WordPress SEO For Photographers: How To Optimize Your Images, Citations, And WordPress Website For Higher Google Map Rankings

WordPress SEO For Photographers

If you’re a photographer, have a WordPress site, and you want to use local SEO to rank higher in Google Maps + localized results for photography-related keywords, this tutorial is for you.

I’ll show you how to use Google’s local search ranking factors to improve rankings by optimizing your Google My Business Page, citations, photos, and how to use Yoast’s SEO plugin for content optimization. No matter what kind of photography you do, it’s actually easy to do WordPress SEO for photographers (local SEO is usually much easier than national SEO). It can take 3-6 weeks to see results (Google takes time to update) but you can use Google Search Console’s search analytics to track your rankings, clicks, and overall traffic from SEO.

SEO For Photographers

Now let’s jump into it…


Understanding Google’s Local SEO Ranking Factors

No matter what industry you’re in, if you’re doing local SEO these are the ranking factors associated with Google. They are taken from Moz who does a survey of Google’s ranking factors every 2 years. This tells us which core ranking factors we should be focusing on.



These are from 2015’s local search ranking factors, but most of them have not changed…


I go over these in my tutorial (drop me a comment if you need clarification on anything), but here is a translation with more practical tips:

  • Complete Your Google My Business Page (complete and verify your profile)
  • Sign up for generic citations (Yelp), local (COC), and photography directories
  • Get reviews on your Google My Business Page, Yelp, others
  • Use a mobile responsive and SEO-friendly WordPress photography theme
  • Use your primary keyword on your homepage (using Yoast’s SEO Plugin)
  • Get links from customers, directories, local websites, relevant photography websites
  • Complete your social media profiles, get followers, post updates


Complete Your Google My Business Page

This is the easiest way to improve your Google Maps rankings. In fact you HAVE to have a Google My Business Page to even show up in Google Maps. Make your profile 100% complete.

Add your website, hours, and list “photographers” as the category. If you’re a wedding photographer, list this as your primary category then list “photographer” as the secondary category. Now write a thorough introduction, verify your page, and complete your profile. If you already have a Google My Business page, do not create a duplicate listing.

Google My Business Page


Improve Directory Listings With Moz Local

Moz Local Dashboard

Run your website and zip code through Moz Local to get a report on your directories. You will get a score and recommendations to improve some of the most important directories…

Moz Local

Click on the different tabs, view the red notifications to see what items need fixing, then use the “update listing” links to improve those directories. Notice how consistency of information (business name, address, phone, categories) and not having duplicates are important. If you don’t want to do this, you can pay Moz $84/year. However, it’s usually a matter of adding photos and making sure your profile is consistent and 100% complete.

Moz Local Incomplete Listings


Build More Directories With Whitespark

Now that you have your core directories down, let’s build more. This will further improve your rankings so please don’t think this is a waste of time – it most certainly is not. These are the kind of extra steps that will help you outrank competitors. Notice “citation volume” is a direct ranking factor in the local SEO pie chart (yellow section) – so the more the merrier.

Top Online Directories

Do It Yourselfuse Whitespark’s list of top 50 directories
Hire Whitesparkpay Whitespark one-time fee of $4-5 per directory (worth it)


Ask Customers For Reviews

Online Reviews On Google My Business

Google My Business and Yelp are most important. Simply follow-up with customers after the work and ask for a review (leave them instructions with a link to your Google My Business and Yelp page). Make this a priority since reviews are good for both branding and SEO. Sometimes legitimate Yelp reviews get filtered out, so read this post to learn how to avoid it.


Use An SEO-Friendly Photography Theme

Let’s talk about optimizing your website – which starts with your WordPress theme. You want a theme that is SEO-friendly, responsive, secure, and loads fast. At the same time your theme should be built by a reliable developer so it won’t crap out on you down the road.

Djazz WordPress Photographer Theme

My list of photography themes is a good place to start. They all have the SEO-friendly features listed above, and they’re all built in the Genesis Framework which is recommended by Yoast, Google’s Matt Cutts, and the founder of WordPress – Matt Mullenweg. If you don’t know what Genesis is then you can read about it on StudioPress’ website. But it is the best way to build a WordPress photography website that is SEO-friendly.


