No doubt, your passion for photography is driven by the desire to recreate a vision in your mind, to capture an image of the world in which you live, so you may share it with others, or (sell it to others). Decades ago, the universe of people, who would actually see your photos, was quite limited: family members, friends, fellow students, co-workers, etc. The 21st century, however, is the digital age and the Internet makes it possible to share your photos with virtually the whole world. Taking excellent photos and uploading them to your Website or your PhotographyTalk Gallery is not enough, however, if you want to maximize the number of people who will find and view your work.
They will see your photos with their eyes and mind, but the search engines of the Internet are blind to what humans see. Search engines have an entirely different method to see your photos and they won’t be seen unless you understand how to describe and title your photos according to search engines’ visual language. With the 5 methods in this PhotographyTalk article, you’ll be able to maximize the ranking of your photos, so more people will see them.
The numbered file name that digital cameras automatically apply to your images is insufficient for SEO optimization. Each photo must have a descriptive file name containing accurate keywords. The file name becomes part of each photo’s URL, which is what search engines are scanning and reading. SEO experts are not in total agreement about how many keywords to include in a photo’s name. You certainly want to use good keywords, so some photos may have more and others less. The contents of your image may simply limit the number of good keywords that come to mind.
It’s also important to follow the “grammatical” rules of search engines. They do not read well or at all certain parts of speech that are necessary in the English language. These include articles—“a,” “an” and “the”—conjunctions—“and” and “but”—and interjections—“Hey,” “Oh,” etc. often used at the beginning of sentence. Without these “insignificant” words, you have more room for significant keywords. Search engines typically don’t recognize capitalizations and many of the common symbols found on your keyboard. In some cases, use of them results in no one finding your photos.
In almost all cases, you want to use adjectives and nouns. A travel photo in Paris that shows the Eiffel Tower could be “paris-eiffel tower-architecture-2012.” Notice also that search engines like dashes between keywords. Underscores and character spaces can cause search engines to overlook your photos entirely.
It’s likely your digital camera automatically saves your images as JPEGs. There are certainly good reasons to shoot RAW files too; however, if you plan to put them on your Website, then you’ll want a nicely converted JPEG, instead.
Also known as the alt attribute, this is another level of titling or description to help search engines understand the contents of your photos. Think of it as the invisible title, the alternative to the file name, which is the visible title. The alternate text should also include keywords, or keyword phrases. Search engines prefer long keyword phases versus short phrase. Using the Paris travel example: “walking-in-montmartre-sunday-afternoon” instead of “montmartre.” You can only imagine how many photos populate the Web with the simply alternate text, “montmartre.”
Having multiple opportunities to describe and title your photos is certainly a benefit of sophisticated SEO technology; and title attribute is another method to strengthen your photos attractiveness to search engines. A title attribute can contain the same keywords you may have used in the file name and alternate text, but it’s also an opportunity to use others, so search engines give your photos an even higher ranking. For example, change “walking-in-montmartre-sunday-afternoon” to “sidewalk-of-montmartre-sunny-day” or “walking-to-cheese-shop-montmartre.” Using the name of the cheese shop is even better.
The importance of photo captions is two-fold. First, it’s a fourth method to maximize your photos’ visibility to search engines and, second, it provides visitors with just enough information as they scan a page to attract them to your blog, article or other photos. Since a caption is part of the graphic presentation of your photos and their pages, you should return to standard rules of English. “Walking-in-montmartre-sunday-afternoon” might become “A quiet street in Montmartre” or “Street life in Montmartre.”
When you take the time to utilize each of these titling/descriptive methods for your photo, you’re sure to be rewarded with more traffic on your site.
Image credit: maxkabakov / 123RF Stock Photo
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