Search Engine Traffic Guide

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Search Engines The Holy Grail of Web Traffic

I've mentioned copiously throughout this chapter the value of search engines.These account for 75 percent of my traffic, but most new sites rely on search-engine traffic exclusively. For example, go to www.google.com and type photos of sunsets and look at the first page of results. Most people will look at this first page only, and as they visit each Web site listed, they either find what they want, or they search again using different search terms. If you advertise or engage in other self-promotion that brings people to your site, that's great. You should do what you can to optimize this kind of visibility. However, nothing you can do will yield the kind of traffic that comes as a result of a highly ranked placement on search results pages like this. Therefore, the question that most people ask is, What are the secrets to getting search engines to rank me higher That's not an easy answer. Problem is, whenever someone thinks of a sneaky way to artificially raise their site's rankings...

Information Sharing Search Engines and Weblogs

The Web offers a unique environment for sharing information, images, and other data. By means of keyword-driven Internet search engines, such as Google, people throughout the world can access vast and diverse amounts of online information. The World Wide Web has enabled a sudden and extreme decentralization of information and data to take place, making traditional encyclopedias and libraries seem quaint and arcane. Numerous individuals, groups, and companies use Weblogs (or Hogs), which are basically easily updatable online diaries to share thoughts and images.

Becoming a student of photography

You can also find wonderful examples of portrait photography in online galleries. If you see a photograph that inspires you, type the photographer's name into your favorite search engine to find online galleries of his work. LIFE magazine has a wonderful online gallery with lots of portrait photography. Visit www.life.com (see Figure 4-2), and navigate to the celebrity section. The site also has a search feature. Type a celebrity's or politician's name in the search field to view photos of that person.

Getting and Installing Prebuilt Calibrations

The easy way to make sure that your camera's sensor(s) are making accurate interpretations of each of the primary colors is to download a Camera Raw calibration settings file from either your camera's manufacturer orone of these daysfrom the Adobe site. The bad news is that unless you own a very high-end camera, such as a digital back for a medium or large-format camera, you probably won't find such a thing in either place. It's just a matter of time, however. In the meantime, calibration settings are likely to start appearing on enthusiasts' and well-established digital photography sites. Use your Internet search engine. Until manufacturers catch on, you'll have to calibrate your own camera (see Making situational calibrations next in this chapter).

Getting Your Photos into Picasa

When you download and run Picasa's installer, the final setup screen presents you with a handful of options. Before launching Picasa for the first time, the installer offers to place the program's icon on your desktop, in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, and so on. Turn off the checkboxes if you don't want to deal with such clutter. The last checkbox is a sneaky bit of marketing It offers to make Google your browser's default search engine. (Hey, unlike other free programs, Picasa isn't always in your face trying to sell you photo prints or t-shirts, so cut Larry and Sergey some slack.)

General Considerations For Web Sites

Visit other Web sites, both to see how they're designed and to see what kind of photography is shown. Go to a major search engine like Google and type in photographers. The top listings are the top professional photo organizations. One of the very best is the American Society of Media Photographers (www.asmp.org). Also try www.apanational.org (Advertising Photographers of America). Once there, you can search for photographers by location and specialty. There are active links directly to members' Web sites. This lets you look at many Web designs, see what established professionals show, and check out your competition.

Other Proprietary RAW Converters

Note that most of the products with a price tag can be downloaded for 30-day free trials, including the likes of Bibble and Capture One. The URLs for these downloads change frequently (Phase One, for example, is based in Denmark, but makes its products available for download through other distributors), so if you'd like to try one of these out, do a Google search for the latest link.

Getting Visitors To Your Web Site

Just like a portfolio resting in your studio, your Web site means very little if no one of value sees it. At first, you'll have to rely on your own ability to send people to it rather than hope for clients finding you through a search engine. This means you have to actively go after the business. Traditional marketing approaches can still work. This is usually some form of printed material, but now you'll prominently display your Web address. The new electronic approach is to make sure your address appears on search engines and to send e-mail (spam.) to prospects. Basically, you want to get your Web address wherever and on whatever you can. When it comes to photo credit, I ask to have our Web address follow the photographer's name. We've found photo users very agreeable to this idea. Again, your marketing approach will depend on whom you're trying to reach.

