If you're not getting the followers, traffic, or clients you think you should be, then it might be your website that is part of the problem.
Personal websites are still an important tool for photographers in 2019. If like many, your site hasn't changed much over the years then it could actually be doing you more harm than good. Neglected websites tell both search engines and clients that they may be better off looking elsewhere. If you haven't done any housekeeping on your site for a while then now would be a very good time to blow the cobwebs off that HTML of yours.
1. Update the Content on Your Site
This might seem like an obvious one but updating what is on your site is a surefire way to get excitement and attention back on your work. Google perceives regularly updated content as a good indicator that the site is still worth looking at. It comes as no surprise that clients also like to see new work and more importantly, new content does a very good job of telling the world that you're still open for business. While I appreciate it takes time to make new content there is nothing wrong with giving your current portfolio a reshuffle until you can get around to making new work. Seeing your old images with fresh eyes is actually a good exercise to perform from time to time and you'd be surprised how a quick reorganize can dramatically change the feel of your site. New content doesn't have to stop with pictures either, writing a few extra blog posts will help to send the right message out too.
2. Edit Your Tags and Metadata
Editing your metadata goes hand in hand with updating your content. For us photographers, we have both the metadata on our websites and also in our images to think about. While much of this information may not need changing, one very crucial edit is any copyright notices we may use. Nothing screams that a website is neglected more than being greeted with the words "© 2005-2011" when it's actually 2019. There are also other important details you may have overlooked too. If you've changed location, the field of photography you work in, or maybe even your name, then you need to make sure all this information is up to date. These "invisible" pieces of data really do help to paint a picture of your site and so they need to be as relevant as possible. If you no longer do pet photography in Arizona but Google thinks you do, it will come as no surprise that you're getting the wrong kind of traffic.
3. Check for Broken Links
Search engine algorithms hate broken links and so do users. There's nothing worse than clicking on a URL to find that it goes nowhere. It's another one of those things that screams neglected or unprofessional website and must be avoided at all costs. Thankfully for us, there are places like the check link validator by W3C where you can automatically test for any broken links with the click of a few buttons. Hopefully you won't find many but even if you do it's not really a big job to make corrections or remove URLs. Some of you may think this is a petty detail but broken links can really affect your SEO ranking. Google gives preference to sites that are free-flowing highways of the Internet rather than one-way dead ends. In my case, I found a few broken links on my blog that revealed useful information about people who I had worked with in the past that were no longer trading as their websites had completely vanished. It's something I wouldn't have known if I hadn't checked for broken links.
4. Try Out Your Social Buttons
If you use social media share buttons on your site then it's well worth checking that everything still works OK as these third-party companies can sometimes move the goal posts. Staying on the topic of social media, I also think it's worth questioning if all the various social media links you display are still relevant to you. While it might be great to show a long list of all the many places you can be found online, if you haven't used a particular site for a long time then directing users to a place you no longer update is not going to do either of you any favors.
5. Test Your Contact Form
While you're sprucing up your website it's a good idea to test that your contact form is still working. I'd suggest trying this with a few different web browsers to make sure messages are coming through as they should be. Many users prefer to use a contact form as it saves them from having to log into their own email accounts. The one downside of this is that if something were to go wrong with your site then you may never get the message and they will never get a reply. For this reason, it's best to make sure that the form is working correctly from time to time and that any other contact details you display are also up to date.
6. Re-index Your Website With Google
Once you have made all the relevant improvements it's time to get Google to re-index your site. Not only will this help Google to get a more up to date and clear picture of what is going on with your website, but indexing will also update the page's title and meta-description which is what anyone who looks you up on Google will see in the search results.
Indexing your site is a quick and easy task to do and if you haven't taken advantage of this free Google tool before then I would really encourage you to do so. This video explains from start to finish how to easily index or re-index your site.
So there you have it, six things that should not be neglected on your website. The ideas mentioned above are more to do with staying relevant and looking professional and less to do with trying to rank higher on Google. If you make the necessary changes to your site it's quite possible that you will end up doing both of these things which would be a win-win. Search engines and users are both unforgiving when it comes to out of date or faulty websites. Don't give anyone an excuse to not visit your site or hire you.
What are your thoughts on keeping your websites up to date? Do you have any other suggestions you think we missed? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Lead image by XXSS used under Creative Commons.