I’ve been following the marketing advice of Zach Prez for some time and I highly recommend that you do as well! He’s been doing internet marketing for ten years and in the last four years has spent considerable time helping photographers. He’s a Seinfeld junkie and loves the San Francisco Giants. More importantly, he has five answers for us to help with website marketing.
What advice do you have for new photographers that are looking to create their first website?
I’m pushing photographers toward a blog instead of a website since they’re so friendly for search and social. Here’s why:
Websites have lots of bells and whistles that slow down or even block the user’s ability to view images. If you build a Flash site, you’re missing a huge volume of iphone/ipad users and have little chance of ranking in search engines. Individual pages and images from within the Flash are hard for people to mention on Facebook or Pinterest. Animated galleries often prevent users from controlling the flow/selection of images. Also, Flash sites tend to load slowly which can be a killer for mobile users, Google rank, and impatient people like me. Visit a couple photographers’ websites (not a blog) and count how many images you are able to view within the first 30 seconds.
Now compare that to the number of images you see in the first 30 seconds of a photography blog and compare the difference. Notice how easy it is for you to link straight to an individual blog post or share it via social media. Blogs are simply built with a powerful infrastructure making them easy to view tons of information.
For these reasons (and many more I didn’t mention), make your first site a blog. Once you establish momentum you’ll see there’s no need for the cost and management of a traditional website.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a never-ending process that I am constantly improving. How long does it usually take to see the results of all of the hard work?
Google works in two ways. The first is a matching process that looks for web pages about the phrase being searched. If you’re trying to rank a page for “Cute Pug Portrait Sessions” then you need a page about that topic. For starters: a title and URL with those keywords in them. It should take Google less than a week to find your new page and add it to the Google results. So the first answer to your questions is – as soon as Google visits that page next (a week or so).
Where the page appears in the results is a different matter. That depends on how many links you have from other websites. A link from a third-party is like having a positive review in Google/Yelp. Do you think someone looking for a business wants to see the ones with no reviews, or the ones with lots of reviews? Your website gets reviews in the form of links so the more links you have, the more Google will favor you compared with other pages about cute pug portrait sessions. You have to wait for Google to find all these links (a week or maybe up to a month for each link) to see your rank increase.
Note: I’d rather rank #1 for cute pug portrait sessions quickly then #10 for Sacramento pet photographer after lots of hard work. The moral is to rank for less-competitive phrases right away so you don’t have to wait to grow your business.
If you could only use one form of social media for your business, which would you choose and why would you choose that one?
Easy – Facebook. Facebook beats all other social platforms in many ways.
- Direct engagement with my audience – I’m not limited to how much I can say to them
- The majority of my audience is on Facebook – I know that 96% of photographers are on Facebook , compared with about 78% on Pinterest and 65% on Twitter. I want to be where my audience will be.
- Facebook is where my users expect to find me
- Facebook offers better representation of my brand
- Photos look bigger/better on Facebook
- Facebook advertising offers targeted marketing
In your opinion, what is the most important web marketing tip that you can give to new photographers?
Search engine traffic is your biggest opportunity (should be 50% of your business with the other 50% being referrals from people who found you in search) and blogging regularly is the best way to position yourself in search. Here are two essential tips:
Blog about SPECIFIC topics like the pug example earlier instead of broad topics like your city + photographer. Most people search specific phrases (estimate about 80%), the competition is significantly less (so you can rank quickly), and those people are much more likely to hire you (since they know what they want).
The titles of each post should reflect the specific keywords where you intend to rank. Titles should not compete with each other either. So if you have a hundred photo shoots about a dog, what makes that post different. These are all sample ways to title the same dog session:
Rainy day pug photo session on the Sacramento river
10 cute pug photos from a Sacramento pet photographer
My best pug images with doggie clothes
Charming black and white photos of a Sacramento pug with spiked collar
Funny dog poses of pugs getting photographed
You can see how every one of these can rank for something different and unique. Google will recognize that your site is about much more than “Sacramento pet photographer” and start to rank you for photo, session, river, cute, images, doggie, collar, black and white, poses, etc.
I am a huge fan of your E-books. They are so easy to read and incredibly easy to put into action. If a new photographer doesn’t have the budget for the bundle, which do you recommend they start with to get their web presence off on the best possible foot?
I offer as many free resources as I can so that I can grow with photographers as they build their business. Best you can do is connect with me on Facebook and download my free e-books for photographers at Photography Spark.
Just putting out great information builds trust and reputation that work well for me. As long as I keep helping people, they’ll remember me and make a purchase when they’re ready.
Everyone here should think the same way. What information can you give for free that allows potential clients to follow you until they’re ready to hire someone? Ideas:
- PDF with ideas on how to organize frames
- Product resource or directory for pet products
- Ebook of activities to do with your pets
- Article on how to take pet photos at home
It’s much easier to get someone to sign up for a free resource when they visit your website, than to get them to hire you for a $500 product.
Follow Zach on his website: Photography Spark.