Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting More Views on Flickr Using Tags, Links, Titles and Descriptions

As of today, my photos and videos on Flickr have been viewed 2,005, 531 times. And the total views including photostream, sets and collections is sitting at 2, 470, 048. That's based on 5, 992 pictures (and a couple of videos) that have been posted.

Now that's gratifying number, but in the Flickrverse, it's not that big of a deal. Many folks on Flickr can claim much higher view counts than that, and there are probably more than a few individual pictures that have hit 2,000,000 views.

To what do I attribute this? Not any photographic talent that I have. My most viewed picture (70,000) is this one of a statue of Robert Wadlow, who has the sad distinction of being the tallest man who has ever lived. The only thing this picture has going for it is that it doesn't suck.

Robert Wadlow

Why does this one get so many views. Simple. Go out to Google and type in Robert Wadlow in the image search box. Here, I'll do it for you. Note that the picture comes up in the front page of the results. And it's the first one in color. I get anywhere from 100 to 300 hits a day, just on that picture.

Why does Google like this one?

1. I use the subject name in the title
2. I use Robert Wadlow a couple of times in the description, and I link to the Wikipedia article
3. And there are even mentions of Robert Wadlow in the tags.

So, if someone is searching for "Robert Wadlow," well, you get the drift.

If you want your pictures to get more views, long after they've past into the archives of your photostream, then using good titles, descriptions and tags is really important.

I've talked about groups before and I probably will again. Depending on the group, you may get a burst of views if it's a good picture. But once your picture slides off of the first page or two of the pool, you're unlikely to see much more activity.

But tags, titles and descriptions are forever. The search engines (including Flickr) don't really care when a picture was posted. The usual criteria is relevance. And all of the things I've done with the Robert Wadlow picture increase its relevance. This is search engine marketing 101 (which I've taught many years ago).

In this picture

Hearst Castle Swimming Pool

I used "Hearst Castle" in the title, description and tags. There's a link in the description. A fair chunk of the 10,000 views I've had on this picture come from people looking for pictures of, you guessed it, Hearst Castle.

There are also a fair amount of views for "nice house in California" and you'll notice there are a couple of tags for houses and California. I can just see the realtor putting their head in their hands when the prospective buyer shows them a picture of the pool and says, "I want something like that."

For this picture

The World's Best Chocolate Cake

I have gotten a lot of views (9,000) for "best chocolate cake" or some variation. And the title of the picture is...."The World's Best Chocolate Cake." And those words pop up in the description and the tags as well.

Are you noticing a pattern?

1. Proper names: If the subject has a proper name, then use it in the title, subject and tags. Ditto for locations like "Hearst Castle."

2. Use generic words like "cake" in the same places: title, description and tags.

3. Put links in the descriptions whenever appropriate. That raises your relevance with the search engines too.

4. Put in the political locations. Every one of my pictures has the city and state in the description and the tags. Whenever I get an inquiry to purchase one of my pictures, it's clear that they used the city as one of the search keywords.

Folks, you need to start writing. If you want people to see your pictures weeks after you've posted them, then you have to make your picture attractive to search engines. That means putting words in the title, description and tags. If it conflicts with your artistic vision, don't do it. But whenever you can, write stuff!

Personally, I write because most of my pictures are more documentary in nature, and therefore I try to provide additional material through the titles, descriptions and links. And I use tags not only because of search engines, but also because I use Flickr as my personal index of my pictures. If I need a image of a piece of chocolate cake, Flickr will help me find one instantly.

So all that has worked out for me. I enjoy providing information and that dovetails nicely with the needs of the search engines. If writing more isn't going to work for you, then don't worry about it.

See tomorrow's post for an article specifically about the types of tags I use.

Jim Frazier

COPYRIGHT 2010 by Jim Frazier All Rights Reserved. This may NOT be used for ANY reason without consent. See for more information.

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