SEO Tips

Marketing Brainstorm for Photographers

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Marketing, SEO Tips Comments Off

I originally wrote this for some of my very closest photographer friends. I am sick of watching them struggle. I guess my thoughts on marketing are more like this: You have to be doing whatever you can, all the time, and bringing in as many inquiries that suit you as possible. How can you get clients? Where, how and what contributes to it?

* Website content – people do well at looking after this. But do you at least have a contact page, portfolio, easy to see contact details (main page hopefully as well) Are you using landing pages for your online campaigns? If not, start at unbounce.org and test some stuff!

* Blogging – sometimes they do, often they are highly inconsistent and only blog about sessions. Learn from pro bloggers – read blogs ABOUT blogging.

* Photo galleries / portfolios – Not ONLY on your own site but on sites like Marketing Tool and Big Day Small World. When you do your own galleries, are they AS AMAZING as you can possibly upload? if not, reconsider.

* Contact page of your site – does it have a form and very little info? Go view the contact page of any major brand. If yours looks like theirs, fantastic. If not, figure out why.

* Microdata/authorship – are you using rel=author or some plugin to get authorship for your blog? (Your headshot photo should come up next to your listings. It usually results in about 20-30% increased clicks.

* Testimonials/Reviews – on Google, on WeddingWire, on theknot, on Yelp – no, not all. But what comes up when you google “your name photo” + reviews? (Hint: if you create a page on your site called “reviews” it will usually come up on page 1 then YOU control your reviews (Google highonseo reviews)

* Proofing – does your online proofing lead people to buy? Why or why not? Does it lead them to a place where someone can book you for portraits later? Or for their own wedding if they were a bridesmaid or whatnot? How are you using your proofing solution as a referral back to your own site, your branding and your awesome experience?

* SEO – are you on page 3 or below for your main keywords? You aren’t getting found, you aren’t booking that way and the money is going to someone else. How many good photographers are there? Every single one above you on Google is going to get seen before you. How many photographers would most brides look at before they get fatigued and it all blends together? If they don’t find their faves in the top 5, they may do another page – say 15-20 total. If you’re somewhere on page 6, game over for organic search traffic.

* Mobile marketing – are you doing mobile adwords? They’re cheaper usually. Do you have a mobile version of your site or a responsive web design? If not, 10-20% of your customers are gone again.

* Are you listed in local directories? Are you getting into the A-G of the map results because you’re setup properly on Google Local? Did you realize that the G result may be a “page 7″ result on a lot of searches but if they’ve done their local SEO right, they could jump EVERYONE but the A-F sites with less effort? 

* Are you listed on small business sites? Are you linked on the BBB with a good score? Have you ran a Groupon so you have a link from Groupon to your site? Are you using Paper.li, Scoop.it or Storify to create other ways for clients to find you? Have you ever even heard of those things?

* Major wedding sites – WeDJ, knot, WeddingWire, StudioLocator, bride.com, projectwedding, and other listing sites. WedAlert, local wedding boards (syracuseweddings.com, etc.) 

* Have you done the commentstorming I recommended over a year ago?http://www.highonseo.com/2011/07/commentstorming/ 

* Have you ever published a press release for hires, speaking engagements, etc?

* Better one – have you ever done a speaking engagement, teaching session or anything unrelated to WPPI or Imaging? State PPAs love guest speakers. Have you contacted a single person in the last 3 years to ask about speaking for their organization? Contacted any mom groups, church groups, local craft stores/shows, etc. about giving a photo class that you didn’t run through Groupon or Craigslist? Or did you even do one through those two? ANYthing resembling getting your name out?

* Do you publish blog posts to Google Plus? We know and i’ve mentioned a LOT how great of an investment of time G+ can be. Yes, not all your friends are there. So you have to meet NEW people? *gasp* That’s the point!

* When was the last time you seriously talked to 10-100 business owners in your area and offered them some photography service? Restaurants? Putting up prints in the doctors or dentist office in your small town? 

* Ever offered a jeweller cards to give to newly engaged couples to give them a free e-sesh? Sure it sucks to “give stuff away” – and it sucks to shoot 11 weddings next year. If you’re AMAZING, surely you could turn 80% of those or more into bookings. What if you had 15 new brides contact you because they were given a free esesh or even disk of images (value $500+!) if they booked you. 

* Facebook ads, Pinterest pins, Twitter conversations, are you in Flickr Groups, are you doing bridal shows? Handing out Moo cards is fun. Handing out 500 cards this year instead of 50 will make you a THRIVING success. Made some packages with videographers? Combine your services to book both at once? 

* Have you guest posted on a wedding (wedding planning, wedding photo, etc.) blog?

Clearly this stuff gets me riled up. This isn’t direct at anyone in particular but if you’re unhappy with the number of weddings you have for 2013, you didn’t do all this stuff. Remember Matt McGraw’s 300 thread? He talked about vendors, newsletter (are you collecting email addresses and if not, are you insane? lol) Are you advertising online? Offline? Are you focused on SEO? Are you getting published in the local paper? Do you still have a joke of a flash website that needed updating two years ago but you haven’t gotten around to it because you “will do it when you get editing caught up” and you haven’t managed it in 25 months? 

How many business cards are you currently carrying from other people’s businesses? Now how many are you carrying for yourself? Clear?

I’m going to repeat this until I’m frikking dead but what is your USP? Unique Sales Proposition – what makes you worthy of booking? It’s *NOT* PRICE AND PRODUCT. I’m sorry. I know that’s AN answer. And it’s an EASY answer. But it’s a terrible, freaking bad, obnoxiously soothing answer. You FEEL good that you have great product and a nice personality but you don’t make MONEY on that. Money comes when you really figure out what brides want, why they want it and how you can give it to them more, better, faster and smarter than everyone else.

Next time you do a bridal show, have a signup sheet for three pizza parties. Find a time that works for you and just invite 10 brides per time slot over for snacks or drinks. Whatever. ASK them what they were looking for. Ask them what they did NOT see. Don’t ask them if they want to sign up for an appointment to give you money. Don’t be foolish. Nobody wants to “come give you money.” But they probably DO want to come give you their opinions. People have LOTS of those. Especially brides. 

I’ve said before about blogs – “blogs can be great marketing if you have a call to action on them. Otherwise it’s a historical record.” Are you producting a piece of marketing or a historical record? 

Learn the stuff you want to know from experts. Stop learning how to market from photographers who booked 8 weddings in their career. Stop learning to blog from people who blog 10 weddings and that’s it. Stop learning sales from some photographer at WPPI. Learn from EXPERTS. 

Read, read, read, read, read. Read marketing blogs, sales blogs, advertising blogs (and if you think marketing, sales and advertising are the same thing, start there.) Read Seth Godin. Read Jay Levinson. Read Primal Branding. Read Selling the Invisible, Good to Great, Brand Aid, Never Eat Alone and read a crap-ton of blogs. Can’t find a good blog on what you want to learn? Search Twitter. There are links to billions of blog posts there about every topic you could ever want to learn. You can’t “learn” marketing from me in 30 minutes but I’ll be damned if I’m going to enjoy watching all my best friends in the world struggle because I didn’t spend a couple hours typing up what’s already in my head. 

Now GO DO SOMETHING!!!!! *rant, rave, pumped up!* 

A few links from the blog to help you, as well:

2013 Marketing Guide for Photographers - http://www.highonseo.com/2012/12/2013-marketing-guide-photographers/

Local SEO data & comparison - http://www.highonseo.com/2012/11/photography-seo-data-comparisons/

Who are you optimizing for? http://www.highonseo.com/2012/11/who-optimizing-seo-for/

SEO vs. Marketing – basic strategies:http://www.highonseo.com/2012/07/seo-vs-marketing-strategy/


2 Apps are Better Than 1: IFTTT, Evernote + Dropbox

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips Comments Off

Part 1 – Buffer App + Tweriod

Part 2 - Tweepi + Listorious

This is part 3 of our series: 2 Apps are Better Than 1.  Today we are going to make 1+1=3 for the second time by combining Evernote and Dropbox  to help you save and backup professionally.  In this case, we’re actually using 3 Apps – Evernote, Dropbox and IFTTT.  Let’s get into it.