Learn Your Keywords

If you haven’t learned your photography-related keywords, here’s how to do that…

Photography SEO Keywords

Just go to google.com and type in your keywords using this format. Google Autocomplete will fill-in-the-blank with the most common phrases people are searching, with higher phrases having more searches than the lower ones. Just be sure the last character you type is an underscore “_” so Google will fill-in-the-blank. You can try other combinations too.

Keep in mind your 1 primary keyword (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer) should be targeted on the homepage. If you have multiple keywords (baby, nanny, maternity, etc) you will need to create a new page for each of those for better keyword-targeting.

This leads me to the next step…


Target Keywords Using Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast WordPress SEOf Plugin

You will use Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin to target keyword(s) on your website. This is where a lot of photographers get overwhelmed. Don’t though, because I made this very easy.

Step 1 – Configure The Yoast Settings
Once you install Yoast, go ahead and download this zip file below which includes the Yoast settings I use. Upload this to your WordPress site using the SEO tab on the left side of your dashboard. You will go to Tools –> Import And Export –> Import. Upload the zip file.


You will need to navigate through the Yoast settings and change a few things…

  • General –> Company Info (fill this out with your info, and upload a default logo which should be at least 200 x 200 pixels)
  • General –> Webmaster Tools (see video below)
  • Social Settings –> fill this out with your own social media links
  • Advanced –> Breadcrumbs –> use your own company name


Step 2 – Target Keyword(s) On Your Website
As I mentioned earlier, you want to target your 1 primary keyword on your homepage. To do this, go to Yoast’s SEO tab on the left of your dashboard –> Titles & Metas –> Homepage. You should be able to fill out your SEO title and meta description here (this is the text that appears in Google’s search results), or click the link to view the page where you can edit this.

Targeting Keywords With Yoast

Use the same format in the photo. Write a unique meta description summarizing what you offer while including your keyword in a way that sounds natural. This is very important as it’s the forefront of your SEO. Also make sure you don’t go over the character limit of 156.

This might be all you need to do. You can’t include the keyword in the URL (this applies to any website’s homepage) so that’s OK. Most photographers prefer to have no text on the homepage (in the photo the article heading and content is red with “no”). I understand most photographers prefer let the photos do the talking, but it WILL benefit your SEO if you include text on your homepage. Otherwise Google will only have your photos to go by.

I suggest adding “Chicago Wedding Photographer” (or whatever your primary keyword is) as your title. Then include a short paragraph of what you want to tell your audience, while also including the keyword here. With all the different typography and layouts, you should be able to make this look nice. Here’s a good example of a website that uses text in the design.

How To Target Multiple Keywords
If you have multiple keywords (baby, nanny, maternity, etc) then target the main keyword (eg. Chicago Photographer) on your homepage. Now create a new page for each different type of photography. This gives you a better chance of ranking high for those specific types of photography since searchers will find THAT page in Google – not your homepage. Make sure each page contains unique content since duplicate content is an SEO no-no.

To optimize those pages for their keywords, use the same strategies described above only set “Chicago Baby Photographer” (or whatever type of photography it is) as your focus keyword. Then optimize that page using Yoast’s SEO Plugin. If you need help using Yoast to optimize your content for green lights, here’s a video…


Optimize Images For Keywords

Before uploading an image to your WordPress site, make sure it has a descriptive file name. Instead of using “DSC27272” a better file name would be “willow trees blowing in the wind.”

Willow trees blowing in the wind


Optimize Images To Load Faster

A common issue with photography websites is that the images are so large, they take forever to load. Since website speed is a ranking factor in Google, you don’t want this.

Luckily there are a few ways to prevent this…

Serve Scaled Images
If a featured image calls for 150 x 150 dimensions but you use an image that is 300 x 300, you are not using the correct featured image dimensions. This will cause slower like times by 200%. To solve this, learn the correct dimensions of your featured images (or even images in your slider) and resize them in the media section with the correct dimensions.

