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Photography Keywords: 7 Tips to Choose the Best Keywords

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By Nate Torres

There are millions of keywords you can choose from.

But which photography keywords are best for your photography website and business?

It can be tough knowing where to even begin on your keyword research journey.

That’s why I created this guide.

I know a thing or two about keywords.

In fact, I’m an SEO consultant and a photographer and I rank #1 if not top 5 for many photography-related keywords:

My Article Ranking #1 for what is portrait photography
My Article Ranking #1 for what is portrait photography
My Article Ranking #1 for what is a speedlight
My Article Ranking #1 for what is a speedlight
My Article Ranking #2 for business headshot tips
My Article Ranking #2 for business headshot tips

And many others I can list!

What is a Photography Keyword?

A keyword is an individual word or phrase that is inputted into a search engine in order to receive search results.

An example of photography keywords can be “portrait photography,” “portrait,” “portrait photographer in miami,” etc.

Each keyword has it’s own search volume and difficulty rating.

Why is Choosing the Best Keyword Important for Photographers?

Understanding keywords and keyword research is a fundamental component to learning SEO.

But why are keywords important?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

So understanding how to rank for certain keywords means you’re optimizing your website to show up when users search a particular keyword.

Here is an example of the power of keywords:

Let’s say you are a portrait photographer in Miami and you rank #1 on Google for “portrait photographer in Miami.”

Let’s say that keyword has a monthly search volume of 100 searches a month.

The #1 spot on Google receives about roughly 30% of all the clicks.

Doing the math, that would mean about 33 people are finding your page every month organically (for free) and 33 people could be booking your photography services each month just by optimizing and ranking for that keyword.

Now:

That traffic would be only from one page, imagine you had multiple pages targeting multiple different “money” keywords as I’ll touch on later.

That’s the power of keywords.

7 Tips to Choose the Best Keywords for a Photography Website

Here are my top 7 tips to choose the best keywords for your photography website so you can drive more traffic and make more money.

1. Pick a Keyword Research Tool

The first tip is to pick a keyword research tool.

A keyword research tool is just what it sounds like.

It’s a tool that you use to find and research keywords.

But what do you research exactly?

You’ll want to research both the metrics of individual keywords as well as the keywords a specific website is ranking for.

The metrics you’ll want to look at include the volume of the keyword (how many times it’s searched a month) and the difficulty level to rank for that keyword.

Here’s what this means:

You’ll want to make sure you pick a keyword research tool that allows you to accomplish both of these functions.

Now when it comes to keyword research tools, there are free and paid options.

Free Keyword Research Tools

Some popular free keyword research tools include:

The free keyword research tools often don’t allow you to look at the keywords a specific website is ranking for.

As I’ll touch on in the next point, you’ll need to know what your competitors are ranking for so you can better create your own photography keyword strategy.

So with that feature out the window, I don’t recommend using free keyword research tools.

Paid Keyword Research Tools

If you want to get the job done right the first time, I believe it’s always better to pay for quality.

Quality is what you get with paid keyword research tools.

The paid keyword research tools I recommend include:

I have used both of these keyword research tools extensively, but my go-to tool is SEMrush.

SEMrush Dashboard
SEMrush Dashboard

I personally prefer the layout of SEMrush compared to AHREFs.

SEMrush and AHREFs will both allow you to research the metrics of individual keywords as well as specific websites.

Now:

Knowing how to use these tools is a skill in and of itself, and both these products have extensive knowledge bases and tutorials for how to use them.

Here’s the bottom line:

These tools can get expensive, I’m talking hundreds of dollars a month.

So not only are they expensive, but they take extensive time and effort to learn how to use them.

Knowing this, if you want to save money and have all the keyword research done for you, I provide my Photography Core Page SEO Service and Photography Blog SEO Service.

During the Photography Core Page Optimization, I audit the keyword performance of your current core service pages (ex. portrait photographer in Miami), and optimize the keywords on these pages to increase traffic and client leads.

During the Photography Blog Optimization, I audit the keyword performance of your blog pages, and optimize the keywords on these pages to increase traffic to your website and brand.

Not sure if you need these optimizations to your site?

→ Get a Free Photography SEO Audit from me!

Both of my optimization services entail extensive competitor keyword analysis, which is a vital part in any keyword optimization strategy.

This leads me to my next point.

2. Identify Your Competitors

The second tip to choose the best photography keywords for your photography website is to identify your competitors.

If you run a photography business that offers any kind of service, then you need to know your competitors.

In fact:

If you are in any business, you need to know who your competitors are.

Why?

Knowing your competitors can help your business stay ahead of the game by knowing what’s working and what’s not working.

In the case of keywords, knowing what’s working in terms of keyword targeting, and what’s not.

For example:

Let’s say you are targeting the photography keyword, “business headshot photographer in miami,” but your competitors are targeting the keyword, “corporate headshot photographer in miami,” and they’re ranking higher than you in the search engines.

This means the keyword you chose (“business headshot”), doesn’t match the intent of the user search (they’re searching for “corporate headshot”).

Potentially changing and targeting the keyword, “corporate headshot photographer,” instead of, “business headshot photographer,” will increase more traffic and client leads (true story).

Example of Search Intent
Example of Search Intent

It’s a matter of semantics, but it matters when trying to optimize your website for SEO.

I’ll explain search intent more in-depth in tip five.

My point being:

Knowing who your competitors are as a photographer is crucial for SEO, pricing purposes, and overall marketing purposes.

3. Conduct a Keyword Gap Analysis

After you identify your competitors, you’ll want to perform a keyword gap analysis.