What is IFTTT?

Oh, let’s start with the fun one.  If ____ happens, do _______.  If this, then that.  Yes?  That’s what IFTTT is.  If something happens in one of your online accounts, do something in another.

If you update your Facebook profile photo, then automatically update your Twitter profile photo.

If you upload a photo to Flickr, then put a copy of that photo in Dropbox. (Just gave away the post, didn’t I?)

What is Dropbox?

Dropbox is a free online cloud storage space that lets users save and share documents, photos, and other files between computers.

What is Evernote?

Evernote allows you to save “notes” – text, images or webpages.  You can search, sort and save these notes on your own computer or online via a browser or smartphone.  Evernote lets you save “clips” of text or full pages.

So how’s this going to work?  IFTTT: Flickr to Dropbox to backup images

Evernote and Dropbox, as we said, allow backups and redundant saving automatically.  Do you want to backup every photo you upload to instagram?  Or every email you receive with certain text?

1) Sign up for an IFTTT account and login. Sign up for Dropbox (affiliate link, use dropbox.com if you care.)  Sign up for Evernote.

2) Click on “Create” (on IFTTT.com) or go to https://ifttt.com/myrecipes/personal/new

3) Decide what you want to backup.  Let’s take photos as our example.  You want to backup every image you upload to Flickr and Instagram to Dropbox so you can be sure you have them.   You will see a link on if “this” so click the blue underlined “this.”

4) Now select Flickr.  Connect your Flickr by pressing Activate and then connecting through.  Now you can see all 5 triggers for Flickr.  Keep it simple “Any new public photo.”

5) There are no fields in public Flickr photos so click “Create Trigger.”  Now we’re up to “That.”  So press the blue underlined “That” and then add Dropbox and activate that channel like you did Flickr above.

6) Select “Add file from URL”  Continue on and you will see “Complete Action Fields” – these are normally filled in properly and you only need to press “Create Action.”

You should now see something that looks like this:

ifttt and dropbox + evernote

 

If you upload a photo to Flickr, then add that photo to Dropbox.  And this happens automatically once you finish by pressing “Create Recipe.”  You can deactivate recipes at any time, add new ones, browse, etc. and find other great uses.  Now we know you can backup photos.  Instagram works the same way.  Create a new recipe that has If (new photo upload) to instagram, then Dropbox.  Same thing.

Let’s talk about another use.

Google Reader to Evernote to save blog posts

You want to save an article in Google Reader to have accessible later.  Maybe you want to create a folder of great marketing posts for 2013.  Create a new recipe and for if this, use “Google Reader.”

Now we are going to create several folders in Evernote.  Create these:  Great Blog Posts and Read Later.  Let’s create our first recipe.

If … “New item tagged …”   This lets you tag a post in Reader before acting on it.  So let’s create a new tag called great.   Create Trigger. Click “That” and then Evernote.  If you want to change the Notebook (which folder in Evernote you are sending to) that’s fine – name it whatever you’d like, then Create Action.

How do we use this one?  Login to Reader.  At the bottom of each post you will see a G+ button, G+ share, a few other buttons and then “Edit Tags.”

Edit the tag, add a tag called great and press Save.  This post will now be saved to Evernote.

If you understand what IFTTT is doing and how this is all working, you are probably well past the point of needing me to explain.  You have the idea.  You can create any tags in Evernote and save any number of posts automatically.  Simply tag a post great, keep, read later, comment later, save to lists for end of the week wrapups, etc.

Want more ideas for IFTTT recipes and combinations?

Bitly to Evernote – to save a copy of every link you share.

Weather to Email – if it’s forecasted to be below 32 F / 0 C tomorrow, then send me an SMS to my phone.  If it’s going to rain, call my phone.

Twitter to Facebook/LinkedIn – If I change my Twitter profile photo, change my photo on Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress.

Browse and search public IFTTT recipes for more ideas.

 

 


Does your business rely on easy keywords for SEO?

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips 1 Comment

How would you like to completely dominate your niche?  Sounds like a question typical SEO spammers would pose on their ads, right?  But it may be possible for some “easy keywords.”

Let’s skip all the background and blabber and show you some results first.

winning easy keywords for fun and profit

How long did this SEO take?

Admit it, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t hate ranking in the top 6 for 9 of your top 11 keywords, right?  So how long did this SEO take and how much did this client invest in the process?  When we started the process, this client wasn’t in the top 200 for ANY of her keywords.  So how long do you think?  A year?  6 months?  3 months?

6 days.

(I’ll wait while you close your mouth and get a napkin for that drool.)

Ok, so that’s not the WHOLE process – but we worked on the site behind closed doors for a week.  3 days after release we took one set of rankings.  They were rankings from 6-20 mostly.  Take our current ranking and go the other way – “wedding planner in upstate SC” went from 9 to 3 (2nd in the local block.)  3 days later, these were the updates.  My client has become one of *the* main players in her niche (Greenville wedding planners) in under a week.

Aren’t these “easy keywords”?

Yes, somewhat.  That’s what we’re talking about today – ranking on SEO for easy keywords.  Yet these keywords should be almost as hard to rank as “Greenville wedding photographer” which I’ve had a friend struggling to crack for years.

Here’s the chart:

winning easy keywords for fun and profit

As points of comparison, Greenville wedding photographer has much, much higher competition and ranks 40, the same as “wedding planner in south carolina”  On the other hand, a national niche like “credit card debt” ranks a stunning 70.  The term “SEO” has a keyword difficulty score of 87.  Imagine my joy.

page authority and domain authority on keyword difficulty
Pop this one open and consider this – my client is #7.  She has the lowest DA and below average PA. This is a new “theme” not a new domain – we are not seeing the results of a new site & freshness bonus.  The site has had content for awhile.  Our theory is that the variety of DA and PA is on purpose (by Google.)  Have you noticed that most searches, even the most competitive, showcase one or two sites with low statistics but good on-page SEO?

Remember how competitive SEO is?  Well, “Melbourne SEO” is very competitive as well.  Yet this company is #2, very high on page 1.  Their Domain Authority is 14, Page Authority 28, with … 14 links?  This site is clearly an exact match domain so we would think they wouldn’t necessarily rank as high.  Google is obviously happy to give some newer/younger/less authority sites a chance to be seen.  Sometimes stats lie (I’m currently writing a post for SEOMoz on why so I won’t get into it here.)  But check these stats for a page one result:
melbourne SEO agency

 melbourne-SEO OSE results
Can you improve my small business SEO this fast?

We would love to try!  These results are not typical of most of our clients. We generally work on keywords in the difficulty range of 40-60, as most small businesses fall in there somewhere.  Small business SEO is sometimes fast and easy, sometimes much more challenging.  If your niche is less challenging than a 30-35 keyword difficulty, chances are we can rank you *very* quickly for your main keywords.

If you are a small business in a small niche, we would love to give you our best shot at a quick ranking improvement.  We are specifically looking to work with local businesses: gardners and lawn mowing, florists, DJs and musicians, bands, wedding limo services, tour operators, or any “micro businesses” on this About list.

Are you the best dog walker in Melbourne?  Email us today and get started on quickly improving your “easy keywords” and get High on SEO.

 


Analyze your competition in Google

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips Comments Off

Why analyze your competition?

