Episode 15: Common SEO Challenges, Expectations & Misconceptions


SEO can be difficult if you want your website to rank higher in search engine results. In order to generate traffic, you must think outside the box and strategize your SEO efforts. Overcoming the limitations of your website can be the key to increased traffic and revenue.

You may have a limited understanding of SEO basics, or you might not know where to start. You may feel overwhelmed by the process or lack enough time to devote to it. Many obstacles can prevent you from getting ahead in your digital marketing efforts - this episode will help give you some insight into those obstacles and how to overcome them!


[02:08] Common SEO Challenge
[04:00] How Long Does SEO Take?
[05:04] Why Patience Matters
[06:00] SEO Expectations & Misconceptions
[09:44] The 5 Steps of SEO
[10:33] #1 Research & Setup
[11:50] #2 Finding Quick Wins 
[14:04] #3 On-site SEO 
[16:49] #4 Off-site SEO
[22:40] #5 Establish a Realistic Schedule
topics: seo, photography, seo expectations, timeline

“SEO is like running a race - you can’t pass everyone else with one step”
If you have fewer expectations, you’ll most likely be happier.
“The person who thinks they can succeed and the person who says they can’t are both right.”
"Having the ingredients alone does not work. You still need to create the product."

Full Episode Transcript

Meredith's Husband: [00:00] I talked this week about what I see as the biggest challenge for a lot of people when they're just starting SEO. How you can get around that by just adjusting your way of thinking and what you can realistically expect along the way.

Meredith: [00:32] Hello, everybody, hello, hello, hello, hello.

Meredith's Husband: [00:38] Happy New Year. Oh yeah. In case in

Meredith: [00:41] New

Meredith's Husband: [00:42] Year, if you are listening to this, it is the very beginning of 2022.

Meredith: [00:47] Yes, thank you for joining us. Yeah.

Meredith's Husband: [00:51] Ok. Let's hope this is a good one.

Meredith: [00:53] Yes, that's us. Hope.

Meredith's Husband: [00:56] Yeah. It seems, it seems that we've been the last several years in a row. We kind of always begin the same. Let's hope this one is better than the last one.

Meredith: [01:03] Yeah. Well, you got to, you know, somebody just recently said, if you have low expectations, you're pretty happy. Yeah, yeah.

Meredith's Husband: [01:14] Actually, I heard a quote. I don't know who it was. Initially, it was like Winston Churchill or somebody big, but somebody else was, you know, quoting him and was like the the man or the person who thinks he can succeed and the person who thinks they can't succeed are both right? Yeah. Which I liked.

Meredith: [01:34] That's great. That's great. That's similar to every dog owner thinks their dog is the best. And none of them are wrong. Yeah, true.

Meredith's Husband: [01:49] I knew I knew we were going to turn that into a quote about dogs.

Meredith: [01:53] I knew that I knew it. It has to go to dogs or elephants or ducks pigs. Well, in any case, what is on the menu for today?

Meredith's Husband: [02:08] Well, I've been talking to a few photographers recently. I've connected with some of you. Oh, have you? And I kind of has noticed what I think is the common obstacle in people dealing for people, for small business owners like. Photographers in solopreneurs, the common obstacles and challenges for four SEO or at least one of them, a big one, huh? And I don't think this is any surprise, really. I think we've kind of touched on this before, but it seems like it's just the intimidating aspect of it. It just seems like an overwhelming, never-ending thing.

Meredith: [02:47] Yeah, that is SEO is this kind of murky, looming heavy cloud of.

Meredith's Husband: [02:58] And it's a big unknown.

Meredith: [03:00] Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, because I think it's because particularly at least as a photographer, we see results. We take the photo and we see it. It's there, right? It's it's a known and and the SEO. I feel like, you know, you're almost playing Dart the donkey and you it's 3D and you're wearing virtual glasses and the donkey could be below you for all you know

Meredith's Husband: [03:32] And you're really just a computer algorithm. You're not even alive. Your brain in a jar.

