Viewing Social Media

#Instagram Marketing

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

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#InstagramMarketing by Catherine Guidry

A few days ago, I was deep in a conversation about business. My friend “Susan” discussed her frustration with social media and how she could never quite wrap her head around the how and why of it? Not only are there a ton of social media platforms but there’s specific strategies for each to be successful.
With Instagram quickly becoming the “Go-To” spot for social media (especially for photographers and creatives), knowing how to use it is powerful. And in my humble opinion I think clients and creatives are slowly moving toward this (if not already) being the #1 spot for artists.

My first interaction with Instagram was when I discovered my “I woke up like this” photo was not just filtered and saved to my phone but posted to an online feed where any person could see. Needless to say, I’ve come a long way since then and realize Instagram’s true entertainment and business potential!

Below are a few strategies I’ve found successful on the platform:

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* Post Valuable Content

Creating value is the difference between watching QVC for an hour and a TV Series split with 3 min commercials every 15 minutes. If every post coming from an artist feels like a promotion for a product or sale, it may be difficult to gain interest. However, if the artist is sharing strong and relatable content in conjunction with “exclusive” promotions, your followers are hooked.

Try mixing in fun stories about your shooting experience or tips on how to make your images stronger. Even beautiful imagery is a great way to off set sales and marketing images to promote your brand. Sharing insight and providing value to your followers will make them more likely to purchase from you when the time comes.

 

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* Make it Personal

Photographers spend more time with the client then any other vendor for a wedding; so it’s important that they’re able to connect with who you are. People want to know the person behind the camera (in addition to loving your images)!

Make your feed interesting and engaging by making it personal. Behind the scenes posts and work in progress shots are a great way to engage your followers and let them know you are human. I’ve also been able to personally connect with instagram followers over things such as my love for travel, animals, and good food! The more you put out the more likely you are to draw a following of people just like you. Like definitely attracts like.

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*Promote Others:

Promoting and sharing other creatives is always great way to introduce one “friend” to another; and reinforces the idea of community over competition. You can do this by reposting images (with permission and including photo credits) or by actually collaborating with others and instagramming the process or final product. Some of my most re-shared images are images created in collaboration with other artists. I think the natural tendency is to be afraid of giving away the potential of sales by promoting others. But you’d be surprised at how the more you give, the more it comes back to you. Let’s rise together!

Lastly, always keep in mind that promoting others is a means of aligning your brand with theirs. So, choose wisely!

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* Use Hashtags to Connect:

Hashtags are not only fun, but practical! Using them in your captions will link your images with other images specific that verbage. If you’re not familiar with how they work, here’s a few examples:

– (For connecting future clients) : When looking for wedding cake ideas, potential clients/future brides can stumble upon your work if it has been tagged “#weddingcake”.

– (For connecting creatives) : Say, you’re a Nikon shooter and you use the #nikon or #nikonshooter, you’ll instantly be connecting to any other instagrammer who used the same hashtag!

– (For personal use) : I’ve seen instagrammers use #’s for creating a journal of almost anything! Examples include behind the scenes images or fun traditions that mark milestones in their business.

– (For promoting workshops): Workshops are an especially opportune time to get everyone involved using a mutual hashtag: it’s basically free advertising!

– (For advertising at weddings): One of the most recent ways I’ve begun using hashtags is by asking the couples what they’ll be using for their wedding hashtag and adding it to an engagement image the day before or day of the wedding. This way, when all of the guests use the couple’s wedding hashtag they’ll see my photo(s) standing out amongst the iphone shots!

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* Brand Your Instagram

Instagram may be your first impression for some; so it should leave as strong an impact as any other element of your brand. Create a visual identity with color by selecting a palette that works well for your feed! It may be neutrals or neons, one color or many. Having those colors scattered throughout will collectively make your feed feel intentional.

Only post images that align with your brand and the message you’re working toward. If it doesn’t fit, don’t post it. This may even mean creating a separate instagram account for your closest friends and family memebers.

Consistent branding not only looks professional, but sets you apart from the clutter.

