Search Engine Marketing (SEM) & Optimization (SEO)
Everything is marketing. The way you do your hair, the way you walk, the car you drive, the way you talk, even what you order off the appetizer menu. People are judging you based on anything and everything. It’s human nature, and helps us all make social and business decisions. When those that are judging you know you own a photo booth business, they are not just judging, and calculating who you are, but are projecting all those calculations onto your business as well. Every detail matters and is marketing, good or bad. How are you following up on your leads? When you hand out a business card how professional is it? What is the state of your website? How do you take payments?
All of these aspects of running a business are marketing, but I want to narrow the scope a little as this is only an article and not a book. All of the following sections correlate with each other and work together as an entire marketing unit. It’s up to you how much you put into each aspect, and some things might be more or less relevant and difficult based on geography, budget, and your own level of comfort.
Search engine marketing (SEM), and search engine optimization (SEO) are powerful tools. If you can be found when an event host is searching for a photo booth, then you’ve passed the first hurdle. Almost all of the other sections of this article have an effect on search which makes search engine optimization one of the more complex marketing undertakings. The good news is, that if you can do everything else right, search engine optimization will begin to take care of itself.
Seo has two components, onpage and offpage. For onpage make sure your site is coded well, all your images have alt tags and your headings actually include your keywords. Be sure you have a blog and create a content calendar so that you stay on top of updating it. The blog will show you are an authority, and provide a way to keep your content fresh and in the favor of the search engines. Resist the urge to stray too far from your topic. We all are saddened by the Theater shooting in Aurora, CO, but your business blog is not the place to air your emotions. Keep on topic.
Install Google Analytics and keep an eye on your bounce rate. If you’re getting traffic from your targeted keywords but 90% of it is bouncing, you need to address why. Maybe you need to clarify your call to action, or present some more compelling content on your landing page. Having someone else come to your website and navigate while you watch is a step many website owners skip, but should not be overlooked. Sooner or later, the search engine algorithm will note that visitors did not find what they were looking for when sent to your site, and you will soon begin to fall in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Google Analytics will allow you to set up goals and custom reporting for some very in depth analysis. On-site SEO can become a whole full time job, but these basics should get you started.
For your off-site seo, the name of the game is backlinks. Links pointing to your site is a vote for your website. Leaving comments on relevant blogs gives you a link, but Google’s algorithm is smart, and can tell if you’re just spamming blogs with comment garbage. So take the time to add to the conversations when you comment. Throughout this article you’ll see many mentions of other ways to get that elusive backlink. Guest blogging is another great way to gain a backlink so get out there, make relationships happen. There are a lot of ways to actively gain links, and if you’re clever you can create great content on your own blog that other sites want to link to naturally.
There are thousands of ranking signals, no one but the smartest minds at Bing and Google know what they are, but to get a quick and dirty look at where your site ranks and what your weaknesses are, head to a free analysis site like Woorank for a report.
Search Engine Marketing is the umbrella that encompasses seo as well as paid positioning in the serps. Pay per click (PPC) campaigns can be a great way to get some added traffic to your site, or a great way to make the folks at Google and Microsoft rich while you see no conversions. It’s not as easy as picking keywords and setting a budget. Keyword research is key, and it can take months. After setting up your initial campaigns take the time to do some analysis. Google has a great keyword research tool, and can help you to identify related, and possibly cheap keywords that can provide good quality traffic.
As an example, when I first started my initial PPC campaign, I assumed that “Photo Booth” + “MyCity” was going to be my money keyword phrase. It turned out to be Google’s money keyword as it was costing me almost $4 a click and none of that traffic was converting, and in fact most of it was bouncing. After looking at my conversions, and spending some time in the keyword tool, I identified another phrase that had far less traffic, but far more conversions. I raised my bid for the newly identified phrase, reduced it for the non-converting keywords, and have seen a far greater efficiency in my PPC spend.
This post is the 1st in a 4 part series. Be sure to read the next three posts.
- Marketing Your Photo Booth Business: Part 1, Search Engine Marketing and Optimization
- Marketing Your Photo Booth Business: Part 2, Social Media
- Marketing Your Photo Booth Business: Part 3, Paid Advertisements and Press Releases
- Marketing Your Photo Booth Business: Part 4, Associations and Sponsorships
Damien Hutchins is the owner of Flicker Stage Photo Booths in Dallas TX, a company that has shed the more traditional aspects of the photo booth, leading the movement to redefine the special event guest entertainment space in the Dallas area. Previously Damien served as an early employee of one of the top online wedding marketing platforms in the US. You can follow him online at Facebook and Twitter.