Do you know how your business name is being used in cyberspace? Because of a practice called â€œkeywording,â€ it is possible that a competitor will also appear on a list of search resultsâ€¦even if your studio name was the one searched.
Several PPA members alerted us to this practice after experiencing it firsthand. Some photographers will add a competitorâ€™s studio name to their own website in order to appear when a search is done for that competitor. This is done via keywording and pay-per-click advertising, which are widely used by the three major search engines to help websites attract traffic. These practices allow a business to focus on keywords that pertain to their business. (For example, a photographer in Atlanta could focus on the keywords â€œAtlanta Photographerâ€ and they would come up as a paid advertiser to the right of the search results.) This method has good intentions, but it also allows paid advertisers to appear next to the top-ranking websitesâ€¦websites that are generally more focused on the keywords used.
Here are some real-world examples of keywording and pay-per-click misuse:
- In several cases, PPA members had to contact studios that were using their name (the PPA memberâ€™s name) as a keyword. Luckily, they stopped the practice.
- Last week, American Airlines sued Google for allowing air travel discounters to use AAâ€™s name for pay-per-click advertising on their websites.
My point is that if youâ€™re not monitoring your business in cyberspace, you could lose business and credibility. After all, some prospective customers may assume you are affiliated with the competitor if your names appear on the same searchâ€”no matter how different your styles.
One way to monitor the use of your business name is by using Googleâ€™s free service, called Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). This service allows you to receive email updates on the latest relevant Google results, based on a query you establish. For example, you can set up an Alert for your studio name and discover what people are posting about you.
It also makes sense to optimize your website geographically, as well as by style and type of photography. And you can optimize your personal portfolio in PPAâ€™s Find-a-Photographer search engine the same way. Do you do photojournalism, candid, or documentary wedding coverage? Do you specialize in architectural interiors, high school seniors, or family portraits? Optimize by being specific and using the terms your clients will be using. It will help maximize the times you can be found by a potential client.
The Internet can be a wild place, so stay alert. PPA will also keep you informed of what we are hearing in cyberspaceâ€¦itâ€™s all part of membership.