The Assistant’s Manual: Behind the Scenes with Social Media with Alissa Zimmerman

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

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The Assistant’s Manual: Behind the Scenes with Social Media with Alissa Zimmerman

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Ah, the world of social media. Facebook, blog posts, Instagram—the list goes on and on. We are trained to shoot, shoot, shoot, then share, share, share. Our first instinct as professional photographers is to post the final polished images from a shoot so our clients and followers can see the incredible work we do. Now take that a step further: What if your clients had the ability to see the story behind the image? The “how to” of what went into making a breathtaking image you post, the story behind the image, is actually just as powerful in creating an engaged audience and loyal following.

 

Part of being an assistant to Sal is capturing these moments behind the scenes, and 99.9 percent of the time, Sal doesn’t even realize I’m doing it.

 

These four tips will help you capture your talents in the right light. Just remember that you still have to protect your brand at all times.

 

 

Entertain, but don’t forget to educate as well.

 

Showing behind-the-scenes images or video from a shoot or wedding still has to have some kind of purpose. Who are you posting these for? We post behind-the-scenes images for both our photography clients as well as other professionals in the industry. There are typically three different perspectives when it comes to photographing people as your subjects: the photographer (behind the camera), the subject (in front of the lens) and the assistant (on the outside looking in at the magic happening).

 

These images and videos give clients an insider view. First and foremost, they get the full experience of working with our team—from painting the vision for their wedding day or photo shoot, to actually experiencing being photographed the day of their event, then finally the experience of seeing their final images. This is where the behind-the-scenes images can take that experience to the next level for those clients. They can see what was going on while they were wrapped up in the moment of being photographed. They have these images to spark the stories and memories that went into their awesome experience with our studio.

 

Other professional photographers who follow us gain ideas and education from these images. Whenever we post an image from any type of shoot, the questions we get always start with “How…” This is a perfect time to showcase your lighting setup or your disaster of a room that you were able to turn into gold in the final image. It is always nice to have these behind-the-scenes shots to show that it’s not really about what type of gear you have, but how you adapt to challenges.

 

 

Show the lighter side of being a photographer.

 

A big part of why people hire you is your personality. I take full advantage of social media to showcase the lighter side of our team dynamic on the job. Of course it’s a grind, of course we kill ourselves every day, but more than anything, we love what we do and we are constantly having a blast with each other and our clients. I think it’s important to show your clients the dynamic of your team. It gives them insight into what it would be like to work with you.

 

I always try to see things from other people’s perspectives, so when I post certain things to social media, I always ask myself: “Would I want to see something like this from someone I follow?” If the answer is no, I don’t waste my time taking the shot. I tend to follow and engage with people who showcase the fun side of what they do for a living, with a nice balance of the reality behind the work (for example, showing how exhausted your team is after a 14-hour wedding, or showing behind-the-scenes images of the amount of prep work that goes into some of our creative shoots).

 

 

Use the right camera.

 

This is something you may think is irrelevant to the topic, but the quality of your images actually does play a big part in the purpose of the behind-the-scenes. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. It’s important to always have a vision and a game plan going into a photo shoot so you’re able to prepare certain gear in advance if necessary. You never know when you’ll want the behind-the-scenes images for blog posts or articles.

 

iPhone. I use my iPhone for the behind-the-scenes shots of our day-to-day activities (traveling, selfies), and for quick snapshots to document where we were that can be immediately posted to social media.

 

Personal Camera. Sal and I attended Adobe MAX a few months ago, where we received a free Fujifilm X-T10 camera body with an 18–55mm lens as a gift (insane, right?). This camera has been a massive game changer for me. It’s lightweight and reliable, and the image quality is to die for. Sure, it doesn’t fit in my back pocket, but I have it with me in my purse at all times. My favorite part? Its wireless capabilities allow me to transfer images directly to my phone for immediate upload to social platforms.

 

Professional Camera. We pack a second camera when we know we’re doing a photo shoot that will be published online in a blog or in Shutter Magazine (for Sal’s monthly “How I Got the Shot” article, for example). It’s always better to have high-resolution and high-quality images when you’re being published, especially for print. Sometimes, I don’t even pack an additional camera—I just grab Sal’s camera while he’s taking a break from shooting to show him setting up lights and showing the model how to pose.

 

 

Make your people look good.

 

This is probably the most important piece of advice you’ll take away from this article. You have to protect your brand at all times—and the main part of your brand is the people behind the name. Would you want someone to post an unflattering picture or video of you? No. So why would you do it to your people?