Meredith: [03:37] Yeah, yeah. And the computer algorithm itself is confusing, like what is

Meredith's Husband: [03:41] So and it's and and photography is instant. I mean, now it is. You take a photo and you look at it, you see, did I get it or did I not get it? Yeah. So SEO SEO is not like that. I don't like that at all. And it's not on you. I used to get the question a lot, not so much anymore, but a lot like, how long does this SEO take? So the client would start like years ago when I was working with really small companies and the first question, OK, how long does it take? Right? My response, I mean, I don't actually remember how I responded. I probably gave some range of months or something.

Meredith: [04:15] I think you said like six months.

Meredith's Husband: [04:17] Yeah, but it's, you know, I think that was kind of to placate the person asking because the real answer is like it totally has some patience first, right? To me, it's kind of like asking, Well, how long does it take to get in shape? Well, how what kind of shape are you in right now? All right. Are you going to work out every day? Are you going to have a trainer? Are you going to work out for one month and then stop? Or, you know, right? There are so many things that there are so many things that go into it and it's not. And it's not. It's also not something that you get in shape and then you're done right. It's like you want to get in shape in four months and then I'm all set like

Meredith: [04:57] Set for life.

Meredith's Husband: [04:58] Yeah. So it's so yeah, number one, have some patience. You're going to need patience if you don't have patience if you expect fast results and you expect to do SEO and be done with it. You're going. It's going to be very challenging and frustrating.

Meredith: [05:15] And I think that's because also we as a society, everything is like, I need a car. There is, I mean, bananas. There it is. Yeah, great. It's all so instant. So that's very much it goes against the forward motion of, OK, I work and I get it. It's my work and I get a cheat, right?

Meredith's Husband: [05:36] Yeah, there's a lot of this in our society right now, and that's probably a do 10 episodes on that alone. But anyway, and I think in terms of your expectations, what is SEO going to be like? It's probably not going to be like what you think? Right? Because a lot of people think, Oh, I need to get this keyword to number one. Oh, it's not on no one SEO didn't work right?

Meredith: [06:02] It's kind of like when people think, Oh, if only I had this, then I'd be happy, then I'd be set. And none of that is true. There's no magic bullet

Meredith's Husband: [06:15] That's that's also

Meredith: [06:16] True or pill or

Meredith's Husband: [06:18] Button. There are lots of magic pills.

Meredith: [06:21] There are a lot,

Meredith's Husband: [06:21] But I'm not. I don't have any. Yeah, but it's not. Seo is. I would encourage people to stop thinking about SEO in terms of having one keyword on at number one or on the first page. Seo is improving the business you get organically through search engines. It might be the one keyword that you thought. It very often will not be interesting. And yeah, there's a lot of different, you know, there's different things within SEO. It's not just about I ranked number four for that keyword, you know, it's there's more to it than that. And it's kind of like, I think if in terms of rankings when you are looking at a particular keyword and we do track keyword rankings on average just to get a sense of, you know, momentum and movement. But even when you're looking at a particular keyword. It's. You're not going to go from having a keyword on Page 10 or Page five or Page 30 to being ranked number one. Right? That just doesn't happen. Yeah, the way I think about that is that's like running a race. Like, let's say you're running a mile race, which is, I think, like four laps around the track. So imagine if you are after like two laps, you're, you know, say there are fifty people running, you're at number 40. You can't just do something and all of a sudden be the leader. Right? You got to pass 40 other people. You can't do that instantly. You're going,

Meredith: [07:57] Yeah, it's like if you're making a pie and you have all the ingredients, it's not a pie yet. You have to cook it. And that takes time.

Meredith's Husband: [08:05] Yes.

Meredith: [08:06] And sometimes you can burn it or

Meredith's Husband: [08:08] Under just fire. Everything we discuss is going to be translated into an anecdote about food or pets.

Meredith: [08:19] Welcome to my world.