A keyword gap analysis is when you pull all the keywords your site is ranking for, as well as the keywords your top three competitors are ranking for and identifying the areas of opportunity.

You’re looking for the gaps:

Performing a keyword gap analysis allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the keyword strategy your competitors have implemented.

If your competitors are performing better than you in certain aspects, then you’ll want to implement those photography keyword optimizations into your website.

You’ll need to use a paid keyword research tool in order to perform a keyword gap analysis:

Photography Website Keyword Gap Analysis
Photography Website Keyword Gap Analysis

Once the gaps are identified, a strategy is put into place to optimize and implement the new photography keywords on your Core Service Pages and Blog Content.

4. Find Your “Money” Keywords

The fourth tip to find the best keywords for your photography website is to find and identify your “money” keywords.

As a photographer, your “money” keywords are the photography keywords that are bottom of funnel.

For photographers, these keywords often follow the format of “[niche] photographer in [location].”

For example:

  • “portrait photographer in los angeles”
  • “headshot photographer in new york”
  • “wedding photographer in texas”

In order to identify these keywords, think about the niche your specialize in and the locations you offer your photography services.

Now, you’ll want to have a single page targeting each of these photography keywords.

These keywords will become your “money” keywords.

Remember:

Only one page should be targeting one photography keyword.

So if you are a portrait photographer in both Miami and Tampa Bay, then you’ll want two pages.

One for “portrait photographer in Miami,” and one for “portrait photographer in Tampa Bay.”

If you choose my Photography Core Page SEO Service, I’ll help you decide which keywords to target and how to split them up by page.

5. Prioritize Keywords by Volume and Difficulty

Each keyword has it’s own search volume and difficulty level.

After you find your “money” keywords, you’ll want to prioritize them by volume and difficulty.

The difficulty level comes from how many other websites are competing for that same keyword and the average domain authority of those sites.

Sites that have been around longer and have more websites linking to them (called backlinks) have higher domain authority.

You’ll find that the harder difficulty keywords to rank for as a photographer are often for keywords targeting the more densely-populated counties and cities such as Los Angeles, Manhattan, Austin, etc.

What to do:

Based on an analysis of your photography site’s domain rating and the locations you offer your services, the strategy might be to target a location near your main city.

For example:

I live in Orange County and the keyword difficulty to rank for “photographer in Orange County” is the hardest.

But, within Orange County, we have the cities of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Westminster, etc.

So the strategy would be to create separate pages for the cities within Orange County such as “photographer in Huntington Beach,” “photographer in Fountain Valley,” “photographer in Westminster,” which would be photography keywords with less search volume, but also less difficult.

Once you build out a separate page for each of those, you’ll link to your “photographer in Orange County” page from each of those pages which will help boost the ranking of that page.

It’s my Photography Pillar Page strategy.

6. Analyze the Intent of Pages That Rank

Once you have prioritized your photography keywords, it’s time to analyze the intent of those keywords.

The thing is:

When you type in a keyword into a search engine, the search engine tries to present to you the results it thinks you are looking for.

For example:

If you type in “pizza” into a search engine, it does not know if you want to learn more about pizza, are looking to order pizza, or are looking to learn how to make pizza.

In this case:

Your search engine of choice will present you with the results that reflect the intent behind the search.

Taking the example keyword of “pizza,” the search engine will present you results of pizza spots that you can order from nearby.

This is because the search engine has learned that is the most common intent behind users when they search “pizza.”

Example of pizza Search Intent
Example of pizza Search Intent

Let’s go back to the example I mentioned of “business headshot photographer in Miami” and “corporate headshot photographer in Miami.”

Suppose your focus keyword is “business headshot photographer in Miami,” but your rivals are using “corporate headshot photographer in Miami” and achieving higher search engine rankings.

This suggests that the keyword you’re using (“business headshot”) may not align with what users are actually searching for (the intent), which in this case is “corporate headshot.”

Example of Search Intent
Example of Search Intent

By shifting your target keyword to “corporate headshot photographer” instead of “business headshot photographer,” you could potentially drive more traffic and generate more client leads (this is based on a real-life example).

In summary:

Once you prioritize your photography keywords and make a final decision whether to target the keyword or not, make sure it correctly matches the intent in the search engines.

7. Create a Keyword Map

The seventh and final tip to pick the best keywords for your photography website is to create a keyword map.

At this stage, you should know the volume, difficulty, and intent behind the keywords you want to target to ensure they’re good keywords to target.

Once you have a list of the photography keywords you want to target, it’s time to put them into a photography keyword map.

A keyword map is a sheet that assigns target keywords to the pages on your photography website.

It looks like this:

Example of Keyword Map for Photography Site
Example of Keyword Map for Photography Site

Within the photography keyword map, you have a column for the Primary Keyword, Secondary Keywords, Total Volume of the Keyword, Difficulty Percentage, and the Target URL Structure.

This photography keyword map allows you to see the site structure of your photography website from a bird’s eye view.

This is the final step and once you complete this, it’s time to implement the keyword into your pages so you can start ranking for them.

Here’s the deal:

If you want to save money and have all the photography keyword research done for you, I provide my Photography Core Page SEO Service and Photography Blog SEO Service.

During the Photography Core Page Optimization, I audit the keyword performance of your current core service pages (ex. portrait photographer in Miami), and optimize the keywords on these pages to increase traffic and client leads.

During the Photography Blog Optimization, I audit the keyword performance of your blog pages, and optimize the keywords on these pages to increase traffic to your website and brand.

Not sure what any of this means?

Don’t know if you need any of these optimizations to your site?

→ Get a Free Photography SEO Audit from me!

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