 

Flattering angles. We know how to pose people; hell, we do it for a living. So if you’re taking behind-the-scenes pictures and your photographer has stink-face, looks like she has three chins, or looks like she has put on 50 pounds overnight, that is your time to adjust that person or your angle. Again, you’re showcasing your brand, so put it in the best light.

 

Talking. If you know Sal, you know he rarely ever stops talking. I like to take behind-the-scenes pictures of him while we’re filming for new projects or Shutter Network. It’s a challenge to capture someone mid-sentence without making them look absolutely ridiculous. Don’t ever post those pictures. Just don’t. I give Sal a little nod while he’s talking that lets him know I’m taking the shot; he’ll slow down or take a pause from talking to make a more appealing face. That’s when I have a three-second moment to capture the shot I want.

 

Eating. As a rule of thumb, don’t be a photo ninja and take candid shots of people eating. It never works out in anyone’s favor. If you want to show something tied to food, make an announcement and let everyone know you’re taking a photo so no one is shot mid-face-stuffing. It’s just common courtesy.

 

Behind-the-scenes shots on social media are such a powerful tool for your brand. It gives an unprecedented view into what most people never get to see, and has so much more impact when tied to a final polished image. There is an art to taking behind-the-scenes images and video—it’s a photography skill just like any other. Take the time to perfect the craft, and watch what type of impact it brings to your social media presence.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

The Anatomy of a Strategically Search-Engine-Optimized Homepage with Justen Hong

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

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The Anatomy of a Strategically Search-Engine-Optimized Homepage with Justen Hong

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the November issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Your homepage is the most important page of your site. It almost always has the most page authority, since the majority of inbound links typically link to the homepage. There is no formula to a perfectly search-engine-optimized homepage. There are a couple hundred or so ranking factors, so it’s hard to nail them all down. Even a mediocre website that has a ton of high-quality inbound links can rank very well. The design and content of a homepage can have a tremendous effect on how well a website ranks. Let’s dissect a sample homepage and the design choices I’ve made on it, strategically, to help boost its ranking.

 

 

Header

 

You can’t see it in the screen shot, but the actual website will have a “sticky” header, meaning when you continue to scroll down the page, the header stays at the top of the screen. This allows users to always have access to the main navigation no matter how far down they go. This creates a good user experience, which is a ranking factor, and it makes moving around the site convenient for users. We also added the phone number in the header, making it easy for visitors to call from any page on the site. When users click on your phone number to make a call from a smartphone, search engines take note: It’s called Mobile Clicks to Call, and it can help with your local rankings.

 

 

Slideshow

 

I’ve recently been moving away from slideshows on the homepage because they tend to slow down load times (Google hates slow-loading sites). We’ve developed a high-performance slideshow that loads quickly, and we keep the slideshow image count down. In this sample, we are highlighting the studio’s four core markets with one signature image for each category, along with a button to drive them to the portfolio pages.

 

One huge mistake I constantly see is photographers keeping a large portion of their portfolio on their homepage, whether in a slideshow or a grid of some kind. By doing this, you are not incentivizing visitors to go any deeper into your site, especially the ones who are just there to look at photos. This can lead to an increased bounce rate (when a visitor looks at one page on your site and then leaves)—or, worse yet, pogo stick (when a visitor looks at one page on your site and then bounces back to his original search). Both can negatively impact your ranking. The best homepages lure visitors into other sections of the site, easily guiding them to the information they want.

 

 

Main Content

 

Down from the slideshow is the main content area. We have this section broken down into tabs. The welcome section will contain the <h1> html tag. The <h1>, also called the “header one” tag, is important when it comes to SEO. It should contain the main targeted search term that the web page is targeting. In this case, I would have it read something like: “Kansas City Wedding Photographer.” It is also important to have additional keywords sprinkled throughout the paragraph copy, but only where they make sense. Do not just add them to add them—and, most importantly, do not keyword-stuff the body copy. That could lead to a search engine penalty.

 

Shown in the screenshot is the Weddings tab. Weddings & Engagements is another header. We also have a link to learn more, and an important call-to-action button to Secure a Wedding date. It is important to have call-to-actions throughout the site where they make sense.