Meredith's Husband: [08:22] Pretty much. I could say pretty much anything. The response could be. You mean, like a pie or like ice cream?

Meredith: [08:31] Yes.

Meredith's Husband: [08:33] Actually, somebody was listening to another podcast and they were doing the exact same thing. Well, you're talking about pies. Yeah. And I actually stopped at some point because I'm like, OK, it's like five minutes now. You're talking about pies. Let's talk about something else. But anyway, back to my race analogy or your pie analogy. Yes. You don't. You just because you go out and you buy the ingredients for a pie doesn't mean you have a pie. Exactly. There are several steps involved now in the racing analogy. I kind of like it because it's you, you know, sometimes you can pass a handful of people all at once. You could go like, let's say you're making progress. And then there's a group of like 10 runners and in you pass them by and you've kind of that's a, you know, you don't go from last to first instantly, but you sometimes you can make progress. Just one at a time. That's a lot like individual rankings because I sense a lot of people also think they're going to do something to their website and they're going to check Google tomorrow and they're going to be number one, right?

Meredith: [09:32] Boom. Done.

Meredith's Husband: [09:34] Rarely does that happen. Right? That used to happen many years ago, and that was a lot of fun, but it doesn't happen anymore. So I think I think what might be helpful is to kind of walk through what the process is kind of high level, the steps that are involved. Yeah, there are. None of them are like rocket science, but there is a process and just understanding what each one is that helps people understand and be like, Oh, OK, I see I see

Meredith: [10:03] Anything to make clear the Merc would be great.

Meredith's Husband: [10:06] Mm-hmm. Ok. So I just have to go learn what those steps are.

Meredith: [10:12] No, I'm just kidding.

Meredith's Husband: [10:15] There are about I like I group it into about five sections categories. And within there are, you know, individual steps. But these are these categories basically include everything that you'll encounter on an SEO journey. Hmm. So no one is set up. And so go by the pie crust. So that's the first step is to do some initial setup and basic research. So figure out what am I working with? Here are people. Is anybody? I mean, I'm always surprised how little people know about their website, how it's performing before. Yes, before they talk to me. Yeah, you got to know what's happening. Are you getting any visitor or are you getting visitors from Facebook or from Google or from Yelp? Are those people contacting you? How are they just? Are they coming to your site for two seconds and then leaving? Do they stay for, you know, so without this stuff, you don't have any sort of measuring, you got to be at a benchmark. You got to say, this is my starting point, and then you got to set up some tools. And those tools are going to help you make improvements, but the very first step is just to set that up, get them set up connected to your website so that you have them and then in future steps, you're going to come back and then use those. But that's just kind of number one. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it's kind of crucial.

Meredith: [11:47] Yeah.

Meredith's Husband: [11:50] And then the next step is what I call quick wins. Some easy fixes, the low hanging fruit when you do, when you do that step one, inevitably you're going to uncover something and you're like, Oh, I could fix that. You're going to see something that's happening somewhere, right? You'll be like, oh, I can change that right now, right? This happens to me with every single client. Always. I mean, I just I'm working now with a client. It's like a huge, huge company. There is software. They're a tech company. And one of the first things we realized is one of their single biggest keywords. Delivering the most amount of traffic leads to a blank page on your website. They didn't know this like, Oh yeah, so there's there's very often things you're like, Oh wow, I can. I can fix this very quickly, and it's going to and it's going to affect my bottom line. Something like that is like somebody coming to my website and I'm in. Something is wrong, and so they can't even make any progress. You fix that. And like, instantly, as soon as you fix that, those people all of a sudden might start contacting you or buying, you know, so it's we've talked about that before. That's that like that's would fall into a conversion issue. Got it. But there are other issues also, like one of the first steps is doing, you know, brand SEO. So people who are looking for you or your company by name go to Google and do that search, right? How are they getting to you? I had another client just very recently. They did that and they followed one of the links on their website. It wasn't working like and it wasn't even working. Wow. And again, those are the people who are actively looking for you. They already know about you. For some reason, they're gold. Yeah. So there are almost always some very quick wins like that. Hmm. And it's nice to do those first, right because you can, you know, see progress early on culture, your confidence a lot.

