I just had the rather miserable experience of reading the PhotoShelter guide entitled "The Photographer's Social Media Handbook" which seems to perpetuate the myth that social media is advantageous for business. This is not, I repeat, not my experience. Social media is OK for messing about on - blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc but for gaining contacts and clients, it's worthless.
Now here's the kicker, somebody promoted one of my postings on their own website and over about 3 days that page received about 1,500 viewings. As many of my regular readers will know, this blog carries adsense. Adsense income does not seem to increase when the blog is pimped and getting 300 - 1,500 hits a day. It remains pretty regular. Given that revenue is click driven, this is somewhat strange.
In terms of SEO, I know the blog can be found - each post has its own search tags and I try to make the tags different in order to attract more viewers. The tags are reflected in the content of the page. For example in the first paragraph I wrote "gaining clients" and this is also a search tag because it's something that somebody looking for a discussion on SEO etc will be looking for.
Hits do not equal income from adsense. Pimping a blog does not mean a permanent increase in visitors. SEO does not mean people will actually be looking for your website.
Fortunately, this blog is not a business venture. I had a couple of websites that were run as business ventures. Neither seemed to attract any visitors whatsoever. Immediately people will scream about needing a professional to do the SEO. The fact is, they were professionally done sites with professionally done SEO. The professionally done hit counters registered massive hits yet the phone never rang, the web forms were never touched and the discussion forum never had any entries. Then I slipped Google Analytics code into the site while the professional wasn't looking. What a different story - 2 or 3 hits a day! Changing one "professional" for another did not increase hits or calls.
I am left with very much the feeling that SEO and all that malarkey is just a confidence trick. A few days ago in the article on customer service, it was stated that some companies don't really care about their social media presence, responding weeks late or never. Some just respond to the positive things and ignore the negative. Some respond to the negative and get people to continue the conversation by email, sent to an unmonitored email account.
Going further, back to the article on link and hit farming, there are people out there willing to make your website look popular for money. The problem is that like my two SEO "gurus", they're not likely to do anything other than absorb your hard earned cash.
Moving away from websites, lets take a look at something closer to home for most people - LinkedIn and CareerBuilder etc. You put your resume up on LinkedIn and on CareerBuilder. What happens? If you're lucky, nothing. If you're unlucky, you get spam calls - I used to get the people wanting me to peddle insurance door-to-door calling when I had my resume up. I never had a single genuine potential employer check me out.
The whole problem with the internet is that no matter how much tweaking you do or pay to get done, the results just are never going to be worth the time or money invested. It's far better to let others do the talking and therefore the advertising and just to get on with real life and real business instead. 90% of the customers to most businesses are passing trade. Somebody sees the sign outside AK Knox Widget factory and mentions to a friend "I didn't know we had a Widget factory in town". It goes around and soon customers for Widgets start making orders.
10 years ago I was at a seminar in the University of Wales, Swansea. A company selling farm machinery from Carmarthen was giving the presentation. It was quite long and effective and I still remember most of it. The crux of it was that they hired a web professional that cost an arm and a leg. Their web professional produced a cute looking site. The site never attracted customers. In the end they redid the site themselves, using books on web design and had a better site that their own customers approved of. It did get a higher hit ratio but their problem was they had a lot of obvious scammers trying to get something for nothing from them via their website and precious little else.
Mike Collier was another example - he started Colliers Photographic Emporium and Services in Swansea, South Wales in about 1988. Somebody persuaded him to put up a website which he did. It got no extra trade nor anything worthwhile so he junked it. Currently his son is running the business and is trying again with a website. Again, it's clearly not a site that they have any faith in because all the paid online services at the time of writing are performed by a different website (fujifilm).
Unless you are a big business or selling something very niche that people want, no amount of SEO and all that baloney is going to do anything. If you're selling something very niche then SEO is irrelevant as your website will be sought out. If you're a big corporation then online advertising is pointless as you're on every street corner anyway. I suppose if you were into coprophilia photographs that would work too as there can't be many people into that (and yes I did just seed my blog to get extra hits).