A girl looking at a laptop computer screen pondering her keyword research decisions

SEO Keywords for Photographers – Research Guide for You

How to Find the Best SEO Keywords for Photographers – Expert Guide

SEO keywords provide photographers with a unique opportunity to target an audience looking for them online. 

With the right choice of keywords, you can have a clear picture of how much search volume you could expect to receive for your efforts. Over the course of even a handful of well written pages, you’ll begin to see a steady increase in users visiting your site. 

With enough targeted traffic, you can even begin to increase sales for your photography services without doing a ton of extra work. 

This is what led us to laying a solid foundation in SEO early on in our photography businesses. 

Years later…we still see the benefits of the work we put in…

One area many struggle with is finding the best SEO keywords for photographers. Even with great keyword research tools to help, you still need to make decisions that can make or break your performance in search engine results.  

In this post, we’re going to provide our expert guidance to help you find the best SEO keywords for your photography website. We will teach you the following things…

  • What are SEO keywords and how do they work for search engines
  • Our favorite keyword research tools for photographers
  • How to find keywords your users will be searching for
  • How to generate content ideas from your keyword ideas
  • How to use keywords in your content
  • Where else on your website to use your SEO keywords
  • How to track your page performance

SEO Keywords for Photographers 101 – What are they and how do they work?

Even if you’re completely new to SEO, you have probably heard the term keyword before. 

We’re going to shed some light on what they are and how they work. 

Keywords are the words (or series of words) a user types into a search engine with the goal of finding information. 

For example…

If you type into the search bar “wedding photographers in New Hampshire” – a good search engine will show you pages that feature wedding photographers in the state of New Hampshire. 

(Well, that’s obvious…right?!?)

For a search like this, the pages that are most likely to display have a few things in common:

  • They have optimized their web page for that keyword
  • They create a unique and valuable resource that addresses the searchers need
  • They have a local presence in the state of NH
  • They have built a reputation online, which makes them trustworthy and authorities on the topic

While there is a little more to it – these are the biggest factors to consider right now. 

Different Types of SEO Keywords

As we continue this conversation about keywords for photographers, you should keep in mind that there are different types of keywords you will come across. 

While this could be an in-depth article itself, keeping it simple there are 2 main types of keywords. 

These include:

Short tail keywords. These are keywords that include 1-3 words and cover a broad topic. These types of keywords are generally harder to rank for if there is a lot of competition. 

Long tail keywords. These are keywords that are 3+ words and cover deeper topics. These keywords are typically easier to rank for and organically capture short tail keyword variants, too. 

As a part of any good photographer’s SEO strategy, you should focus most of your energy on long tail keywords to get the best results. In our experience, longer keywords provide you more bang for your buck.

Keyword Research Tools for Photographers

The first step to doing your own keyword research is to make use of the best tools currently available. While there are a ton out there (and it can be a little overwhelming), we have narrowed down to a few free and paid options to make it easier for you. 

Google Search

First up, there is a lot of information you can get for keyword research just from running searches in Google. This is completely free but does require a little outside of the box thinking if you use it exclusively. 

Best ways to use Google search for keyword research include:

  • Find competitors on specific search terms
  • Create a list of common questions asked by people searching for a specific term
  • Find related search keywords

Find photography business competitors

Let’s go back to the example from earlier in this post. 

Search for “wedding photographers in New Hampshire” and look through the results list. 

Some top ranked content for this term includes:

If you are looking to create content to compete for this term, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Identify what about their content is helping them rank for this term
  • Explore if you feel these are the best results for this search term
  • Create a plan for creating a more impactful page
Google search engine results page for New Hampshire wedding photographer keyword


Many Google search queries include a section called “People also ask”, which feature related questions for a user to look through. 

These questions are interesting to us for a few reasons…

  • They can give you new content ideas
  • They can reveal long term keyword ideas
  • You could integrate some questions into a longer landing page to provide users with more relevant content (this could help you rank for a competitive term more)
people always ask serp results

Related Keywords

Another feature of the search engine results page are “Related searches”. This is another great resource for finding keyword ideas that are already being searched with similar user intent. 

related search results in SERP

Personally, we recommend pairing these strategies with a tool developed to help you conduct keyword research for the best results.