Meredith: [13:49] It helps everything. Yeah.

Meredith's Husband: [13:52] And also that can help your bottom line. And if you already see a are receiving more money as a result of your efforts, it's it just makes everything win, win, win, win. So after you do those two things is what we call on-site. SEO there are two parts of SEO. This is the on-site SEO. This is what people typically think about when they hear about SEO meta tags, image alt tags, title, all that sort of stuff. And there's there's kind of two parts to this. Number one is just fixing technical errors, fixing problems, and you just need a tool for this. You don't need to learn all this stuff. Is that

Meredith: [14:31] Semrush?

Meredith's Husband: [14:32] That's SEMRUSH?

Meredith: [14:32] Hey. Yes, exactly. Learning.

Meredith's Husband: [14:35] Yeah, yeah. You don't need to know. I mean, there are 100+ issues in SEMRUSH. I know a lot about pretty much all of them. You're not going to need to know that much. You're going to need to know which ones you have, which might be a handful, might be a dozen. It's not going to be all of them. So you don't need to worry about knowing. You know, I've been in SEO for 20 years. It's not going to take you 20 years to learn what you need to know. Thank goodness. So you figure out what your issues are and then you, you find the solution. You can go to the blog, the SEO Decoded blog. It'll tell you how to fix those issues. That's the technical aspect of on-site SEO. Once you do that and you said, if if you're using SEMRUSH, it'll send you a weekly report. So if new is pop up, it's just going to send to you, then you just got to fix them. So that's your technical SEO.

Meredith: [15:20] And then the other part seemed like breadcrumbs. Fix this lead to this lead to that and that kind of keeps you going to the pie.

Meredith's Husband: [15:30] More food?

Meredith: [15:31] Yes.

Meredith's Husband: [15:36] And that so once you have those technical things done, then it's then your on-site. Seo is a matter of just making it better. So your title tags are there and your image alt tags are there. Everything is there and present. It's working as it should. Now you can tweak it to make it better. How, again, SEMRUSH has tools for that. You look at how you know they're my titles. Can I make them shorter? Can I make them more effective? Can I get my keywords nearer the beginning? Stuff like that, right? And again, SEMRUSH has a tool like, I think it's called like SEO ideas or something. It's like things like, Hey, think you know, look, considering this page, if you want to optimize it for this group of keywords, think about things like this and it'll give you a list of things to think about and some you will do and some you might think, No, that's not right. I don't want to do that. Yeah, that's more of like an ongoing process. It's not ongoing. You don't have to do it every week. Once it's done, it's pretty much done. But as your site grows and changes, you add new pages, add blogs. You have to kind of establish a rhythm in how often you come back and do that. Sort of.

Meredith: [16:43] Stuff interesting.

Meredith's Husband: [16:46] Then you're going to want to think about your off-site, SEO.

Meredith: [16:50] Hmm.

Meredith's Husband: [16:51] Those are the links. Those are the links we've been talking about, right? This is the part of SEO that is ongoing, and that doesn't mean the same thing. You don't have to work on it every day or every week, but you want to establish a sort of rhythm like how often can you, you know, write, do a blog entry or create a resource for your users? How often can you check your analytics and see what's working and how often can you look at your competitors to see what's working for them? There's no right or wrong answer in terms of how often you do this.

Meredith: [17:21] All right. This seems more. This to me seems the harder part because it's not just I do this and it's done. It is. It's some more work involved. Time involved.

Meredith's Husband: [17:34] Though there's more thought involved? Yeah, because you have to think critically. Yeah. And I think for me and I think probably for a lot of other people as well, that that is the difficult part because you've got to eliminate distractions for a little while. Oh, and give something some quality thought.

Meredith: [17:52] Yeah, which is hard now. It's hard.