Tip 13 Set Key Words Accurately

The problem is that different libraries use different search engines, so you may need to vary your key words to suit each site. Bad key words will not just mean your images cannot be found, they may also lead to your images being rejected therefore, set your key words accurately. Don't spam (i.e., include irrelevant but popular) key words to pick up hits instead, use accurate key words relevant to your image.

The Im Feeling Lucky Button

One of the coolest (and probably most underappreciated) features of Google's search engine is the I'm Feeling Lucky button. If you click this button instead of Search, Google instantly whisks you to the Web site most likely to be exactly what you're looking forwith sometimes eerie accuracy. Not surprisingly, Google intends Picasa's I'm Feeling Lucky button to be the ultimate, one-stop-shopping photo fix. Use it when you'd prefer to have the software do all the work for you. Picasa analyzes your photo, and then adjusts the exposure, contrast and color as it sees fit. If Picasa thinks no changes are needed, then none are made. Sometimes you'll be pleased with the results and other times you'll feel like Google should stick to search engines. In other words keep the changes if you like them but if you don't, then click the Undo button.

Photography Web Sites

There are thousands of Web sites dealing with photography. They include photographers, galleries, museums, and companies. Since the list is ever changing and always expanding, the best approach is to use a search engine such as Yahoo or Alta Vista to find what you want. Alta Vista is one of the most powerful search engines. HotBot is one of the latest and greatest. Yahoo is one of the first Web directories and search engines. Lycos developed by Carnegie-Mellon University is one of the older and more powerful search engines. It also includes a list of the Web's 250 most popular sites.

Photographing birds and wildlife in state parks

The easiest way to find spots to photograph wildlife near your home is to type into your favorite search engine the phrase state park, followed by the name of the town or county in which you live. Other good sources of information are the salespeople in your local camera store, or members of a local camera club. I live in an area where there are many state parks. I recently moved here, but I had the good fortune to find a photography

The Wolf Eats The Lamb

Getty owns iStockphoto, Jupiter Images owns Stockxpert, and Corbis has a microstock start-up in SnapVillage. I recall a fear expressed before Getty acquired iStockphoto that the major traditional libraries would buy up and shut down the microstocks to preserve their high-value core business. For a while after Getty gave Bruce Livingstone and friends the lifestyle they no doubt deserve as innovators by purchasing iStockphoto, everyone held their breath to see what Getty would do. What is happening is that iStockphoto is being increasingly integrated in the Getty empire. Bruce Livingstone has taken a promotion within Getty Getty's search engine has been adapted for use by iStockphoto. I guess the risk is that the major players will ensure the microstocks survive while at the same time protecting their core businesses from their effects.

Trek the World Through Photography

Membership in TrekEarth is free, and signup is simple. When you post a photo, you're encouraged to provide a note that describes the photo and the place. Many of the notes are beautifully written and, as you might imagine, it's not unusual to find a photo with comments and critiques written in a few different languages. Fortunately, TrekEarth also provides translation links via Babel Fish (http babelfish.altavista.com ).

Where to Find Panoramas

A great collection of old panoramas can be found on the Library of Congress web site (http www.loc.gov). All the old panoramas in this chapter were selected from the library's archive of more than 4000 panoramas. When you get to the home page, use the search feature to look up the word panorama. The excellent search engine uses keywords (such as ship, baseball, and so on) to find and show all of the matching images. Because hundreds (if not thousands) of panoramas of cities and towns were taken between 1910 and 1950, it can be fun to see if an old photograph of either your hometown or the city in which you currently reside exists here.

Names on the Internet

During the Google search you'll see the right side column with sponsored links. Also, the first agencies on the page were the mega agencies Corbis and Getty highlighted as sponsored links. These sponsored links gain considerable prominence but for a price (check the current home page for Google and they'll direct you to ad pricing). It's not unlike the old yellow pages, where the large ads took your attention away from the single-line entries. But the principle is the same. Find out how best to use positioning on the Web to place yourself at best advantage. An excursion into Google or other search engines should hammer home the need for a good name and good placement in the hierarchy. When an art buyer is searching the Web for fresh photography, you want them to have a chance to find you. Your goal is to find the newest ways available to overcome getting lost in the shuffle. Right now one way is to investigate the costs of being a sponsored link, which will put you in the special...

