Recently I reconnected with a middle school friend of mine named Cassie Medina through Facebook (yes we preach Google+ here but, hey, it is what it is) who is now a crazy talented photographer.
She posted that she was a little lost when it came to blogging because of all the “SEO stuff.” Let’s just say I was a little quick to jump in and plug myself and our firm into the conversation. The conversation looked a little like this:
A little time went by and understandably Cassie continued being ridiculously busy with her photography business, leaving hardly any time to focus on her blog and what it could be doing online.
Since we’ve been preaching Google+ and the Hangouts feature so much here in the office, we wanted to try hanging out with a local business owner who needed some help online. Immediately I thought of Cassie’s photography business as a way to reach followers that may be needing a little help of their own AND helping Cassie with some of her SEO problems. As soon as I clued in all the other copywriters, we were pretty excited to hangout.
The Pre-Hangout Game Commences
So before our hangout session, I wanted to make sure Cassie was comfortable with the idea and was familiar with the setup. After an initial practice On-Air Hangout, we were ready to go. Before hand I got a little bit of insight about what was going on with Cassie and what types of questions she would have for us the next day. Much to my surprise Cassie knew a lot of SEO tactics already and had done a great deal of research on her own, but hadn’t figured out the best way to implement those on her own blog. Enter drumBEAT Marketing.
The morning of the hangout we all took a quick gander at Cassie’s photography blog to do an initial audit and analysis. After looking around, and using some analytics we were able to dissect her problem a little more, and figure out what was really holding her back from ranking the way she wanted to. With this knowledge we entered into the scary abyss of a LIVE Google+ hangout.
And So The Hangout (And the Help) Began
First off, before we get into the nitty gritty of what we talked about during our hangout, I cannot say how appreciative we are to Cassie for letting us try this out on her. We think it turned out amazingly, having benefitted us as copywriters and her as a hopeful, consistent photography blogger.
The absolute first thing that Cassie explains to us is that she feels SEO is a total alien language and wonders what are the must do’s for a photo blog. Answers:
- Cater your content toward the audience you’re trying to reach
- Use keywords, and locations!, that your target is searching (We even gave Cassie a quick little Keyword Tool tutorial)
- Write, write, write about the pictures
- Optimize past blog posts, make it fresh!
Cassie’s next concern is being able to write content about her photography using related keywords without it sounding spammy. For anyone that’a valid concern, and like I said before this girl is well-knowledged when it comes to SEO stuff- she knew right away that Google and other search engines alike can punish websites for spammy keyword stuffing tactics. Our answer is easy- make sure that what you’re writing is natural. Like we say in the office, if it feels forced, then it is forced.
On-Page and Local and Competitors, Oh My!
We also pointed Cassie in the right way in terms of titles and title tags, using catchy titles with keyword implementation, and using her WordPress Yoast SEO plug in to change her title tags. Now she can create titles around her photo session, and maybe leave out the subject’s name for SEO purposes.
Next we wanted her to make sure that her alt text was pointed and useful, considering her business is run by photos, alt text can actually be a very powerful tool in her tool belt. Also, we let her know to take out those pesky meta keywords, and add some relevant h2 headings on her blog posts.
Also we let Cassie know that she should use meta descriptions to their best ability, and use the extra space if you have it! Her current meta description was not bad at all (seriously, this girl has done her homework) but it could have more.
A very valid concern for any business is being able to rank in local searches, even if you don’t have a specific business location. For Cassie, she knew that some photographers were able to rank because they have studios, and she wanted to make sure she wasn’t missing out because she didn’t have a studio. We told her don’t worry, Google understands your problems and you can still apply for a business listing, and start to rank for local searches. We warned her to be careful in the process of creating a listing, as one mistake can hurt her chances of starting to rank a service-area provider.
Now we can all get a little hung-up on what our competitors are doing, and obviously in a competitive market like photography, I’m sure it’s really easy to see your competitor that outranks you as a huge Goliath to your David, but there’s always a way to be relevant and present, and to find what your competitors aren’t doing that can set you above the rest. Some of our suggestions:
- Use social media in ways they aren’t using yet to your advantage to gain a following, especially on Google+!
- Write shareable content that provides users value
- Create credibility and authority on photography as a subject, then write about what you know
- Differentiate- Cassie uses handmade props, why not blog about it? (DIYers)
- Make connections with followers and fellow photographers, and share, share, share your content
We had a lot of fun with Cassie last week and hope to continue the series of hangouts with small business owners trying to do it all. And we hope any photographers out there can take some of our tips and put them to good use.