Image by shashiBellamkonda via FlickrHere's today's MediaPost column. In the photo below, fittingly posted by Shashi on Flickr, he's the one on the left, posing with Four Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss at Blog World Expo. I'm using the Zemanta plug-in to post these images on the blog.
Schmoozing With The Swami Of Photo Optimization
Meeting a self-described social media swami isn't necessarily a
religious experience, but it's almost always a learning experience. At
least that was the case when I met Shashi Bellamkonda, whose more formal title is the Chief Social Media Evangelist for Network Solutions.
I first met Shashi through Twitter, where he has about a thousand more followers than me
and he's posted nearly eight times as many updates (if you can't think
of one thing to say on Twitter, imagine writing over 10,000). I then
met him at Blog World Expo, which might not be the geekiest event ever,
but at least no one was dressed up as their favorite social media site. A personal highlight was joining the Solutions Stars Video Conference that Shashi put together, where I snuck in with some real A-listers.
When I saw Shashi's Flickr-based photos from Blog World, like this one,
I was surprised to see links in the captions to Shashi's site and his
corporate blog. I had to learn more about how and why Shashi was doing
Flickr is renowned as a great
site for content distribution. You can optimize image titles, tags, and
descriptions, along with set names, and images will often rank highly
in search engines for those terms. For example, say you're looking for
information on the Henry Moore sculpture exhibit at the New York
Botanical Garden in the Bronx. If you search for 'henry moore bronx,'
Yahoo brings up two local listings followed by my Flickr set
in the sixth natural position, and Google brings up five listings
(including two local) with my Flickr set coming in sixth overall.
Through this, I've expanded the search footprint for my personal
brand, just as Shashi did for his, and corporate brands can of course
do the same. Through Flickr, you can build credibility, connect with
people who share similar interests, and over time attract links and
build traffic. Additionally, bloggers and others may pick up the images
and give you credit, extending the fame and links further.
I spoke with Shashi to find out more about how he approaches Flickr optimization.
Search Insider: What value do you get out of image optimization?
Shashi Bellamkonda: I discovered this by accident.
I started taking pictures to share with people that I had met at
conferences, and then some of them emailed me asking to use the
pictures. I then noticed that there were several people on Flickr who
were using the Creative Commons license to let other people use the
pictures and give credit. Brian Solis [principal of communications firm
FutureWorks PR] is one of them. Flickr is spidered aggressively by
Google and while the links in the comments section are "no follow," any
links you put in the description are valid. Realizing it's all about
user experience, I think the best practice is to add your blog and
website links, and it's preferable to link to the person you took a
picture of. I have had several top bloggers link to me thanks to
Flickr. You can see one example from Marc Baumann, and another post for a good cause [about drunk driving].
SI: Are you just using Flickr? Are there any other sites you're using for image link optimization?
Bellamkonda: I dabbled with a lot of them and
decided to concentrate on Flickr for its distribution and for the speed
in being spidered. The openness of the platform is also good; you can
blog from your feed, embed your picture in posts, and take advantage of
SI: Can you briefly mention what Creative Commons is and why you feature CC attributions in all your photos?
Bellamkonda: Making them CC helps spread the
picture and its collateral far wider. People come and tag their
pictures, tag their friends, download pictures, and even use the
pictures for printed collateral.
SI: How do you track where your photos go?
Bellamkonda: If my pictures are used, then my
Google alert helps track it. I also use mybloglog.com to see where the
traffic came from. I noticed this weekend that Flickr has now better
stats about traffic and you can see where your traffic is coming from.
SI: What are your favorite uploading tools for Flickr that let you do this efficiently?
Bellamkonda: The two tools I recommend are Flickr Uploadr and also the Windows Live Photo Gallery.
Initially, I was uploading images all in their original sizes and then
decided to upload them in the recommended size for archiving — 2048
pixels. Sometimes people email me asking for the original images for
print and I send it to them.
SI: Do you have any other recommendations?
Bellamkonda: Ultimately, Flickr is about the
users. Share interesting pictures that tell a story and provide value
to your Flickr community. If you are taking the trouble of posting your
pictures, you should take the next step to title and tag them well so
people looking for these pictures will come up in search results.
SI: Are there any tips on what you'd advise NOT to do?
Bellamkonda: I think everyone should be mindful of the Flickr Community Guidelines:
"Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products,
services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your
account. Any other commercial use of Flickr, Flickr technologies
(including APIs, FlickrMail, etc), or Flickr accounts must be approved
by Flickr." Also, every picture of yours should tell a story, and I
believe this guideline is policed by the community.