 

Next we have a testimonials section. This is here for two reasons: to add credibility and because it’s a good place to add additional keywords. Studies have shown that when websites have testimonials, people tend to trust them more, even if they don’t know the person. We also have an outbound link going to The Knot where users can read more testimonials. Keep in mind that anytime you have an exterior link on your website, it should open in a new window. You don’t want to lose your visitors.

 

This section is also a great place to have additional natural keywords. In the sample testimonial, the word wedding is used multiple times, along with photographers, photographs and videography. It is important to have your targeted keywords and related keywords throughout your site in natural occurrences. Always avoid keyword stuffing.

 

Second to last is the “Latest From Our Blog” section. We’ve added this to keep the homepage fresh. Anytime our client adds a new blog post, it is automatically fed into the homepage with an eye-catching featured image. Adding fresh content to your website on a regular basis can help with ranking and bring Google’s spiders back more often. That is why it is so important to blog and keep your portfolio current. You don’t want your site to get stale. Freshness is a ranking factor.

 

Finally, we have the footer. In the sample footer, there is a “2013-2015 The Knot Best of Weddings” logo, which adds additional credibility to the site. Next we have the NAP (name, address, phone number), along with additional contact info. This is extremely important to have on every page of your site. Google looks for a NAP on every page, and uses it as a ranking factor, especially for local searches.

 

Use a local phone number rather than an 800 number. Google prefers a local phone number for local searches. To the far right is the copyright, along with links to an HTML site map and a privacy policy. The HTML list site map provides links to every page of your site. If you have a WordPress website, there are multiple plugins for adding HTML site maps.

 

One last thing: It’s important to have a privacy policy accessible from every page, especially any page where you are collecting personal data. Google looks for these.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the November issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

How To Get on the Map with Google’s Search Results

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

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How To Get on the Map with Google’s Search Results

 

I’ve had a bunch of people ask me how to get their business to appear on Google Maps in SERPs (search engine results pages). The map results still use Google’s algorithm to determine ranking here, but with more emphasis on certain factors. Here are some of those factors.

 

PHYSICAL ADDRESS

This is your physical address in the city of the search. If you do not have a physical location in the city, do not try to fool Google by getting a P.O. box or using a fake address. You can still rank organically in the search, but without a legitimate physical location in the actual city of search, or if you are in a suburb or a short distance away from the targeted city, you will most likely not show up on the top of the map results.

The distance from your location to Google’s determined “centroid” (or geometric center) is also an important factor. Google determines where a centroid is located by the type of businesses/market/industry you are in, meaning the centroid is not the actual center of the city. For instance, if there is a part of town that has 15 car dealerships and there are a couple other dealerships sprinkled throughout the city, Google will most likely determine the centroid for the search “car dealerships” to be the center of where those 15 dealerships are located. Google Mobile results are different than desktop results, but Google is getting even better at knowing where desktop users are located. So the proximity of the searcher’s location to your business is also factored in.

 

CITATION CATEGORIES
A citation is a business listing on websites like Google+ Your Business, Bing Places for Business, Yahoo Small Business (Localworks), LinkedIn, Yelp, Citysearch and Best of the Web. Almost all these services allow you to select categories for your business. This is one of the most important ranking factors, so make sure they are the best categories for your company.

 

CONSISTANT CITATION
Having consistent listing information is critical. You must use the exact same name and spelling for your company on each and every listing. Not doing so could cause duplicate listings and confuse search engines. All your company information needs to be consistent too, such as phone, address, website, etc.

It is also very important that all your profiles are 100 percent complete. This includes filling out everything from the citation’s profile form, from company description to loading photos.

TIP: Moz.com has an awesome tool called Moz Local (moz.com/local) that helps you check, fix and add citations. It’s one of the best and least expensive services of its kind. It is currently $84 a year, as opposed to $499 a year for similar services like Yext. It will tell you if you have duplicate listings or an incomplete profile, and automatically submits your company information to a bunch of trusted citation sites.

 

CITATION DOMAIN AUTHORITY.
Domain authority is a measure of the results power of a domain name. Having a complete, consistent profile on sites like Google+, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp holds more weight than on smaller directory sites that have less domain authority. This metric is used by search engines to measure the trustworthiness of a website.