Meredith's Husband: [17:54] I know, I

Meredith: [17:55] Know can be challenging.

Meredith's Husband: [17:57] It is challenging. Yes, it's definitely challenging. But I want to. I want you to keep one thing in mind when you're doing this. You're not competing, so you're you have there are other websites that you're competing against for rankings in search engine and traffic. There are only so many people using Google, so people are competing to get those users' attention. When you do that, when you're competing, you're not competing against people like me, you're not competing against people who have been doing SEO for years. You are competing against other photographers. Right. And to be honest, in terms of SEO, that's a low bar, right? Obviously, nothing against photographers, but you're a photographer. You're not an SEO

Meredith: [18:37] Person, which is one of the reasons for this podcast. Yeah. To help you,

Meredith's Husband: [18:41] You're not expected to be an SEO whiz like when I optimize your site. Years ago, the first time around you went to like number one all over the country, and like two months, I was blown away at how easy it is.

Meredith: [18:53] You know, people are going to be listening to this and they'll check out my site and they're like, She's not that great, but people are looking at it.

Meredith's Husband: [19:01] Well, optimization is fine and we actually have a new site coming up, so I can't. I think it's going to look a little better. But yeah, it was very easy and SEO in general, it's not. It gets more and more challenging over time, so more photographers are doing it. It's it is harder than it was then. Yes, right? But also, I don't think there are some, but I don't think there are many photographers who are hiring SEO pros. There are some,

Meredith: [19:30] I'm sure, those who can afford it. You have, but then you have to be doing really well. Yes. Afford yes. And yes, most people start out.

Meredith's Husband: [19:38] No way. Yeah, of course. And if you hire, like if you're going to hire an SEO professional, it's going. It's an absolute minimum of five hundred a month if you want. Oh, yeah. Sort of quality. And that's going to be like the lowest quality now. Yeah, that is. I think when I when I look at your competitors, I think there was one in particular, somebody in Brooklyn, I think he had a studio or something. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He ranked really well. And I could tell just by looking at his stuff that he was hiring an SEO company. But I could tell it was also a very low quality, a small company, but it was still working.

Meredith: [20:16] Yeah. But again, it is a low-quality SEO better than a no-quality SEO.

Meredith's Husband: [20:21] Well, usually, yes, unless you're getting totally scammed or someone doing something wrong. Come on. Yeah. Well, I don't. I don't know how common that is anymore.

Meredith: [20:32] Oh yeah, I guess back in the day, you're right. Yeah, back in the day, there were just so scammy

Meredith's Husband: [20:37] The scale you could easily get skin like 90 percent of the CEOs were scamming people.

Meredith: [20:43] Do I even just got another email from what we were talking about on previous podcasts, saying, Hey, all you have to do is post this badge on your site and really pushing the puts the badge on the site and you could be one of the top ten

Meredith's Husband: [20:57] In New York, right? Those are scammers. Yeah, man. But keep that in mind that you don't have to be like, you don't have to be like a ninja SEO black belt, you know, just to improve your traffic. Right?

Meredith: [21:11] It would be great, though, to be a ninja

Meredith's Husband: [21:14] Black belt is a ninja. You know, I was I saw a documentary not too long ago. There's one ninja remaining in the world as an actual ninja. Being a ninja is actually a thing. There really is like a ninja. I mean, there's not a single school of ninjas, but like, it is a thing, and it's just died out over the years because, you know, it's obviously taught from one generation to the next. It's not something like you go to Ninja School.

Meredith: [21:41] I would love their little backpacks.

Meredith's Husband: [21:43] Yeah. Oh, it's super fast. They interviewed the guy. It was super fascinating. Anyway, I digress. Yeah. How would Miss Piggy say that?

Meredith: [21:58] Yeah.

Meredith's Husband: [22:02] So what were we saying?

Meredith: [22:04] I have no idea. Something about like a ninja to be b. Oh, to be a ninja. You don't.

