Help search engines find your photo posts
There is plenty of advise all over the Internet on how to do SEO, “search engine optimization”. Not so much when it comes to helping photographers who mainly post photos to their photo gallery blogs. Photographers are visual people, they let their images do the talking. Search engines, on the other hand, look for words. Text is the majority of what searching is all about.
Look at the situation from the searchers perspective. There are occasions when someone does an image search. If you are running Chrome, right-click on an image and there is an option “Search Google for this image”. Google will find other places where this photo is posted and it also shows “visually similar images”. You need not do anything to help this process.
Note the tip from Google (marked in the illustration here). “Try entering a descriptive word in the search box.”
Mostly people search by entering some words or or a phrase in the text box on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. We mostly look for words, and so do search engines. People may not use the words that you thought as describing your photo. The search engines are good, they know about synonyms and will provide returns for those.
The search engine designers want to provide the answer to a user that the user is looking for, even if he has not expressed himself correctly. That is a tall order. You, the blogger, need to give the search engine a hand so your blog will come up in a search that is best satisfied by your post. This is not about tricking the search engine to favor your post, it is about helping the search engine satisfy its user. You need text that will match the search terms. Since you cannot anticipate the question, you need to supply plenty of details. Live Writer can help you with that.
So here some thoughts on how to post photos that will be found in searches.
Let’s start with a photo. There are different ways of adding it to a post. When you click Insert > Picture, Live Writer gives you two options: “From your computer …” and “From the web …”.
Let’s start with the first method, inserting a photo that is stored on you computer. You probably have attached tags and other metadata to the photo. None of that matters to Live Writer, except the title. Live Writer generates the HTML code in accordance with some preferences that you have set up. The code for the small picture of the green plant looks like this:
Note that the title, “Green” for this photo, is shown as the “img title=” and also as “alt=”. It is these two pieces of information, or “attributes”, that search engines can learn from the code. And it is here where you can help them along.
Give your photo an accurate and descriptive title
The title of the photo, contained in the HTML code, is the most important text associated with an image in your blog. Make it accurate and descriptive so it can be found when someone searches for those words (or synonyms). This is also the text that a viewer sees when hovering the pointer over the image.
The second text item in the code, the “alt” attribute text, or “alternate text”, can be even more useful. That text is not seen by the viewer (except when the image cannot be displayed, and just the place-holder area and this text appears). But the search engines read this text.
Take advantage of the alternate text
Think of this alternate text as what you would say to a blind friend when describing this photo. Give all the needed information to allow a mental image being formed from your description. Keep the text concise but complete. A sentence or a small paragraph should suffice. Here is some text that might go with the photo of the green plant:
This photo is of a lush, green plant as seen from above. The tip of the plant, with the tiniest new leaves just unfolding is to the right and below center of the image. There are no colors other than green in this photo. The newest, budding leaves are the lightest green. Older, larger, leaves, farther in the background are darker shades of green. The leaf-edges have tiny triangular serrations. The leaf surfaces are rich in texture showing the structure of the leaves.
You might not want such gushy, detailed information to appear alongside your photo, but it is fine to have it there for the search engines (and blind readers). Make it readable text. Do not provide a list of your tags. Search engines are “offended” by lists of words since that is how “optimizers” have tried to trick them in the past.
How do you insert the alt text? Click the Source tab at the bottom left of the Live Writer window to see the generated HTML code. Find the alt attribute for the photo of interest (Tip: I use a temporary line of equal signs above and below a photo so I can find it easily in the code.) Replace the alt text between the quotation marks with your full description.
Inserting a photo from the web
When you select Insert > Picture > From the web… the dialog allows you to specify the web address, URL, of the image you wish to insert. After you enter the URL, Live Writer retrieves the image from the web and shows it in the dialog. It also shows the size of the image. You can change the image size after insertion, however, it is best for speedy performance, if the original size will be used in your blog post.
The image will be inserted at the location of the cursor after you click Insert.
Live Writer offers a Hyperlink insertion option. This presents a dialog for entering the URL that the image should link to. In the Advanced section of the dialog you can enter the title text as well as the alternate text. The Live Writer dialog calls this “Rel:” . You can enter as much text as you wish. It is easiest to have this text prepared beforehand so you can just paste it in. This method will generate the full HTML code and you need not patch in the alt text in the source view.
One caution: The Hyperlink insert option does not allow you to modify an already attached link. The URL will be retained in the new dialog, however, the title and alt text will be blanked out and you need to reenter them. A bit of a nuisance, but that is how Live Writer works.
One more thought: The more of a story you provide, the more there will be for search engines to work with. It may be difficult for you, a visual artist, to describe your works in text, but if you do, there is a much better chance for your future admirers, and customers, to find you!
