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Perhaps a different perspective, and just an opinion.

I too started a site about a year ago from scratch. No stock, no experience, no camera, just an idea. I have some of the same problems with photography as you do. I have some of the same visitor issues as you do. It seems I have read almost everything that has been written on SEO and adwords and am still learning. We are however generating upwards of 300 visitors per day, 60%+ unique with 5+ pages per visitor and a reasonable amount of time spent on the site. Site traffic is growing steadily week by week with an average of 10% organic compound growth in any 30 day period. Current inbound links – about 3 (three) I think. Googlebot crawls per day, pages analysed, … I don’t know and I don’t care. I genuinely don’t care. I am not building a business around whether Google likes my site this week and hates it next week….. I am building it for my customers.

It seems to me you are looking at this completely upside down. Focusing so hard on SEO you have forgotten about your customers. Buyers don’t care about any of the stats, 17,000 inbound links are worth nothing to you in monetary terms so therefore worth nothing to you in SEO power. Forget ‘link juice’, forget inbound links, forget what Google is doing on your site. Focus on one thing – Is my site a great place to visit?, is it simple and easy to navigate?, does it instill confidence?, will people bookmark it and come back?, WILL THEY BUY? Trash all of the irrelevant words, links and fluff on you site.. ask yourself, does my customer want to see this?, need to know this?, care about this? If the answer is no. DELETE DELETE DELETE. How many times do I need to see the words ‘silver’ and jewelery’ on one page… I have eyes, I can see it is silver jewelery. Please don’t treat me like an idiot or I’ll shop somewhere else.

If you put your energy in to your customers the rest will look after itself. You may need some SEO or SEA tweaking down the track but surely this is secondary to the main point – CUSTOMERS. If you have 10 customers, one buys something, 3 come back regularly and the others look at a few pages then you have something to build on, now you can start building traffic.

If I make it easy for people to find a bricks and mortar shop, I put all my energy in to providing big signs and free buses it is all worthless if they buy nothing, tell nobody and never come back.

Good luck.