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johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
November 20th, 2011 by john andrews

Professional SEO for Professional Photographers

The phone call went something like this….

Professional Photographer: I need SEO for my website. I made it myself, but my friend is a web designer and he helped me. It’s great. Everyone loves it. Now I need SEO.

Professional SEO/Web Guy: After looking at your site and your analytics, I can tell you you need a new web site. Whatever you spend on SEO for that site will be wasted. It’s not ready to compete in your markets.

Professional Photographer: Seriously? I disagree. I just need SEO, so more people see it. Can you get me links?

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Seriously. You are already in your market, and your local data is known to search engines. Your site, however, is not working for you.

It may be working for your customers ONCE THEY KNOW ABOUT IT, but it’s not getting you in front of new customers. You need an SEO strategy. The first step any decent SEO will tell you, after seeing your current site, is that you need a new or better web site.

Links can help, but the cost of good links that last will be higher than  the cost of a new website, after about 6 months. Can’t your web designer friend  re-do your site with some SEO guidance?

Professional Photographer: Umm.. no, we’re not really friends any more. He’s busy on other stuff. So let me do SEO now and six months later, when I have tons of customers (from the SEO), I’ll spend some money on a new website.

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Good luck. I hope it works out for you.

Professional Photographer: Huh? Can’t you do it?

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Sorry. I can’t do magic without magic wands and special potions, like good web sites and pages. And they cost money to create.

Professional Photographer: Seriously dude, I just need links.

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Awesome. Good luck then.

Professional Photographer: Hey.. ok. Listen. I hired this SEO guy 3 months ago and spend a ton of money, but it didn’t really work. So I do all my own SEO now. I’m pretty good at it, actually. I spend like 2 hours a day on my meta tags and blog, and I’m like 80% of the way to complete SEO. Now I need a real SEO for the last 20%. That’s why I called you.

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Sorry, I have to go do some work.

But… if you want to chat some  more, let’s cut to the chase. Who did you hire, what did you spend (in total) and why do you say it didn’t work?

Answer that, tell me the target search query you want to rank #1 for, and tell me what you expect to spend for the next 6 months.

Do that, and I’ll stay on the line, and give you some advice.

Professional Photographer: Okay. I want to rank #1 for “professional photographer”. I hired (nobody known) and paid $900 over 3 months. I saw no traffic at all. Not a single customer. The guy stopped answering my calls after the 3rd week, for no reason at all.

I would be willing to spend that again, and maybe even a little more, if I knew I would get results. I don’t need to get to #1, but at least top 3 in Google for “professional photographer”.

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Seriously?

Professional Photographer: Seriously. I WILL pay that much. And I’ll give it to YOU if you can deliver. I’ll even pay up front after the first month, I see results.

Professional SEO/Web Guy: Okay, I understand now. So let me explain something to you.

First, SEO is optimization. It is competitive web publishing. If you have a website already, we have to be able to optimize it. Yours cannot be optimized for less than about 40 hours of work, which is at least 3-4 thousand dollars if you have someone willing to do the work. Even then, it’s not enough content nor the right content. You’ll need a lot more.

Second, your website sucks. It has technical errors, and is built on a system that needs alot of work if we are going to even try to optimize it. It was a big mistake to invest time loading your photos and writing meta tags on that system. That work will all have to be re-done. If we did work with your current site, the more we promote the site, the more problems you’ll have with it. It won’t survive even minor levels of success.

Third, if you’re really a professional photographer, why are you spending 2 hours a day on meta tags? What are your professional goals? If you prefer coding websites to taking photographs, you’re not a professional photographer, and don’t belong in the search results for “professional photographer”. If you like SEO and want to be an SEO for photographers, that’s awesome. But don’t call me asking to SEO your photography website in a secret effort to learn enough photography SEO to sell into that market.

Failed Professional Photographer now Trying to be an SEO: Actually, I’m doing really well as an SEO already. I rank #1 for some mega money terms, like “underwater photos [obscure place name]” and “nikon sb700 flash exposure setting”, which has over 650 THOUSAND competitors in Google. And that with only those 2 hours a day on SEO. Now I’m going full-time into SEO, and just need a handful of new clients to make it possible. Right now I just need links, and if you don’t do that then fine. I’ll call someone else.

Me: Great. And congratulations! That’s WAY better results than I ever expected. You know how SEO is.. everyone says they can do it. You clearly have a gift. Which reminds me…

I get a lot of calls from people looking for SEO like this, and a lot of them are people JUST LIKE YOU. They need a good SEO, with experience ranking in photography. It sure sounds like you’re up tot the task. Can I refer them to you?

It would help me a lot, since those calls are difficult. I’d love to send them direct to you, if you have the bandwidth to take on new customers.

Failed Professional Photographer now Trying to be an SEO: Seriously? Dude thanks, that’d be awesome. And I am totally up to the task. Like I said, I’m rocking the SERPs and if I can get the link building started I’m totally in the game. Thanks a lot. And if I get good customers out of it, I’ll definitely share something back with you, for the referral. Seriously. I’m very generous that way, for people who can deliver.

Me: Great. So give me your name, mailing address, and the website I can give to people so they can read about your SEO services.

Loser: “Okay….”

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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

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