© 2014 Ludwig Keck
Windows Live Writer dates from ancient history by modern standards, it was born back in the days when Microsoft offered “Spaces”. That was a personal web site and blogging service. Live Writer offered a a WYSIWYG, “what you see is what you get”, interface to make preparing blog posts really easy and accessible to everyone. Images were stored on your Spaces site.
Spaces is long gone, the online storage became SkyDrive and changed name more recently to OneDrive. Live Writer is part of Windows Essentials and hasn’t been updated in two years. Still, Live Writer is the best blogging editor there is. Nothing else comes close.
Does Live Writer work with OneDrive?
Absolutely, and beautifully too! OneDrive, unlike other “cloud” photo storage services, is organized in folders and sub-folders just like the file storage system on computers. There have been many changes and improvements in OneDrive cloud storage but no matching updates to Live Writer, so it works as it did years ago. Some compromises are required and some new quirks have been introduced, but these you can live with. In the next section I will take a look at the various features and describe how they work nowadays – mid-year 2014.
To check the current operation, I prepared two blog posts to illustrate the features and problems. I first prepared and published the post on Gallery Ludwig. Here is a screen capture of the way it looks. I incorporated a number of the unique features that Live Writer offers for managing the appearance and layout of illustrations. After publication to Gallery Ludwig, a WordPress blog, I opened the post in Live Writer and selected another of my blogs, Café Ludwig, that is very different in layout, so I made scaling changes to fit the post into the narrower layout of that blog, and published it to Café Ludwig, a Blogger blog.
Live Writer has some nice picture effects like tilting the image, applying frames and more. Most of these effects are only available when the image is sourced from the computer as you prepare the post. Specifically frames, tilting, watermarks, and picture effects require local photos. Live Writer adds these changes to a new copy of the image. This new image is uploaded to the blog site when the post is published. In fact Live Writer may upload two copies, a “thumbnail” and a “source picture”. If the blog is hosted by WordPress the images go to the Media Library. When hosted on Blogger the images are sent to your Google Photos album to an album by the name “Windows Live Writer”. The images in the post are the “thumbnails”. Live Writer will provide a hyperlink to the “source picture” if that is selected in the properties section.
My preference is to use the “Source picture” option very little, because the browser display it in just a plain, ugly view of the photo. I prefer to link to a photo in a OneDrive album, or folder. This gets us to sourcing from OneDrive.
Sourcing images from OneDrive
OneDrive has become an easy to operate online file storage system. Sourcing photos from a OneDrive album is best done by accessing it in a browser. The image must have sharing set to “Everyone”, that is public. This is best done by having the containing folder set to public sharing. When the photo is displayed in OneDrive the URL in the browser address bar provides a link to that page.
The illustration above shows the URL selected to be copied (Ctrl+C) so it is available for use in Live Writer.
To link a picture that was sourced from the computer, click on the picture, then click Insert > Hyperlink. The copied URL will already be in the dialog.
If special features on the image are not needed, it is easy to source the image right from OneDrive. This way Live Writer will not need to upload the photo to the blog site. For this approach click “View original” when the photo is viewed (see the illustration above). This shows the photo by itself. The URL may now be copied from the browser address bar.
In the post draft in Live Writer select Insert > Picture – From the web. Then paste the URL into the dialog. Click Insert. Then you can position the image, resize, set the margins on the Picture Tools ribbon (click the picture to bring up this ribbon).
You can arrange the layout as you like. Remember that you downloaded the blog layout settings when you added the blog account to Live Writer.
One of the beautiful features of Live Writer is the ability to add a collage of photos from an OneDrive album.
Adding a collage from a OneDrive album
Live Writer can prepare a collage right from the pictures in a OneDrive album. There is one important catch: The album must not be a sub-folder. It has been this way from the earliest days of Live Writer, so this is nothing new. If you are newly uploading the photos to your OneDrive, just make sure you do it in a newly created folder right on the first page. Make that folder public. If you already have an album that you wish to use, move it to the first page. After you have prepared the post in Live Writer you can move your album to any folder or subfolder as you wish. Don’t worry about breaking links – none will be broken. That is part of the charm of OneDrive!
Time and “improvements” in OneDrive have made the links that are on the collages operate not as expected, but close. The “VIEW SLIDE SHOW” link just gets you to the OneDrive album. You don’t get a “Play slide show” option until you click one of the pictures. The links of the individual square thumbnails get you to the “View original” display of the full sized image in a plain browser window. This, by the way, is lost in the translation to another blog. You can check that in the Café Ludwig post. Guess that is asking just a bit too much of Live Writer.
So as you can see, OneDrive and Live Writer work very nicely together. That you can move folders around in OneDrive without breaking any links is a really nice feature. After preparing the first post with the two collages I moved the folder from the main page to a sub-folder. As you can easily ascertain, the links work fine.
