Skip to main content

Marketing: SEO

Lesson 7 from: Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

7. Marketing: SEO

Lesson Info

Marketing: SEO

Want to talk about a few things. We're gonna talk about Places and how this has become one of the most effective SEO strategies there is. When search engine optimization became a thing, when people started to use social media as their main, or Google as their main way to find things, and I say Google meaning all the search engines. Although, really, I mean, there's only one, right? I mean, anybody use Bing? Any Bingers? Joe, one Binger? Okay, we got one Binger, see, that's actually pretty representative of the market we got eight people sitting in this room and one person uses Bing. So, think about that. Anybody Google, Google people? Okay, alright everybody else, alright. But a few years back Google changed the, how they do their search results and they prioritized business listings on Maps, or Google Places, over organic search results. And so there are some really cool things that you can do to show up there pretty quickly and that are gonna be more powerful than coming up organical...

ly, which is actually listed below. We're gonna talk about the things that you need to do to optimize your website to get found on Google, or Bing, Joe. And we're also gonna talk about creating content, about how creating content is gonna be the most important part of getting people to your site, and drive a traffic, and getting found. Okay, and external links. Google prioritizes, above all else, popularity and relevance. So if a lot, they assume that if a lot of people are going to a website and spending a lot of time on that website, that that website is the best one. That's like, that's really most of the data they have to make these decisions. They have to write their algorithms all around that. And it used to be, back in the day, whoever could get the most links to their website won. It was just sheer numbers of links. And as it became more refined, all the search engine companies, all the tech companies realized that their job is to connect a user with the most relevant thing that's gonna help them. 'Cause if you went to Yahoo and you used it all the time and all of a sudden you found yourself not being able to find what you were looking for on Yahoo, would you keep using Yahoo? You'd probably switch to Bing, or you'd probably switch to Google, or, I don't even know what else is out there anymore. There're probably some that I've never heard of. But if you're not finding what you're looking for you're not gonna use it. So their job, their mission is to connect the user with the most relevant possible thing. They don't want you to find a bunch of junk that you're not gonna be into. They want you to find the thing you need, the thing you want, the solution to your problem, as fast as possible. And everything that they do is to try to make that happen in a more fluid way. So, creating external links to your business from other places is going to create relevance, but its changed now, it's not just the sheer number of places linking to your website. It is the quality of those. Are those things connected by topic? Are they relevant to each other? And if you try and cheat the system, you can actually end up worse off than you started. So we're gonna talk a little bit about how to build some really cool, quality external links to your website. So this is a listing, I did a search for Seattle, I think, photographers. And I want you to notice a couple of things about this. Notice that the top, the first thing that you see are advertisements, alright? These are sponsored ads, these are people who paid to be there. And, apologize if anybody is actually on this, then what do you see below those ads? You see a map, and then under that map what do you see? You see the business listings on that map. So what happens is, if you type in, if you're from Tacoma and you type in pizza Tacoma, Google is gonna use your location or the location that you typed in, and it's gonna say pizza, he must be looking for a pizza place. So it's going to show you a map with all of the pizza places that are near you. And in fact the biggest priority is going to be by location. Where are you and what's close to you? Now that can be beat by some other stuff, but basically that's it. Google can tell by what you type in whether or not you're looking for a business. And then it will list businesses on the map for you. And it'll put all those little pins in it. Now, what's cool about this is what is below maps. The organic search results, the people whose website are all tuned up, and they pop up first. But unless you paid to be on the top, or unless you show up on that map, you're gonna be like eight, nine, 10 spaces from the top. Even if you have the best search engine optimization of any other business, you're gonna show up nine spaces down. 75% of traffic of search engine results they die in the first eight results. 75%. When was the last time you clicked on page two? To look what was on the second page of your search engine results? I did it yesterday just to prove a point to myself. We don't, if it's not on the first page, what do you do? You change your search. You're like, I must have typed it in wrong. I must be looking for the wrong thing. So, if you want to find, get found, on Google specifically, you're gonna need to come up in Places and that's gonna make you pop up ahead of everyone else. Does that make sense? So let me give you a couple of tips for that. One, you have to create, or claim, if there's an existing one, the listing for your business on Maps. This is a lot easier if you have a physical location for your studio. If you have a business, 'cause some people who run their businesses out of their homes feel a little weird about having their home address on Maps listed as a business. I did that for like six years, and I will tell you that nobody ever showed up at my house looking for their pictures after hours. I guess we just weren't that popular or whatever it was. So I never had trouble with it but I could see that, say, that you live in kind of a small apartment in a really sort of weird, dangerous part of town, you don't want clients coming there, I can see that. But you can also have a Map, you can also have a Places listing without a specific address. You have to create one, you have to claim a listing. And I could waste what time left we