Let’s start with the obvious – you should focus more on your own content, site, products and services than you should on your competitors.  Make them chase you, don’t chase them.  However, it can also be incredibly useful to analyze your competition and reverse engineer their SEO.  If someone is ranked #1 for your main keyword and several related keywords, chances are high that whatever they are doing works and some level of emulation could help you.

Understand that you will never *surpass* your competition through emulation alone.  If you are not leading your niche, driving innovation and getting involved where possible, copying will only get you so far.  However, taking what others are doing right and applying it to your own site?  That’s just smart.

Get the tools to analyze your competitors in Google

Let’s grab a few tools, first.  These were made by far more technical minds than mine so we’re just going to link dutifully and give credit to great SEOs.

Open this Google Doc, click File > Make a Copy.  Now you have your own to play on.

This is the Google Scraper v1.2 by Seer Interactive.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Apam75iNJI9idHkteFpGYjNhcjRBeUxsRWI0VER6ZWc

 

Next, grab the Competitor Discovery Array here and make a copy of that as well:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aj-47DJPuWFodGpqMEl1OXhVOGNJZG05bEItd3pDYmc&authkey=CIi7j8gN&hl=en&authkey=CIi7j8gN#gid=0

 

Finally, open WordPot in a new tab:  http://www.wordpot.com/KeywordTool.aspx

So what’s the process?

I am a big fan of combining tools.  In fact, one of my big series of posts coming up will combine online tools to great effect.  So here’s what we’re going to do.

1) Find your main competitors.  Open the Google Scraper 1.2 from the first link above.  Enter Results: 30, and type your #1 keyword into cell B1.  Press enter.   This will create a list of the top sites for your main keyword.  Copy cells C2-C31.  Right click in cell E1 and use “Paste Special” and then “Paste Values Only.” This is an important step!  Then press copy again.

2) Put them in the Discovery Array.  Drop these competitors into cell B3 of the second link (Competitor Discovery Array) from above.

3) Add keywords. If you already know your keywords, enter them on the Competitor Discovery Array from cell A3 on.  If you do not know all of your keywords yet, open Wordpot (third link above.)  Enter the “basic” form of your keyword (no location).  If your keyword was Melbourne SEO, simply enter SEO.  If you run fishing tours in Charleston, just use “fishing tours.”  Copy the list of keywords into a notepad or Word document and remove the location keywords you don’t care about (ie. Alaska fishing tours).  Use a few of your top keywords if necessary to create a list of 20-40 main keywords.

Once your list is created, copy and paste it into cell A3 of the Competitor Discovery Array.

4) Skim the cream.  Look in Column C - Occurrences in the Top 20.  Which sites have the highest number?  These are the sites that regularly show up in the top 20 for your top keywords.  Sometimes a site has optimized very well for one keyword and doesn’t show up on much variety.  This method of competitor discovery will separate those who are #1 for one keyword but fail on everything else from your true competitors – those who are top 20 for the majority of your keywords.

Find your competitor’s on-site SEO

This one’s a download – very safe as far as I know.  Go get a free copy of Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider.

Install and open the program.  At the top you will see “Enter a URL to Spider” – enter the competitor with the most Occurrences in the Top 20.  Press Enter.

As the program runs you will start to discover some valuable information.  Screaming Frog has 12 tabs starting with Internal.  Look at the Title, Description, headings, Word Count (far right), In and Out links (very far right).  What information can you get from this?  What are they doing right?  Is there a lot of variety in their page titles?  Longer pages than yours?  What is different and why may Google value that more than they value you?

Use this tool on a few of your top competitors and then on yourself.  What differences can you see between them and your own site?  Patterns should be easy to spot.  If their pages are *all* larger than yours and they vary page titles more, consider doing that on a few new pages.  Do they have many more inlinks per page than you?  Anything you can glean from their results will help you.  Play Sesame Street.  ”One of these things is not like the other.”  If your site is being ranked lower than these competitors on average, the things they are doing right will help you decide what changes to make.

Analyze your competition’s offsite SEO

If you are a full time SEO or working for an agency, you likely have an SEOMoz subscription and OpenSiteExplorer.  That makes off-site analysis simple.  Let’s pretend you don’t have that so we can work with the free tools everyone can use.

Go to Google and search your first competitor using this search:

“http://www.competitorsite.com” -site:competitorsite.com

This will find links to your competitor that do not include their own internal links.  For instance, one of the top SEO companies in Melbourne is ROI.com.au

“http://www.roi.com.au” -site:roi.com.au

I see 165,000 results – FAR more than our own.  Now consider this: Google is applying their *same* algorithm to this type of search that they do most organic results.  That means that the top links here are the “most related” to your competitor’s domain.  Google finds them relevant, influential and valuable.  You should too.

Analyze the results for your competitor.  What sites are they getting links from?  Is the link in the description or the page’s URL itself?  (The number one result for ROI as it in the domain, the #2 is in the description.)

If your business is not on the domains you see, you clearly need to be.  On our test ROI search, that means LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the usual suspects.  Let’s see what isn’t “usual.”

The 5th result is http://www.localbusinessguide.com.au/find/online-marketing/  - click that link and see the “Add your link” in the top menu?  This is the *exact* type of website you need to be listed on.  It’s a highly ranked competitor site with loads of value for your competition.

(Just for the record, we follow our own advice:  http://www.localbusinessguide.com.au/business/high-on-seo/  I also think this is an appropriate time to note that ROI isn’t really “competition” for us – they serve a much different client and are a much, much bigger company that we respect greatly.  We use them as a “competitor” here because they control many of our important industry keywords.)

That should give you a start as you analyze your competition in Google.  Grab all the tools and dig in!

Did I miss anything?  How do you analyze your competitors?  Let us know in the comments!


2014 Marketing Guide for Photographers

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Marketing, SEO Tips, Social Media, Wordpress Tips 2 Comments

From full-time photographers to those who just got a camera for Christmas and have already opened a new business, this marketing guide for photographers has you covered.  We are going to look at the main ways to market your photo business in 2013 and help all the clients belong to you.

First, a bit of background (and bragging):

Who is behind High on SEO?  Why should I listen to you?

I was a full-time professional photographer for almost 7+ years from 2003-2010.  You can still see my work at Best Day Photo, although I’m not actively seeking clients.  I’ve been #1 on my city name for SEO, I’ve participated in many types of bridal shows, used Facebook and Google ads, listed on most of the major sites and done guest blogging for WeddingBee and other wedding sites.  I’ve also been a full time digital marketer for almost two years.  Our photo business was tremendously successful for years.  SImply:  I know what I’m talking about, I know how to succeed and now I want to share some of that info with you.  You’re welcome to learn how to market your photography business from anyone but hopefully I can help you.

With that said, let’s talk about marketing.  These are not in order because every market and every region is different.  Marketing exists where and when you say it exists.  Let’s talk about your ideal clients another day.  We can discuss how you should find what makes you different, yet appealing.  We can talk all day about what type of competition you have.   Where can you promote yourself?  What marketing works for photographers?

Look at this marketing plan graphic.  We will focus on the “Promotion” arm of this today.

marketing-plan

 

1) Your website

Why: Your website is probably the most important piece of digital marketing collateral you will own.  You control the site. You control your site speed, the branding, content, your image galleries, and every aspect of the site.  On-page SEO comes directly from your site so you control another marketing device simply by what you put on your pages.  Your website represents you to a client who has never met you. It has to tell a story: your story.

How to market your website:  Think first.  Who is your target audience?  Who has booked you in the past?  You are likely thinking “22-35 year old educated female who spends her days on Pinterest.”  Maybe you want to target working women who are too busy to interview 10 other photographers and want to hire someone sight-unseen.  Or you could be targeting second marriages.  Maybe you have a nationality or religion you photograph frequently (Indian weddings, Jewish weddings, etc.)  Your target client may be older – 29-40 year olds who had careers first and now have children.  Or maybe you will book anyone with a check that has the right dollar figure attached.

