Honolulu Hawaii, 2004…
I was in the US Air Force and I was blessed to be stationed in Hawaii with my wife and three very young kids. As a stay-at-home military wife and mom, Alyssa needed a creative outlet that did not involve drool, dirty diapers or baby talk. “I want to speak with adults!” she said. We had a DSLR (Canon Rebel’s first digital mirrored camera), that we pulled out for birthdays and trips to the beach. What we noticed is that those photos turned out way better than most of our friends who were using the latest 3mp point and shoot. So, Alyssa Pix Photography was born. I had built a few websites for fun, but now I was getting serious. I bought AlyssaPix.com, hired my 16-year-old niece to build a logo, built a website and waited for new clients…crickets…
So, I started trying Search Engine Optimization…SEO!
I read every blog, book, and article I could get me hands on about SEO. I tried it all! White text on a white background, stuffed hundreds of keywords, bought links from Poland and Russia…everything! We were getting some business, and things were going GREAT! But… By 2006, we were BLACKLISTED FROM GOOGLE!
A big portion of here business dried up and I was back to square one. I went to where I should of went to for answers in the first place, Google. It turns out that Google tells you what they like and don’t like…go figure I studied Google’s webmaster guidelines and consumed everything I could get my hands on. I learned how to do “White Hat SEO,” or legitimate SEO.
As I implemented what Google wanted, we saw more and more traffic come to the site. We were landing more and more clients who found us on Google.By 2008 (height of the economic downturn) we were having $10k month and 80% of our clients were from Google! We were targeting people coming on vacation from the mainland and business was great.
So, Then We Moved From Hawaii to Texas…
To get our 5 kids into better schools, we moved to Dallas, Texas. We re-branded Alyssa’s website, changed the domain name and started from square one…again. This time the focus was wedding photography.
In the overcrowded wedding photography market that is Dallas, Texas, I had to get creative with our SEO. Trying to rank on page one for “Dallas Wedding Photographers” meant I had to out SEO 10,000+ other wedding photographer pining for the same position. Then I noticed a few things.
1) 70% of web searches were for ‘long tail’ keyword. These are keywords that are more specific in nature (Source: MOZ).
2) So, only 30% of web searches were for big keywords (like ‘Dallas Wedding Photographer’).
3) Over the last 10 years searches for wedding photographers have gone…way down. Searches for commodities in the wedding industry (venues, shoes, dresses, etc…) have gone up…way up (Source: Google Trends).
So…I started using my SEO skills to rank for these ‘Long-Tail’ commodities… Voila! It Worked!
We were booking brides through specific Google searches because we were showing up for these specific searches. We were leveraged as an authority on these commodities, because we were learning about them, then blogging and promoting our content about them.When you Googled a specific venue or wedding planner that we had featured, we were on page one for that. When we would receive inquiries from the website it would read something like:”We are getting married on May 21, 2014, at the Flying V Ranch…what’s your pricing.” We knew the price point of that venue and knew they were a fit for our pricing!
I Was Hooked!
I had been doing web design project for many photographers year after year but was loving the dynamite results I was getting from SEO. So I posted a status in a popular photography Facebook group…’The first person to comment gets free SEO services. Who’s down?” Within seconds Danielle Coons responded. I did my SEO thing and she quickly lifted her website to page one for ‘Scranton Wedding Photographer,’ and she is still there today! So then I started charging $100, then $200, then $400. Now I’m charging $900 for the same system (well not the exact same…Google changes regularly and we’ve gotten better) that is still working. It keeps working because it is in-line with Googles culture and vision they have for their algorithm. When an update comes out, Google gets better at achieving their vision and my clients go up in the rankings!
I Built an SEO Agency catering to photographers.
To keep up with the high volume of clients I built systems. I hired and trained good people to implement these systems and to treat our photography clients right. We fine-tuned our system and focused on treating every client’s situation differently. It takes unique steps to rank in each location around the globe. It’s important not to be cookie-cutter and to really access the local competition for each client. A newborn photographer in Perth, Australia is going to have different SEO needs than a senior photographer in Gary, Indiana. Our system involves an intimate knowledge of the client’s business and goals, in-depth keyword research, and competitor analysis. We then implement based on the findings. We build a blogging plan based on what will work in their area. We build links that are proven to work for your local competitors. Finally, we build reviews that will tell Google and the world how great you are.