Most often, when we dive headfirst into SEO, we don’t consider the very first step, SEO Keyphrase planning. I’ll talk to other photographers during an SEO consultation who are struggling to gain traction with their beautiful sites, and my first question is always, “Can I see what your keyword plan is?”
9 times of 10, there isn’t a plan.
Not having a plan for your SEO is a problem. Why? It’s sort of like throwing darts without seeing the dartboard. You can learn all the dart-throwing skills, but you’re sunk before beginning if you’re not aiming for something.
But don’t fear when people start talking about keywords, keyphrases, volume and other terminology. This planning phase really is easy and I’ll show you in 3 easy to follow steps.
Step 1 – Brainstorm All The Ways You Think Someone Will Find Your Website
The first step is more like a brain dump where you consider how your clients might want to find you on Google. I want you to write down all the things you do and all the locations you serve. Don’t leave anything out. Go big like “In-Home Newborn Photographer” and get granular with “Newborn Photography Missoula Montana”.
An easy formula is “Type of Photography + Physical Location,” Feel free to use this as a launching point. Rework your list using niche locations. For example, if you started with Seattle Family Photographer, look at the outlying areas you serve and add them in. Like, Gig Harbor or Bellevue Family Photographer.
Sometimes having bigger search terms like “Motherhood Photography” can be good as well.
If you’re reading this post and you’re not a photographer or a local, service-based business, it will still work. Simply omit those specific cities and think about how someone might find the thing you offer online.
Pro Tip – Using sites like SEMrush, you can see exactly how prospective clients are getting to their website via Google. Researching a competitors domain is another good way to gather ideas about what is working and what is now.
Step 2 Test Your Keyword Research
Now you have this huge list, start testing your keywords. There are many sites to test out how lucrative your keywords are. Here are my favorite places for keyword research.
You’re going to be looking for two main things. First, what keywords should you toss because they don’t produce any results? Second, what keywords should you omit because you don’t have a snowball’s chance in heck at ranking? You’re looking for that middle sweet spot. I call it the Goldilocks of Keyphrases.
As you’re marking off keywords, make sure to keep 1-2 keywords that represent each service page on your website. What I mean is if school portraits have a page on your website, you’ll need a keyword for that. So don’t toss out all the school portrait keywords because they look too low.
At the same time you’re searching keywords and keyphrases on something like MOZ or Semrush, you’ll see related keyphrases listed as well. These sites tell you what other keywords or phrases people might be using. Don’t skip the related keyphrases because they are often great ideas to add to your list.
How Much Volume for a Keyphrase is Enough?
When you start looking at keyphrases and keywords, you’ll find a number called volume. You can see the example below. It means that, on average, this is how many searches occur per month for your keyphrase. Sometimes you’ll also see a ranking that relates to keyword difficulty.
It’s hard for me to tell someone what a good volume is without looking, but in general, it probably needs to be more than 10-15 searches per month. Also, take into consideration all the keyphrases together. If most of your keyphrases come back with a volume of 50-100, a result of 10 might not be a good candidate. However, if in your area, everything is relatively low, around 20-30, then a volume of 10 is still in play.
Clear as mud, right? Once you play around with the tools, you’ll get a feel for it.
Step 3 Put your SEO Keyphrase Planning all together
Just as important as my pricing plan is, so is my SEO plan. Open up Excel or Google Sheets and map this out for reference later.
Start by creating a spreadsheet that includes each main page on your website you want to rank. By main page, it should be something with over 300 words of content. Second, go in and assign two keywords to each page, primary and secondary. Saying this is what I want to rank for first, and this other keyword is my second choice.
This spreadsheet will become your reference sheet to optimize your website, build out content, and slay SEO.
Reminder – You can and will rank for hundreds or even thousands of things. This is simply setting up a focus or strategic goal for the main pages of your site.
With these three steps, you should be able to rock SEO keyphrase planning and start moving up the ranks on Google.
Remember, whether you’re taking advice from me or any other SEO expert, a solid keyphrase plan is the launching pad.
Keyphrase planning can feel clunky to get started. If you want to see exactly how I set up a plan, get your own keyphrase worksheet and more SEO tips, I’ve got your covered. Download your SEO Starter Kit here.
MB – A Spokane-based photographer serving the Pacific Northwest and helping other photographers build confidence in their business.