A website is a pretty important business tool… not just for photographers, but ALL businesses. Your website is the face of your business online and as we all know, everyone is online. But, is your website actually doing its job and getting you client leads? Does it communicate what you do and how you’re different? There are a lot of easy-to-use templates to help get you up and running, but there are additional steps to take that often get neglected in the midst of going live quickly. This results in having a website that doesn’t really do anything to help your business. If you want to know how to improve your website, check out my tips below.
This post contains affiliate links. Read the affiliate disclosure.
How To Improve Your Website
I’m a professional food photographer and when I was first setting up my website, I just wanted something pretty and simple that I could go live with quickly. As creative entrepreneurs, I think this is a common practice that we all fall into. You find a nice looking template, add your content and voila, you’re live! It’s great to get a website up so fast these days, but there are still other important steps that you need to take.
My website wasn’t a very strong marketing tool for me in the beginning because I didn’t know about these important steps. My work may have looked good, but Google wasn’t finding my site in searches and I wasn’t really standing out to my potential clients.
After taking the time to work with Tonic Site Shop and some SEO experts like Brain Child Studios, I have learned how to improve my website and make it my number one marketing tool. The best part is, I’m summarizing these important steps for you so you can learn how to improve your website. Let’s dive in!
1: Looks Matter. Be Different.
Aside from the website basics of having a consistent look, visible navigation, high-quality images and an easy way to contact you, how to improve your website really starts with being different. There are a lot of beautiful website templates out there that cover the standard website structure, but you’ll still want to customize it to look and feel like YOU… not just like everyone else.
In the beginning of my photography career, I wanted my website to look like the other professional photographers websites. I think a lot of businesses do this. Do you look to see what your competitors are doing and try to replicate that? Have you ever noticed that all photography websites pretty much look the same?
The truth is, having the same website experience as everyone else you’re competing against doesn’t help you stand out. It makes you blend in. If you do what everyone else is doing, you are going to get lost in the crowd no matter how good your work is.
2: Customize Your Website for Desktop & Mobile
Once you find a beautiful template, it’s important that it looks good on a desktop and your mobile device. A desktop view of a website is a completely different experience than a mobile view. Luckily, a lot of templates are responsive for both desktop and mobile, so when it comes to how to improve your website, having it look good everywhere should be taken care of.
The problem I’ve run into is being able to customize desktop and mobile views separately on my own, without a developer or coding knowledge. This required time I didn’t have and extra money that I wasn’t planning to spend.
Separate desktop and mobile customization was a big reason I decided to work with Tonic Site Shop & ShowIt. They have an easy-to-use, “drag and drop” platform that lets me edit my desktop view and mobile view separately right within the platform. It was a breath of fresh air to discover this feature, because I haven’t found this anywhere else. I am able to customize so much on my own quickly without code knowledge or a developer.
Save 15% On Tonic Site Shop Templates Using Code: REGANSENTME
3: Get The SSL Certificate
I know… SSL Certificate sounds a little more technical and it is. BUT, as a non-technical person, I can assure you this is an easy step because your hosting provider will handle this for you. SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” and is a level of security that websites need to safely send information over the Internet.
Does your website have the SSL Certificate? You can check by looking at your main URL. Does it start with HTTPS or HTTP?
If your website does not have an SSL Certificate, it will start with HTTP and an alert is sent to the user from Google saying that your site is “NOT SECURE.” This can potentially scare people away from your site pretty quickly. Google also doesn’t like this and will not rank your site in searches without an SSL Certificate. The requirement for SSL happened years ago, so not only does it make your website look unsafe and unprofessional, it also makes your website look pretty out of date.
The benefits of having an SSL certificate include:
- PROTECTS DATA SENT AND RECEIVED
- BETTER SEARCH ENGINE RANKING
- NO ALERTS SAYING THAT YOUR SITE IS NOT SECURE
Getting an SSL Certificate set up is easy. Contact your hosting company and they will get it done for you. It’s a quick fix on the backend and can be built into your hosting fee. It’s worth it to keep your site safe, secure and search-friendly.
4: Get Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics (GA) on your website will help you evaluate and track your website’s performance to see what’s working and what isn’t working.
Google Analytics is FREE and full of helpful information to help you improve your website as your business grows. It includes things like who’s coming to your site, where they’re coming from, where they’re going, how long they stick around, what devices they use, demographics and a lot of other great information to help you get to know your audience. You can also set custom date ranges to see how much traffic you got in January vs. June. Knowing these types of statistics will help you make good decisions for your website rather than just guessing what could be best.
If you’re not super familiar with Google Analytics, it may seem overwhelming when you first get started. I found a great online class from SkillShare that is incredibly helpful to become more familiar with GA. I’m linking it for you below. Trust me, GA is an amazing tool to help you see how your website is doing for your business.
Learn More About: The Fundamentals of Google Analytics
5. Add Copy
As a photographer who avoided having any copy on my website for years, I understand how this step may seem a little daunting. What should you say?
The only copy I had on my website in the beginning was my name and an easy way to contact me. I didn’t want a lot of copy on my website. I figured, I’m a photographer and my work can do all the “talking” for me, right? Wrong. No matter what your business is, adding copy to your website is incredibly important for these reasons:
- COPY HELPS GOOGLE FIND YOU IN SEARCHES
- COPY GIVES YOUR CLIENTS AN IDEA OF WHO YOU ARE AND HOW YOU’RE DIFFERENT
When adding copy, you need to consider what people are looking for and use those words, also known as keywords, within your website.