Once you know who you are targeting with your site, figure out what they like.  What other websites are they on?  Pinterest’s audience is vastly 25-34 year old females with a college education.  Check the Alexa data.  What other sites fit your demographic?  What other sites should you look at for inspiration?  Try SimilarSites.com for Pinterest.  (That’s a link, click it.)  Ah, Etsy.  And what is similar to Etsy?  What is Etsy’s demographic on Alexa?

These are the type of thoughts you should be having when thinking about your own web design.  Yes, you can put up a page that looks like everyone else’s but you know that won’t create much interest.  Sure, it’s safe.  ProPhoto Blog theme, great for SEO, and clients will see it 100 times during their search.  Stand out.  Do something interesting.  Offer them something new, or at least something extremely well-done.

What to focus on:  Most photographers will add: galleries, pricing, blog, contact and maybe an about/info page to their site.  Do that.  Then do more than that.  How will you stand out?  What is special about your photography?  Make sure you have a “reviews” page (not raves, not testimonials, not “what our clients say” or any other BS.)  Reviews. Period.  Make this page yoursite.com/reviews  It’s pretty simple – people search for brands + reviews.  Control the discussion.  Google “highonseo reviews”  and you’ll see.  It’s full of pages I control.  ”Like, duh.”

Also, make sure your blog contains microdata (schema.org) so you have connected your Google+ profile to your posts.  Go back to that review search.  See my mug looking back at you?  Do that.  Most photographers don’t and you will gain a huge advantage by having your pretty face directly on SERP pages.  If you can’t figure it out, start here and let Yoast try to help you.  Still can’t figure it out?  Throw a few bucks my way on Paypal and I’ll help you.  It’s important. Put it on your to do list, now.

melbourne wedding photography

2) Blogging

Why: Blogging improves your SEO for many, many long tail keywords. It also keeps your website fresh. It also gives you a personal voice to your clients in a way your pricing and services page can’t use.  Blogging lets you show off recent work without updating your entire website.  Blogging lets you create a landing page for a vast array of topics at your whim.  Blogging gives you something to talk about on social media.  It gives you content to promote.  Blogging lets you reach your audience directly, without paid ads, on any topic of your choice.

You probably get the idea.  Blogging is important.  Let’s make 2013 the year we stop with the excuses, stop with the lame blogging schedule and stop saying “I don’t know what to blog about” or “blogging’s too hard!” or “I don’t know how to blog for SEO” blah, blah, blah.  Be as tired of the excuses as we are.

If you hate blogging, hate updating your website, hate writing about your clients, and hate trying to come up with things to talk about with people who are super excited to get married, you’re in the wrong business anyway   Go get a job, quit pretending you enjoy weddings and just save yourself the effort. Wedding photography is for someone else.  It’s for people who are excited about what gowns are in style. It’s for people who care about their clients and after spending their wedding day with them can’t wait to go home and edit photos, write the story and basically tell everyone what a cool couple chose them as their wedding photographer.

Seriously, if you hate blogging, remove the blog from your site and market your portfolio instead.  A blog that hasn’t been updated in a year looks like you are out of business. Sure, removing the blog will reduce your chances of SEO helping you, or being found for long tail keywords, it will reduce the number of pages you can promote on other channels, you should also then remove your entire social media presence and probably focus on how you are going to spend money instead.  Paid ads are the price you pay for being boring, right?

Sorry for the rant – let’s move on.  Blogging is important.  Here you can see just a few of our results for “success.”

seo success blog posts

 

How to market your blogging:

“I don’t know what to blog about other than photo sessions!” – how about bridal shows that are coming up in your area.  Go Google 2012 Melbourne bridal shows.  We show up page 1.  Brides search for shows to attend.  Help them out, tell them which ones you’ll be at, link everything, and be a resource.  One thing you should focus on with your blogging is giving brides what they are looking for so they come to you, not Pinterest, Etsy or your competition.  Do a post about 2013′s most popular wedding hair accessories or bridal dresses.  If you’re out of ideas, also see our Planning Blog Topics  with plenty of info on how to blog and what to write about.

“Ok, I wrote my post, now what?  Nobody viewed it.”  - Promotion is the name of this game. How did you promote your post?  Did you put it on your Facebook page and your Facebook profile?  Send it to some wedding-industry Twitter users and ask for a tweet?  Did you post it to Pinterest and then follow up by commenting on a bunch of other people’s pins so they come view yours?  Social media is give and take so make sure after you give them something to talk about, you take the time to help others, as well.

Do you use social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Stumble, Reddit?  Now may be the time to drop one of your new posts on there.  Are you a part of a referral network, a vendor network, a blog circle, a Google+ group for self promotion?  Have you gone and left relevant comments on other people’s blogs lately?  Blog commenting is a trade off. You must do something for someone to get them to do what you want.  What are you doing and how often are you doing it?  Do it more – and do it now!

What to focus on: We have a video on Youtube all about the Perfect Blogging for SEO below so check that out.  Try to follow the guidelines and just write good content.  It is more important that you write regularly, update often and write about things other people want to share than writing “photography, photographer, photographers, pictures, photo” on every blog post you ever write.  Focus on quality and the links will come.

3) SEO & Local SEO for photographers

Why:  Read what Marketing Charts had to say:  “63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget online.”   Yes, we’re a bit biased because we are an SEO agency.  But realistically speaking, your business should be on page 1 of Google if you want to get as much money as possible.  Local searches are a powerful and accessible medium you should definitely be using in your photographer’s marketing plan..

How to market with SEO for photographers: We could talk about what makes great SEO all day but you need to be familiar with the basic structure of SEO.  You can optimize the on-page SEO stuff, such as the content you’re writing about, the usefulness of that content to brides, how long they stay on your site, etc.  You can also optimize the off-page stuff such as where you are found by other sites, how your listing appears on niche directories such as WeddingWire, TheKnot, etc.

Blogging will help your SEO, as will promotion of those blog posts.

What to focus on: Overall, what you need to remember is that you are focused on writing great content, promoting it well and being helpful to your audience.  You should focus your energy on creating something worth sharing.  You should make sure other sites link to it.  And you should make sure you read as much of the High on SEO blog as possible.

4) Paid Ads on Facebook and Google Adwords

Why: Adwords are effective.  For most businesses, Facebook is not.  This doesn’t make sense so people keep mindlessly throwing money at Facebook.  Let’s look at why Facebook usually falls flat.

Ads found through Google’s Adwords program are found on the sidebar during a search and relate to the terms you search for.  You are looking for an answer and hey! There’s one possible answer.  So you are likely to check it out.

Facebook Ads show up on the side of your social media homepage.  You are having a chat with your friends and being asked if you want to join Zoosk or buy a new car.  You aren’t in the right mindset when the ad is delivered.

The biggest difference between Google and Facebook is intent.  Good Google ads promote your business because your audience is in the right frame of mind to find you.  Facebook ads are (mostly) a waste of marketing money because you target people when they don’t want or expect an ad in their face.  There are exceptions.  It makes sense for game companies to advertise on Facebook.  You are there to waste time.  Why not click an ad for CastleRock2?  But are you ever just randomly reading friends posts thinking “I should book a photographer for my wedding now!”  It’s unlikely.

How to market using paid ads:  Focus on Adwords.  Build lists of keywords and negative keywords (such as “how to become a wedding photographer” or “how much are Kansas wedding photographers paid?”)  You don’t want to show up on those searches when you’re advertising to brides.  Test your Adwords and learn as much online as you can about Adword campaigns and what makes for a successful ad.  A/B test (2 different ads) for awhile and find out which one gets higher conversions and which leads to more clients calling you.  Adwords, done right, are an extremely powerful way to find new clients.  Many photographers have no problem with paying $250+ per month for a Knot ad but don’t use Adwords at all or spend $3-5 a day.

