Make Your URLs like your Photos: Beautiful

Make Your URLs like your Photos: Beautiful

We’ve been talking a lot about SEO recently and how simple changes can impact your visibility to the search engines to generate you more website traffic. Last week, I talked about the importance of page titles, and today I want to talk about URLs.

If you’ve been to, you might have noticed that every product has a URL with the product name in it:

The URLs didn’t used to look like this, but they made a big point of creating human-readable URLs because of its impact on SEO.

Most photo websites have crappy URLs. Here’s one (I’ve mercifully cut out the domain):

Photo websites have a perennial problem in that Google can’t “see” your photos. There’s no image recognition software that can scan a photo and determine what’s going on. Therefore, more than other websites, photography websites need lots of supporting meta data so that the major search engines have a chance of indexing the content.

URLs, like page titles, are very helpful in that regard. Here’s a PhotoShelter URL. Take a guess what the gallery contains without clicking on it:

PhotoShelter automatically takes the name of the gallery and makes it a part of the URL. Like most blogging software, we use a dash “-” character to replace spaces because according to most SEO experts, this is the preferred format. So it saves you time while giving you an SEO boost.

Many Flash-based websites have self-contained Flash “movies” that don’t change the URL at all. Not only is this problematic from an SEO point of view, it also makes it impossible for a user to say “I like this photo, here’s the URL.”

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again:
Your website design isn’t just for people who visit it. The
fundamental construction of the website can help attract visitors even
if they don’t know who you are.

So when you’re evaluating options for constructing your website, make sure that you look beyond the exterior, and dig into the things that will actually drive more eyeballs to your work.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. He co-hosts the "I Love Photography" podcast on iTunes.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Masa Ushioda/ at 2:27 pm

    Aloha Allen, I am still new at Photoshelter, but I have done fair amount of SEO work for a stock photo agency as a web site developer for a few years, so it’s very exciting to see all the SEO work you have done so far at Photoshelter. As I try to score higher in the SEO Grader, I found a few things that you may be able to help us greatly, and I wish you put these in your next project if you agree. First, renaming file name is a great thing to do SEO-wise, but after renaming some, I realized I was no longer able to see the full file names in Archive, Galleries or Lightboxes areas (unless I double-click each image), because those descriptive file names got so much longer. I found this very inconvenient in many occasions when I work in these areas. For my web site, I was able to customize the template making sure to show full file names. I wish I could do the same in these Photographer Areas. Second, from time to time, I need to update the older original file which were already uploaded in Photoshelter, and marketed for a while. This becomes necessary when I edit a lot of IPTC or reprocess RAW files with newer, much better software or hardware (like scanners), etc. Because I didn’t want to scratch their image stats, carts r lightboxes, etc., I used the Replace Original function from the File menu of each picture. I was hoping this would update IPTC & EXIF data, but it didn’t. It more makes sense to me if the General, IPTC and EXIF (other than stats) get updated when I do replace original file. I know I can update the IPTC but I cannot do that for EXIF data. Right now I’m just deleting the older file and uploading new ones, but in the long run, doing this may cause SEO troubles… once these pictures are catalogued by searchbots. Any possibility of my wishes coming true? I love you guys!!!

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