Photo Sharing Websites

Instead of using e-mail to send numerous photos to friends, family, and admirers, consider posting a series of images on a photo-sharing website. You can find many of these, including www.ofoto.com,www.shutterfly.com (see Figure 12.8), http community.webshots.com (choose My Photos), and http photothru.com . To find others, use a search engine, and search on photo sharing or online photo album. Check out the features and the interface of several that have been in business for at least a few years. The ideal site will be convenient to navigate, will offer adequate storage space at a reasonable fee, and will protect your images by providing you a password.

Create Your Own Photo Web Page

If you are more adventuresome and willing to make a greater investment in time and money, consider creating your own web page or multipage website (see Figure 12.9). Check the Yellow Pages or a local newspaper to find a web-hosting service that charges a moderate monthly fee. If necessary, seek out web-hosting services with a search engine such as www.google.com. Some Internet service providers also provide free website space as part of a package or the monthly fee.

Print Permanence Data

Granted, you sometimes need a keen ear to separate facts from marketing hype, but there are methods for comparing the relative stability of competitors' products. A Google search will turn up much more information about the longevity of Epson's UltraChrome inks and fine art papers than a Kodak developer paper combination, for instance.

Photos That Dont Bite

I include BytePhoto because it's a slightly lesser-known site that deserves a little more attention, if only for its quirkiness. It includes lots of features but is especially strong as a portal to other sites. For example, BytePhoto offers online galleries, but you can also find links to sharing services, including SmugMug (www.smugmug.com), which is the strongest competitor to PBase. BytePhoto gives you links to other interesting pages on external sites, a Google search box for combing the Net, and a ton of ads with interesting offers you might want to jump to.

Try It Yourself First

Then do a Google search for best Web design or something like that. Check out the Web sites that are winning awards for being Web sites. Take note of the colors, the graphic elements, and the fonts. What works for you What feels good on your eyes Will the designs you're seeing on the screen translate well to print

Tip 9 Set Up Referral Links

Additionally, Fotolia has gone a step further by developing an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows business and Web designers to integrate access to the Fotolia search engine and display images on their own Web sites and to earn money through sales (Figure 8.2). There are presently three levels of sophistication Partner, Business, and Developer APIs. It is an interesting way for the more savvy of you to make money partnering with Fotolia. Search engine

Using backdrops and backgrounds

Every formal portrait has some type of background or backdrop. Professional photographers buy their backdrops and backgrounds from companies that do nothing but create backdrops and backgrounds. You can find online vendors by typing photography backgrounds and backdrops in the search field of your favorite search engine. You can also pick up fairly inexpensive backgrounds by doing a search on eBay. If you're adventurous, you can create your own backdrops. You can find interesting fabrics for backgrounds and backdrops at your local fabric store. Purchase a piece of muslin fabric approximately 9 x 9 feet, some fabric dye, and then use the time-honored tie-dye technique to create a unique backdrop. You can find tutorials about creating backdrops by typing DIY photography backgrounds into the search field of your favorite search engine. Take the DIY info with as many grains of salt as you wish, but make sure the author posts some pictures of the process and the end result. A picture is...

Asset management

Warning > The danger of NOT integrating a systematic workflow is that hard drive space will quickly become eroded under the shear weight of digital data. You will, at short notice, backup your images to drives or discs (in a desperate attempt to free up hard drive space so that your computer does not grind to a halt). This will, in turn, prevent your computer's search engines, your Adobe software and your short-term memory from finding these files. Your files may be labelled with memorable names such as _B240100.ORF contained in folders with equally memorable names such as 116_Olympus. Your photographs will become lost in a sea of meaningless data.

Readers lives

Recently, the lark struck me and I typed in my name in the google.com search engine. Imagine my astonishment when a picture of mine popped up on a web site yet they had neither asked me for permission to use one of my pictures, nor provided any credit whatsoever. May I suggest that you type in your name in a search engine as well, and that you send an equally unequivocal message to whoever may have 'borrowed' your pictures.

