Tuesday, March 4, 2008

SEO - Wild Wild West or Reason & Logic?

Today (actually, yesterday, as you are reading this) I was traveling with my post-production person and my intern and we were crossing a state-line or two en-route back to DC after an assignment. About half-way back to the office, my post-production person asked "so, explain to me what SEO is." And the conversation started. And continued. And continued. You see, one of the things I am learning as I present at ASMP's Strictly Business 2, is that (at least it seems) more people want to learn how to get their websites to rank first on the search engines, than they want to get their contracts and business paperwork in order, if consultations and workshop attendance are any indicators, and my friend and colleague, Blake Discher has started a business aimed squarely at photographers, called GO-SEO, and he's doing (and has been) sold-out consults at SB2 and his Sunday presentations (Workshop D -- Is Your Website Doing All It Can to Get You Work?) there have been major hits.

We continued our conversation until we were almost back to the office, and we had barely scratched the surface of what SEO is. Don't know what it is yet? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and as you can see from this link , there are far far to many "know-it-alls" out there who don't know anything about SEO. Test #1 - if your proposed SEO person tells you that Flash websites can't rank, hang up on them. Really. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to Loserville (and while you're there, say hi to JDK for me.) It really is the wild wild west, and people like Blake, and also the newly announced upgrades to liveBooks, bring reason and logic to the SEO world as it pertains to photographers.

From liveBooks' ability to read and auto-enter your metadata, to page-by-page statitics of Google Analytics, enhanced improvements to the auto-generated html pages, and so on, this upgrade is a significant enhancement to their already stellar offerings.

(Continued after the Jump)

For those of you who might think that I'm posting this because they're an advertiser, think again. No other solution gives you this much control over the back-end of your website and how it's seen by the search engines. I previously wrote It's Google's World, You're Just a Small Part of It, and after that, there were some interesting statistics I cited when liveBooks came on as an advertiser (Effective SEO - Please Welcome liveBooks, 2/20/08), that you might have missed.

So, let me direct you to an amazing report on how people look at web pages. This study, (F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content), and the well-respected Jupiter Research reports that the majority of searchers - 62 percent of search engine users - click on results on the first page of search listings. Further, and this is where it gets critical - 90 percent of users never go beyond the first three pages. Where do you fall?

I want to reiterate something that may have gotten lost when I posted it in the comments - we all evolve over time as it pertains to websites and investments in them. I've looked at the underlying code of my friend Mark Finkenstaedt's website. Mark is an amazingly talented photographer - dare I say - more talented than me, and he's got great content there. I gave him a bit of help early on, encouraging him not only to have MarkFinkenstaedt.com, but also, since people naturally have a hard time with his last name, to get mfpix.com. He did that, and he's done the requisite keywords and descriptions metadata, but you can't find him in the first 100 pages of Google for any of his search terms. How do I know what his search terms are? I asked him. (and I asked him if I could put him up as the poster-child for poor SEO, and he said I could.) Further, despite his purchase of a gallery site for several hundred dollars, there's nearly zero coding that is search-engine friendly. What this translates into, is in fact, lost revenue. This is, because, on several searches I performed, the only one where he gets to Google's first page is when I search for his name. While that's good when people are searching for him, the real benefit of being findable on the search engines that the search (and finding of you) will result in revenue because he is findable. To make matters worse, Mark headed into the wasteland of the wild west and spent $500 a month for six months with a "placement agency" without a single assignment to show for it. "money wasted" he said, and canceled his efforts with them.

So many people will set a limit of $500 or $1k for their site, not realizing how much it costs them in lost assignments because they're not being found! I suspect that Mark will (or at least should be!) looking into the new liveBooks offering.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sure would be nice to be able to read the first few paragraphs...

Anonymous said...

Say hi to JDK in loserville? What high school are you currently attending. i expect more from you, well at least I did. That's professional behavior? loserville?

Sean Cayton said...

I understand your position as a blogger with advertising from relevant companies within the world of photography.

And while I referred a wonderful photographer who has a terrible online presence to Livebooks. It wasn't because of SEO.