Keywords help Google know what your business is all about. They are words that people use when they’re searching for something in particular. When you use keywords on your website, Google likes this and will send people to you.
The thing is, you can’t just write whatever you want and place words haphazardly throughout your website. There are strategic ways to add copy and keywords that will help you improve your website and stand out on Google and to potential clients.
To effectively add copy, you need to do some research on special keywords that are relevant to your business. Then, use them throughout your website in specific areas that make sense.
HOW TO DISCOVER KEYWORDS
There are programs out there that can help you discover effective keywords for your business. I use KeySearch for to find relevant keywords for my business and it’s $17/month. I use it pretty frequently for my blog, because I’m constantly creating new content about photography and business.
If you don’t have a blog and aren’t creating regular content, I would recommend using one of the free options like UberSuggests and Google’s Keyword Planner. It doesn’t make sense to pay for something that you won’t be using very often.
WHERE TO ADD KEYWORDS
Consider these things when you start adding copy (and keywords) to your website:
- USE RELEVANT KEYWORDS
- CREATE A HIERARCHY WITH HEADING TAGS (H1, H2, H3)
- ADD PAGE TITLES TO EACH PAGE
- ADD META DESCRIPTIONS TO EACH PAGE (INCLUDE KEYWORDS)
- INCLUDE INBOUND AND OUTBOUND LINKS
- ADD SHORT AND LONG-FORM COPY
- ADD A BRAND STATEMENT
- INCLUDE A CLIENT LIST
- ADD AN ABOUT PAGE
- INCLUDE TESTIMONIALS
- HAVE AN EASY WAY TO CONTACT YOU (TIP: DON’T USE A FORM)
- CONSIDER STARTING A BLOG (SEE STEP 6 BELOW)
SHORT AND LONG FORM COPY
There are two forms of copy: short-form copy and long-form copy. When to use one or the other really depends on the user intent. Why are people coming to your site? What are they looking for?
SHORT FORM COPY
Short-form copy is meant to be simple and get right to the point. This copy could live on your Home Page, About Page or in a brand statement. Adding too much copy in these areas of your website would work against you, because nobody is looking to read a novel in these areas of your website.
LONG FORM COPY
Long-form copy is exactly what you would expect – more elaborate, detailed copy. You could use long-form copy in a blog post, for example. People who read blog posts are looking for more information about something. They will expect there to be more copy in these areas of your website, so sharing more information here will work in your favor.
Thinking about adding long form copy may feel intimidating, especially if there isn’t a lot of copy on your website to begin with. There are several benefits to long-form copy, however. Long-form copy makes it easier to use a variety of SEO-friendly keywords that are relevant to your business. Your website will rank higher in search engine results because Google sees long-form content as incredibly valuable. Long-form copy also makes it easier to get people to stick around your site longer and if you’re sharing valuable content, they’ll probably come back for more. And, the more traffic you get to your website, the better.
6: Start A Blog
If anyone tells you that blogging is dead, they are oh-so-wrong! Google loves long-form copy and a blog is a perfect way to add it and catch Google’s attention. I highly recommend starting a blog within your website, because Google loves it and potential clients love it because blogs make businesses come across as experts.
A lot of people don’t know what to talk about in a blog post. But, I don’t think this needs to be too complicated. You’re an expert at your craft, so share some insider information on how you do what you do. I guarantee people want to know. I think if each business created 10 blog posts on popular topics about what they do, this would significantly help their website rank much higher on Google.
For example, I am a food photographer and I have a post that shares My Overhead Setup for Food Photography, which is one of my top performing posts.
Give some thought to popular search topics within your industry. Use KeySearch, Google Keyword Planner or Uber Suggests to help guide you towards the keywords people are using to find that particular content.
Another reason I decided to work with Tonic on my website/blog is that all of Tonic’s templates have a blog built into them. So, if you decide to upgrade your website and take my advice on starting a blog, it will be ready for your content whenever you’re ready to add it.
7: Build Backlinks
A backlink is basically a link from another website back to your website. When another reputable website links back to your website, Google sees this and gives you a higher SEO score.
For example, a lot of my clients will credit me when using my images on their website by adding “Photography by Regan Baroni” and linking back to my website. If you’re a photographer make sure your clients are giving you credit with a link back to your website when they use your images.
Another way to build backlinks is to write a guest post on another reputable website. Not only do you get the backlink, but you also get your voice and work in front of more people. You can also build backlinks if you have a blog, because it’s very likely that some of your posts will be shared. And, if your website shares truly valuable content, people will WANT to link back to you.
Learn More About: Blogging Masterclass & Building A Successful Blog in 2021 and Beyond
How to improve your website involves more than just using a pretty template. It is great to have a pretty website that you can launch quickly, but these steps have been game-changing for me. Now, whenever anyone asks about how I get clients, I tell them my website. It’s my number one marketing tool.
If you’re looking to upgrade your website (and if you’ve read this far, you must be interested), I recommend checking out Tonic Site Shop. If you like what you see, save 15% on any template with my code: REGANSENTME
Not only are the templates gorgeous and completely customizable, but their platform made working through these website improvement steps SO EASY for me. Working with Tonic and taking the time to make my website actually work for me has been one of the best things I’ve done for my photography business.
Reach out with questions anytime!
This post contains affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I actually use and support.
All images ©Regan Baroni 2021.