Wrestling with photography website performance and figuring out how to optimize pages and blog posts are not the kinds of activities photographers generally do for fun (although I do but, then some people think I’m just strange, with my love of SEO, for example.).
But, just like a car, if we keep running our photography website day after day, sooner or later it will need some tender loving maintenance to ensure it continues to give us its best service by supplying quality leads and converting prospects into clients.
Without a steady flow of clients, we have no business, so peak website performance is essential.
And, like those warning lights on your car dashboard, there are danger signs you might be missing on your photography website or, worse, ignoring in the hope that they’ll just go away.
However, if you don’t at least check on your website performance periodically, the only things that will go away are your clients!
Here’s a breakdown of what you should look at if you want to avoid a photography website breakdown…
Important Note: Although we’re talking about “performance” here, that’s not simply limited to speed. Anything that interferes with your photography website’s ability to convert leads into clients can be considered a “performance” problem.
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The Danger Signs Of Impaired Photography Website Performance
If we go back to our car analogy for a moment, here are the top 7 warning signs you might see, any one of which could adversely affect your photography website performance:
- Technical problems…
- Stale content…
- Poor focus…
- Falling search rankings…
- Bored visitors…
- Long loading times…
- Barriers to conversion…
Photography Website Performance Killer #1: Technical Problems
Serious technical issues should never be ignored!
These could range from outdated plugins, programming conflicts, theme problems, or even malware injected into your website by hackers (don’t think you’re immune to that one, it’s happened to me, and it was no fun!).
Technical problems can manifest themselves in different ways, and they’re not always obvious to the casual observer. These could include:
- Sudden onset of slow loading times for your web content…
- Unexpected errors, such as “page not found” (404) or “internal server error” (500)…
- Page rendering issues (missing or misaligned content)…
- Browser compatibility problems…
- Pages being redirected to other websites (usually the work of hackers)…
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Photography Website Performance Killer #2: Stale Content
One very common problem is simply failing to keep the photography website updated with fresh content, leading to a website that appears stale.
This can be a HUGE issue with blogs where the photographer started the blog with enthusiasm and the best intentions in the world, but then ran out of steam and ideas.
Photography Website Performance Killer #3: Poor Focus
A lack of focus or a real sense of direction can be a big turn-off for your website visitors. If they don’t know where they are, what they can do, or why they should do it, then they’re left to simply wander around the website aimlessly, until they get bored and eventually leave.
This is what many online marketers refer to as “unsupervised thinking”, and it can represent one of the most dangerous threats to the success of your photography website.
A good example of poor focus is the photographer (usually someone fairly new to the business) who makes the poor decision to offer every type of photography under the sun.
While it may seem like a good strategy to cover all bases and take whatever work comes along at the beginning, it’s a terrible mistake in the long run, making any real attempts at search engine optimization impossible and creating too many points of distraction on the website.
In such cases, we might see a website that tries to showcase wedding photography, portraits, pet photography, commercial photography, fine art, and high-school seniors – with photographs of all kinds littering the home page. If someone lands on that page with the initial intention of looking for one kind of photography, it’s all too easy for them to get distracted by other images that catch their attention.
Photography Website Performance Killer #4: Falling Search Rankings
It’s a fact that most photographers hate SEO (again, people think I’m a bit strange for loving it so much), and nothing is guaranteed to send photographers to sleep faster than talking about search engine optimization.
But here’s the truth:
Nothing is guaranteed to kill your online marketing faster than bad SEO. So, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty and take care of your own SEO, hire someone (like me) to do it for you.
SEO is something you need to keep on top of, and the job is never really done. Falling search rankings don’t just mean that you’re doing something wrong (you may not be), but it can mean that more of your competitors are doing things the right way and simply overtaking you!
In other words, if you’re not going up in the rankings through your own good efforts, you’re probably going down.
Photography Website Performance Killer #5: Bored Visitors
We mentioned in a previous post the importance of crafting your essential message, and how not having one that resonates with your target market can adversely affect your website’s bounce rate.
If people are constantly coming to your website from the search engines and then “bouncing” back again (otherwise known as the “pogo-stick effect“), you’ll need to take a look at how your content matches what people are looking for, and how effective it is at engaging them.
Bored visitors don’t usually turn into clients, which is okay as long as the bored ones are not your target audience!
Photography Website Performance Killer #6: Long Loading Times
Speed. The world is moving faster every day (or so it seems), and people are becoming more impatient all the time.
If your website loads too slowly (i.e. takes longer than 4-6 seconds to load a page), you could be losing a lot of folks and sending them to your (not so good) competitors with faster websites.
You might need someone familiar with the inner workings of WordPress and HTML to properly figure this one out for you, but it’s well worth the investment.
By the way, I can do that for you too as part of a very affordable website wellness clinic. Just get in touch with me and we can chat about it in more detail.
Photography Website Performance Killer #7: Barriers To Conversion
Friction can sometimes be a good thing – after all, without it, we wouldn’t be able to stop our car when we need to (or get it moving in the first place for that matter, unless we’re using jet engines) – but friction is not so good when it comes to converting website visitors into leads and paying clients.
What is “friction” in this context?
Every action you ask your visitors to take (for example, clicking a button, filling in a form, calling your studio) is a potential sticking point – a source of friction. Too much of it, and your website stops working correctly, and you lose your prospects to the competition.
Confusion can also be a source of friction.
For example, if your photography website visitors are forced to have to think too hard before they can take some form of action, that can lead to confusion.
Using “cute” names for commonly-used website functions can also cause confusion, wasting valuable seconds as the visitor tries to orient themselves and make sense of what they can do. An example of this is using words like “raves” when you mean “testimonials”, or “get the scoop” when you really mean “about us” etc.
Finally, the most common kind of friction I encounter is what I like to call the “dead end”.
This is a bit like coming up against a brick wall – there’s no apparent way forward, no signs to say which way to go, just something blocking the way.
Photographers usually end up in this situation by failing to have a call to action, something the visitor can do to move themselves a step closer to becoming a potential client.
Every page of the website should have some form of action the user can take. If there isn’t one, they’ll quickly leave in search of the next photographer.