Another example of not serving scaled images, is when you drag to resize an image in the visual editor. This resizes the displayed image but not the actual image file (this is what “serve scaled images” means). The correct way to resize images is in the media library:

Serve Scaled Images

Optimize Images
Install the WP Smush.it plugin and go to Media –> Bulk Smush.it –> Run all my images through WP Smush.it right now (screenshot below). That’s it! You can automatically smush images once uploaded under Settings –> Media. I like to also run EWWW Image Optimizer which can catch images missed by WP Smush.it.

Bulk Image Smushit

If you don’t want to mess with images or you just want more tips on making your site load faster, see my WordPress speed optimization guide. There’s tons of good tips there.


Use Your Business Name, Address, And Phone # In Your Footer

I know, I love easy tips too… and this one doesn’t get easier. This helps with the whole consistency of information thing that Google looks for. In WordPress, you usually find this under Theme Options (look for the copyright area) or in the Editor –> Footer.

Here’s how I list mine:
Online Media Masters | 1324 West Byron Street, Chicago IL 60613 | 847-271-2422


Get Links To Your Website

Looking good so far! You’ve got your directories in place, your website optimized for your keyword(s), and you’ve make some other optimizations to improve your photography SEO. But let’s not forget about links to your website since they are essential! When people link to you, it’s a strong signal that tells Google your website is important and to rank it higher.

So how do you get links?

  • Asking customers to link to you
  • Asking partners to link to you (eg. you’re someone’s preferred photographer)
  • Local directories like the ones from Moz Local and Whitespark
  • Chamber Of Commerce
  • BBB
  • Getting published in articles (eg. in the Huffington Post)
  • Creating useful content on your blog (videos are good for this)
  • Making sure you have a nice website design
  • Sharing your photography on social media
  • Sharing your photography through an email list
  • Add social media sharing buttons to your website
  • Other publicity/marketing to get your website “out there”


Kick Your Social Media Into Gear

You know that awesome picture you took the other week? Did you post it on your Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Instagram account? You SHOULD! Spend some time creating nice social media profiles and cover images. Add your pictures, write an introduction, and so forth. Now keep updating those profiles with new photos. Then you’re golden.


Ongoing SEO Maintenance

The main “maintenance” involves asking more customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp page. It can also mean creating more directories, adding useful content to your blog, and posting on social media. But once you’re setup with all the WordPress SEO tools and tweaks, local SEO should be pretty low maintenance.

I hope you found this helpful! If you did, please share :) or if you have a question about your photography’s WordPress SEO, drop me a line in the comments. Glad to help you out.


Tom Signature

20+ Genesis Photography Websites (All Themes Are Mobile Responsive And Built In Genesis Framework By StudioPress)

Genesis Photography Themes

These 20 photography themes are built in the Genesis Framework by StudioPress.

They’re all mobile responsive + HTML5 and most have a built-in portfolio. I included quite a few Genesis theme stores (and links) if you need a wider selection. Keep in mind you can always swap out content if a theme doesn’t showcase photography-specific content/images.

Here’s a list of Genesis WooCommerce themes if you need to sell on your site. Remember, all 20 of these Genesis photography themes are SEO-friendly, secure, and have clean code for faster load times via the Genesis Framework. Leave me a comment if you need help with this.

ps. SiteGround was rated the #1 WordPress host in a Facebook poll taken by the official WordPress Hosting Facebook Group (they were #1 in last year’s poll too) and got me <1s load times with perfect 100% scores in GTmetrix and Pindgom. If you need WordPress hosting that makes your theme/website load fast, they are constantly #1 in thread after thread after thread since they will migrate you for free and most people see nice load time improvements. I use their semi-dedicated plan which has 4x more server resources (the #1 site speed factor).

Affiliate Disclaimer – yes, I used affiliate links, I also donated $3,000 of my affiliate income to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey. Your support helps and I do appreciate it.