Google Keyword Planner

One of the best keyword research tools is Google Keyword Planner

This is a free tool provided by Google themselves.

As photographers, we’ve spent countless hours going through results in this planner. 

How to use Google Keyword planner to find keywords

Once you’ve created your account, there are a few ways to approach using it. 

Let’s go through 2 strategies:

Open search for specific keyword queries

If you have a particular keyword (or idea for a keyword) you’d like to target, start there. 

For this example, let’s search “Philadelphia wedding photographer”. 

We input this into the Keyword ideas search box. Once submitted, you will find a ton of data about this keyword and similar keyword ideas. 

When it comes to keyword research, finding the best keyword(s) to target requires you to go through the recommendations to find ideas that are either…

  • Better than your search keyword OR
  • Provide you additional content ideas

In this case – “Philadelphia wedding photographer” is a good, simple term for a photographer to target as a part of their SEO efforts. 

Immediate opportunities we see for other keywords include…

  • Merion Tribute House Photos
  • The Philadelphia Wedding Chapel Photos
  • Boathouse Row Philadelphia Wedding
  • Indian Wedding Photographer Philadelphia
Google Keyword planner result for search term "philadelphia wedding photographer"

Search by website

To discover new keywords, you can also start with a website. 

The way this works is Google Keyword Planner will go through the site to identify keywords currently in use. 

This can be an effective way to start doing competitor SEO analysis – to see what keywords your competition currently is using. 

In our experience, photography websites often turn up pretty poor results in this way – largely because few have really great search engine optimizations. If you encounter this situation, it is actually a good thing for you – as search results are likely going to be less competitive!

Google Keyword Planner website search
Google Keyword Planner website search results for Wedding Wire site.

Best data points to look at in Google Keyword Planner

When reviewing the keyword ideas, the following data points are the most relevant for you as a photographer:

  • Avg. monthly searches. Google provides a range of how many monthly searches you can expect for the keyword. This number of a starting point, but not completely accurate for many reasons. 
  • Three month and Year over Year (YoY) change. Some keywords see an increase or decrease in search traffic, and that is captured here. Changes can happen with seasonal searches or if a particular topic gets a lot of media attention (like micro weddings in 2020). 
  • Competition. Displayed as Low, Medium, and High. This gives some surface level insight into whether or not it is easy to rank in organic search for the term. 
  • Top of page bid range. If you are using Google Ads, these numbers related to the cost for the ad. It is also useful information if your focus is on organic SEO traffic, as it suggests higher demand on a particular term because companies are willing to pay to advertise on it. 

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a paid browser add-on for keyword research available on Chrome and Firefox.

It is a great tool for simplified keyword research since you don’t have to do anything more than simply runs your searches in Google to get keyword data. 

With this tool you can better assess:

  • Search engine results pages for recommended keyword targets
  • Page and website level traffic metrics

In practice, it’s very similar data to what you’d find in other keyword research tools, but how it’s presented is what can make it worth it. 

For photographers wanting to do keyword research AND save time, this is a good option. Of course, for the time savings there is some cost associated with it. 

Keywords Everywhere, by SEO tool standards, is very inexpensive though. They use a credit system where 1 credit = 1 keyword displayed, and the minimum buy in is $10 for 100,000 credits – which will last a long time for most photography businesses. 

Keywords Everywhere extension example

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a great keyword research tool if you want a different and more visual approach to the results. 

It is particularly useful for identifying questions your users may be asking. 

There is a free account that provides 3 searches a day, or you can pay to upgrade. 

Example results from Answer the Public:

  • Type in the phrase “wedding photographer”
  • It returns 109 questions that are being searched
  • Review the ideas and create content ideas to help address these questions for your audience

Some good starter results we found for this query include:

  • Locations for wedding photoshoot?
  • How long should you have a photographer at your wedding?
  • Photographer photo list wedding?
Answer the Public example for wedding photographer search term

In general, we would not rely on this tool but use it to help work through keyword researchers block (we just made that term up!). 

