Optimize photos for the internet

There’s something really important about content creation that you may be missing. Every piece of media that you upload, including photos, video, audio, and documents, is full of metadata. Most people don’t know much about how metadata works so let me share with you how to optimize photos for the internet.

What is Metadata?

It’s information that describes a piece of content. It’s important because most search engines use metadata to help determine the value of content when adding pages to their search index. In simpler terms, this information is what Google uses to decide where (and how high up) to show your stuff in search.

In the case of an image, the metadata can include: file name, size, when the image was created, what kind of camera was used, etc. In the case of a document it could be file name, author, origination date, how long the document is, a summary of the information, and more.

Why is this information useful?

Now that you know what metadata is, it’s important for you to know you can edit or alter some of it. Optimizing photos for the internet will increase your odds of being seen in search.

The simplest edits you can make are to file name and description. Many of us take photos on our smartphones then upload them directly to the internet. You may have noticed when you text or email images to yourself or others from your phone that the file names are nondescript such as IMG_6060 or DSC_4201. When uploading straight from a device to the internet, you are skipping a powerful step, the naming of the file.

Try something for me

Use a search engine to look up either your personal name or the name of your organization. Click on the Images section of the results. Each picture in this returned search result came from somewhere. If you hover over each image, you may see where it comes from.

When I try this with my own name, across the top row, the results come from LinkedIn, my own website, Amazon, my own site again, then Yelp. If you look for a pattern in my results, you may notice that I actually control all of those channels which means I can use that information to change how I’m literally viewed inside Google.

An important step to take is to edit the file name before inserting into the web. Almost every file I upload has the name of how I want that content to be found. Examples: “Kerry Rego headshot” “Geek To The Core iTunes Artwork” “Kerry Rego Bio 2017-7.” This is a surefire way to tell search engines what this object is and how to classify it.

The importance of captions

You probably haven’t given captions a second thought, but in terms of metadata, they are extremely important. Take a look at any Facebook cover image, the most engaged with photo a Facebook page has. When someone clicks on a cover photo there is a description. Most people ignore this but when you are looking to be found on Facebook this is a step not to forget.

(The trick is that when you upload the cover photo, there is no opportunity to change the caption in the first round. You’ll have to upload it, save, then go back to the image and choose to edit it.)

You can use your captions to: drive traffic to your website, a point of sale, an email sign-up, tell a story, or tag other vendors. Go edit yours now (watch the video below to see how it’s done) and don’t stop at your current photo. Your audience will most likely view more than one image so make sure you’ve upgraded several of them to maximize the effort.

Just like on the open web, when you upload to social channels, the metadata goes with it. File name, description, and more help this search function work more effectively at serving your content to people that are interested in your offerings.

Remember, metadata helps you to influence how your content is categorized by search engines. The simple step of optimizing your photos for the internet will be worth the extra time, promise.


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