TIP: Along with all the typical listing/directory sites, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a great place to have a listing if you can afford it. If you have the budget and you are in a very competitive market, this is a solid link to acquire. It is local and highly trusted. You have to pay monthly or yearly dues, so companies that are out of business lose their listing. This means the BBB’s listings are accurate and trusted by major search engines. It categorizes businesses by market, so a link from the BBB is powerful because it is both location-specific and topic-related. The cost of membership varies from location to location.

 

NAP (NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER)
Having your NAP on every page of your website that is consistent with the NAP on all your other listings/citations is crucial.

ADVANCED TIP: Adding schema, also called structured data, can help with ranking. Learn more at Schema.org/localbusiness. Google Webmaster Tools offers a resource called Structured Data Markup Helper (Google.com/webmasters/markup-helper) that produces the code to add to your website.

ADVANCED TIP: If you have an 800 number, switch it to a local phone number. Google hates toll-free numbers for local search results.

 

POSITIVE REVIEWS
Having positive reviews across the Internet is an import factor with local SEO and map results. The most important place to have them is on your Google+ business page because those show up in the map results, but having them in multiple places like Yelp, wedding sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire, etc. are also important. Having your keywords used in the reviews helps too, but this should happen organically. Do not coach your reviewers on what to say. Also, try not to get a bunch of reviews all at once. Google may consider this suspect and not display some of the reviews.

NOTE: In a past article, I provided some faulty advice. I wrote about possibly incentivizing your clients into leaving reviews by providing them with a free print or something. Since I wrote that, I’ve discovered that it is against Google’s guidelines to offer incentives for reviews. You can ask clients to write a review, but it’s against Google’s guidelines to offer something of value for it.

 

STANDARD RANKING FACTORS
All the other standard ranking elements are factored into the pack results, including business signals, on-page SEO, linking signals, social signals, user behavior (bounce and click-through rates, mobile clicks to call), site speed, etc.

IMPORTANT SEO NEWS: Google has announced that on April 21, 2015, there will be an algorithm update that factors in whether or not your website is mobile friendly. This means you really need a responsive website or, at minimum, a mobile-friendly version, or your ranking could start to fall. Google currently already has a mobile-friendly label on mobile search results, and its results from mobile devices are already different from desktop searches. I am guessing that non-mobile-friendly sites that are still ranking pretty well on mobile devices won’t come April 21.

TIP: If you are not sure if you have a mobile-friendly site, test it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, at Google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly.

Want to see more images and watch the video? Log in and launch this free photography training magazine // April 2015 issue or create a free account by clicking here.

SEO Tips for 2015

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

SEO Tips for 2015

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2015 is here! Seems like it snuck up on all of us, but one thing is for sure, the internet is not going away. In fact, its just becoming more and more ingrained in our every day lives. And as you can imagine, it will become more ingrained in the lives of our clients and how they find a photographer to document their special occasion.

How will you ramp for 2015 to make the changes required for a better search engine rank? Here are some tips to ranking better in 2015.

Page load speeds.

This can not be ignored. Google is making this a priority and will penalize your site if it takes too long to load. How long is too long? Well its all relative – we are talking milliseconds, BUT keep in mind, every new whiz bang plugin you load on to your site will cause it to load slower. Not sizing your images correctly will cause your site to load slower.

For me, I keep plugins to a minimum. I avoid flash when I can. I keep my image sizes to about 900 pixels @ 72dpi. This is very important to keep load speeds down.

A great site to use to test your results is http://gtmetrix.com

Check out my site results below. I just got thumped on my images not being optimized. Looks like I have some work to do. As I would imagine we all do as photographers. Finding that balance between performance and looking good on screen is never easy.

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Geotargeting

Look for Geotargeting to be more prevalent in 2015.

Some interesting stats according to Search Engine Watch,

59 percent of consumers use Google to find a reputable, local business every month.
50 percent of all mobile searches are conducted with the purpose of finding relevant, local results.
61 percent of those searches result in a purchase.
Approximately 27 percent of total U.S. Internet time is spent on social media sites.
48 percent of users who land on a business site that doesn’t work well on mobile take it as an indication that the business just doesn’t care.