It doesn’t hurt to test as many ads as you want.  Set a budget and Adwords will follow it.  Run 4, 8, 12 ads – whatever you feel you need to test.  Then test, test, and test again.  Don’t just assume your ad works.  Run it against another variation and be scientific about it.  Run it using different options such as accelerated delivery, etc.  Maybe you want to test on the Content Network (weddingwire, etc.) but maybe you want to stick with Search Network only.  Your tests are the only way to know what is best for your business, in your market.  (For our photo business, we stuck to Search Network, accelerated delivery, usually 6-10 ads at a time, almost no budget 6 months a year and a heavy Adwords budget from Dec 1 through April 30.  But you may get different results.)

What to focus on: Focus on what’s in it for your client.  Why do they care?  You’re a nice, sweet person with a great “eye” for photography, blahblah everyone else is too, blah!  There are very, very talented photographers in almost every market.  I know most of them. Stop bullshitting yourself that you are super unique and special because you aren’t competing with the 1980s websites and the 1980s hairstyles wedding photographers any more.  Everyone has nearly the same gear, nearly the same blogs they’ve ready for 3 years, and nearly every Photoshop action the same.  We know you all get your books from Millers, Asuka, Apollo, or Graphistudio.  So does everyone else.  You print at Mpix, Millers, SmugMug or some local shop.

So how do you differentiate?  Be specific and be a real business.  How do you decide which tablet or PC or phone or car to buy?  You compare facts. How do you decide which plumber or gardener to hire?  Or tax accountant?  Figure out what matters and sell that.  Does every photographer in your market sell the high resolution DVD?  Then stop bragging about it.  Businesses should have a USP – unique sales (or selling) proposition.  What separates you from the crowd?  Write ads based on that and you will succeed.  And use Adwords – unless you know Facebook makes sense for you.  (Side note: Facebook Ads are great for promoting your page and getting new fans.  They just suck for selling services.  Don’t mistake the two.  I’m talking about service sales here.)

Compare these two screenshots.  Tell me why Facebook Ads underperform again?  (Click for larger size.)

Facebook ads - wtf?

 

Google ads - relevancy

 

5) Paid Listings (Knot, WeddingWire, etc.)

Why: Paying for any type of ad – Adwords, Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. gives you “instant credibility.”  Oh, you’re on The Knot – surely you must be a professional photographer.  Only professional photographers are on the Knot.  Your ads show that you belong, right?  Maybe.  They do get you in front of brides.  It then becomes your job to close those brides and create revenue.

Knot, WeddingWire, PartyPop, WedPlan/Alert, MarketingTool, WeDJ – these are all listing sites that make you pay for the best listing spaces in your local region.  The problem is, they’re often not cheap.  I looked at this type of ad one year and we easily spent $700 per month on listing sites.  That’s $8400 for the year.  We booked 3 or 4 weddings from it so most people would say “they paid for themselves!” right?  No!

You would be correct that they were paid for – but they were bad investments.  We spend $8400 to make $10,000.  In that $10,000 are gear costs, overhead, cost of albums and products, time spent, taxes and insurance.  We probably made $100 on four weddings.  We spent a good 10 hours at each, 20 hours pre & post … so for 30×4 = 120 hours we got $100.  Yes, flopping Whoppers would pay much, much more.  We paid the advertisers.  They made money.  We did not.

How to market with paid listings:  Keep your listing updated. Add as much content as the site allows, then try to add more.  Make every contact a good one and do your best to book any inquiries from expensive sources.  You likely need to book 10+ weddings from TheKnot or WeddingWire and 5+ from others to make them worthwhile.  Keep that in mind and just focus on enhancing your listing as much as possible.  Note: If you are going to pay for a listing, get the best.  Don’t muck around with these mid-tier listings that everyone else has because it’s cheap.  If you’re going to throw money at a problem, throw enough to make a difference.  Go Gold, go Platinum.  Don’t sit in the muck with everyone.  Be a star!

What to focus on: Focus on your goals.  Know that you need to book X number of weddings for an ad source to be profitable.  Know your numbers, keep your goals in mind, and don’t forget to ask people where they first saw you so you can give proper attribution when you are making next year’s marketing budget.   I know it sounds like I’m “down” on paid listings but there is a valid reason for that.  It’s expensive and most people do not make their money back on these sites.  It’s mathematically impossible for most Knot photographers to book the required number of weddings – even if EVERY wedding in a market booked through the Knot, the math would be close.  And not even remotely close to “all” brides do use the Knot or WeddingWire.  If you know your goals, you can easily evaluate how profitable these sources were for you.

And yes, we definitely recommend spending your budget in other places.  We would love to run a comparison test for any photographer on a $250 per month Knot listing vs. our $225 per month SEO package.  We know we are very biased but I would bet my entire business that I could get a photographer more weddings through $225 per month SEO than any paid listing for the same price.  So yes, watch your spend here very closely.  (If I had to pick one paid source for wedding photography, I would take WeddingWire every day and twice on Tuesdays.  Your ad appears on Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings, Project Wedding, WeddingBee, and more of the top wedding planning sites.)

6) Social Networking with: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Why: Social media marketing (SMM) has grown up over the past two to three years.  We have evolved from random business success to tools dedicated to getting your message out.  People listen – we know social can sell and social can provide all the “proof” a client needs about your business.  You want to compete with the people who just started their wedding photography business after getting a camera for Christmas?  Point out your 1400 fans vs. their 24.  Point out the 50 weddings on your blog and in your Facebook photo albums.  This type of positive reinforcement for your longevity and professionalism is called “Social Proof.”  Having 5000 fans means you aren’t a new kid with a camera.

Social media also enables you to have conversations with vendors, potential clients, and their friends.  Use social media to network and “show off” your talent.  You can also answer questions about wedding planning, direct people to the resources they need, and generally be helpful to stressed out brides.  They appreciate that.

How to market on social media: Choose the right networks to play on!  Twitter is not a playground for wedding planning.  Facebook can be.  Pinterest and Etsy are.  If you’re a wedding photographer and you’re not on Pinterest but you are on Twitter, you’re lying to yourself.  You are lying that you spent your time wisely in the past, and you’re lying that you know what needs to be done in the future.  Brides have pushed Pinterest to be one of the fastest growing sites on the whole Internet.  What are you waiting for, next year?  It’s almost next year now.  Forget next year – join now.

Once you are on the right networks, learn about them.  Tailor your content to those who want to receive it.  Follow and you shall be followed.  You know the Golden Rule – do unto others?  Well do!  If you want interaction on your pins, interact on someone else’s.  If you want to have a conversation, start a conversation.  Social media is like friendship in that if you don’t return your friend’s calls, you never make the first move to initiate plans, and you generally treat them like a pawn to be played, they’ll dump you faster than that girl you fell in love with in 7th grade.  Make the effort.

What to focus on: Be useful. Nobody cares about you or your motivations until you care about them and theirs.  You want to start a conversation with the top wedding planner in your area?  So does every photographer within 100 miles.  And some within 250 miles. Why you?  Well, you commented on her post and taught her how to use Hootsuite.  You showed her your favorite 3 Pinterest groups and where to find affordable centerpieces on Ebay and Etsy.  You are being social.  Who doesn’t get the “featured vendor” listing?  ”Hey, I saw you are a wedding planner. Can I take you to lunch?”  That’s not social.  That’s bribery.  Everyone knows what comes next.  ”So, can you add me to your list?”  At the best, “Here’s some of my work, I think I’m a good value, can you add me to your list?”

