Woman with iPhone

Facebook Ads Landing Pages

When I see a photographer talking about the lack of the success of their Facebook ads, I always ask them what they used for their landing page. For those who may have not heard the term before, a landing page is the URL that a link leads to. It’s often a home page, but for advertising, it rarely ever is (nor should be).

Getting the ad itself dialed in is one part, but the landing page is where you seal the deal. I’ve written before about the importance of audience for Facebook Ads. In this post, we’re going to talk about why good landing pages are written for the audience they are targeting, and we’ll take a look at the anatomy of a good Facebook Ad and landing page combo that I found from Zenfolio.

After you’ve read this post, check out my post dissecting an example of a bad Facebook Ad and landing page combination that was created by the popular wedding site Once Wed.

Analytics
SEO

Five SEO Scams to Avoid: Red Flags to Watch For When Looking for SEO Help

This article was inspired by a recent post in a photography group to which I belong. The member had just received a call “from Google” and they were being offered a guaranteed ranking on the first page of Google for just $99 per month. She wanted to know if this was a scam, or if that’s something she should do for her SEO. While it might seem obvious that this was a scam, these kind of questions are frequent, and sometimes the proposal sounds just legitimate enough to be worth a try – especially if you’re a photographer who has been struggling with SEO and not really sure what to do next.

There ARE legitimate SEO firms out there, often described in the industry as “White Hat” SEOs, which is to say that they follow the best practices put forth by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. White Hat SEOs focus on the user experience of search (which is what search engines like anyway). They use tactics that improve your search performance while maintaining the integrity of your website, and as a result, your business.

This post, however, focuses on tactics that are used by “Black Hat” SEOs, the ones who usually offer services for a too-good-to-be-true price or guarantee a certain ranking on search results pages. Knowing the difference between the two is important, if only because Black Hat tactics can get your site banned from search engines altogether, or make it incredibly expensive and time consuming to recover from.

Black Hat SEO Red Flag #1: Guaranteed On Page One of Google

Any agency that guarantees placement at the top of a search engine results pages (SERPs), is one to steer clear of. Reputable agencies know that guaranteeing placement is impossible. Instead, they’ll be the first to tell you that they can’t guarantee a spot. Why? For one, SEO is a constantly evolving medium. It’s impossible to say what changes Google might make to its algorithm in the next month, few months, or year. Search engines don’t usually give out all the details of the change. Instead, good SEOs know that whatever changes are made usually improve the searcher’s user experience, and use tactics they know align with those values, regardless of what changes are made.

Woman with Camera

STOP Boosting Facebook Posts (and do this instead)

When the option of “boosting a post” first came out on Facebook, it caused a bit of a stir. The “Boost” option really only served to make sure that most of the fans of a Page would see the post, and that didn’t sit well with Page owners. The options in boosting a post have grown in the past few years, but compared to the Facebook Ads interface or Facebook Power Editor, it’s seriously lacking in options.

Boost Post: What You Get

You have three major options when it comes to boosting a post:

  • Only visible to people who like your page
  • Visible to people who like your page and their friends
  • People you choose through targeting

The first two are obvious, but the third option is a bit misleading. The “targeting” options you have through the Boost Post method are slim. You are limited to age, location, gender, and interests. If you’re new to Facebook Ads, that might sound like plenty of options, but once you learn the advantages of far more precise targeting, you’ll see there are better ways to ensure your money is well spent.

Facebook Ads Manager: Why It’s Better

Walking through all of the options is a bit easier if you have an example, so for the purposes of this article I’m creating an ad as if I am a wedding photographer.

This tutorial assumes that you have already set up a Facebook Ads account and are inside the Ads Manager. If you need help setting up your account, visit Facebook for Business to get started.

camera on keyboard
SEO

SEO for Photos: Don’t Overlook Image Optimization

Every time I’m at workshop or networking event and photographers find out that my background includes over a decade of SEO and social media experience, it usually spurs a lot of discussion amongst the group. It starts with one question, which leads to another, and before long, it’s turned into a mini workshop of its own. One thing I have learned from those conversations is that a whole mess of misinformation out there about SEO.

This post is the first in a series that will help get all the basics of SEO in order. Like other aspects of running a business, a proper SEO strategy isn’t something you can “set and forget.” It can be tedious and time consuming, but it’s a vital part of a successful photography marketing strategy.

Depending on what type of website you have, you may have plug-ins or modules that handle some of this for you, or at least make it easier to manage. If you’re a WordPress user, it doesn’t get any better than Yoast SEO. It’s the gold standard and makes SEO management for your entire site EASY.

Photo File Names and SEO

If you’re uploading images that are named something like “DSC_07655,” it is one of the first habits you need to break. Google and other search engines need to know what your photo is about without even seeing it. A generic file name doesn’t do that, so you need to use a descriptive, accurate file name.

