I am currently #1 on Google for “street photography” with my “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide for Street Photography” and also for my “Street Photography 101” series, and also am #1 for “Eric Kim”.
How did I do it? What is my “secret sauce”? Did I do it via “cheating”— or paying a bunch of money?
In this guide, I will share everything I have learned about “SEO” (search engine optimization)— how to get to number one on Google.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Principles
To start off, SEO and search engine optimization for Google is a bit like witchcraft/alchemy. Nobody knows anything.
Now, there are certain principles that people know which hold true, based on my personal experience and understanding:
1. Google works like academia
Google ranks your site according to how “legitimate” or “reputable” it considers you. For example, if a high-ranking website links to your website, your website will be ranked higher.
Therefore, one of the goals is to have higher ranking websites link to you — which can be done via guest blog posts (writing an article for a popular website and linking back to your website), by writing a popular blog post or article that gets shared a lot, or having lots of social media traffic on the internet (via Facebook, Twitter, etc) linking to your website, blog, articles, or content.
2. Freshness counts:
Google generally ranks fresher content or websites higher. Which means, if you have a new blog post on street photography, it might rank your website higher in terms of your “pagerank” (the number Google assigns you, to rate your website on a set of arbitrary rules).
3. Content is king:
Ultimately based on my experience, your website will only rank highly if you write information and provide content which is empowering, useful, valuable, timely, honest, raw, inspirational, motivational, or educational. Do NOT think you can “fool” Google by stuffing tons of random tags, keywords, and try any gimmicky “tricks” to rank higher. Google is constantly changing, adjusting, and tweaking their algorithm — so whatever “tricks” people have used in the past will not work anymore.
3,237 Posts and Counting…
Since the birth of this blog (around 2011) until now (November 2017), I’ve written 3,237 posts.
Which brings me to another point:
More content is more.
Which means — at least in the eyes of Google, I think the more you post, the better.
What I personally love about blogging is how liberating and freeing it is. It’s not like writing a paper book, or a boring essay for your teachers.
My secret sauce
For me, I only blog or write when I feel like it, only on topics which personally interest me, in my own #nofilter writing style. I think this is the secret I have to bring so prolific and productive with my blogging over the years.
Before you go any further, I want to clarify:
- It is not necessary for you to have a blog, or a photo blog. It helps, but isn’t 100% necessary.
- If you don’t like to blog, or if you’re not interested in learning about photography blogging, SEO, or Google, stop reading this article. This isn’t for you.
- This is all based on my ERIC KIM GOOGLE/BLOGGING theory/philosophy and won’t work for you. My “success” is a combination of luck, sheer perseverance, timing, and ability to synthesize and product vast waves of information.
Why not social media?
I’m a bit skeptical of traditional forms of “social media” like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Why? You don’t own the content you post on those sites; they own you.
To own your own website, blog, platform, is true freedom. If you don’t own your own website, I recommend you to register your own website with 1and1.com or bluehost.com and use the free open source WordPress.org Architecture/Backend/Content Management System (CMS). This will allow you to actually be indexed by Google, and have more freedom over your content: your pictures, videos, images, text, and more.
Build your empire, one brick at a time
Time is the ultimate test.
To become number one on Google, you need time on your side to build up your own empire.
For example, I built my legitimacy and “expertness” in the field of street photography by producing epic works, such as:
- Learn From the Masters of Photography
- An epic treasure chest of free ebooks on photography/street photography
- Free ERIC KIM LIGHTROOM PRESETS
- Street Photography 101
- Photography Composition 101 Series
I never thought,
“One day I’ll write 3,000+ blog posts”.
Are you kidding me? I would have been so overwhelmed.
Instead, I just kept my head ducked down low, and focused — one blog post at a time.
Don’t Edit; Just Produce
I never strive for perfection, because all is a work in progress, and in a constant state of “becoming”. We are all in a state of flux, constantly evolving, growing, pruning ourselves, and shedding old matter.
Therefore, don’t strive to make a “perfect” blog post. In fact, I encourage you to NOT EDIT your blog posts. Just do simple spell check, add images, and sub headers. This will help you produce more, with less fear, and to be more in a state of “flow”.
Another way to keep your content relevant, interesting, and non-boring: entertain yourself.
Write in a manner which brings you pleasure and joy. If you’re forcing yourself to write, the reader is going to feel the resentment in your words. If you write with genuine joy, enthusiasm, and honesty — they’re going to feel it through their screens.
How to name your pictures/file names
Here is a practical tip:
Google is always indexing your pictures. Generally, you have to label and name the following:
Make the name of your picture on your computer:
My suggestion for filename is to just describe your picture, use dashes “-“ to separate the keywords, to put in your name, or any other details.
The reason why: It will be easier for you to find your pictures/files on your computer later, and also it might rank you higher on Google for those keywords.
