Search engine optimization might not be the first thing on your mind as a photographer.
After my first couple of years in business, I learned how important it really is. I added a mandatory slot in my contact form that asked “How did you find me?”
Then I started keeping track. I learned that 8 out of 10 folks find me from a simple Google search. I made sure to note that GOOGLE WORKS. Knowing that valuable information was partly responsible for my first 100K year.
This week's interview with Eric Sero will help you learn how to help Google out so it can work better for you.
Read on for my interview with Eric.
Natalie: Just let folks know a little bit about how you came into what you do today.
Eric: So back in the day, I used to be a jewelry designer. We used to sell to jewelry stores in downtown LA in the jewelry district and sell to jewelry stores across the country. Around 2006, 7, 8, when the great recession hit, a lot of those jewelry stores were closing up. We decided to sell directly to the public. So we had to change our businesses.
I got into marketing, advertising, and I really dove into digital marketing. And the thing that I took to a lot was this thing called search engine optimization. At some point, you know, our business transitioned and then I started to do some consulting for friends and family.
I loved what I was doing. I started to do some consulting on the side while running my business. Then at some point I saw that this is something I can monetize. And I opened up my own digital marketing agency. And this is what I've been doing for years now.
Natalie: That's awesome. What is the name of your agency?
Eric: “This is My South Bay.” I live in the south bay region of Los Angeles. There's about 25 million people or so that live in LA. So there's this big bay of Los Angeles. The other side of the bay, the north side of the bay is where all the touristy places are like Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice beach, and things like that. So we're on the opposite end of that bay.
Natalie: I've spoken with folks about SEO on this show before, and I try to keep it fairly accessible and simple for people that are just getting started. Just sort of interested in showing up more effectively online. How would you say the approach to SEO and what folks may need to know has changed in the last 5 or 10 years? And how is it continuing to change?
Eric: So, you know, as, as we all hear tech is something that moves quickly.
Best practices that you might've applied 10 years ago for SEO, probably 88% of it is out the window. And so you kind of need to stay informed, be in those circles and track what you're doing. So the number one thing that every website should have attached to an app that every website should have is something called Google analytics.
So it's a free app offered by Google. You can see all the data that you would ever want to see on your website: the traffic is coming to your website, which part of the country, the city, what kind of device they're coming in with, how long they're staying, everything. So you can kind of see that if your traffic drops or your time on site drops or average page visitors drop or certain metrics drop, then obviously you're going to have fewer people filling out forms on your website to contact you or fewer phone calls.
So that's a good place to kind of have your finger on the pulse of your business.
Natalie: I am curious though, since I'm speaking to someone that's an expert, where should folks look? What are some useful metrics if they're just seeing kind of low engagement?
Eric: Sure. For instance, you can go to where the traffic is coming in from. Let's say you had a hundred visitors that came to your website today, and let's say 20 of them are direct, 15 are Google, 20 are from Facebook, et cetera, et cetera.
So you could see where the traffic is coming in from. And so sometimes we have clients that they're really dead set against a particular platform, or they're really in love with a platform. And so we can show you're putting a lot of money into your Facebook ads, but we see that traffic is not coming from Facebook. Traffic actually is coming from Instagram.
And so it's good to look at data. It's good to be able to understand how to read the data. That gives you a kind of a starting point on where to make a business decision moving forward. For me, that's what I use Google analytics for.
So there's different ways to keep track of what a marketing company is able to do. This is not like 20 years ago where you would run an ad in LA times or in a magazine somewhere, and you don't know where the traffic came in from. Sometimes they would rip out the ad and come in six months later when they're ready to purchase.
So this is something where it's more immediate, and you can literally see what's happening, where it's coming in from so that if you're spending extra money on Twitter and it's not working, you can take that money and you see that things are working well on Pinterest. You could double up your funding there and see how that goes. It's a moving target. So you have to always keep tracking.
Natalie: Before we move on into some blog basics, I've heard about Google console and Google analytics. Can you explain the difference and why maybe one is better than the other?
Eric: There are two different things. So one is Google analytics. It's giving data on the traffic coming in and Google search console is one of those things where, on the backend, it shows you the links that are coming into your website, what keywords you're ranked for estimated search volume for that keyword.
You know, if you have any crawl errors, like if there are pages that are coming up that have broken links and things like that, that's a good place to go and see what Google thinks of it. Because you'll see in the covered section, for instance, if there's something off on your website where it's not able to crawl, it's says, “I don't like these pages. I'm not going to rank them.” You'll see up there and read and you can address it.
Natalie: I like that we're kind of going back and talking about how things have changed. Can you walk us through how a new photographer might want to approach a blog post to get attention on their company?
Eric: First of all, as far as the website goes. Before you do anything, you want to make sure that the website is to the standards that Google would want you to be. Because when we're doing search engine optimization, you're asking to be ranked by Google. Google is going to look at your website and say, “okay, I'm going to refer my user to you. I want to make sure that it's a good referral.”