Here are a few examples of how to approach file names in some photography categories:

  • Maui-Sunset-Wedding
  • Savannah-Family-Portrait-Session
  • Blue-Ridge-Parkway-Fall-Foliage
  • Notre-Dame-Paris-Sunset
  • Atlanta-GoatFarm-Wedding-Portrait

Local SEO is only growing more important, so it’s helpful to start with the location of the photo. Then be descriptive, keeping in mind the main subject of the photo. File names are not the place to be creative or whimsical. The name of the photo should be factually accurate and specific.

wedding couple kissing

Three Photo Mistakes Photographers Make with Facebook Ads

As photographers, our esthetic is one of the things not only defines who we are, it distinguishes us from others. But when it comes to Facebook marketing, the images we love most aren’t always the right images for capturing the attention of potential clients. When you’re creating Facebook Ads, it’s important to think marketer first, photographer second.

Image Colors Make a Huge Difference

Facebook is blue and white. Mobile or desktop browser, the site’s color scheme is pretty much the same. Sobride and groom on bridge here’s an almost-too-obvious tip – don’t post images that are heavy with blue and white, or very cool in temperature. They blend into the Facebook color scheme and are easy to scroll past. Instead, focus on images that are rich with colors like greens and golds, or any colors along the warm spectrum so they stand out in the News Feed.

Also? Don’t be afraid to bump the saturation and crank up that contrast just a little with ad imagery. I know you think I’m crazy for suggesting it, but I’m not saying you should amp it up 50 stops or anything. Even a slight (say, 3-5 on a slider) bump can make an image POP next to all the boring status updates and link shares on Facebook.

Photography Blogging Tips

Understanding the Facebook Algorithm

One of the biggest areas of confusion I witness throughout photography communities surrounds Facebook and the way its algorithm works. At least three times a week, I read assertions that Facebook “is just trying to get you to pay.”  Well, yes and no.

First, remember that Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, free. In other words, YOU are the product that keeps it in business. For years, businesses have used it as an almost-free way to promote and grow their own businesses. Secondly, has Facebook had 1.1 billion active daily users. When you take into account that the average American has 350 Facebook “friends” (that number in the age group of 18-24 jumps to 649!), and “likes” close to 80 pages (not to mention groups!), there is a LOT of content to prioritize.

In 2015, Facebook took even more steps to help its users filter and find the content they actually care about. In the early part of the year, they started penalizing sites that were overly-promoting clickbait and spammy posts. Later, they introduced a “Notifications” options so fans could opt-in to receiving notifications any time their favorite pages posted specific types of content. Ultimately? User behavior is what determines the News Feed results.

Affinity – Weight – Time

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to keep it simple. Facebook’s algorithm has always been centered around user behavior, and there are three cornerstone components to that behavior – affinity, weight, and time.

Affinity is the relationship between the user and other users, pages, groups, events, and so forth. For example, if my sister (whom I interact with often on Facebook) and three of my best friends (whom I also interact with often on Facebook), all like a Page, the affinity score between me and that Page is higher than if I was the only person in my circle who likes the Page.

Weight is factored in two ways. The first is the “weight” given to the type of post. Video is Facebook’s priority right now, so the weight given to videos posted on Facebook is higher than other types of posts, like a photo album or a link share. Actions on Facebook – likes, shares, comments, invites – are also weighted. A “share” is worth more than a “comment”, and a “comment” is worth more than a “like.” I’ve said this a million times before, and I’ll say it again – Someone “liking” a post on Facebook is like you glancing at a magazine cover while standing in line at the grocery store. Pretty much worthless – you didn’t pick it up, you didn’t flip through and see ads, you didn’t buy a copy, and you probably won’t think about it again once you look away.

Time decay is another factor. If a post garners a lot of social interaction up front, but stops after an hour, the post isn’t going to keep resurfacing to your fans. If that same post continues to garner likes over a few hours, and then perhaps a whole day? Then it’s going to continue to resurface for a longer period of time.

I’ve over-simplified those components, but even understanding those basics – nay, accepting those basics, is crucial to understanding why or why not your content performs well.

Some other factors include how long you spend looking at a post in your feed. This is relatively new to the Facebook algorithm, but it really does impact what is shown next. Before, when clickbait was running even more rampant, a user would have to click-through to a site (and therefore off of Facebook) to get the whole scoop. But with this new addition, if a fan sees your post in the News Feed, and stops to read the whole post right then and there, they’re more likely to have another post surface in their feed the next time they go to Facebook.

Another important piece of the algorithm to understand is its sophistication. If you want to see continual organic engagement with your Page, you have to consistently post engaging and interesting content. You can’t post one great thing and expect it to be your silver bullet. It has to be an ongoing, strategic effort on your part.

Facebook Does Not Penalize Non-advertisers

One thing that doesn’t affect your organic performance on Facebook, however, is whether or not you pay. I’ve been advertising on Facebook since 2006. Never in that time has my organic performance on – literally – dozens of the accounts I’ve managed, been impacted by paid results. That isn’t to say that there is no organic effect (there is, and I discuss that elsewhere), but businesses which choose to only use Facebook for organic marketing are in no way penalized by the social network for not purchasing ads.

With 1.01 billion daily users who share as many as 30 things per day, figuring out how to keep Facebook a personal experience is not an easy task.  When it comes to organic Facebook marketing, consistency is your best friend. Be thoughtful in what you post. Think about your best clients – to what do they respond most? What posts drove the most interaction? What patterns are you seeing in the Insights? The answers to those questions are where you should start.