A few tips:


1. Fearless


Fearless is a photographer’s Genesis child theme. The vertical side header design, common for photography websites, is not that common among Genesis child theme designs. Imagely offers a series of similar, side-header themes, most of which have a high-impact, full screen slideshow on the home page, along with the photo-centric blog and page template layouts. Imagely offers 18 Genesis themes for photographers which can be purchased as a bundle. Erick (from Imagely) has been super helpful with providing images and theme descriptions for this post – so if support is important to you I assume they treat customers the same way.

  • Imagely
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $79 (Bundle) + Genesis Framework




2. Free Spirit


Free Spirit is a photography-focused variation of common Genesis theme designs. It has a bold, image-based feature area at the top, followed by multiple widget areas on the homepage. It extends the visual design to masonry and grid blog layouts, as well as featured image templates with big images. It’s a bit like Ansel (also in this post), but with lighter colors.

  • Imagely
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $79 (Bundle) + Genesis Framework




3. Hello Rose

Hello CEO WordPress Theme

If you haven’t seen the 21 Genesis themes from Hello You Designs, you should. They’re all mobile responsive + HTML5 and have (optional) WooCommerce functionality. More importantly they are truly designer quality – they look completely unique and symmetrical. Comes with 20+ WordPress video tutorials, lifetime theme support, and setup instructions.

  • Hello You Designs
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • $65 + Genesis Framework




4. Hello Gorgeous

Hello Gorgeous Genesis Theme

Hello Gorgeous features a beautiful homepage with a grid layout on top, centered navigation menu, and multiple column layouts as you scroll down the page. Another one of Hello You Design’s masterpieces… that’s really the only word I can use to describe it because I haven’t seen anything out there close to what this theme store produces in terms of quality design.

  • Hello You Designs
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • $59 + Genesis Framework




5. Gallery

Gallery Genesis Photography Theme

Gallery is just 1 of many Zigzagpress themes which can be used as a photography website. Zigzagpress themes are slick, easy to work with (I’ve used Vanilla, Mindfulness, Prestige, Megalithe and Drone). Most come with a built-in portfolio + shortcodes. Gallery features a large homepage slider, multiple gallery layouts, and shortcodes. The next few themes are also from Zigzagpress and can be used for photography sites. Would definitely check out.

  • Zigzagpress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $49 + Genesis Framework




6. Bijou

Bijou Genesis Child Theme

Bijou comes with a style selector so you can play with colors, background patterns, and fullwidth vs. boxed sliders before purchasing the theme. Includes multiple gallery layouts + shortcodes (some of which are featured on the homepage) plus a clean navigation menu. It’s a robust Genesis theme that, like most Zigzagpress themes, you’ll find easy to work with.

  • Zigzagpress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $49 + Genesis Framework




7. Revolution Pro

revolution pro

Revolution Pro is a Genesis photography theme built by StudioPress (developers of the Genesis Framework) so you know the quality and coding is top notch. It features a built-in landing page for guiding visitors to your online shop or the custom pricing page you create, both of which can help your business grow.

  • StudioPress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $129.95 (Includes Genesis)




8. Ambiance Pro

ambiance pro

Ambiance Pro is the perfect Genesis photography theme for highlighting your best work front and center. It features a custom header and menu for guiding visitors through your site. Plus, it comes mobile responsive and with a built-in landing page.

  • StudioPress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $99.95 (Includes Genesis)




9. Elegance Pro

elegance pro

Elegance Pro is a sophisticated photography theme that balances beautiful typography with large, statement-making imagery. This combined with several layout options, translation capability, and mobile responsive design just sets you up from success from the start.

  • StudioPress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $129.95 (Includes Genesis)




10. Parallax Pro

Parallax Pro StudioPress Theme

Parallax Pro is a Genesis parallax theme featured on StudioPres and can be customized into a photography site. It features 5 color and 3 layout options (though you can add more through CSS, column classes, plugins, etc). Here are Youtube instructions for setting it up. View the sample websites to see what different layouts, colors, and designs can look like.

  • StudioPress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $99.95 (Includes Genesis)




11. Altitude Pro


Altitude Pro is similar to Parallax Pro only it features a single page (homepage) where the individual sections are longer than those in Parallax Pro. Though you can also do this with Parallax Pro too. The navigation menu doesn’t HAVE to have the scrolling effect – each menu can lead to a new page if you like. Just another alternative if you like this style of theme.