As photographers, we love being able to view things differently and having the ability to find unique blog topics and keyword ideas without just looking through a raw data set is great. 

SEM Rush and Ahrefs

Two other SEO tools we recommend for photographers are SEM Rush and Ahrefs

These are both paid options that are more comprehensive than other tools. 

While both tools have many, many useful features that can help create better marketing strategies, conduct site audits, analyze competitor websites, and more…they both have similar offerings when it comes to keyword research. 

The following are the benefits of these paid keyword research tools:

  • More in depth data about specific keywords
  • More keyword ideas and suggestions
  • Different user interfaces that make engaging with research more interesting
  • Keyword variation information including volume metrics
  • Recommended questions for your keyword query
  • Traffic volume and click data
  • Competitor website keyword data

SEM Rush offers a free plan, but it is very limited (to the point of almost being useless except to explore the UI). Ahrefs does not offer a free plan. 

If you are wanting easier access to professional SEO insights, we work with photographers to get their SEO in order

We use our industry experience and professional tools like Ahrefs to help identify the best keywords for photographers, research your competition, and much more. 

Contact us today to get started!

The keyword research tool we don’t recommend for photographers: Ubersuggest

Just figured I’d call this one out. 

On virtually every list of recommended keyword research tools you will find online – Ubersuggest is bound to be mentioned. 

This is a holdover from years past when it was originally a free tool. 

Today, there is very minimal use on a free plan. You do not get much in the way of unique data to justify its use.

For free options, Google Keyword Planner is much better. As a paid solution – you’re better off working with SEM Rush or Ahrefs. 

How to Do Your Own Keyword Research for Photographers – 4 Steps

Now that you are prepared with the knowledge of how you can use keywords in your website’s content and a selection of tools to help you, we can dive into actually doing the keyword research. 

1. Brainstorming Keyword Ideas

In our experience, the best starting point to finding good keywords is simply brainstorming and making a list of your initial ideas. 

Some things to think about:

  • What are things your target audience will be searching for online?
  • What styles and niches of photography do you offer?
  • What geographic locations are you wanting to target (towns/cities, states, countries)?
  • Are there any topics you want to educate your potential clients about?

For this exercise – do not worry about finding the “perfect” keyword, but instead just focus on getting rough ideas down. 

Keyword tools will help you narrow down your choices in the next step. 

2. Create a list of keywords that are interesting to you

Now, you should take your keyword ideas and plug them into a keyword planning tool. 

This will help you generate additional ideas and have access to real world data to help you evaluate whether these are good terms to create content for. 

Here is an example using Google Keyword Planner:

1. We came up with a keyword idea “wedding photographer Colorado”

2. We searched this in Google Keyword Planner

Wedding Photographer Colorado receives 100 – 1,000 monthly searches and is low competition…not a bad choice right out of the gate. 

3. As this tool shows related keyword ideas, we can directly export them as a spreadsheet or create our own list. 

We prefer exporting, then going through that list ourselves to highlight our preferred keyword ideas. 

4. Some selected keywords we want to examine more include…

  • Denver Wedding Photographer
  • The Manor House Littleton Photos
  • Telluride Photographer
  • Boulder Wedding Photographer

Keywords for Photographers – Additional Sample Ideas

These are some general sample keywords you might expect to find and use as a photographer. 

  • [YOUR LOCATION] Photographer
  • [YOUR LOCATION] Wedding Photographer
  • [YOUR LOCATION] Portrait Photographer
  • [YOUR LOCATION] Elopement Photographer
  • Wedding Venues in [CITY]
  • Best Florists in [STATE]
  • Wedding Photography Tips for Brides in [CITY]
  • How to Plan Your Wedding in [CITY]

3. Create content ideas

With your keywords in mind, you can now generate content ideas. 

