choices based on visual style.
If this is a goal for you, make sure to do the search and see what kind of images Google is currently displaying. Then pick a few photos you think would fit well in this feed and add them to your home page. Images near the top of the page, the featured image, and images optimized (file name and alt text) for this main keyword have the best chance of ranking.
11. I want my images to show up in an image pack that is being displayed in the organic results for a term I am targeting
Some keywords have an image pack on the first page of results. This often happens when you use “photography” or “photos” instead of “photographers.”
If there is an image pack, it usually just shows the top images from the image search tab. If the SERPs you are targeting have this feature, you might want to prioritize this goal even more!
12. I want get 100 clicks per month from image searches related to wedding venues in my city
I like this goal because it uses multiple pages and sets a traffic goal over time. Similar to the last two goals, you could optimize images on pages that target wedding venues and specifically check to see how many clicks you are receiving each month from these images. Pay attention to which images are doing well and come up with some theories about why, then apply to your other venue pages!
13. I want to distribute images on free stock photo websites as a strategy to get more backlinks and name mentions on high authority websites
This strategy is a long term play, but free stock websites like Pexels and Unsplash can help you build authority when people use your photos and give you credit. Make sure your profile name there matches your actual business name, and even if you aren’t getting backlinks, the mentions will include your brand!
14. I want to improve the organic ranking of my main pages by including high quality images that are well optimized for search traffic
When Google is considering which pages to rank for a keyword that indicates a searcher wants to see images, the pages that rank well are likely to include high quality images that Google considers relevant for the keyword.
Make sure to investigate which images Google thinks are relevant by looking at image results, then be sure you are including similar images on your pages to improve their rankings!
Writing interesting content and self-publishing online can open endless opportunities. Pairing a good content marketing strategy with a basic understanding of how people use search engines to find content is a sure-fire way to get reliable traffic to your website.
15. I want to create guides that help families in my city discover interesting things to do with their kids
If you are a family photographer, you don’t have to wait until people are searching for a family photographer to make a connection with potential customers. There are so many interesting topics that you can write about that will be found by parents searching for things to do with their kids in your city.
Do some keyword research and look for topics that get search volume, but where the results aren’t as good as you know they could be. If you have photos of the things you write about (with your family, or from client sessions) you can create unique content that is extremely helpful for searchers!
16. I want to write articles that reduce the hours I spend each month answering the same questions for my clients
Sometimes your content strategy is all about driving traffic, but other times you should focus on customer service. When you write the articles that answer FAQ you should be thinking about SEO a little differently. You don’t always need to optimize these posts to rank nationally for terms like “what to wear for family photos.”
Instead, think about how including these topics makes your overall site more helpful to your target visitor so that they’ll find everything they need without going back to look at other results. Google loves a site that fully satisfies the searcher’s needs!
17. I want to create blog posts showcasing real weddings so couples can get an idea of what their wedding might look like at specific wedding venues
Having a very specific reason for writing a post will guide you through the content creation process while also improving your chance of ranking for terms that have that specific intent.
In this case, you could choose to lean into the fact that people want visual inspiration from real weddings, and sometimes want to see more photos and less venue information. This isn’t the *only* strategy that works if you want to rank for wedding venues, but it is an example of a specific goal you could adopt and test!
18. I want to write about my journey starting and running a photography business to inspire other photographers
As you work on improving your craft and your business, you’re constantly learning. Writing about the process is a great way to demonstrate expertise, and is also something that will always be in demand as other photographers search Google to solve similar problems in their journey.
19. I want to write reviews about camera gear so I can attract sponsors for my speaking engagements
Gear reviews are a great way to talk about something you’ve tested personally and give very specific insights that you learned from first-hand experience. If you’re good at reviewing gear, and you have a little luck (higher chances of luck if you review more obscure gear), you can even get the attention of the company that makes the gear. This can build authority in many ways, and may even lead to paid speaking engagements or sponsorships.
20. I want to review my favorite software so that I can earn affiliate commissions when people sign up after reading my review
Software is another thing you can review based on first-hand experience. The added benefit here is that most of these companies have affiliate programs. If you can get a review ranking, you may be able to generate commissions for months or years!
Online networking is essential for building authority and trust in your market. There are plenty of SEO strategies that you can use to build real-world relationships that bring endless opportunities to your business.
21. I want to write about local venues and vendors as a way to showcase the people I love working with, and build reciprocity so that they are likely to refer me more often
This can be a fun way to build relationships while building your content library. Offer to interview people you enjoy working with, or do a spotlight on them based on photos you’ve taken. Try to add value because you genuinely like these vendors/venues and want more people to book them. I’ve found this to work best when you don’t ask for something directly in return.
22. I want to write content on other people’s websites so that I can help add value to their audience, while building authority and links to my site
Guest posting can be a great way to showcase your authority to someone else’s audience. You get to be in the spotlight, they get new content for their site, and you can also ask for a backlink that will send traffic to your website.
This goal also allows you to get exposure for topics where you might not have the authority to rank with your own site yet. Start by offering to guest post for locals, friends, or people you are otherwise connected to, then look for opportunities to pitch your post ideas to sites with even higher authority and reach!
23. I want to nurture the comments section of my blog posts so that I can build real relationships with my visitors
Many photographers choose to turn comments off on their blog posts. However, you could flip the script and make sure that every single post is meant to start an engaging conversation. These posts are more likely to get shared, and will build an active community of followers who come back to your site over and over. If these visitors are also potential clients, you’ll have people ready to buy every time you offer something for sale.