So, what can you do? Well, for starters, be sure to have address and contact information on every page. That’s easy enough to do. Next, realize, that people are searching for local vendors. How often is someone looking for a family photographer 3 states away. Unless they are traveling to that state for the holidays, none. And I might add, in that case, they are looking for a local photographer. See where this is going?

Content Marketing will be king

If you don’t know what content marketing is here is a quick definition according to Wikipedia.

Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.

In a nutshell, it means we have to create content. We can’t just post pretty pictures. We have to give people a reason to come to our site, share information, tag it, etc.

If you are a wedding photographer start creating content that will make you the expert on wedding photography. What things to consider when planning a wedding. Create a blog with guest posts. If you are a senior or portrait photographer, what goes into selecting the right photographer? What should I be looking for? Of course, we should still show our pretty pictures, but are you getting the gist here? Content is king!

Must be mobile friendly

Responsive. This is the current buzzword. In a nutshell, it means your site must scale for all platforms. Desktop, laptop, tablets, and mobile devices. Well, my site for one, does not do this. And I know its hurting my ranking right now.

For 2015, this is a major initiative for me and something I know has to happen. Do not wait on this. More and more visitors are coming from mobile devices. If you are not sure, check your Google analytics. On my site, last month, 25% of all visitors were on mobile or tablet devices. That number is only going to continue to increase. We all have to prepare or we will lose the business to frustrated users.

Timely content

That’s right ladies and gents, its not about just posting content one day when you have a wild hair. It’s about consistently posting relevant and timely content.

Relevant is defined by ensuring you have your keywords worked into your posts. Timely, is weekly as far as I am concerned. I have noticed when I am in the middle of wedding season and posting every week – my ranking bolts up to the top of the list. However, when we get into slower months, my ranking will fall a few spots to my competitors who are posting with more frequency.

The good news is, we don’t have to write like idiots any more with our keywords being used every other word. Google has figured this out and is looking for natural language.

Social Media Integration

Not sure this is on anyone’s radar at the moment, but I am making a prediction here. Either this year or very soon thereafter, Google will announce it’s putting weight on social media in some form or fashion. I am not sure how it will all work, but it’s only a matter of time.

Think about it. Isn’t this the most logical thing you have ever heard? Did you read the stat above? 27% of all US traffic is spent on social media sites. This is where people are. It’s how they are making decisions. And to ignore someone’s social equity when returning search results is an incomplete service.

Google and the other big players will figure this out and soon, will return results based on some magical formula.

So, what does that mean for you? Stop ignoring social media. ENGAGE. At a minimum, make 2015 your year to set up your sites and properties on all major platforms and just start using them. You just might be surprised at the results.

Search Engine Signals That Legitimize Your Website

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

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Google’s algorithms uses these signals, and more, to verify that your website is legitimate and of high quality (in no specific order).

Contact information -

Make sure you have contact information on every page of your website, including the company name, address and phone number (this is referred to as “NAP” in the SEO industry). Having this both on your site and other websites/social media/directories is critical in ranking well in local searches. Having one NAP on your website and different ones on social media or third-party directories can affect your ranking. You can use services like Yext.com to fix these for you, or, with some time and sweat equity, you can find and fix these errors yourself.

If you plan on doing this yourself, I recommend searching for your company name, domain name, or old addresses and phone numbers, etc. Find the outdated listings and fix them. You may need to create an account with the directory, verify you are the owner or request an update to the website via email.

Want to read this photography training article? Log in and launch this free photography training magazine // January 2015 issue or create a free account by clicking here.

Top 6 Mobile Apps for Photographers

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

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Top 6 Mobile Apps for Photographers

As photographers, the one thing we always have with us is our cameras. And just to be clear, by camera, I mean camera phone. Think about it, I don’t know about you, but if I am not working on a paid job, the last thing I want to do is lug around my heavy camera. Instead, I default to my mobile device.

The best camera is the one you have with you!

Below is a list of apps I find myself using quite often. It’s by no means a do all end all list of app, but it’s a good start.

Check the links to see if they have it for your device.

 

Snapseed by Google // Free

Typically, the first tool I use when I take an image. We all need some basic editing for our images. I don’t want to put images in Photoshop, etc. Simple, down and dirty editing. Things like color correct. Typically when I use my iPhone to take pictures I am dealing with all sorts of different color light.