Our approach to creating content follows a few simple steps:

  • Brainstorm content ideas that we would like to read
  • Research the search engine results to see what kind of pages are ranking for the keyword currently
  • Determine if you can create something that adds more value or improves the results page

Let’s take two of our Colorado based keywords and think about the type of content we could create:

Denver Wedding Photographer

For a wedding photographer based in Denver, this could be a great target keyword for the home page. 

If you are wanting to rank well for this keyword, a few things you’ll need to do include:

  • Create a compelling home page. Your home page should talk about your brand, who you are, your photography, showcase portfolio images, and discuss the relevance to being a photographer in Colorado. 
  • Include the keyword (and variants) throughout the page organically. 
  • Further optimize your page for on page and technical SEO. Top results include proper use of headers, NAP information in the footer, inclusion of the keyword and variants, optimized page speed, and more. 
  • Set up a Google Business account. You can create more trust for your website this way. 
  • Internally link to your home page from other pages and blog posts. 
  • Get backlinks from other websites (such as wedding publications and directory listings) to build your domain authority. 

In our view, this keyword (and similar types) can be deceptive when you see them in keyword research tools listed as “low competition.” 

In practice, these are often high demand in the photography industry because they are some of the most direct keywords a potential client could search for to find someone to hire. This is why it may be essential to do more than just simple on page optimizations to rank. 

The Manor House Littleton Photos

In our recommended keyword ideas, this one came up. This is a specific venue in Littleton (right outside of Denver) that receives a large volume of search traffic and is right in the target market where you’re wanting to work. 

This is a great opportunity whether you have shot at this venue before or not. 

A few content options include:

  • Create a post simply showcasing photos from The Manor House in Littleton. This can basically be a wedding blog post if you’ve worked there previously. 
  • Create a larger piece of content about The Manor House in Littleton and include a section with photos optimized for this keyword. This can reach broader search terms and be a more useful guide sharing experience and guidance for using this venue for a wedding, and providing your own insights as a photographer. 
  • Do both. You need to be careful not to create a keyword cannibalization issue, however in practice you could create two pages – one targeting The Manor House to discuss it as a venue in general, and another focusing on just photos. Interlink these together and you can create a more compelling resource for your audience that goes deeper than others on the SERP.

How to get unique content if you’ve never shot there before?

Good question! 

For photographers, a part of an SEO strategy that is completely underutilized is figuring out how to use your content creation efforts to maximize the performance of other marketing channels. 

If you are wanting to create content on a specific wedding venue, it’s of high value to have unique photos and experiences with that location.

This will give you more authority to speak to the experience of being there.

Obviously, shooting a wedding there would be ideal – but it’s not always possible.

If you don’t have a gallery currently available, reach out to the venue and find opportunities to network – ask if you can come take a tour, snap some photos, and talk about how you’re wanting to create a valuable resource for the venue on your website. 

By making this connection, you open the door not only for better performing website pages, but opportunities to network with a valuable wedding vendor.

In our experience, sometimes this even opens the door to venue referrals. 

In the case of wedding venues, these are powerful relationships to build and having website content in place can help potential clients through the buyer’s journey to feel more confident to book with you. 

For example – a couple could go check out this venue for a tour, get your info from them, go to your website, find your blog(s) about the venue, and want to book with you based on a professional recommendation, your portfolio, and the reinforced expertise you offer about the location. 

It can also work in the inverse – the same couple could be researching wedding venues in Colorado, come across The Manor House and find your blog post, contact them to set up a tour, then reach back out to you because of the high value resource you provided. If you’re on the venue list, even better to have your name dropped by the venue while they are there. 

Still stumped when creating content for your website? We help photographers create on brand blog content to get in front of your ideal clients. We offer a range of blogging services for photographers from consistent session/wedding blogs to more in depth, highly researched pieces.

Contact us to learn more about our blogging services.

4. Competitor Analysis

With your keywords and content ideas in hand, it’s a good practice to research your competition. 

We’d guess that many photographers who are already creating content probably skip out on this important step!

Competition analysis should start by analyzing the search engine results page (SERP) for the target keyword (and sometimes similar or related ones) to see what kind of results are being shown. 