Title, Caption, Alt Text
For the picture above of the woman with the umbrella in black and white, I titled it:
“Elegance. Woman with umbrella. Seoul, 2009”
I just copy and paste the description in the title, caption, and alt text in WordPress. This will benefit me in two ways:
- Easier for Google to index and “read” my picture, and therefore, my website might rank higher in Google Images
- Easier for me to access/find my own pictures in my own file server, using WordPress
Also note, the filenames you use in your pictures are REALLY IMPORTANT— because if anyone ever downloads your picture, they will want the maximum amount of “metadata” (or information regarding to when you shot the picture, what camera or lens you used, what date you shot it, what city or location you shot it) from the picture.
To clarify, you do not want to title your filename “hand.jpg”. Rather, title it, “hanoi-Lady-with-hand-flash-Black-and-white-Street-photography-erickim-2016.jpg”.
Post blog posts in progress
Treat your photography blog or website as your own personal playing ground. Therefore, post imperfect things. Post works-in-progress. Start writing when you’re excited and enthusiastic, and stop writing and just post it when you’re bored or run out of steam.
If your blog post, picture, information, image, or whatever on your website/blog can help at least 1 fellow human being on planet earth (aka the internet)— it is worth posting/worth sharing.
Don’t let perfectionism hold you back.
Share your learning process
I generally write about stuff that I’m in the process of learning, to better understand the concept myself, and for my own personal edification and knowledge.
I find that as I blog or write about certain topics, I understand it better. There is a saying I love,
As one teaches, two learn.
Currently topics I’m writing on (to feed my own intellectual curiosity) include:
Don’t be afraid to share; everyone profits
Whenever you learn anything that helps you as a photographer, share it. Don’t be afraid of people “stealing” your knowledge, information, or wisdom. Rather, know that as people spread your information, the more you profit. Because the more famous you become, the higher your Google Search Ranking, and the more people who come to your site, and perhaps purchase your products, or attend your workshops.
I keep all the information on this blog free, accessible, and “open source”— which means, anyone can download, access, translate, remix, share, forward, store, print, any of my pictures, information, or content.
Why do I do this?
1. I believe information is a human right
Any information that can empower and help other people should be open and free to access and share. Now, I’m not saying everyone must keep their information open and free — that might punish creators and hurt innovation.
But what I’m saying is that in my “ideal” or “utopic” society — all information would be open and free.
So rather than complain about the rest of the world, I wanna be like Gandhi and, “Be the change and wish to see in the world.”
2. Selfish reasons
The more open and free my information, the more it will spread. The more I will promote a culture of openness and sharing, and mutual innovation. The more people I will help empower.
Also, the more famous I become, the higher Google ranks my site (because all this content is free and open)— it is indexed and “crawled” by the spider bots of Google— which will ultimately (continue) to benefit me in the long-run.
How to title your blog posts
Generally before I title my blog posts, I wonder to myself:
“If I wanted to learn about “X”—how would I search for it in Google?”
I’m curious how to do things in photography, therefore I will write articles on how to take better pictures, and make sure to include the word: “How to” in the title.
A new field that’s interesting to me which is more philosophical:
Write articles on why a photographer should consider or do something.
10 Lessons I’ve Learned About ….
Also, I generally like list articles. Why? Easy, quick, and efficient to read. Also when reading scientific papers, or even deep philosophical books, numbers, lists, and orders always helps the structure of the information — thus, making it easier for the reader/viewer to consume/digest the information.
- 10 Things Henri Cartier-Bresson Can Teach You About Photography
- 5 Tips how to Conquer Your Fears of Shooting Street Photography
10 Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
Link to Yourself
Another tip: Link to yourself. Link to your old blog posts, articles, or posts. This will help your user learn more information on a topic from your site, and also this might help rank you higher on Google Search Results — because Google will see the link structure of your website, and infer meaning and significance from the network of linking connections within your website.
For example, I made a “Page” in WordPress which links all of my articles on a certain topic. This has helped me rank higher in Google.
For example, my “Street Photography 101” page also has sub-links which include:
- 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
- How to Shoot Street Photography
- Street Photography by Eric Kim
Also from a practical standpoint, manually organizing the links and articles in your website/blog will give you more control, structure, and better knowledge you will have on the content on your website.
My theory: Because Google owns YouTube, the better integration you have between your website, blog, and YouTube —the better.
One of the best online marketing decisions I ever made was starting my own YouTube channel for Photography.
What you can do is make your own YouTube channel, and link to your website in the description.
Also, the benefit of YouTube:
- It is free
- It is one of the first places that photographers go to access information on anything photography-related (or really… anything)
- A way to build trust with your audience: people will trust your face, voice, body and facial gestures more than your writing.
- Sometimes it is easier to just make a “vlog” (video blog) to explain or share something, instead of writing about it.
To make YouTube videos, keep it simple. Just use your webcam, smartphone, GoPro, video function in your digital camera, and don’t go fancy with the editing. Just post it raw, and unprocessed in the beginning. Then later, learn to edit with iMovie, Final Cut Pro or other tools.
Never stop learning
This is all the practical tips and insights I have on photography blogging and SEO.
My suggestion: Don’t believe in anything I say. Just experiment, and find out what works best for YOU.
Just use this article as a starting point for some ideas.
Write, blog, and share your pictures in a way that you like, and in a way that empowers you. Never let any photography bloggers (especially ERIC KIM) tell you what to do, or what not to do.
Learn More: PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPENERSHIP 101 >