Building a great photography website can be a daunting task. While photographers are exceptional visual artists, that skill doesn’t always translate into an effective photography website.
Between hand-selecting your favorite images, choosing a design layout, and learning the tech behind building a website, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Then there’s the issue of making sure that your website can be easily found by your ideal clients.
Photography Website Must-Haves
With so many moving pieces, we wanted to help you out by identifying six important photography website components that are easy to overlook.
Your contact page is arguably the most important page on your website, as your website is often the first point of contact for new clients. Your photography website’s contact page gives customers a way to get in touch with you and book a session with you, and you want to make that as easy and obvious as possible.
First, make sure that your contact page is easy to find. Place it in your main header and include a call-to-action that leads to your contact page on your homepage and any other popular pages or blogs.
When it comes to build your contact page, you should always include the following
- Your name. This is an easy detail to overlook. Even if your photography company is your first and last name, it’s important to state your actual name on the contact page. Make sure your name is at the top of the page in the title: “Contact Your Name”.
- A working contact form. Test your contact form to make sure you’re receiving emails from your contact page to your inbox. Make sure all fields work, and that you’re asking for all the information that you need to have upfront in order to make an informed reply.
- A response time frame. Clearly state when the inquirer can expect your reply. You can include office hours, or general timelines such as “within 48 hours”. Make sure to update this section if you go on vacation, or are out of the office for unusual periods of time. Follow through on this timeline to show customers you are dependable.
The navigation bar is usually located along the top or left side of your website. These links direct a visitor to different pages of your site. When building your navigation, it’s important to consider the following:
- Keep it simple. Your navigation should be brief and to-the-point. Keep the number of links to a minimum (5 links at the most). If visitors can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they are more likely to leave your site.
- Consider your audience. What words are your visitors looking for? Do not use industry terms when building your navigation. “Weddings” and “Family” are universally understood photography categories; “Documentary” is not. Consider removing industry terms and jargon as most website visitors won’t know what you mean.
- Feature your specialty. Your navigation should highlight the type of work that you want to get hired for. Don’t be a generalist. Feature your specialty on your homepage (it should be the first photo a visitor sees on the site), and give it a dedicated link in your navigation. For example, if you specialize in wedding photography, use one of your best wedding photographs as your first photo and have it link to the wedding photography page or portfolio on your website.
When you build your online portfolio, be selective and show only your best work. Showcase just one photo from each session. To highlight more of your best images from a session, link the featured photo to an extended gallery or a blog post about the session.
Creating blog posts for specific sessions does more than just showcase your work—it’s also an opportunity to increase your website’s SEO rankings since you can add written content, keywords, and alt text to images (learn more about this below). It’s a win-win!
On your portfolio page, display only the type of work that you want to be hired to shoot. Choose images that represent the perfect intersection of:
- What you’re good at
- What you like to shoot
- What will attract your ideal client
Narrowing your portfolio down can be difficult, but it leads to more opportunities to get hired for the work you like to shoot, and a portfolio that represents you the best.
Make your location and service area clear on your website. If you are exclusively shooting in California, tell the viewer what regions in California you service. If you are a destination photographer, make it clear how far you’re willing to travel. Showing your main location on your website (even if you’re willing to travel) helps potential clients get a sense of who you are and what areas you normally shoot in. On the same note: If a client loves your work, but is based outside your service area, it’s better they know this upfront to prevent any misunderstandings.
“Narrowing your portfolio down can be difficult, but it leads to more opportunities to get hired for the work you like to shoot, and a portfolio that represents you the best.” - Mastin Labs
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You can create a beautiful photography website, but if you don’t consider SEO, it’s a lot less likely that anyone else will ever get to see it. Essentially, SEO is a series of on-page and behind-the-scenes content you add that helps your website rank on search engines. The better your SEO, the more likely you are to appear above other websites on search engine results pages (SERPs).
There are a few important things to remember when it comes to photography website SEO:
- Keywords. Choose a keyword or key phrase for each page and try to make that the focus of the copy and headings on that page. You may also choose some secondary keywords to work in. Often, keywords will include your genre and location.
For example, if you’re a Seattle wedding photographer, you may want to make that the keyword of your homepage. Consider what your ideal clients are searching for in search engines, as well as what describes your business, and let that guide you. Then, make sure you work those keywords naturally into your copy several times, including the page heading.
- Image alt texts. Alt text is especially important for photography websites as it helps your images pop up in image search results. Since your photos are your work, you want to make sure they can be found, too! The way you add image alt text depends on your website builder, but essentially, it should be a detailed description of what’s in the photo. Alt text is also used to assist the visually impaired, so consider that while writing your descriptions. It’s also recommended to organically work your keywords into some of your image alt text, if you can.
- Keeping content fresh. Updating your web content regularly is essential for ranking on SERPs, as it shows search engines, like Google, that your site is fresh and relevant. One great way to add fresh content to your website consistently is with a blog. If you do choose to add a blog, remember to optimize your blog posts for SEO with keywords and image alt text. Some website builders also have other SEO sections to fill in which will help you out.
SEO can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but many website builders have made it easier by adding specific SEO sections to fill in, and there are plenty of tutorials and guides out there that can help.
There are countless reasons to optimize your photography site to be mobile friendly. On the tech side, it’s good for SEO, which means that Google prioritizes sites that are quick to load (under 3 seconds) and mobile friendly. Meaning, if someone types “Wedding Photographers in New York” into a search engine, your site will be shown higher up on the search results list than one of the same quality that is not mobile-friendly.
On the usability side, more and more people are accessing the Internet via a mobile phone. A well designed, clean, and easy-to-use mobile interface speaks to the credibility and professionalism of a company; the opposite is true as well. A visitor who accesses a photography website by mobile phone that is not optimized for mobile devices may encounter jumbled, or partially rendered photographs, tiny navigation, and misplaced links that make interacting with the site nearly impossible, ruining the visitor’s experience and pushing them to take their business elsewhere.
We visit countless photography websites every day, and these are some of the most important features that are often missing. So whether you’ve already built a website and want to do a quick audit, or are starting from scratch and want to begin on the right foot, we hope you’ll take these six must-haves and put them into action to make your site fully informative, easily navigable, and attractive to your ideal client.
Learn more with this photography website review with Kirk Mastin.