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How to Improve Website SEO Through Photography

By Ben Storey

The leaves have begun their yearly descent. The winds have picked up and the temperatures have dropped. Here at Lunar Logic, we’ve turned on the heat. The holidays are right around the corner, and soon your mailbox will fill with family holiday cards. If your friends and family are anything like ours, it’s a competition to see who has the best family photo. Photo’s aren’t just important for holiday cards, they can also help your website’s SEO and get people more engaged with your site. Studies show that on average people are 94% more likely to engage with your article or blog if there are images. They are 45% more likely to engage with your press release if there is a photo. 67% of customers who purchase online make the decision on the quality of the product image. In other words, the quality of your photos is important! To help you post the best photos, we cornered our photographer and videographer, Eric Hadley, to get some tips on how to take and edit photos for the web.

Photo Tips:

Great photography is something that takes years to learn. That’s why it’s important to do your research and hire a good photographer. But there are tips and tricks that can help you achieve some solid quality photographs on your own. A good blog that covers tips for first time photographers is Photography Tips for Bloggers. There are a lot of great articles there that cover things like color and contrast, lighting, lines and repeating images, and other aspects of composition.

One of the most basic rules of composition is called the rule of thirds. Imagine four lines intersect your photo, breaking up your photo into nine even rectangles. Where those lines intersect is the perfect place for the focal point of your image. This creates movement and interest in your photographs. Studies show that the eye more naturally falls on one of these intersection points, rather than the center of an image.

This rule applies to web photography too. Yes, the rule can be broken—especially for headshots and social media profile photos—but for most photos, the rule of thirds is the golden rule.

Product shots:

Product shots should be composed with simplicity in mind. Use a white background or take pictures in a light tent or light cube. The idea behind product shots is that they should feature the product clearly with minimal background. A white background will make your items stand out. There are ways to get around studio lighting if you don’t have a light box, but a good setup is fairly inexpensive to buy and if you are doing all of your photoshoots yourself, it can be a good investment.

You should also have product photos that show your item in use. These are great not only to break up the monotony of a page of product photos, but also for your advertisements and banners on your site. They are particularly good for landing pages. These photos are what make your items tell the story you want them to tell. With this in mind, these are the photos you will want to change out periodically to refresh your site (whereas you can keep the same product shots for longer). An online retail store needs to change its photography every two to three weeks to keep customers engaged with content.

Simple product shots are a bit easier to take than ones in which you’re setting a scene. For example, If you are a fused glass artist, taking a photo of your wall hanging lying flat is great for showing detail. But taking that photo with the glass art on the wall over a well-set-up table or bookshelf is trickier. However, allowing your customers to envision their product in a home environment makes it easier for that customer to purchase. Here are some great tips on setting up scenes for shooting.

Editing for the web:

In addition to editing your photos to help realize your composition, cropping, contrast, color saturation, etc., there are some specific things you should do for website photography.
  • Edit your photo at its full-size, before compressing for the web. This makes it easier to fix your mistakes.
  • Sharpen your images. Monitors that are dirty or not high definition can round out edges.
  • Crop your image to conform to an aspect ratio. Do not stretch your image to conform, because this will lead to distortion.
  • When preparing your photos for the web make sure that they are in the sRGB colorspace, as opposed to the RGB colorspace, as it will give the most consistent color when viewing in different browsers.
  • Calibrate your monitor. Over time, the colors on your screen will change. These need to be calibrated before every editing project.

Image Title and Alt Tags:

Image titles and alt tags tell search engines what your photos are about. Optimizing your photos for search engines is an important last step to loading your photos to your site. There are two tags to fill out and they have different functions. An alt tag is used to describe your photo. Think of an alt tag as describing your photo to a blind person. Since search engine bots can’t really “see” images, they need this level of description to know what they are looking at. Also, if your image won't load, for whatever reason, this description will tell people what the image is supposed to be. Alt tags will also help when Google indexes your images for image searches. This is an extra important step for product photos.

Title tags are a different beast. Alt tags are for the search bots, and title tags are for humans. In web browsers like Firefox, for example, the title tag is revealed when your mouse hovers over an image. Title tags are more like captions but can provide additional information, like a call to action, an idea for using the product, or any other language that will reveal your goals for this product. These should follow the grammatical guidelines of writing a headline.

Now is the time to get serious about the photography on your website. If you have any questions or would like to know more about website photography, feel free to contact us.

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