24. I want to demonstrate my expertise so that other bloggers, podcasters, and website owners will ask to interview me for their audience
If you want to be interviewed as an expert/authority, you need to first show that you have ideas worth discussing. Your blog is a great place to publish your ideas as you are developing them.
If you want to write guest posts, show examples on your own site of how you go above and beyond when creating content. Build a library of examples so that anyone who visits your site would say “wow, I want this person to write for me.”
A big part of SEO is making sure that your site is accessible and easy to use. Making things extremely clear is a big part of getting your site to show up on Google.
25. I want to make sure that my whole website is easy to navigate, and that all content is skimmable on desktop and mobile
You could base your entire SEO strategy around the goal of making your site easier to use. If you make things easy for visitors, you’ll often also make it easy for Google to understand.
Prioritize simplicity over “pretty.” Choose fonts that are easy to read, make it extremely easy to find the main things people would be looking for on any page. Not only will this help improve your rankings, but it will also improve conversions.
26. I want to make sure my website loads fast on all devices so that people won’t be frustrated as they engage with my content
Unfortunately, photographers often get too obsessed with speed scores like Pagespeed Insights. The goal shouldn’t be to get a higher score on a test, but to make sure visitors are able to use the site without frustration.
That being said, if your site is *actually* slow, it is a great to set a goal to improve the performance and make it easier for people to get the info they need, even if they don’t have a great internet connection.
27. I want to make sure that someone using a screen reader can easily navigate my site and experience my images through alt text
Improving accessibility is always a great goal and can also lead to improved rankings. Instead of focusing on stuffing your alt text and headings full of keywords, test your site on a screen reader and make sure it is easy to use. This goal will help you understand how to optimize all of your future content in a way that makes Google and visitors happy.
Google is constantly changing how they display the search results (SERP = Search Engine Results Page). Many SEO tactics focus on gaining visibility by optimizing for specific SERP features.
28. I want to win featured snippets for my blog posts that round up different locations and entities in my city
One popular type of featured snippet is a list of entities. If you plan to write blog posts that are lists of entities (locations, businesses, etc), you may also want to target this kind of featured snippet. Often the best way to win the list snippets is to use an H2 tag for each entity in your list.
29. I want to get the answer snippets so that I show up at the top of search, and the answer is read when someone does a voice search on a Google device
If you want to be the answer that gets read when someone does a voice search, you’ll need to practice answering questions in a straightforward manner within a specific character limit. Make sure you avoid answers that say “it depends” and instead give a direct answer, even if it is your opinion. While this won’t always be a top priority for photographers, there can be some low hanging fruit if you know how to look for it (hint: use Semrush or another tool that shows SERP features).
30. I want to show up at the top of the “people also ask” feature
This is actually an excellent SEO goal because it has primary results and secondary effects. The primary result is showing up in a feature where searchers often click. Sometimes when you do a search, you aren’t 100% sure how you want to phrase the search. The people also ask box will give you some ideas about other ways you could have searched.
The secondary effect is that if you target topics that show up in People Also Ask, you’ll likely be improving the relevance of your domain for the main keywords you are targeting. Showcase the fact that you are an expert and have insightful knowledge about many popular topics for people searching for a photographer.
31. I want to get the large result in the “related searches” cards that show up on mobile after the first two pages of organic results.
This is specific to Google mobile results. After scrolling past 10-20 results, you start getting “cards.” Often there is a large result and two smaller results per screen. You could build an entire strategy around trying to show up as the top result on as many of these “cards” as possible. They are generated from something similar to “people also ask” – so you might be able to knock out this goal and the last one at the same time!
32. I want to show up in the video carousel that appears on a term I am targeting
If you find that the terms you are targeting often have video results, you could build a strategy around targeting these with your own videos (YouTube or self-hosted). If you’re someone who loves making videos this can be a fun way to do SEO, and sometimes you can compete quickly if you publish on YouTube.
33. I want to get a full width image thumbnail in mobile search
To be honest, I haven’t even figured out how to accomplish this goal yet, but that’s one reason I included it here. Sometimes when you’re doing SEO you’ll see something you want to accomplish and have no idea how to do it. In this example, there are some sites in mobile results (for photography related queries) that get a full width image thumbnail preview instead of the small square one on the right.
Since we know this kind of result is possible, the first step is to start making observations to look for patterns. Make a list of sites that have this feature, and note which image is getting used. Then look for similarities on the sites on your list. Is the image always a featured image? A certain aspect ratio? Placed within the first 1/3 of the page? Do the sites that win these full width thumbnails also have images ranking at the top of the image search? What do their business profiles look like? Do they use the same image as a cover on their social profiles? The more variables you can think of, the more you can be sure about the consistency of your observations.
Start testing for yourself, and see if you can influence the thumbnail Google chooses for your site.
Hopefully this list of specific SEO goals gave you some inspiration so that you can start setting smarter goals. There are SO many ways to win with SEO, and many of these goals will be obtainable in a shorter timeframe than ranking for the main photography keywords in your city.
If you feel like you need more guidance and you’re ready to take your SEO to the next level, be sure to check out the Fuel Your Photos membership. We have an active community, weekly office hours, and dozens of guides and lessons that walk you through tasks that have the most impact on your ranking!
Now that you have some new ideas, let us know your specific SEO goals in the comments below!