Metadata

Probably the most well-known types of metadata are keywords, titles and captions, and star ratings. Search engines look for keywords and display results containing them photo sharing Web sites can display embedded captions and titles for images even your computer operating system will recognize and display star ratings for photos that have them applied.

Printer Profiles

Fortunately, you don't have to invest in a costly spectrophotometer and profiling software, as there are labs that can perform profiling for you. Simply search for printer profiling service using your favorite search engine. For more details on printer profiling, see section 3.7.

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Home Page

However, the design also determines if search engines can find your Web site. Search engines look for text and keywords, not photos. A title and block of text loaded with carefully selected words will help search engines find you. Web sites are written in HTML (hypertext markup language). Two important portions of the code are < Keywords> and < Title> . Software for Web design will usually have the ability to include words into these two < Head> portions of the code. Many photographers make the mistake of not having text on their Home page and throughout their site. If possible, attach carefully chosen keywords to photos. For instance, a commercial photographer showing a bowl of fruit would do better using the words still-life photograph and studio, while a stock shooter would use stock photograph, fruit, apples, and agriculture.

Internet Advertising

Several design strategies that enable your site to be found by search engines were presented under the Home Page section. Use a search engine like Google or Yahoo and search for Web + search engines. This provides you with other search engines and companies offering e-commerce services. You may contact a search engine directly and register your site by following links from their Home page. Other search engines do the job for you, by constantly searching the Web for new sites and automatically adding them to their database. Your position on their list depends on how important they deem your Web site. Search engines will often tell you their criteria for making it higher up their list. There are companies that will increase your standing among the search engines, with a program involving proper keywording and resubmitting your name to search engines every few months. There are hundreds of search engines, so it can be impractical to do the job yourself. These are reasonably priced and...

Organizations

There are many opportunities to list your Web address, but keep in mind, not just any traffic will do. Most jobs or assignments will come locally, so see what sites might be most used by your community. These can range from your local Better Business Bureau to photo and advertising organizations. Both the local ASMP chapters and national ASMP have valuable Web sites for members (the national Web site is www.asmp.org). ASMP has national name recognition to generate traffic and links to members' sites.

Case Studies

Bear in mind that a number of factors influence financial performance. For example, if a photographer has just uploaded a large number of images, then his or her average monthly earnings for that library or libraries may appear to be diluted. Obviously other factors also affect the figures, such as the types of images uploaded. As the microstocks evolve, their relative performance can also change quite radically. Alterations to search engines may benefit some photographers at the expense of others, as can site redesigns, new advertising campaigns, and so on.

Panoramic Software

A Google search will find many popular panoramic programs that automate the process and produce technically fine images. Some of these programs include PhotoVista Panorama 3.0, PanaVue Image Assembler, ArcSoft Panoramic Maker, and Realviz Stitcher EZ. Canon includes PhotoStitch software with many of it's cameras too.

By Allen Murabayashi

With a blog, you can link clients back to your website, increase your SEO, use a design that underscores your brand, and give potential clients a sense of your personality. With a blog, you can link clients back to your website, increase your SEO, use a design that underscores your brand, and give potential clients a sense of your personality. By now, search engine optimization (SEO)

Predictions

Bruce Livingstone, CEO of iStockphoto, is confident of the future of microstock but sees some enhancements in search engine technology. He says There will always be a need for new, fresh imagery. A collection must keep cutting-edge and modern. I think what you will see is much more attention to searching features, to allow people to find just the right image within a vast collection. . . . Industries change with advancements in technology. Smart 'professional' photographers are already looking into microstock as another sales channel. But Bruce also recognizes that this is the year for lots of microstock competition. It will get interesting.

What Can You Do

If your memory card is not behaving properly, and you do want to recover your images, things get a little more complicated. If your pictures are very valuable, either to you or to others (for example, a wedding), you can always turn to professional data recovery firms. Be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars to get your pictures back, but these pros often do an amazing job. You wouldn't want them working on your memory card on behalf of the police if you'd tried to erase some incriminating pictures. There are many firms of this type, and I've never used them myself, so I can't offer a recommendation. Use a Google search to turn up a ton of them.

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