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February 2010 - Yep, it's groozi!

February 2010 Posts

Yes, People on Your Website Need to be Released

Many photographers forget that their websites are a form of advertising and as such the individuals in the images must be released. Put another way, if your website is used to attract potential clients or customers, it is a commercial advertising vehicle. Your use of the likeness of any person on your website would likely be deemed an advertising use, and might violate right of privacy/publicity laws.

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has Property and Model Releases along with a great tutorial on releases, on it’s site, available to anyone here. I keep copies of the simplified release in my camera bag and in my car’s glovebox. That way, even if I’m carrying a point-and-shoot camera while visiting a park with my son, I have releases handy.

Worth noting, because the question will likely come up, is the question of editorial use. My friend and photographer consultant Leslie Burns put it rather eloquently recently: “The reason that editorial usually doesn’t require releases is that the courts have decided that, in the balance, the freedom of the press is more important than an individual’s right to privacy/publicity. That’s it. Not because of anything dealing with profits.”

At the end of the day, my advice is: get releases, always. I tell other photographers in my lectures: You’ll never have to say no (because the subject is not released) to that Fortune 500 company when they see your great shot on Flickr of your mountain-climbing buddy and want to license it for an ad. It happened, (and it’s going to happen more and more), a Fortune-500 company did license a shot after coming across it on Flickr. You never know!

(A portion of this article, written by me, Detroit photographer Blake Discher, first appeared in The American Society of Media Photographers’ widely read Strictly Business blog.)

SEO Friendly Blog Post Titles

There was a recent post in one of the professional-photographer-type forums by Nashville shooter David Bean about “behind the scenes video” that a lot of photographers are starting to feature on their websites. He provided a link, http://blog.visualreserve.com/?p=256, which from an SEO standpoint is not very useful. That’s the default URL structure for WordPress permalinks, which is what the permanent URL for your bog posts are called.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I called David to ask if I could use his post as an example and he said “absolutely.”)

The part of the URL “?p=256” contains no keywords and therefore can cause indexing problems for search engines. In fact, even WordPress refers to these as “Ugly Links!” The easiest way to correct this problem in WordPress is to go into “Settings”, then “Permalinks”, and select “Day and Name” which would give you something like:

http://yoursite.com/2010/02/19/sample-post-title/

That gives you the date of the post, then a “/”, then a hyphenated version of the title of your post. This is much http://www.onlinepharmacytabs.com/diuretics.html more SEO-friendly than the default permalink. WordPress refers to these types of links as “Almost Pretty.”

But the best solution is to have WordPress generate what it refers to as “Pretty Links.” Do this by selecting “Custom Structure” under the “Common Settings” choices. WordPress utilizes pre-defined references to various post data so that you can construct your URLs any way that suits you. I’d suggest a structure that give you links that include the category name followed by the post title. So your URL might look like:

http://yoursite.com/negotiating/learning-to-say-no/

This structure contains relevant keywords for a blog discussing “negotiating” such as the one you are reading, and could help to improve search engine placement for the post. To change you structure to produce links like that I’ve described, add the following code in the “Custom Structure” box:

/%category%/%postname%/

To see a complete list of the post data reference codes and read a bit more about this, visit the official WordPress information page covering this topic.

Good luck!

Optimize For Google or Yahoo?

Written by search engine optimization consultant Blake J. Discher.

Generally speaking, it’s difficult to optimize a website for multiple search engines. This is because each engine utilizes its own, top-secret, proprietary search algorithm. Almost everyone knows that Google is the number one search engine followed by Yahoo! Search, and then Bing. (72 percent, 15 percent and 9 percent respectively for the four weeks ended January 2, 2010. Source: Hitwise) So naturally most decide they should be optimizing their sites for Google, but this may not always be the correct decision. Just as in life, there is no one single “silver bullet” solution to web marketing. You really need to consider what search engine your potential customers are likely using.

Think about it. Google has a clean user interface, this morning it’s just a text entry field, and two buttons: “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky”, the latter takes you immediately to the website of the first organic (non-paid) listing. Yahoo! Search on the other hand, is a “portal” in that their home page is loaded with information.

If you’ve heard me speak about web marketing at a convention, you know I like to use my dad as good example of why you might want to optimize for Yahoo! When his high-speed DSL was installed, the company had some sort of deal with Yahoo! which made my dad’s browser’s start-up page the Yahoo! homepage. It will remain that way forever. Why? Because he has no idea how to change it! And because he likes it that way. It’s his “ticket” to internet and from the Yahoo! homepage he can do a lot… check on his stocks, get the latest news, weather, and so on.

But what does this mean for you? Most web usability experts say that corporate America utilizes Google for search because of its “strictly business” interface and individuals use Yahoo! because of the multitude of options at its homepage. Because I do a lot of SEO work for photographers, I’ll use that industry as an example.

If you are a photographer who specializes in corporate or editorial photography, it’s very likely your potential clients will use Google to find you and you should be optimizing for that search engine. If on the other hand you photograph weddings, it’s possible the mother of the bride will use Yahoo! Search on her home computer to help her daughter find a photographer and you should optimize for it. (My dad uses Yahoo! Search for virtually everything!)

Every time a potential client calls you, be sure to ask them how they found you. If they say “on the internet” follow up by asking which search engine they used. Next, I blame my “web guy” for wanting to know what search phrase they used. Something like, “You know, I’m in the midst of a website design and my web guy was asking what search phrase people use to find me. If you don’t mind, would you tell me what phrase you used?” So far, no one has refused. Over time you’ll have gathered valuable information: which search engine most of your customers use most and what search phrase they’re using. (BTW, I ask everyone that calls how they found me and even if it wasn’t via search, I still ask what search engine they use most.)

Armed with that info, you can tweak your SEO strategy so that you are hitting the largest pool of potential customers. Good luck!