Specific things to look for:

  • What websites are displaying?
  • Are any of these actual photographers or other sites (like Facebook or Wedding Wire)?
  • Is the keyword being used in the title or meta description?
  • Do the results include images or special SERP features (like video, People always ask, or Google Business results)?
  • Do the results actually offer value to the user or could you do it better?
    • If you can do it better, what are some things you can specifically do?

For more detailed competitor analysis, using tools like Ahrefs or SEM Rush can give you more details including an estimate of backlinks you’ll need to help rank higher for this term. 

Keyword optimization for photographers

Now that you’ve selected keywords and started to create content, it’s important to optimize your pages and how they incorporate your keywords. 

These keyword optimizations can help ensure that your website content is being found. 

10 Tips for Using Your Keywords on Your Website

1. Include your keyword in the page title.

2. Include your keyword in the H1 tag. 

3. Include your keyword (when it makes sense) in other header tags (H2, H3, H4, etc.)

4. Include your keyword in image titles

5. Use keywords in alt text for photographers

6. Use your keyword early in the body of your page text (typically first paragraph). 

7. Use your keywords naturally throughout the rest of your post. 

8. Be flexible to use synonyms and other versions of the keyword. 

9. Include your keyword in the meta description. 

10. Use the keyword in the page URL.

Does all this sounds like… a lot? 

We help photographers just like you get results, without the headache. We offer custom SEO services and blog writing services to create content that will attract an audience to your brand. 

Contact us today to get started!

Tracking Page Performance 

Once you’ve completed your web page or blog post, you can monitor the performance of your content in search engine results. 

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Actively monitor the SERP for your chosen keyword. If you do this, we recommend using a private browser window. 
  • Check your page in Google Search Console and/or Google Analytics. These tools can provide the most insight into the performance of your page and specific keyword(s). 
  • Some SEO research tools like Ahrefs also offer the ability to monitor keyword and page ranking performance. 

To help set your expectation, as a rule – content created will take 3-6 months to rank organically in Google search. 

Higher competition content can take longer than this (think 6+ months). We have also seen content rank in as little as a few days. 

What influences the time to rank?

Search engines first need to index your page. For more established sites with well implemented SEO, this will typically be very quick. In cases where pages are not being indexed, you can manually submit pages for indexing using Google Search Console. 

Next, search engines typically “experiment” by placing the content in different positions. It’s normal to see content go to the first page, then a few pages back, and move around from there until it comes to a resting point. This resting point is usually where it will stay after that 3-6 month mark without additional inputs (like receiving more backlinks or updating the content). 

Lower competition content will generally rank quicker. It’s important to note that some keywords listed as “low” competition in keyword tools are not always completely accurate. 

The quality of your content also plays a role. There are some objective measures to look for (like how you implemented SEO on the page), but some of this is also very subjective – such as if your assumptions on user intent when they searched for a particular term is accurate. 

A few things we see that help pages rank higher, faster:

  • Longer form content that is detailed and thorough provide a better resource for many search terms
  • Creating highly targeted, local content with a low level of competition
  • Optimizing things like page speed and images, since this is often missed by many photographers
  • Making connections to get more backlinks to your website (in general and to your specific page)
  • Using a silo structure for your content. 

For more guidance to create stronger web pages and implement SEO into your photography business website, we created the following resources to help you even learn more:

SEO for Photographers – The Ultimate Online Success Guide


In this post, we covered how to find the best SEO keywords for photographers.

We hope you’re able to take this information to find better keywords for your photography business website, and create the content you need to draw in more of a crowd.

A website well optimized for SEO and including high quality blog content is destined for success.

As photographers ourselves, success in this space is amazing because it can lead to a consistent stream of new inquiries and bookings organically without a need to use paid marketing channels like Facebook ads, paid directory listings like The Knot, and more. The hardest part about organic SEO is the waiting game – but with constant production of new content and a well optimized website, you will begin to seeing results…

Need a jump start to getting SEO results? Get in touch today to learn more about how we help photographers just like you with SEO and blogging.

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