© 2014 Ludwig Keck
Spammers love blogs and have been a plague for a long time. Sadly, parasites will always be with us. Lately there seem to be more that try to get posted by using flattery.
It used to be that spammers just tried to comment with long lists of links to junk sites. The machinery of the blog providers has pretty much eliminated those spam comments. Flattering comments with just one or two links are easy to spot. Here are some (edited) examples:
This submit actually made my day. You can’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thank you! my blog … [link to junk site]
Hey very nice blog! My blog: … [link to junk site]
I do not even know hоw I endеd up hеrе, but I thоught this post was greаt. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers! my blog post … [link to junk site]
Hey There. That is an extremely neatly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read extra of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return. my web site: … [link to junk site]
Well, you are not likely to fall for these. As much as we all like praise, these overly-flowery comments are not likely to get approved and published as comments. Do not approve a flattering comment that is not truly responsive to the post on which it is submitted.
Some spammers have started to automatically include your post title in their comment in hopes of getting it approved as a comment. Here is one:
Thanks for finally talking about > “Long Shadows” < Liked it! my page … [link to junk site]
Even parasites are not totally stupid, so the latest trick is to not include any links. The default settings on most blogs require comment approval before publishing unless the comment writer was previously approved. And therein lies a potential for getting tons of unexpected spam comments to get through. The spammer just needs to get one comment approved and it is open sailing thereafter. Don’t let that happen to you! Here is an obvious one from that class:
Just desire to say your article is as astounding. The clearness to your
publish is simply spectacular and i can suppose you’re knowledgeable in this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with impending post. Thank you one million and please continue the rewarding work.
But some may be quite short and easily mistaken for actual praise. You don’t want to reject a real reader of your blog, so the best strategy is to set your blog to require approval of all comments by you.
In WordPress the setting is under Settings – Discussion as shown in this illustration:
Blogger settings are under Settings – Posts and comments
Consider letting anyone comment, but require approval for all comments. Enjoy the occasional flattery, they may be worth a chuckle, but make sure that they do not result in a headache!
© 2012 Ludwig Keck
Windows Live Writer is the unsurpassed blogging editor for its effective WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editing environment. Great strides have been made by the blogging service providers in creating themes, designs or templates with headers and backgrounds. Some of these features confuse Live Writer and do not appear in the editor as they look in the finished blog. This may be just a bother, but with some designs these features can obscure the typing in Live Writer.
The WordPress theme and custom header used with this blog is a good example. Here is how the Live Writer editor window looks with the freshly downloaded theme (Blog Account tab > Update theme).
The post title entry box is partially obscured by the header image as is part of the main text area. This is particularly troublesome when the image is the same color as the text – you can’t read your own writing!
Here is another example, this time the background image in the actual blog is overlaid with a semitransparent text area. Live Write is confused by this and it shows the background in its full glory. Seeing the entered text is difficult.
If you are bothered by such a situation, here is my work-around solution.
When the blog theme is downloaded from the blog site the header and background images are placed along with other material into a folder named “blogtemplates”. The trick is to modify these images so they will not be bothersome when used by Live Writer. My solution is to just draw a white or light gray box in the appropriate location. With that done the Live Writer window looks like this:
Now the Live Writer edit window is completely useful and preparing a post is fast, easy, and convenient. The modified local image files will not affect the blog, you see these images only in Live Writer.
The first step is to locate the folder “blogtemplates”. The easiest way is to open Windows Explorer (File Explorer in Windows 8). Then click Local Disk under Computer in the navigation pane (If you renamed your main dirve look for that name. It is usually your C: drive). In the search box enter blogtemplates. The folder will be found in C:\User\yourname\AppData\Roaming\Windows Live Writer. Of course, you can step through the folders and get there that way.
Now it gets a bit interesting. Computers are completely tasteless when it comes to naming folders. If you have more than one blog, as I do, you will see a weirdly named folder for each blog. Of course, there is no indication as to which belongs to what. You can look through the folders to find the header or background image, you will recognize it more easily if you set the file listing display to large icons. An easier way is to download the theme for the blog of interest, the folder will then have the current date and time as the Date modified. (See below.)
There will be two subfolders in the the blog template folder. It is the second subfolder that contains the offending images (at least on the computers I tried it on it was always the second folder.)
You can load the header or background image into Paint and there draw a light-colored rectangle over the area where text entry will take place. My approach was to get the correct width by doing a screen capture of the open blog in a browser and then clipping out a bit of the text area and pasting it to the appropriate location in Paint.
Note of caution: Both subfolders in the theme folder in blogtemplates will have the header and background images. If you make the changes in the wrong one, you will not see the correction in Live Writer. I have not explored the reason for two subfolders and how the contents is used. If you mess up royally just update the theme to get new files downloaded and start over.
© 2012 Ludwig Keck