In addition, Snapseed has some killer HDR, Textures, and other special edit filters to give your images a unique look and feel.

iPhone // Android

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Cropic by Lotogram // Free

I love Instagram. But it’s square! What do you do when you want to showcase your full image without losing or cropping out details? Cropic is the answer. Easily import your image and send right to Instagram.

Visit their website for more information.

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Hipstamatic by Hipstamatic // $1.99

Fun fun app. Lots of filters via their Hipsta-Pak feature. With so many apps out there that really do the same thing, Hipstamatic really allows you to experiment and have fun with a different perspective.

Visit their website for more information.

New on my phone.

Always looking for new apps, here are some that I have recently started using in the last few months. Defeintly worth checking out.

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Mextures by Merek Davis // $1.99

AMAZING app! Killer pre-sets and unlimited options for layering edits and adjusting their intensity levels. Can’t say enough good things about this app.

Not many photographers I run into know about this app, but it’s sure to get the attention of camera phone junkies shortly. Really allows you to create some unique looks  fairly quickly and easily.

Visit their website for more information.

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Slower Shutter by Michael Wong  //  $.99

If you are into landscape photography or long exposures at all… THIS IS THE APP FOR YOU! Using ND filters to limit the amount of light coming in to get those amazing long exposures is nothing short of mathematical epileptic shock treatment – I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds painful.

Placing the filter on your camera is the easy part, calculating the proper exposure is not always straight forward and when we are talking about a 20min to 1 hour exposure making a mistake can cost you an entire day waiting for the light and weather to be right again.

This app makes it simple to figure out your exact settings for any long exposure. Best $.99 I have EVER spent.

Visit their website for more information.

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Map-A-Pic Location Scout by Sea to Software // $4.99

Ever find an amazing location and wish you knew how to get back there? Your prayers have been answered.

Map-A-Pic allows you to take multiple images, name the location, store GPS location, and add notes along with a host of other options.

This is a powerful app that really allows you to easily keep track of all those locations you have found and easily click to get directions when you need to get there for that next great shoot.

Visit their website for more information.

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SEO and a Good User Experience

Friday, August 1st, 2014

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SEO and a Good User Experience

Google’s last major algorithm update places more emphasis on making sure your website provides a good user experience. What does this mean? A good user experience can be broken down into a four major factors:

1. Your website loads quickly.

2. It looks great and is readable on any device.

3. There are no error pages.

4. The pages are optimized with relevant content.

Your website needs to be fast-loading!

How many times have you clicked a link and left because it was taking too long? Make sure you are not losing traffic because of this. How do you know if your website is too slow? Visit it from a couple different computers and devices at different times of the day. Ask friends in different locations to check it. The best way is to use Google Webmaster Tools. Log in and then click the Other Resources link in the left column. Click the PageSpeed Insights link, type in your website URL and hit the Analyze button. It will give you a Mobile and a Desktop score. If either is red, you need to do something ASAP. Yellow is OK, but green is what you need for a great user experience.

Want to read this photography training article? Log in and launch this free photography training magazine // August 2014 issue or create a free account by clicking here.

5 tips to better SEO for photographers

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

5 tips to better SEO for photographers

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Marketing and finding new leads is something I have heard almost every photographer I speak to moan about. It’s so hard. I can’t get found online. Marketing is too expensive. I have no money. And the list goes on and on.

Well, if you have no money and you have no clients, then you need to start doing something about it. Complaining is not one of those things. In fact, are you really running a business? You need both to be “in-business” – just a personal thought here.

Part of the problem today, everyone is a photographer, including you. Yes, you! I know, I know, we all started somewhere, but you more than likely started without a real business plan. Most of us started with a camera and a dream. Well, now, you are realizing there is more to being a photographer than just running around taking pictures. We need capital, for equipment, for marketing, and the host of other business expenses required to run one.

However, there is hope. The one thing we do have that’s worth something…. Time! When I was starting out, I didn’t have much, but I had time. I call this sweat equity. You have to be willing to invest your personal time into your new business. If you now find yourself making yet another excuse, ie – “I don’t have time.” Just… stop reading. If all you want to do is be a photographer and nothing else that is required to run a business, well, then I hate to be Captain Obvious here, you don’t have a business and you never will.