SEO is a complete waste of time. So let's not get wrapped up in this idea.

Instead, I would ask that you focus more on the idea of networking in the traditional sense.

My feeling (or my hunch is) that your network and the effort you have spent developing it is much more fruitful than finding new clients or sales through SEO. I know it has been for me.

And my competitors, who regularly spend money to improve their rankings and place them well above the fold of any relevant search term through google, aren't seeing the same return.

Within any niche that photography is sold the NETWORK is the thing and client LOYALTY is the thing.

Spend more time talking about that here. SEO is a one night stand, as far as I'm concerned.

But not only that, if you're doing a good job establishing your presence in a market, higher rankings online are a foregone conclusion.

John Harrington said...

Sean --

There are several happy photographers in Colorado Springs right now, thankful that you don't care about SEO. As someone who has been doing SEO since 1996 or so, I can tell you, without a doubt, you are flat wrong. SEO generates many many new (and then repeat) clients for me. Call Wendy Pearce Nelson of Blue Fox Photography, or Ryan and Becky Kercher. These are colleagues of yours who can attest to the fact that SEO is a very profitable endeavor.

Before someone else does (it's available now, I just checked) might I suggest you start by getting the URL www.Colorado-Springs-Photographer.com? It will help you on Yahoo and MSN, and could improve your now non-existent Google presence.

If you want SEO statistics, call Blake and he too will set you straight on the value of SEO as a significant part of generating new clients.

Brandi said...

Great information!
Virtual Website Solutions

STEVE BOYLE PHOTO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
STEVE BOYLE PHOTO said...

What distinction can be made when trying to buy a generic domain in an already popular city such as Philadelphia?

www.steveboylephoto.com

Mark said...

A previous comment said SEO is worthless and instead traditional networking and marketing is what a photographer should focus on instead. SEO compliments your existing marketing efforts (and it is becoming traditional marketing now that online marketing is mainstream and not a new marketing channel). While word of mouth and traditional networking and advertising yeild lots of good leads and new clients, there are a whole lot of potential customers you're missing if you think your website isn't a strong marketing tool ( especially with younger demographics who have never lived without a web browser!). There's a new guide on SEO and online marketing being published specifically tailored to the business of professional photographers available for download at SEO for Photographersthat covers all kinds of SEO and other techniques (as well as how to get your Flash site understood (and thus highly ranked) by search engines. It might be useful to other photographers who are trying to do SEO on their own or just want to know moreabout what it's all about.

Andreya said...

Hi Nice Blog .The best means of accomplishing this is by creating a resource out of your sidebar links seo school. If not you might just be giving links to the competition. However if you create a series of links that are useful to your audience. The reader will be more likely to view your blog as a resource rather than a doorway to somewhere else.

Andreya padty said...

Hi Nice Blog .You may find websites on the internet offering "banner exchanges", "free traffic" and other such promises, I wouldent look at them twice unless you want to lose out. The traffic they send you is of the worst quality in seo school.

Andreya padty said...

Hi Nice Blog .Anybody with a website that is selling a product or a service knows that the best way to attract visitors is to have a good ranking with the major search engines. Here is some advice on choosing the right seo company india service.

Navneet said...

SEO - Wild Wild West or Reason & Logic? - good news
After reading your post, i think that its a fresh news for everyone.

i m also interested in latest news, sometimes i posted on
SEO India.
thanks.

cynthia said...

SEO firms are generally divided into two camps--those called "White Hats" (those that use ethical SEO practices and will never knowingly violate a search engine’s terms of service) and those called "Black Hats" (those that do not use ethical SEO practices and that will attempt to unravel the latest algorithms and exploit any loopholes to achieve rankings at any cost). Neither approach is invalid--it is not against the law to violate the terms of service of a search engine. Moreover, black hat techniques can be quite effective. However, the tactics are risky, and anyone hiring an SEO service that wears a black hat and does not use ethical SEO practices should definitely be apprised of this risk up front.
----------------------------
cynthia jacquline
SEO

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! thanks a lot! ^^

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