Jonathan Young is a food & drink, product, and portrait photographer located in Los Angeles. Jonathan began working as an editorial photographer and that training has given his work its unique authentic quality. Jonathan’s clients appreciate precisely this aspect of his imagery.
His site, jonathanyoung.com, has been hosted by Squarespace for the last five years. It has a very simple and accessible organization that is immediately intuitive for users. He has nine major galleries corresponding to diverse specialties.
Because Jonathan works and lives in Los Angeles, one of the most competitive markets in the world for photography, he knows how important it is that his website exploits every opportunity in the process of climbing SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rankings and gathering the leads to make his business succeed.
In the future, we’ll probably wear athleisure to formal occasions, and an SEO audit will be something that every business owner does regularly. An SEO audit closely examines the strategy a site employs to draw in traffic through search engines. Any site that is crawled and indexed by a search engine will need to know how things look. It might begin with a site Google search, but it ends with a series of recommendations to improve its online reputation.
Below we touch on a few of those elements constituting that strategy for Jonathan Young’s website.
On the whole, Jonathan is doing many of the things that he needs to do on his site. Because it is hosted by Squarespace, he does not need to worry that much about download speeds or image compression. Moreover, the simplicity of his site works to his benefit. Users are generally repulsed by complexity, especially those on the clock (who are not SEO consultants).
The biggest problem for Jonathan’s site is its low domain authority. One of the most vital components of a website’s SEO strategy is its domain authority. Domain authority (DA) is a score calculated for every and any website from the range of 1-100. Google, as you might imagine, has a DA score in the upper 90s. Backlinks are arguably the dominant factor in DA scoring. The more sites with links directed to your site, the greater the significance and trustworthiness of your site.
Most commercial photographers have sites with DAs between 15-30 because their sites function primarily as portfolios of their work, and their sites do not have many backlinks. Jonathanyoung.com has a site on the lower side of that range and this is something that he wants to increase.
A number of factors can help increase DAs but the most important is backlinks. Jonathan’s strongest link to his site is from the Huffington Post (DA of 94), and more of those quality links would increase this DA and in turn raise his position in the SERP rankings.
With Jonathan’s site, mostly he is doing what we in the industry generally recommend. There are lots of little fixes concerning metadata that he can address that will have an effect when he implements them and then continue to do so as his site changes and the images and gallery structures develop.
The most interesting concern for Jonathan’s website is location: location is, ironically, a huge concern for a website. I say ironically because the digital sphere is not a “place,” per se. But search engines give significant weight to the way that a site identifies itself with a physical location. This is one of the reasons why Google My Business is strongly recommended for a photographer. Google My Business works very well if you have an external location for your studio, and many photographers do.
Real estate prices, however, in cities like Los Angeles and New York present an obstacle for all but the most well-established photographers. Jonathan Young has been in this business for more than a decade, but he still lives in one of the most competitive markets for photography (and real estate) in the world.
So the question is, should Jonathan identify himself with Los Angeles, or should he go a step further and identify himself with the region of Los Angeles where he lives and works?
All photographers should have a location in their homepage’s meta-title (that’s the information in the browser tab and in the search results) in addition to their dominant specialty and their business name. This can present a problem for certain photographers like those who are bicoastal (see the Kristin Teig SEO Audit) or just work in different geographical regions.
But the choice that a photographer makes on where to locate him- or herself is not unlike the choice made about the specialty with which they identify. No one fits in all of the boxes, and most of us probably don’t want to be shoehorned into this one or another—and not others. But you have to make a choice.