I was talking to a friend who’s a marketing professional who said I need to spread my photographer site links more. Create pingbacks. Also, I need to get my work listed in directories of photographers. And I need to boost my SEO. And make frequent posts to my Google business page. Plus get Google reviews. And LinkedIn connections. And get a LinkedIn business page, write frequent posts and articles, and link these all back to Google.
You know, to boost my standing as a photographer.
Uh…I kinda don’t want to be the kind of photographer that gets work because of my ability to play the system, attract the algorithm. I resist becoming one of those photographers just looking to score search engine points at any cost.
I already believe than many of the best creatives are not hired only because there are plenty of other people–wannabes with less skill and experience–who know how to play the marketing game better than them.
Photographers with less skill and whose work results in a lower impact ad campaign get the gig because they were a better player in the Google game.
Photographers with lots of credentials, the knowledge of how to get the best photograph, to work with clients, to deliver on time and over the clients’ expectations, and do it all while showing up on time and being a complete professional on set, they get passed over because the folks looking for the creative isn’t going to ASMP’s Find a Photographer or NPPA’s photographer directory.
They’re going to Google.
And Google has a very specific formula, a game that can be mastered to win at the search lottery. You can pay for some of this as well. As a result, these less creative types score the jobs, often working unprofessionally, giving away work at a rate that is undervalued, and signing away their copyright (essentially becoming a work-for-hire) while not charging usage fees.
Those are what’s killing the commercial photography industry. Google is indirectly killing the photography industry (and other creative industries), by pushing to the top those who score high SEO without knowing who is a qualified professional.
I want to be known by the photographs I make and want to work with the type of clients that come to me for the work that I do. That are attracted to my photography, not my Google ranking. That can see quality photography when they look at a portfolio.
If you’re using Google to find a photographer, there’s no telling who you’re reaching, what those photographers can create, and whether they can deliver on time and with professionalism. Which is why I don’t want to play the Google game.
I don’t want to drive all my traffic through Google. I don’t want one search engine company dictating what I will do and what I won’t.
There are photographers changing what they create because certain things are looked upon more favorably by Google.
There are photographers changing what they write about themselves because how it’s presented can make a difference at Google.
Listen to this podcast by Seth Godin in which he addresses exactly that–people changing their business to fit Google better.
I make work that is not like every other photographer. If you’re not familiar, take a look, see for yourself.
I want to succeed off my work, not off my ability to stroke the algorithm into liking me best.
And I will. I always have. But it’s a real problem for the industry when giants like Google show up and become the defacto “phone book”, the top directory because small business owners and lower-level staff members in marketing firms turn to it first, not knowing that’s not the ideal place to find a creative.
Google is not the place to find photographer talent. In fact, if you are looking for a photographer on Google, I probably don’t want to work with you. You probably don’t know what good photography looks like, you almost certainly don’t understand usage rates, you probably aren’t willing to pay for quality, and it shows you’re not the most knowledgeable about hiring since you’re turning to Google for your photographer.
Go to photographers’ directories for photographers. Go to the top professional agencies for the top creatives.
Leave Google to making street maps and finding a pizza shop nearby, though it may not be the best pizza–you know how those results work now, after all.