Because if you go to a website from Google, Let's say you search for a photographer on Google, and then you have a list of organic websites that come up and you click on one of them and you go to the photographer's website.
Well, let's say you have a bad experience on that website. It takes too long to load or there's popups all over the place or something happens. So you don't even remember the website that you went to. You remember Google sending you to that website and you had a bad experience because of that. So Google is going to be vetting your website, making sure that your content is appropriate for first of all. That you don't have popups all over the place. That your load time on your website is within a second or two. That it's not taking 10 seconds to load a page. That your website is mobile friendly.
And you don't have broken links on your website. That everything is where it should be. Those are things that Google is going to be watching out for. You have to make sure that it's a good user experience so that Google will even consider ranking you.
When you have everything ready to go with the website, especially with photography, it's a visual medium. They go to social media and so they do Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook. Now, the thing to consider is that you can take that content and you can recycle it and use it for your search engine optimization campaign.
Cause I talked to people where they say I had to choose between social media or search engine. They feel like they have to choose one over the other. It could be 60, 40, or 80 20. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.
For instance, you can take a content that you have and identify keywords that you want to, that you would love to rank for. And you can take that content that you've used on, for instance, Pinterest. And you can take that and you can create a blog post for that content.
When we go to search engines, we're generally towards the end of the funnel. We're ready to make a decision or we're doing research to make a decision. So it's very important to be in front of an audience.
I think it's important to point out that Pinterest out of all the social platforms is actually a search engine. And you can categorize YouTube under that and you know, many other social media platforms that are also searching.
I think the idea of repurposing content is helpful to people. Creating an idea that you want to be ranked for, and then using that same content for a blog post, as well as reaching out on social. It's a less confusing way to think of it.
Natalie: I'm just curious about any basics you're able to share about the backend of a really basic blog post?
Eric: Do some research on your keywords and be clear on what keyword you would love to rank. So whether it's a wedding photographer or a quinceanera photographer, be clear on what keywords you're locking in on.
Try to lock in on one keyword. At the most two, per page. So that you're not confusing Google because at some point it gets a little bit spammy. When Google comes into your website it has literally a split second to decide what this website is about, what each page is about and whether it wants to rank the pages and give you that traffic for free from a search engine.
So the less confusing it is, the better. And so be sure to tag your pages correctly. Google can't read images. There's something called and alt tag where you tell Google, “This is a wedding in Minneapolis, or this a husband and wife.” And so Google can read that. So when it goes to a particular blog page or a landing page, and you have the keywords laid out in a way that Google will understand it, it ups your chances of getting ranked.
A lot of times we save an image and it gives this long serial number on the image. Google is reading that, it's not gonna understand what that picture is. And so we need to make it crystal clear to Google when we're tagging the images.
The worst experience we can have is if we're looking for mechanics in Minnesota, and then we get our search results–we get one mechanic in Los Angeles and one in Texas, and that's not a good user experience and that makes Google look bad. If it doesn't know where you are, you're probably not gonna get it right.
Eric: If you're looking to get ranked on Google, Google has already ranked others. So you have to earn that to place. You have to work towards getting that ranking.
Natalie: What kind of advice would you give anybody that's listening either related to SEO or just related to any business experience you have or life experience?
Eric: Rome wasn't built in a day. So when you're building your client base and you're building your business, it just doesn't happen overnight.
I find clients sometimes that are like, hey, I need a hundred reviews a month and I need 50 links a month and I need a hundred blog posts a month. In the beginning you could do a thousand blog posts in a day. It's not gonna matter. You have to do it in a consistent way.
Life rewards consistency, and Google is no different. So let's say you're gonna do a hundred blog posts this year. Space it out. Do two a week as opposed to a hundred on January 1st and nothing the rest of the year.
It just doesn't work that way. Be sure that you do things consistently. Your social media posts, your blog posts, everything that you do should be done in a consistent fashion.
And I've seen clients where for five years, they're open, they're in business. They don't have a single Yelp review. Suddenly, they have 200 positive Yelp, Yelp reviews and nothing for the next two years. It just doesn't look organic. It looks fishy. [Maybe] they did an email blast to their client base and they did a campaign for it. They got their reviews and they think it's done, but that's not generally how things are done online.
Natalie: For listeners of this show, they know that I sign off almost every episode with “In everything you want to achieve, consistency is key.” So that fits right in with this audience.
This Is My South Bay is a digital marketing agency located in the South Bay region of Los Angeles. Our agency specializes in helping small to mid size businesses gain exposure online with a variety of digital marketing strategies. We are an agency that focuses on driving traffic to our clients website utilizing the power of search engines and optimizing websites to be ranked organically. This practice is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Book an appointment now to speak with a representative on how to drive potential clients to your website.