Seeing Success in SEO: Robert Essel’s Road to Success with Blake Discher

Talk about a challenge!  Agency Access client, Robert Essel, approached me about optimizing his site, www.robertessel.com.  We’ve optimized many, many websites, but this task would be a challenge for one reason: Robert is a photographer in what many consider the most competitive market in the country, the city of New York.

Robert and I put our heads together to do a bit of very preliminary keyword research to match the specialties in which he worked.  A few of the phrases he and I came up with, and their rankings at the point of that call, were:

  • Corporate photographer NYC: 19, page 2
  • Location photographer NYC:  153, page 16
  • Commercial photographers NYC:  25, page 3
  • People photographers NYC:  44, page 5

Two aspects concerning Robert’s site worked in our favor:  First, his website is built on the WordPress platform which is perfect for optimizing because it gives you a good amount of control over the on-page content.  Secondly, the site contained no Flash-based content which would require at least a partial redesign of his site (flash websites are extremely difficult to optimize and if yours is based on Flash, it’s time for a rebuild!).

We went to work on various changes to the site, in particular to the body copy and META information.   The body copy on each page was rewritten to be search engine friendly.  We made content tweaks to increase the speed in which the page loads in a browser as this is now a very important ranking factor.  We evaluated content both as a prospective client would, and as a “bot” visiting from a search engine would.  This balancing act is a crucial element of optimizing a site: if one leans too much in one direction, the site’s ranking can drop; too much in the other direction, the copy gets clunky and grammatically imprecise.

I think Robert was surprised at how much work he had to do in the process.  An optimized webpage needs body copy, and that task fell on him.  He said he felt as if he was back in a high school writing class!  He’d write the copy, I’d modify it for the search engines, and get it on the page.  In the end, the work paid off. Here are his rankings as of last week for the same phrases:

  • Corporate photographer NYC:  3, page 1
  • Location photographer NYC:  1, page 1
  • Commercial photographers NYC:  4, page 1
  • People photographers NYC:  2, page 1

Despite being in the uber-competitive market of New York, the effort to optimize Robert’s website was a huge success.  He attributes three jobs already this year as having come directly from his website and his ranking on the search engines.

Blake J. Discher

Blake J. Discher is the founder of go-seo.com, a search engine optimization consulting company to small businesses.

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