Ok, if you are still with me, here are some tips to getting your website found online and ideas to help you start generating new leads for your business with little to no cost required other than your time. We get 3-5 leads per week via Google search results. We are in the top 3 on page 1 as of this writing. So, follow along and get your business on the fast track to getting found online.

SEO, search engine optimization, is something I have heard many photographers claim they can’t figure out. And I will be the first to admit it. The rules of the game are always changing. For almost 2 years, my business, Salvatore Cincotta Photography, was number one and two on page 1 for Google search results when searching for st louis wedding photography. Then, recently, Google changed the rules, which they often do, and I dropped to 5 and 6 on page one. I was in good shape, but seemingly overnight, my ranking dropped.

My point, this is not something you do once and done. It’s something you have to nurture over and over. You need a strategy. And since you have time, there is no reason for not doing it.

Here are some simple tips and tricks you can use to get your site on the right path to being ranked in your local market and generating FREE leads for your business.

Define your master keyword list.
How do you want to be found? For me, based on some conversations with brides, I defined my keywords as “st louis wedding photography” and “st louis wedding photographer“. Now you might be thinking to yourself, “what if I want to be found for babies, weddings, seniors, etc?” Well, you have quite the challenge ahead of you. It is much easier to get your site ranked on single set of keywords vs trying to optimize your site for everything. I chose to focus on my primary niche and the results show.

Keep it fresh.
Google is going to judge you for relevancy. Meaning, how often are you posting? If you are posting once per month or less than that, you are going to have some trouble. You site will start to look stale to Google and with that, any ranking you have, will start to slip. Trust me, I understand, we all get busy and sometimes there is just nothing to write about.

Here is something you can do. Put together a social media to-do list. And work it 30-60 days out. Come up with topics or posts to publish at least once per week. Some can be just pictures and talking about the shoot, while other posts can be more about ideas for selecting the perfect dress or the perfect pair of shoes, etc. Not only does this help you with Google, but it also helps establish yourself as an expert in your local market and can drive traffic and exposure to your site from potential clients.

Create a Google+ account.
Yep. I found out here recently that this has become very important in ranking your site and presenting the results on the search results page. For example, if someone is following you or your business on Google+ the results when they search are more likely to show your results because of the connection. In fact, it goes another step further. You will show up in the results of people who follow anyone who has +1 your content. This is a two for one deal with this little tip.

Now, this power tied to Google+ should be of no surprise to anyone since this is their platform, but apparently, the goal is to provide more personalized results that are seemingly more relevant.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which block Google from accessing their data, Google+ makes that data available for search engine ranking purposes. So, create content, and share it via Google+. It will make a big difference.

Don’t over-stuff.
Keyword stuffing has been a trick used in one form or fashion since the beginning of SEO. However, with every new technique to hack the search engines comes the countermeasures to prevent them from being hacked.

Overusing your keywords on any given page on your site will undoubtedly get you black listed. There is a delicate balance between legit copy on your site and over-using your keywords. The key here is to ensure you are writing real paragraphs and providing real content to your readers all while not overusing your keywords.

Work hard to ensure you are creating valuable content for your readers and the ranking results will follow. If you create content for the sole purpose of getting ranked, that’s usually where you get into trouble. Remember, when it comes to SEO, it’s not a sprint. There is no silver bullet. It’s a slow and methodical marathon.

Be responsive.
If you don’t know what it means to have a responsive site, you are already behind the proverbial 8-ball. Today’s clients are surfing via a plethora of devices and increasingly, those devices are mobile. In the past, developers would create multiple sites depending on where the client was coming from. Google has openly stated, that responsive web design is a best practice and they are building this into their ranking algorithm.

Why does Google care about this? Content that lives on a single website with a single code base is easier to share, engage with, and index than a site that is spread across multiple domains, etc.

So, what is a responsive web site? It’s a web design approach that creates an optimal viewing experience regardless of what device you are on. The site and code are intelligent enough to know you are on a tablet or an iPhone and adjust your viewing experience accordingly. This is the future.

Internally, we are in the process of converting all our sites to responsive sites. I can tell you one thing, its not cheap.

I hope this article has been helpful and has given you some ideas for your own SEO strategy.

~Sal

 

 

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