How about you take a vendor out to get to know them?  Find out what they did over the holidays, take an interest in their life.  Find out what they need and how you can help them (legitimately help, not just help enough to get them to help you.)  My best wedding vendor friends were always friends first.  Send me 10 weddings or send me 1. I’m still going to ask about your business and care when you say you need help.  I will offer some ideas and suggestions if you want, or a shoulder to cry on if you just need to complain about a problem client.  Yeah, some photographer took you out to lunch.  Fine by me.  There are a lot of photographers in our town. If you only like me because I was the last one to give you a sample album, it will only last until someone else does anyway.

Also, learn to use social media wisely.  Trudge through our Twitter tools list and find out how to automate some of your post schedule and spend more time on the conversations and replies that need personal attention.  Don’t beg, don’t whine, and remember, tell people what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you.  (These Twitter searches are always good if you need to throw up.  ”Please, please, PLEASE LIKE ME ON TWITTER! And follow me.  You can help me by following and tweeting and doing lots of crap for me.”  G A G.  H U R L!)

social media ugh wtf

7) Bridal shows & Lists

Why: Bridal shows tell you everything you need to know about you and your business in about 4 to 8 hours.  You will meet a few hundred brides, get instant feedback through facial expressions and body language, and immediately know whether your marketing was successful.  Bridal shows give you the opportunity to show off your stellar personality and all that unique quirkiness you think makes you awesome.  You can explain your portfolio and talk about their weddings.  You will get a fair shot at most couples and you can often win people over who may have chosen someone else a day before or a day later.

How to market at bridal shows:  Stick to the biggest shows.  Everyone who goes to a small (50-150 bride) show will go to a big show. Don’t let the marketers fool you – you won’t be the only photographer, you won’t be booking 50 brides at a “small” show – fewer people walk by to show your stuff to and the bottom line is numbers.

Be prepared for the show.  Have handouts and promotional materials they can take home.  Make sure you are memorable without being annoying, pesty or generally anything bad.  You’re a photographer so show photos – don’t show them video unless you do it.  Don’t show them a slideshow – it looks too much like video.  Show what you want to sell because brides buy what they’re shown.  One year we brought only flushmounts and sold more flushmounts (but fewer overall albums) than any other year.  The next year we brought a mix and sold a mix.  Bring what you wish to sell.  Don’t bring 15-20 page albums hoping you can upsell them on a bigger size and three times the pages later.  It sucks.  How do you feel if you go to the car dealership, buy the new car, go back to pick it up and they say “well, your car isn’t here … but we found you one that’s exactly what you wanted, just $3000 more”?  You feel like crap.  Wedding photography is an emotional business.  Do not make your potential clients feel like crap.  Do not make your clients feel like crap after the wedding, either.

What to focus on: Them.  You probably get the theme of this Marketing Guide for Photographers by now, right?  What is in it for the client?  What do they get, what should they expect, how does it solve their problems or make their life better?  What do you do so amazingly well that nobody else does?

Also, focus on the medium.  With any of these marketing tactics, make sure you tailor your message to where the audience sees it.  They are seeing you – so be professional, smile, be happy and fairly upbeat.  Don’t expect to book a lot of weddings at a bridal show if you sit on your butt and hand out flyers while the photographer 8 booths down is standing up, giving presentations, smiling, and frankly, a lot hotter looking than you.   She did her makeup, she cares about her appearance and she is offering something they want – a connection.  Too often, people sit in their seats, answer a few questions, go home and don’t book much of anything.  Then they think “well, we’re better photographers than her so why did that happen?!  Brides must be stupid if they can’t see how awesome our work is.”

You are selling a service and a product.  How you market and present those in a face-to-face setting matters very much.  Every other method will get you an interview.  Bridal shows ARE interviews.  You must be able to close sales to be in business.  Practice your spiel before the show to your family & friends, coworkers, and your mirror.  Make it professional, helpful and direct.  Don’t be afraid to sell because that girl 8 booths down just said “If you book us today you get $250 off and a free engagement session.”  That’s going to tempt these people … and now they’re headed your way.  Change their minds.

This is my old team setting up for a bridal show.  I am not telling you these things because I read them in books.  I have stood where you will stand.

bridal show

8) Get Referrals, Reviews and WOM

Why: Reviews, referrals and word of mouth recommendations of your business are easily the single most important piece of marketing you can do in photography or any other small business.  It’s free, it’s powerful and it’s direct to a potential client.  You should encourage word of mouth marketing and reviews at any possible stage.  Most of our own (SEO) business is based on referrals.  I am currently working with FIVE clients in one region in the US, all in different businesses.  One photographer found us, sent us another business friend, who referred us to two clients, one of whom referred us to another.  The process works when you are referable.

How to market for referrals and word of mouth: I wish you could plan and promote this stuff.  All you can do is either a) ask for referrals or b) be so amazing at your job that people refer you naturally.  Or both.  I often ask for reviews – I’ll do it again soon, too.  I usually do it when someone has already complimented us, though.  My client the other day said “you are absolutely the best thing that has happened to my business this year!”  I said “I should make you write that in a testimonial!”  And he will – I will add that to our reviews page soon, as a matter of fact.  So if you see the opportunity, take it.

Let’s be honest – in wedding photography, referrals aren’t what they used to be.  Sisters don’t want to use the same photographer.  They want to be unique.  Friends want to plan “their own” wedding, not have the same vendors a friend had.  Word of mouth used to mean “you’re getting a wedding photographer you can rely on.”  Now, it just means “nah, I probably won’t use yours.  I can see these other 100 are pretty good.  I’ll have my  photographer.”

What to focus on: So how do you drive word of mouth?  Some photographers run contests.  We did this with disastrous results twice.  Nobody likes to lose.  ”They cheated!” “I won, didn’t I? I was winning yesterday!”  ”What does second place get?”  Oh, stop me before I continue.  Contests can be fine but be careful about running them on Facebook (there are rules!)  and people misunderstand the rules.  (Yes, again, those are links.  View them, come back.)

Just remind people (who you have already performed for, helped, and otherwise already gave to) that you could use a referral or a review if they would like to give you one.  If you did everything right, booked the client, kept them happy, fulfilled your obligations, and were pleasant to them, most likely you just got a great review for your website and possibly WeddingWire or your Google Plus Page.

9) Wedding Site Submissions

Why: Many other websites want your great photos to show off on their site.  Examples include: TwoBrightLights, Junebug Weddings. Elizabeth Anne Designs. Southern Weddings, WeddingGawker and WeddingBee.  By submitting your weddings, you are promoting your website, giving the couple some (usually fun) exposure, and broadening your chances of getting links back to your site, follow up pins on Pinterest, and other marketing benefits.  You are also reusing content so the creation time is nearly zero and the return is possibly high.  WeddingGawker is a fantastic site to start with if you want to get your feet wet on “wedding submissions.”  They only require one image and the guidelines are quite easy to understand.

How to market for site submissions: Volume.  Don’t leave any posts out.  Some submission sites require exclusivity so submit to the best ones first and work your way down the line – but never have content that hasn’t been submitted.  Go back and submit all your old posts, one every third day, to WeddingGawker.  Then submit a few weddings to your favorite “real weddings” sites.  See what sites work best for you and stick with those.

Remember to market your absolute best work on these sites.  You get *one* photo for WeddingGawker and the better it is, the higher on the page it will show up when it’s approved.  So make it amazing and clickable.

What to focus on: Again, just get it done.  This is work but it’s good work.  You can build links (SEO), make great social connections with those who run the sites (social media), advertise on these sites if they use Google (content network, partners) and generally get more eyes on your work.  None of this is ever bad so just do a lot of it.

10) Other ways to market your photography business

Brainstorm this.  Press releases, email lists, referral programs, commenting on other photographers blogs, become a valuable forum member for a local forum, join the BBB or Chamber of Commerce and participate in their events.  Go to Meetups, network at church.  Really, your imagination is the limit as far as marketing.  I won’t rehash every other way to market but I will give you a great direction.  Jodi at MCP Actions created a list of 50 Marketing Tips for Photographers so check that out, too.