  • StudioPress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $99.95 (Includes Genesis)




12. Swank

Swank - StudioPress Theme

Swank is a WordPress photography theme developed by Lindsey from Pretty Darn Cute Design. She has 12 feminine Genesis themes in her store, Swank would just be good for a photography site. It’s been featured on StudioPress’ website and is centered on photos.

  • Pretty Darn Cute Design
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $49 + Genesis Framework




13. Ansel


Ansel is the first and flagship child theme released by Imagely in 2016. At time of writing, this theme is being used by Imagely to power their own site (imagely.com). It’s a visually rich design with a full screen slideshow on the homepage, a widgetized homepage, and extensive use of featured images for blog layouts and featured image page templates.

  • Imagely
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $79 (Bundle) + Genesis Framework




14. Journal


Journal is a side-style blogging theme. While it makes good use of images and photos, it’s less photographer-specific than other themes from Imagely. It  could make a nice ‘journal’ or blogging theme for many different kinds of interests or niches. Unusual among side-style themes, it still comes with a widgetized home page that allows for nice content layouts. Journal is one of the more recent additions to Imagely’s relatively new series of themes.

  • Imagely
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $79 (Bundle) + Genesis Framework




15. Atmosphere Pro

Atmosphere Genesis Theme

The best themes are simple, lightweight, and grab your attention. This is exactly what Atmosphere does. It’s incredibly flexible and minimal so people focus on 1 thing – photos. Doesn’t come with a built-in portfolio but Themeforest’s portfolio plugins can change that.

  • StudioPress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $99.95 (Includes Genesis)




16. Julia


Julia is from Creative Market which is a smaller version of ThemeForest but has a larger Genesis theme section. It comes with smooth parallax scrolling, complete with a beautiful background image, eCommerce functionality, and a floating sidebar sticky opt-in form for boosting conversions and sales.

  • Creative Market
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • $59 + Genesis Framework




17. Pure Elegance

Pure Elegance Genesis Theme

Pure Elegance is Genesis theme for photography websites developed by Oh Hello Designs. The layout is designed to showcase a primary image and photography services below it, plus an optional blogroll, about me, and newsletter section which uses Genesis eNews Extended.

  • Creative Market
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • $45 + Genesis Framework




18. Fairlight

Fairlight Genesis Photography Theme

Developed by Dinosaur Stew and featured on Creative Market. The Fairlight theme is a Genesis child theme designed specifically for photography websites. It features 2 and 3 column layouts with a built-in portfolio to help you organize your photos and services.

  • Creative Market
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: No
  • $50 + Genesis Framework




19. Zen

Zen - Zigzagpress Theme

Zen is a simple, lightweight theme developed by Zigzagpress. Includes a portfolio, color styles, and features black/white styling AND a style selector. I used the Zen theme for one of my client’s websites and found it very easy to work with – and the site turned out very nice.

  • Zigzagpress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $49 + Genesis Framework




20. Megalithe

Megalithe ZigZagPress Theme

Megalithe is a compact theme with a filterable portfolio, multiple gallery layouts, and includes shortcodes and integrated blog. Not a fan of the background shadow but that can be changed if you don’t like it. Focuses heavily on the portfolio if that is important to you.

  • Zigzagpress
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • $59.95 + Genesis Framework




21. Imagery

Imagery Genesis Theme

As you would expect, Imagery all about showcasing fullwidth images as a background when you scroll down the page. It’s great for storytelling using your most powerful images, and while it doesn’t have a built-in portfolio, this can be added through a nice portfolio plugin. There are over 15+ themes by Appfinite, some of which have been featured on StudioPress.

  • Appfinite
  • Built-in Portfolio: Yes
  • Mobile Responsive + HTML5
  • $44.95 + Genesis Framework



Did you find a nice Genesis photography theme? If you have questions or need help choosing a theme, drop me a line. And if you found my list helpful, please share. I appreciate it!


Tom Signature