Getting back to the core of ForegroundWeb’s mission (helping photographers upgrade their online presence), let’s get more practical with these 12 simple ideas you can use to take your photography website to the next level.
With almost one million photography websites and blogs in the world, getting noticed has become increasingly difficult. If it were easy, everyone would do it. There are however many things you can do if you’re really committed to dedicating some time and energy into your photography business.
Don’t forget to also check out the free guide on “60+ photography website mistakes” to get many more actionable ideas for your site, to avoid any website problems that can stand in the way of your success.
1. Schedule a monthly review
However busy you are in your career, you should definitely try to incorporate a monthly (or even weekly) review into your schedule.
It’s basically a set-aside period of time, usually a couple of hours or so, where you dedicate yourself to getting your site organized:
- Visualize the big picture. No need to write anything down if you don’t want to, just try to think about your major goals for the site.
- Analyze your past month
- Review growth of traffic sources (SEO, social media, backlinks, newsletter, ads etc.)
- Check various other stats in Google Analytics
- Check for any crawl problems in your Google Webmaster Tools account
- Consider updating the featured content on the homepage (slideshow images, featured galleries etc.)
- Consider updating your self-portrait
- Double check that the contact info is up-to-date
- Update social media profile photos and descriptions
- Do some content planning (schedule new blog posts, social media messages, email campaigns, products etc.)
2. Secure your .photography domain name
It might not yet be a good idea to make the jump to a new TLD, especially if you already have your own .com domain. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the domain to protect yourself from future legal problems or cybersquatting.
New TLDs are growing in popularity each day, and until they reach maturity, you can always simply redirect your new .photography domain to your existing site for the moment.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new photography top-level domains (their inherent problems, examples of photographers having made the switch, and a thorough Q&A questions to cover any other questions you might have):
3. Draw inspiration from other photographers
Constantly be on the lookout for quality photography websites, and what you can use to incorporate into your own site.
I’m not talking about stealing. I’m talking about stealing like an artist: collect ideas and then remix & re-imagine them to create your own path.
For examples and ideas on building great photo websites, I’ve gathered relevant articles into the “Inspiration” category.
At the very least, do a quick Google search for “most influential photographers” to get lists of great photo websites, and simply take a few minutes to review their sites and figure out how to take your own site to the next level.
Every page on your site should have a clear purpose, there should be one or two clear actions you want your visitors to take.
Too many photographers are simply hiding they buttons/links inside large paragraphs of text. A simple underline won’t cut it.
A prominent call-to-action should be large and have enough white space around it. You don’t have to use certain standard colors (red or green), just make sure there is enough contrast with other page elements and the page background color.
Other ways to make buttons stand out:
- don’t use gray
- add hover effects to them
- keep their look consistent throughout the site
- try to position them as high up on the page as possible (“above the fold”)
- use small icons or arrows to make them more attractive
5. Add SEO titles and meta descriptions to all main pages
This is the bread and butter of on-site SEO, so you should definitely not neglect it.
Depending on the website CMS you use, you should be able to define the title and meta description tags for any page on your site (with gallery/images pages sometimes having those automatically generated from the IPTC info).
These are not just important to Google (for ranking your image and displaying them in search results), they’re also used by social media sharing sites to describe links. If they’re missing, Google and social media sites will just try to find relevant text on the page or simply use the first text they can find, which obviously might not be the best experience for users.
So why not take some time today to work on your site’s SEO:
6. Provide easy access to your email address
If I were to visit your photography website for the first time, would I be able to click to send you an email within 2 clicks or under 10 seconds?
If the answer is no, here’s what you need to fix:
- Have the email address in the footer (throughout the site) or at least on the Contact page
- Make sure “Contact” is there in the menu, without any other fancy name, and try to position it last
- Turn the email into a “mailto:” link, so when visitors do get to the Contact page (or to the footer) they can click on it directly.
- Make sure the email address is prominent, not lost between other similar-looking links or sentences.
7. Reduce the number of images in your slideshows
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times already: focus on quality instead of quantity.
In this day and age, with people having so little patience when browsing online, you can’t really expect visitors to sit through a 50+ image slideshow. Yet so many photographers keep adding images to those long slideshows.
“A large number of images in a slideshow will only dilute the wow-factor.”
8. Secure your admin passwords
When was the last time you updated your passwords for the critical accounts you have online (domain/hosting provider, CMS admin areas, email account etc.)?
Too many photographers use weak a password (too short, too common, includes name etc.)
People have really started to expect that clicking the logo is a sure-fire way to get back to the site’s homepage. It’s becoming common knowledge.
Making sure the logo is clickable allows you to remove “Home(page)” from the navigation, saving screen real estate and lessening visual noise.
As an extra measure, if your logo uses an image, think about adding a keyword-rich ALT attribute within the image tag to help with your rankings:
<a href="/"><img src="logo.png" alt="John Doe Photos | Keywords here" /></a>
Consistently offering the website logo as a navigation element makes things easier for visitors, the site will be easier to navigate.
10. Improve your search box accessibility with the “tabindex” attribute
If you have a search box on your website (or any other form you want to prioritize), with a little HTML knowledge, you can use the “tabindex” atttribute to define the sequence that users follow when they use the Tab key to navigate through a page. Pheeew, say that 3 times fast.
Power users will love you for this. Using the Tab key they can quickly jump to the search box (or to the first field in the contact form, whichever you set) without using their mouse.
This way you can control the order of the elements being focused with the keyboard, even if they don’t follow the order on the page:
<a href="#" tabindex="2">Should be second</a> <a href="#" tabindex="1">Should be first</a> <a href="#" tabindex="3">Second be third</a> <a href="#" tabindex="-1">Should be skipped/ignored</a> <a href="#" tabindex="0">Follow after tabindex</a>
More on the “tabindex” attribute here webaim.org/techniques/keyboard/tabindex or here www.paciellogroup.com/blog/2014/08/using-the-tabindex-attribute/
11. Check your site’s performance in Google PageSpeed Insights
If you’re not relying solely on hosting image management solutions like PhotoShelter, there are surely a lot of things you can do to improve your site’s load times. Why? Because everybody hates slow sites: casual visitors, photo buyers and search engines.
There are many things that can impact the speed of your site, and Google’s tool does a great job in identifying the problems and suggesting possible fixes: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
This is a great strategy to establish yourself as an expert, as a trustworthy photography brand.
First of all, gather some testimonials from past clients or fellow photographers and include them on your site (usually on your About page and/or on pages where you’re selling products).
And by all means, if you’ve ever been featured in a blog post, interview, magazine etc., try to showcase and leverage that on your site. Same thing applies to any specific partnerships you have (print labs, product fulfillment, manufacturing, stock agencies etc.), include their logos on the site.
And finally, but just as important: unless you’re just starting out, definitely display social media counts on your website (subscribers, followers, tweets, likes, fans etc.)
Hope you found these ideas useful. What are you going to do today to improve your photography website?