have or you could just go to the Google machine and they've got a thousand support articles telling you how to do that. You want to claim that listing so that you have control over it. So that you can log in, and I recommend if you use Mac or PC that you use the Chrome browser for this, 'cause all the stuff, all your Google products are built into a little menu right there, you just click, boom, and you can go right to your business. And you need to claim it or create a listing for your business to start with. And in order to do that, that you also, they mail you something, there's like a whole, weird process, but it's worth it, you have to do it. The next thing that you do is you go to your business listing and you put something in every single piece of it. You know what they do? It gives you ability to list things that your business does, these are qualifications for search queries. For example, like if you have a hair salon, and you can list under there hair salon, and it'll already be on a pre-selected list of types of businesses and now Google will know when someone types in hair salon Seattle I know that this is a result that matches that search. And so you can put up to five or six of those in, and photography studio is in there, camera shop, wedding photography, whatever your specific thing is, it's in there. So if you work that part of your listing, I have done this for another photographer before and I don't do this type of work generally so don't ask me to do this for your website, okay? I have claimed, created a listing, claimed it, filled out everything, all the profile, put pictures of the inside of the studio, pictures of the outside, pictures of the team working, and I think it's all hooked up to Google Plus now, too, and I filled out and then I saw them get into the number, get into like that top five spot in the Places listing within a couple of days. Like, this is not like an organic search result, this is like a boom, this is what's near you. As soon as you exist on Places and your business is claimed and verified, like, you can come up in this result in days, not months, not weeks, not years. Organic results take more time. Google sends out the little spider monsters, and they collect all the information, and it runs it through the algorithm, and it decides who gets to be king of the mountian. And in what order everybody shows up. This can happen right now. This can get you seen right now. And that's really, really powerful. It's not quite as easy anymore, you claim it, but it's still a lot easier than trying to get yourself found organically, and you show up first. Also easier if you have a physical location, but remember that if you haven't done this you have to do this. It could be huge. This is the other thing, popularity and relevance. So if something has more reviews, it's more likely to show up higher. Reviews can be a double-edged sword, let me lay this out for you. If the type of business that you search for, everybody has three or four reviews, and then you have like 150 it might, Google actually can look and say well they look like they're soliciting reviews from their clients and they're like, you know. You're not allowed to offer something for free, anymore, to get a review. I don't know how Google would know that. The Google Police will come to your house and kick the door down. But in the terms of service, you are not supposed to say I will give you extra hours of wedding coverage if you give us a Google review. You're not really supposed to do that. You can go, thanks for using us, we love you, here's a link where you can leave us a review if you want to. But I will tell you what, you will not get any if you're not asking for them. You won't get a ton ever, even if you are giving something away, but you have to start asking for them. If you have two businesses that are equidistant from the search area, that have all exact same things listed in their profiles, if you have one that's got 10 five-star reviews and one that's got four three-star reviews, guess who's gonna be on top? All other things being equal. Because it's gonna assume that this crowdsourced rating system is going to put the best stuff on the top. So you could be farther away from the client's search area, if someone goes in and they type in Seattle headshots, or Seattle photographer, you could be geographically further away and still come up ahead if you have a better profile. So you have the ability to be ahead of other people who have a more advantageous position than you. Whatever you have to do to show up there, if you can do it, get on there, because I get half of my business from that. I get, my profile on Google Places gets 10,000 views a month from people just searching and looking at it. These aren't necessarily all converting into business, I couldn't do 10,000 shoots a month. So here's what I want to to talk about keywords and optimization. We're talking about those key words that you use when you put into Places and we're gonna move on to organic search results. It is possible that you could be turning up in number one or two for a search and nobody's looking for it. It's really, really easy for me to sell you on search engine, you could pay me to do it for you, and I could say, I will go ahead and I will make you number one for this search, this search, and this search and somebody who knows what they're doing could get you there in a week or two. And you would be the number one. But is anybody actually looking for that term? That's totally another question. So this is the one takeaway from this that you have to take with you, everything else doesn't mean anything when it comes to organic search results. This is a page from the Google Keyword Planner. The Google Keyword Planner's part of Google Ad Words. Google Ad Words is trying to sell you advertising, yes, but this is incredibly powerful, free tool that if you have an account with Google, which if you have a Gmail address, and most people already do, you can go into Google Ad Words and you will be able to put in a search term and it will tell you how many searches there are for that term and it will suggest dozens of other potential search terms and show you how many people a month are looking for that term. It'll tell you how much competition there is to get on the page one, which is basically how many people are buying ads for those words. And it will give you ideas on what words to use when you're