If you’re struggling to make sense of the new post-Panda and Penguin world, you’re not alone. Penguin and Panda were the first waves of a sting operation, designed to both rid Google of spam… and to upgrade Google’s search capabilities to serve a more social and visual web.
Those are both good things, good for users and good for marketers. Why? Because Google is telling you what you need to do in order to boost your rankings. We just need to listen. These Google messages aren’t quick fixes or shortcuts; instead they’re long term strategies designed to build relevance for your site(s) in a new era in search engine history. It all focuses on images.
1. The Unique Image Tip
As you know, content freshness and originality are now both baked into the Google algorithm. And, yes, that applies to images in the same way it applies to text, which means that most of us are making a huge SEO mistake every single time we post…
What do I mean? When most of us publish a post, we spend half an hour (or more) writing the content, and then we grab a stock image off the web in a few seconds and throw it up on our site. Bad idea! With just that one move, we’re negating all of the original content we just worked so hard to create.
Here’s what you should do instead:
- Find an image just like you normally would and save it to your desktop.
- Use an image editing tool like Picmonkey or Skitch to add filters, text, etc.
- Give the image a new, relevant name and save it.
- Upload that new, altered graphic as the featured image in your post.
BONUS TIP: You can also make your selected image full screen, take an Instagram photo of it with your phone, then save that image from your Instagram feed. Then, link back to your Instagram photo for the social media juice.
Examples: Note how this website takes a common skyline of New York City and adds a filter and border to make it their own. You don’t have to create something garish or showy to be original…as this images shows. The people at Photojojo, a photography site, do the same thing with ordinary objects to make them not only original, but a good advertisement for their product.
You can go from this:
It only takes a few extra minutes, but this strategy will do two things for you. First, it will make your site look more interesting and unique (and users may be more likely to share your posts/photos). Second, you’ll be uploading unique content… which Google really likes. You don’t have to be a photography expert or a graphic artist. That’s that beauty of sites like Instagram. They do some of the work for you.
2. Instagram Backlinks
The second photo SEO strategy my team has been using involves both unique, original photos and social media.
I’m sure you already have a Facebook and an Instagram account, right? Good. (If not, make it a priority to create both today.) What you’re going to do is use Instagram to push original photos and backlinks out through your social networks. Here’s how:
- Take your photo, crop it, and add one of Instagram’s hipsterific filters. You can also save photos to your phone’s photo library via the Dropbox or Flickr mobile apps if you’d rather use a professionally doctored image.
- Add a photo description and include the URL you want to drive traffic to. Remember to use specific hashtags (like #DMcast) that will get your content to the hands of your target audience. (Hashtags allow readers to search for relevant content and find you, even if they’ve never visited your site.)
- Use the geotag feature to create a link to your site by inputing your site’s URL as if it were a location. As a business, what’s the benefit to checking in anyway? Drop your URL as a location and you’ll create a easy backlink that will carry forward throughout much of the social media universe.
- Lastly, share the image to your social sites and email list! This will generate valuable backlinks on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and even in e-mail.
For example, we might post this photo on here, but we’ll use it on Facebook to link to this blog post:
TIP: Photos from your Instagram Web Profile photos can easily be pinned to Pinterest, but that’s a topic for another day.
You see how this works? This is why we like to refer to Instagram as the “social media command center.” It’s a great way to easily boost your visual presence on the web, while also building valuable SEO.