Full disclosure: At the time of this post, I was ranked in the top 5 in my respected region for the search Vietnam Wedding Photography, but I still felt this was an important topic to discuss.
It’s easy, just Google the words “wedding photography [insert city here}”. Then, browse the top 5 or so and get quotes from your favorites and make a decision. Not so fast, this is an important decision.
Our online attention span is short, so it’s easy to want to just pick a photographer you like that shows up in the top few on Google and commit. However, a Google search is based on a photographer’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A common misconception is that the top 5 are the best 5 or at least the most popular or trusted 5. In some fields that can be the case and even in wedding photography it happens, but not always.
SEO is a dirty game and can be tricked by a savvy tech person with time on their hands. SEO is based heavily on link backs and it’s a science in itself on how to figure out how to make your website climb the ladder. Loads of companies exist that focus solely on boosting your business’ SEO. It’s a sophisticated process of keywording, link backs, tags, etc. In other words it’s not based on how popular or how good you are but rather how much time you invest in signing up for other websites and listing your website. Some people go as far as to post comments on message boards as much as they possibly can adding their website link ultimately boosting their Google SEO ranking.
Search engines are a good start but look deeper and don’t count out a time tested method, word of mouth. Ask around, have wedding planners give you a few options, talk to other vendors. I have loads of friends who are extremely talented photographers in their respected city but their websites are buried on search engines by less talented photographers who focus solely on SEO.
Just like you would carefully search through a photographer’s portfolio website looking for experience and consistency (as you should) do the same with your homework on how you narrow down your top 5. Who knows, the number 1 on the search might be the best option for you, but so might someone on page 2 with a kick ass portfolio and lot more experience and it would be a shame to overlook them for such an important decision.
Okay that last link was just to boost my SEO but I couldn’t resist.