11 SEO tips for your photoblog

Richard Hearne offered some great tips for making Irish photoblog mcawilliams.com more visible on the search engines and they’re very good general search engine optimization tips that can be applied to any website.

He has grouped his tips into the following categories:

  1. Site Architecture
  2. On-Page Optimisation
  3. Off-site Optimisation

Richard’s post is well worth reading, even if you don’t have a photoblog. I know I learned a thing or two that are already paying off!

I have a few more tips to add to those above. Most of them are geared towards the photo blog community rather than general blogging sites, but read on even if you’re not running a photoblog!

  1. Join Photoblogs.org before you do anything else. It’s the center of the photoblog universe and it’s worth participating in the community there.
  2. Join VFXY and Cool photoblogs. VFXY displays thumbnails of their member’s blogs which is great for driving traffic. Coolphotoblogs is a photoblog directory. I’m a member of the former, but something went wrong with my application to the latter and I haven’t bothered figuring it out yet.
  3. Join Flickr, Zooomr, 23HQ and any other social photo sharing site you care to mention. Zooomr are offering premium accounts to bloggers still I think. You can host your photo there, saving your bandwidth costs. It’s also a very good way of exposing your photography to a wider audience. Thanks to Flickr I’ve almost made back the cost of hosting this website through sales of my photos.
  4. Taking a leaf from Richard above, if you host your images on Flickr, they require a link back to that picture’s page on flickr.com. Make sure you don’t leak page rank by adding rel=’external nofollow’ to that link. The same applies to Zooomr and 23HQ of course.
  5. Visit the Photoblogs.org wiki, especially the tips and tricks page and how to get traffic to your photoblog.
  6. Write. Search engines can’t do much with an image, but if you describe the image in a small paragraph of text that will help. In a similar vein, every photo should have a title. It might be tempting to number the image, or call them “Untitled #98″, “Untitled #99″, “Untitled #100″ and so on, but that won’t help people find your website.
  7. As you’re now writing, link. Link to other sites and blogs and do it often. Photoblogs don’t link enough. Where’s the conversation? Everybody has their heads stuck in the sand doing their own thing, afraid that they’ll lose visitors for good if they leave their site. Link to specific blog posts and those posts will be sent a “ping” or a “trackback”. That tells that blog’s owner you’ve been talking about his work. It also plants a link to your blog right in his comments section where his visitors can find it and follow what you said about his work. Here’s a ping my blog sent to an older post on my site. My feed reader post has lots of external links. Oh look, there’ll be a ping from that link too! Links really are the lifeblood of your blog.
  8. I may be biased, but I recommend you use WordPress to host your photoblog. It has support for pinging and trackbacks out of the box, a facility some other photoblog software don’t have. If you don’t want to host a WordPress blog yourself, open a blog on WordPress.com and check out what people are posting about photography, photos and even flickr. It’s a bit more limited than a regular WordPress blog but you’ll get a good feel for it. Best of all, you can export your blog and host it yourself when you feel up to it!
  9. If you do use WordPress, install Ultimate Tag Warrior so your posts are categorised in a fine grained manner. Tags do wonderful things for search engines, and this is a must have for any WordPress blog. Note that tagging support is going into WordPress right now, but it’s still being developed. I think a small script to convert UTW tags to WordPress tags is called for. Hopefully I’ll have it running here within the next few days.
  10. Join Google webmaster tools and enable “Enhanced Image Search”. Read more about it here but I’ve noticed an increase in hits from Google Image Search since I opted in to it.
  11. Claim your blog on Technorati. Here’s the Technorati page for this blog. Add an icon to your user account to encourage clicks on your stories there.

With a few changes to your photoblog you can drastically increase the traffic to your site and share your work with a wider audience. You never know, one of your photos could become a viral email attachment sent around to thousands of people in offices and homes.

Why interestingness just got harder (to game)

It looks like Flickr have changed their algorithm to decide what makes an image interesting. I noticed this a few weeks ago when my number of interesting photos almost halved to 14 photos.

What has happened is that Flickr doesn’t count views and comments from certain groups on the site. Why? There are many critique and comment groups where members are asked to comment, favourite or view a certain number of other’s photos for every photo they add. In the past this has been a great way of getting your photo to the top of the Interestingness ladder but was obviously not always a realistic view of how good a photo is. I expect these groups will become less popular and groups on a specific subject will grow in popularity. New critique and comment groups will appear in an effort to outrun the Interestingness filter but I’m sure there’s a little “ban group” button the guys at Flickr can push so it’s probably a futile effort.

I’m disappointed, but also glad that this has happened because it may stop people dumping photos into groups, leaving short and useless comments and obsessing about popularity. What else can you do?

  • Tag every photo you upload with short descriptive tags. Don’t spam.
  • Upload one photo a day, or make sure the last photo you upload is your best, and/or looks good as a thumbnail. This image may have been so popular because the thumbnail had a strong X form.
  • Join niche groups and contribute photos and to discussions. Don’t dump photos and run. Participate in the group forums.
  • Apparently it used to matter when in the day you posted a photo but not now. I disagree. From the perspective of someone living in Ireland, if you post early in the morning and contribute to groups your photo may appear for longer near the top of that group’s photos. On the other hand, if you post later in the day you may get more immediate eyeballs but more photos will be posted too. It all depends on what time it is in the American continent. If your photo is particularly good then posting later in the day might be better.

Good luck, I’ll update this post from time to time with new tips when I come across them.

PS. I’m helping my brother Donal with spot prizes for his charity table quiz tonight. Can you help?

A coven of halloween photo tips

It’s not long now before witches, goblins and fairies will be abroad and children will be out looking for treats and even the occasional trick! All these people dressed up in costume, the decorations and accessories that go along with Halloween are perfect fodder for the hungry photographer!

If you are shooting photos this season these tips will come in useful:

Finally, Ireland, the land of the banshee has a wealth of Halloween traditions. Makes for a good read!