You should also view some of our old posts about marketing.  Try these:

 

Remember give & take?  I am giving you this guide to promote your wedding photography businesses and improve your digital marketing skills.  I would love it if you would take the time to push a couple of the social media buttons to share this Marketing Guide with your social media circles.  You don’t *have* to and most of you won’t, but you’d gain my appreciation – which may help you get a great answer if you ask me a question about marketing or SEO later.  (See how this all works together?  I love marketing!)

A downloadable PDF of the Marketing Guide is now available at: http://www.highonseo.com/resources/2013-Marketing-Guide-for-Photographers.pdf

 


Climb the SERP Ladder with these SEO Tips

Posted on by Guest Author in All posts, SEO Tips 1 Comment

The world of SEO is ever-changing and ever-evolving. As Google rolls out new updates and tools with each passing year, the entire process of optimizing your site becomes even more intricate. This can be especially challenging for small businesses and start ups that are short of resources to stay updated with changing trends. Here’s a roundup of some quick tips that can help small businesses climb up the SERP ladder and turn more leads into prospect clients, and thus earn more bucks.

1. Experience and Content Play a Crucial Role 

Content is the king, and trust us, it actually is! The content on your website is probably the foremost element that lures a visitor. Thus, the content on your website should be intriguing and engaging for the end-user. It directly impacts time on site, SEO and conversion ratio. Moreover, quality content allows webmasters to offer value to their customers. Underrated content can have a destructive effect on both the online image as well as brand value of small businesses.

2. Stick to Onsite SEO but Don’t Remain Stuck

Onsite optimization is definitely important, but there is a vast world beyond it. Site structure, title tags and load-speed are definitely essential elements of Google algorithm and optimizing them is important, but don’t get obsessed with them. It is just the starting line. Handover this task to some optimizers and move onto more significant things.

3. Use Community Building to Create Buzz

Link baiting might sound overrated but it is completely accepted by Google as a legitimate promotional activity. This is because this activity aims at creating a positive experience for the end user. If you are not operating a community, differentiating between content marketing and link baiting will be difficult. Community building is probably the best link baiting activity because it creates content at a rate that no SEO consultant can even think of. This is a completely organic method and efficiently aids SEO.

4. Use Content marketing to its Best

It is a well-perceived fact amongst most small business owners that they can get 70% of their SE rankings through back links. Thus, they look for ways to buy some effective back links and this where they lag. Buying back links is not the solution. This leaves a bad footprint. It is best to earn back links deploying legitimate means and there couldn’t be any better way out other than content marketing. The trick lies in trading. Offer some valuable content and get strong back links in return. Quality content including information, politics, humor, training or controversy attracts readers and gets more quality back links.

5. Review your SEO Reports regularly

Handling a small business or start up definitely means juggling with various different things at a time, but it definitely doesn’t mean that you will neglect your SEO reports. It is essential to keep a close eye on what your SEO consultant is doing. Keep a track of the monthly progress because miracles can’t happen overnight. Also scan the report to ensure that the SEO team is executing using a disciplined approach towards your project. Make sure they are not billing you for any experimental strategies. You already have enough of risk to handle, why invite more?

6. Quality Matters More than Quantity

It is easy to get tempted for easily available free links but lately that will only get you listed in the spamming list. Automation doesn’t work in the SEO industry. Google considers automation to be bad, so it must always be perceived to be bad. This might sound like a turn off for small businesses but they need to respect this rule if they want to climb up the SERP ladder and not fall down. Quality is always prior to quantity.

Keeping in mind these thoughtful techniques, small businesses can increase their SE rankings slowly yet steadily.

This is a guest post by Steve Graham of Xicom. Xicom is a leading Web & Mobile Application Development Company providing Java Software Development, IT Outsourcing Services, php web development services, and affordable php development outsourcing services. All opinions in this article are the author’s own.


A List of Lists: 46+ Useful List Posts You Can Use NOW

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, Blog Roundup, High on SEO News, Marketing, SEO Tips, Social Media, Wordpress Tips 1 Comment

I read every day about SEO, PPC, SEM, conversion rate optimization, content marketing, Google Local, SPYW, Webmasters Tools and social media.  I spent the year learning about psychology and professional writing, influence and sales tactics.  I save everything I find useful either in our /social-media stream, Evernote, bookmarks, or sharing on Inbound.org   Remember how I said I read a LOT?  I do.

So I read a lot on a variety of topics.  What’s in it for you?  How about a comprehensive list of the top “list posts” of my reading year.  I scoured my bookmarks, searched my Evernotes, plundered Inbound.  Here are (over) 46 of the best, most useful, entertaining, functional, tool-laden list posts you could ever want.  

If you want to see these posts as I read them and share them, follow us on Twitter.

SEO & Link building

 

Marketing

 

Google (Local, SPYW, Adwords, Analytics)

 

Social Media

 

Writing & Blogging

 

General Business/ Other

 

If you got something useful from this post, please share it!  

If you know of great list posts I missed, link it in the comments and I’ll try to update this until 12/31.


Canada citation list for businesses (.ca local businesses)

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips 3 Comments

Earlier this morning, an SEOMoz user posted a question about local citations for Canadian SEOs.  After moving to Australia a year ago, I know all about the US-UK-centric nature of citation sources.  Lots of great SEO citations work for Canada but not all.  How can you sort all of these?  You can search two or three citation sources together to find more. I’ve also done a bit of the work for you.  This is a list of 42 Canada citations for local SEO.  Some are cross-border and can work for US and UK citations as well (bbb.org, tripadvisor, frommers, etc.) but most are specifically Canadian.

Canada Citations List

1. http://www.1800canada.ca/

2. http://www.411.ca

3. http://www.bbb.org

4. http://www.brownbook.net/

5. http://www.buyitcanada.com/

6. http://www.canada.worldweb.com/

7. http://www.canadaone.com/business/addurl.html

8. http://www.canadawebdir.com/

9. http://www.canadianbusinessdirectory.ca/

10. http://www.canadianwebdirectory.ca/

11. http://www.canlinks.net

12. http://www.canpages.ca

13. http://www.citydirect.info/

14. http://www.citysearch.com/

15. http://www.esourcecanada.com/

16. http://www.findhere.ca/

17. http://www.foundlocally.com

18. http://www.frommers.com/

19. http://www.goldbook.ca

20. http://www.gopro.ca

21. http://www.hotfrog.ca

22. http://www.ibegin.com

23. http://www.n49.ca

24. http://www.ourbis.com/

25. http://www.ourfaves.com/

26. http://www.profilecanada.com

27. http://www.restaurant.ca/

28. http://www.scottsinfo.ca

29. http://www.shopincanada.com/

30. http://www.smartflyer.ca

31. http://www.torontolife.com/

32. http://www.tripadvisor.com/

33. http://www.virtualtourist.com

34. http://www.wcities.com/

35. http://www.weblocal.ca

36. http://www.where.ca/

37. http://www.yellowpages.ca

38. http://www.yelp.ca

39. http://www.ylm.ca/

40. http://www.zipleaf.ca/

41. http://www.ziplocal.ca

42. http://www.zoomit.ca/

 

Need to find more local citations?  Check WhiteSpark.ca

Know about more Canadian citations?  Please leave them in the comments and I’ll update this post.

Want to download the whole Canada Citation list with pagerank, mozRank,  external links, total links, page and domain authority and fully sortable in XLS?  


