SEO Case Study: New York Corporate Photographer’s Website Climbs to Number One

Talk about a challenge! New York corporate photographer Robert Essel contacted me about optimizing his website, 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. Two of the most important phrases for his business and where they ranked on Google at the point of that call were:

  • Corporate photographer NYC: position 19, page 2
  • Location photographer NYC: position 153, page 16

I knew these would be challenging to get ranking higher because of the market he was in.  But one feature of Robert’s site worked in our favor:  we built his website using the WordPress platform which is perfect for optimizing because it gives you a good amount of control over on-page content.

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.  We worked to improve the loading time of each and every page in his site.  And we made adjustments to the theme he was using to ensure the site was responsive — that is, the site looked correct and performed well on every mobile device out there.

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 to him. He said he felt as if he was back in high school writing class! He’d write the copy, I’d modify it for the engines and get it on the page. In the end, the work paid off, we saw the site gradually move up in the search engine results pages.  It took several months of gradual, continual adjustments of on-page ranking “signals,” but in the end we achieved success.  Here are his rankings on Google as of this writing for the two phrases:

  • Corporate photographer NYC: position 1, page 1
  • Location photographer NYC: position 1, 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 within the first 90 days of completion as having come directly from his website and his ranking on the search engines!

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