Just because you run a photo blog it doesn’t mean you don’t need search engine optimization (SEO). Some bloggers make the mistake of thinking you can only optimize blogs with words, but that’s not true at all. In fact, there’s a lot you can do with your photo blog to make sure you get the maximum search engine benefit from your visual content. Here are some tips.
Name Your Photos
One of the first things you should do, before you even upload any photos to your blog, is make sure they have names that reflect what they are. If a photo is called DSCN2000 or PICT8500m, how are the search engines going to know what the photo shows? On the other hand, if you call your photo ‘Rhode-island-casino’ then there’s no mistake about what’s in the picture. It’s also helpful to resize your photos to the maximum size you want them to display before you upload them – this will help with page loading speed which search engines love. And when you get around to uploading your pics, then make use of ALT tags to provide additional information. Search engines love those too, and it’s also helpful for people with visual impairments who are using a screen reader or other accessibility device. Use the image name for the ALT tags and it will be obvious to every site visitor what your images show.
Titles and Links
What is your photo blog post about? Does the page title tell you? If it doesn’t, it should. Now, this doesn’t mean that you always have to be factual. Sometimes you may want to ask a question about a photo or link photos together in a theme. But generally, use a title that says what readers can expect to see. Titles are also important because they generate permalinks.
Read any advice on SEO, especially for WordPress blogs, and it will say that you should make your permalinks pretty. This is crucial. A permalink is the permanent link to your content on your blog and, just like the names of the pictures, these work better when they are short, sweet and descriptive. As we’ve said, blog software usually generates the permalink from the title, but you don’t have to use all the words in the title in your permalinks. Take out ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘and’ and the like and focus on the main words that people will use to search for your content. While you already know that keywords are important for written content, they are equally important for visual content to help people to find your stuff when they search.
To help yourself with SEO, consider using a plugin such as All in One SEO Pack, Platinum SEO, FLV Simpler SEO or the SEO features built into premium themes from a range of providers. These will encourage you to include optimized titles, keywords and descriptions for your images. This only takes a couple of extra minutes per post, and is totally worth it.
Use Tags and Categories for Better SEO
SEO is not just about search engines, but about helping users to find your content – the two go together. Clever use of categories and tags can help you achieve both aims. Think of category labels as ways of organizing large collections. For example, you might have photos of buildings, landscapes, people and art – each of those could be a category. Then you could tag individual photos by color scheme or location. If you have a travel photo blog, then perhaps you want to create categories for each continent, with sub-categories or tags for the different countries. If you’re writing about cruises, have categories or tags for the different cruise lines (Cunard, Royal Caribbean, P&O). You get the idea.
Do Some Writing
Just because you have a photo-blog, don’t ignore the search engine power of text. A couple of lines of description of the photo will give the search engines something additional to crawl and will provide an excerpt when people link to your content. And you need people to link to you, because that will also show that your site is relevant to others in its niche – and that’s also good for SEO.
And finally, post regularly and include a sitemap optimized for Google and other search engines. On WordPress blogs you can do this with the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. This will ensure that all your content is crawled and you can sign up for a free account with Google Webmaster Tools so you can check on the progress of your SEO efforts.
We would like to thank Izzy A. Woods for her guest post on optimizing your images for search engines.