Local photography SEO Data comparison and analysis

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips 2 Comments

Since I found an old post by Tom Anthony at SEOMoz, I have been using  his Link Profile Discovery Tool to see competitor link profiles vs. our own and run many SEO data analyses. I have used it very successfully to help another SEO figure out a major problem with his rankings and a manual penalty Google was imposing due to a poor SEO link profile that betrayed some bad links.  I know there’s a lot of data, statistics and “thinking” involved here but try to get through until you “see” it.

One thing I wanted to do was test a high ranking website against one that struggled to rank on page 1 and page 2 for its top keywords.  Thankfully, two great friends lent me their sites and I pulled some data.  Let’s take a look at the first case, the not as highly ranked site.  (Click images to see full size.)

SEO Data for “san diego wedding photographer

san diego wedding photographer seo data

Her link profile actually shows a fair number of links around 50 DA but very few in the higher DA zones (really, anything above say 65.)  The competitors who outrank her do show up across the board and it’s no surprise looking at the beautiful profile link in red, that we find the #1 result on most every local organic photography search for their city.  Her profile is beautiful & natural.  The data matches up to what you would expect.

The anomaly in the data is the green result.  It does not correlate with the other data, and two spikes mean they have likely purchased links or interlinked two of their own sites so tightly that you would expect a penalty for it.  A quick peak at the actual data tells us that the green site is interlinked with another of its own properties and will likely not have much staying power on SERPs.  We would expect the green linked site to fall off of page 1 soon.

Let’s bring in more data, from SEOMoz this time.  We now see a bit more helpful SEO data.

Our test site, Hybrid-Photography, has FAR fewer external links but nearly the same internal links as link 3 (the orange, highly ranked site.)  What is the difference in their profile?  Well, the orange colored site has more 50+ Domain Authority links, a better spread above 45 DA and even more low DA results.  Their spread appears more natural and more likely to be rewarded in the SERPs.

SEOMoz explains Domain Authority as ”made up of an aggregate of metrics (mozRankmozTrustlink profile, etc…) that each have an impact on this score.”  DA is a great way to see the “total incoming SEO” of a domain.

Before we do an analysis of the SEO data, let’s check the other test-subject, a well ranked site for “Baton Rouge photographer”

SEO data for “baton rouge photographer

This data is more of a “control” of what a highly ranked site looks like from the inside.

baton rouge photographer SEO data

What we see immediately is that this photographer has a lot more links, both external and inbound, than any of the tests.  It has a much higher Domain Authority and a very high Page Authority.  The mozRank barely beats site #3 but the test site outranks it fairly regularly in local searches.  We can only conclude that DA is a valid way of determining your expected rank.  We can also conclude that the high number of links has helped this site outpace its competitors.

So how does the link profile look?

big seo data for photographers

Interestingly,  none of these sites have much in the way of a link profile over a 50 DA.  They all drop very significantly, unlike the test above.  This indicates an “easier” keyword than “san diego wedding photographer” above.  If we look at our test domain, in blue, we see a very high correlation with the other high ranking site, in red.

Also, the red line site should outrank the test site in terms of link profile.  They have a better spread across all ranges and more in the higher end.  In this case, you can’t outrank volume.  Anna’s site (blue) has 5600+ links and the red has 1700.  A “www.site.com” search for both turns up an even bigger disparity.  The links back to the blue site just simply overwhelm the red.

Now return to the data above.  Yep, the red site has 7500 links in, 5600 links out.  And it blows the other sites away in terms of rankings despite similar Domain Authority, mozrank, and link profiles.

SEO Data Test Conclusions

First, a huge thank you to Alyssa @ Hybrid Photography and Anna Karin at Anna Karin’s Photography for letting me run these tests and examine their sites so closely.

The first major conclusion is that link volume matters a lot still.  The two sites with the most links are the highest ranking across the board.  They also tend to have the most external links, so perhaps link volume is as relevant as ever.

Second, the more natural your link profile, the better chance you have of ranking “all other things being equal.”  If you’re 7000 links behind, no.  But with similar DA, similar mozTrust, etc. you will find the more natural your link curve, the better your site will rank organically for multiple searches.

Finally – I didn’t cover this in great detail above, but a look at the specifics of the “spikey” graphs show that interlinking your own websites (with a high enough DA) is definitely helpful, even if you link to it hundreds of times.  These “spikes” tend to correlate with exact anchor text and the rankings are higher for those sites and those searches.  So (unfortunately), exact match anchor text on a high DA site still matters.

Also, that SEO friend who got this whole thing started, you can see the penalized link curve on his site.  If your curve looks like this, you are in trouble.  Get it fixed, asap!


Who are you optimizing SEO for?

Posted on by Matt Antonino in All posts, SEO Tips 1 Comment

Who are you optimizing SEO for?

Who are you optimizing your SEO for is a draft excerpt from our upcoming 24 Hour Guide to SEO.  

In this chapter, we’re talking about search engine optimization strategy.  Who are you optimizing SEO for?  What is your initial search strategy and how may that change?  Who are your target clients and what demographic matters to the success of your business?  

Who are you optimizing for, ie. who are your clients?

Something many, if not most, businesses forget on a regular basis is to focus on the customer. Your buyer/reader/client is out there searching for what you have to offer. How are they searching? What language are they searching in? What should you remember about these customers that you may not think about always?

If your customer is from certain regions of the US, they will use “pop” instead of “soda” or “dinner” over “supper.” If you’re a restaurant in a “supper” area but you steadfastly and stubbornly stick to “dinner menu” you are losing a lot of traffic. About 90 million out of 750 million searches for the evening meal say “supper” and the rest say “dinner.” If you never use the word supper on your site in a region that does, you could potentially lose many customers. Similarly, in New Zealand, some parts of Australia and the UK “tea” refers to the evening meal. Also, beware of spelling across borders. When doing international business, keep in mind that having a color selector on your site is going to do you very little good in places where your customers search for a colour palette tool.

Demographic studies of your customer should include more than thinking about the last five people to walk into your store and thinking “how are they the same?”  Think about demographics like “big business” does.  Who are your customers, really?  If you are a gardener, where are your target customers?  How old are they (ie. are they too busy because they work all week or are they elderly and can’t garden anymore?)  Are most of the people who hire you male or female?  Familes or no?  This information can help you target content.  If your average customer lives in Western Town and are professionals aged 30-45 with a couple of kids, you can write blog content about saving time & money with a professional gardener.  You can write content about safe yards for children or keeping the wrong pesticides out of kid & pet reach and how hiring a professional means those chemicals are not stored at the home.

Maybe you run a clothing store for women.  You want to target high-end clientèle but you realize soon after opening that nearly ninety percent of your foot traffic walks in, looks at a tag or two and walks out.  Do you have a problem?  You may need to bring in the clients yourself through your digital marketing strategy.  How can you increase online word of mouth?  You know not to bother targeting your local neighborhood so target the affluent nearby towns.  You can’t win “clothing” so you need focus.  What focus can you bring through understanding your demographics?

Focus on the customer

Your website needs to focus on the customer. Who are they? How old are they? Younger people will search different from the older generation. Search engines do not work like card catalogs. Younger people are more likely to search specifically first. “Pizza 90210″ is specific. Your elder clients may not search that way and may use full sentences such as “find a pizza parlor in beverly hills.” How you optimize your site (or optimise if you’re in Britain, Australia, etc.) will determine who finds your website and who you leave out.
You should know as much about your clients as possible. Demographics can include age, sex/gender, race, home ownership, employment status, current location, marital status, whether they have children, etc.

A new parent may search “where to buy diapers at 11pm” where the mom-of-5 already knows that. She is more interested in “bulk diapers online” because she knows how many she needs, she knows they don’t get cheaper and she knows she just had twins. You don’t know that so you need to figure out who your clients already are or who you want them to be. Market to the people who will pay for your services.

Try to focus on your end-buyer and remember to continue optimizing SEO for that demographic.