Meredith's Husband: [22:09] Yeah. You know. And again, this is, I think, a common misconception about SEO. Like, it's either you're crushing it or you're not. That's not the case. Remember, you start the race in the back and you're moving up while you're moving up. You can get some great clients along the way. And it's yeah, it's just it's not something you're going to do once and be done. So the fifth what I consider to be the fifth category is not so much a set of tasks, but it is.

Meredith: [22:38] I know that was nice

Meredith's Husband: [22:41] Establishing a rhythm of what you can do realistically. You know, you're not going to be able to do right a, you know, blog entry every day and do SEO every day. What can you do realistically, right? Like, if you're trying to get in shape, what's realistic? Are you going to go to the gym three times, seven days a week? Like, Yeah, no, no, you're not going to do that. What's realistic, so that's I mean, for me personally, that's one of the challenges about exercising, getting a shape like, what can I do, what am I, what is going to get me motivated to go workout? I got to find something that I like to do so. Seo is not that, not that different. Not that you're going to find some portion of SEO you like you love to do, although you might, you know, who knows?

Meredith: [23:28] Yeah, I like the cleaning out of the SEMRUSH. Done. Done.

Meredith's Husband: [23:34] It's nice. It's nice to see errors disappear when you run SEMRUSH and you go and change and then you click Rerun, scan and it comes back and it's gone and your scores higher. You're like, Yeah, that'd be

Meredith: [23:44] Great if you could do that in every aspect of your life, right? Oh, I love you. Fabulous.

Meredith's Husband: [23:49] But then the sea, the ongoing SEO the blog where is not as finite like you write a blog entry, and yeah, you might see it. Rays and rankings and some traffic come in, but it's not like a one-and-done type of either you win or lose, it's a much more, much more gray area. So. So establishing what parts of SEO do you like? What do you enjoy? Because if there's a part that you do like, you're going to be much more successful in that area. So sure. So then establishing your objectives, your goals, rhythms, that sort of thing, I think, is something that needs to be done in its own right.

Meredith: [24:24] Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense, makes sense.

Meredith's Husband: [24:27] So have some patience. You if, if, if you did not have somebody taking care of your SEO for you.

Meredith: [24:32] Yes.

Meredith's Husband: [24:33] Would you? Would that make you? Yes, of course. Would that make you feel better? Would that make you? Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's it makes. Hopefully it's, you know, it makes it seem a little more digestible.

Meredith: [24:47] Yes. Listen, if you think this is helping you, if you think this is digestible because after all, this is for you, this podcast is for you. So let us know if this is helpful to you because we're hoping it is. Yeah.

Meredith's Husband: [25:03] And in the upcoming months, we'll dive more into these individual aspects and how good things are done.

Meredith: [25:10] Oh, good. But that's kind of

Meredith's Husband: [25:11] That's kind of it. Yeah, that's kind of it. There's nothing like there's no aspect of SEO that I did that I didn't just cover basically. And pretty much anything I can think of in SEO that you'll need to do. We'll fit into one of those things. So you kind of has that's the high level. It's the 30000 foot view. Is that what they say, 30 30000 foot view

Meredith: [25:33] That no idea. There's no animals or food involved. So yeah, it doesn't go in my brain or goes in and just floats right out.

Meredith's Husband: [25:42] Maybe you're maybe this is like we just walked through the cereal aisle and you to see all the cereals, and now you can go back and go, This is the one I want

Meredith: [25:54] One with the elephant on the cover.

Meredith's Husband: [25:58] Anyway, I hope that gives you a little more confidence and puts your mind at ease a little bit. Yeah, it's not. It's, you know, think and try to think of it as a process like you're getting your website in shape, right? Almost literally.

Meredith: [26:11] Thank you for listening to another episode of my husband, Meredith's husband. I hope you enjoyed it. We are so appreciative. So appreciative. Thank you. Happy New Year!

Meredith's Husband: [26:25] Happy New Year to you soon. Oh, if you're finding this helpful and you want to help support the podcast, you can go to Meredith's husband.


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