optimizing your website, how you wanna get found. Because if you have your website all keyworded up for something that nobody's looking for, you could be king of poop mountain and nobody cares. But if you would be better to be third or fourth on something that people are actually looking for, than it would be to be number one for something that no one's looking for. So, which would be better in this case? Right here, Seattle photographer seems to be a pretty solid keyword, 880 average monthly searches. And the level of competition for that page is medium. So, if you go down to Seattle wedding photographer, there's even more searches, 1,300, and medium. Seattle photography, look at that. 880 and it's low competition. So between Seattle photographers and Seattle photography, which one of those would you think you could more easily get an organic result from? Photography, but you also have to think are people looking for photography of the city of Seattle? Or a photographer who lives and works in Seattle? So these are the types of things you have to do, and the Google Keyword Planner will give you all of the information you need on what search engine terms you typically, if you're not good at this stuff, you want to pay someone to do it for you. What you don't wanna do is hire someone who called you to offer you the services. Find somebody who is local, who has an office where you can go and yell at them if they don't do their job, somebody who's a member of the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce. There are great SEO specialists out there who will be able to help your business, but if you don't know what to ask for you could be in trouble. I have a photographer friend of mine who was paying several hundred dollars a month to a company to get him on page one for the following terms. And he said hey I wanna page one for this term, this term, and this term. So when he asked me to look over his search engine stuff, and I looked at everything I said, dude, you're number one for all these searches but nobody's actually looking for them. Less than 10 people a month. And he was paying hundreds of dollars a month for. So it is possible to optimize your site completely in the wrong direction. So I want you to take away from this that if you use the Google Keyword Planner you will be able to find out what words in your area people are actually looking for and you can arm yourself with that information and take it to somebody who actually knows how to do this stuff, to make your site able to be found. Does that make sense? Everybody understand that? I cannot teach you how to do SEO in the time we have left, but we do have two things. I have a PDF SEO guide that you're going to get with this class, and I also have another Creative Live class I did like 18 months ago that's like just 90 minutes on everything I know about SEO. You can check that out too if you want to. Okay. External links, Facebook is a great place, a high traffic place, where you can put links to your website. Does that, that sound pretty good? That's a great place to start with your external links. I'm always creating content on my blog and posting it on Facebook, so people will go to my blog, which is on my website, which drives traffic, which makes Google show that you're more popular, which can improve your results. Your Google products, if you're optimizing for Google specifically, Google loves its products. What are some Google products? YouTube, for example, is a Google product. It's a great idea to create and use YouTube as a way to drive traffic to your website. Create interesting videos on things that are related to photography, or drive traffic to your website using stuff, Google Plus. Even though that didn't really work out well for Google, it didn't kill Facebook or anything like they really hoped it would, I post all of the links from my blog back to, on my Google Plus back to my website. And I have found that when I do searches for certain things, I'll find that sometimes my Google Plus page will come up with those articles and things that I've posted. Google loves its own products. So make sure that you're into, and know about, and are using those things. Alright. So here's the other thing that I use. How many people have a blog on their website? How many people use it a lot? Yeah, we got a couple of these. Right, why? Because it's hard to get people to interact with your blog, right? What do you want? You desperately want comments, and likes, and all that stuff. What happens is people post things again, and again, and again, of like, here are some pretty pictures I took. Here are more pretty pictures I took. Here are some more pretty pictures I took. Nobody cares about pretty pictures of other people. I would challenge you to say that the most people that are going to be checking out a photographer's work on a blog are what? Other photographers. Those are not your clients, are they? But what if you turn your blog into a place of information for people that could be potential clients to read interesting things? Anyone know what a listicle is? A listicle is an article like The Five Best Dressed People at the Oscars, the Eight Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Gay, like all this stuff, like, because psychologically when you see a number, five things, 10 things, 12 things, you go I can do five things. And you can read that. What if you see an article that's like Stephen Hawking's dissertation on the likeliness of a naked singularity's existence in the Milky Way galaxy? You're like, oh no, I'm not gonna do that. That sounds, there's a term in engineering, TLDNR, anybody familiar with that? Too long did not read. Right? A listicle is kryptonite for too long did not read. So we put a lot of things like that on our blog. I write an article, three different hairstyles that are really great for a headshot session. Or, five tips to nail your audition, or things like that. And I have other, local companies who are also potentially marketing to the same people to do those things with me. And so I'm posting interesting content on my blog all the time and swapping those articles with other business owners to create content and to drive traffic and then posting on those things back to my blog.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ten Tips for Professional Portraits
SEO Workbook
Posing Guide
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.

Student Work