|SEO of photography and art websites post Panda|
Good evening Webmasterworld, I'd love to get your thoughts on Panda and image-centric websites. Everything I read regarding Panda, is all about textual content and how Panda is designed to target "shallow" content. i.e content with little depth.
I'm yet to find a decent discussion on Panda and art / image stock websites such as DeviantArt.
For those who don't know DeviantArt, it's the largest community of artists in the world. The pages are created by users, who upload their work. Their art speaks for itself, and it's rare for an artist to give a description above a couple of words.
Obviously it's not viable for the admins to manually add longer descriptions to these pages, a) because there isn't enough time in the word and b) because it's not ethical to alter a users page. Nor would it be right, for admins to force users to write longer descriptions. After all, we design our websites for users, not search engines.
In my niche in particular, some websites have large chunks of generic text, that replaces certain keywords with the title of the upload for example. In your opinion, would this be a positive or negative addition? Are some words better than none, even if they're largely duplicate and generic? The biggest websites in the niche, opt to have no text, beyond the usual titles, h1, users description etc.
Obviously on page SEO is hugely important in any niche, but perhaps even more so in niches that are image-centric.
Do you guys have any ideas, on how I can add perceived value to these pages?
I like to believe, that Google is smart enough to score websites relative to the niche they're in. All of the websites in these niches, are sparse on text, therefore won't give them a big fat Panda slap for that reason alone.
One of my sites avoided Panda entirely, until we updated our CMS that introduced a number of duplicate content bugs i.e 56 copies of the homepage and on the next refresh, we were hit. As I say, I like to believe this is the reason we were hit and not because of the lack of textual content.
It would be great to have your input.
Depends if they are your images or not..?
If yes..add more "descriptive" text..describe it to a blind art aficionado :)
If not your images..ask your artists / uploaders to give you a short text description of between 50 and 250 words ..tell them you may "edit"/ "rewrite" slightly..and ( if you think it is feasible to do so ) that you will let them see the edited / revised version before it goes live..
I have sites which are predominantly image based ( my photos and artwork ) I have always had around 50 to 250 words description or subject related text with each image..sometimes more ..no problems with any updates, including the black and white animal ones..
OTOH..if you wish to do well in image search ( I block G from hot-linking ) from what I see of others longterm success there ..better to use short one or two word actual image titles..
There's also schema data. SE's might find this information delicious in regards to their "knowledge graph".
|Their art speaks for itself, and it's rare for an artist to give a description above a couple of words. |
Not to get into analyzing another site, but DA has a very active community with large number of user comments. I don't think you can ignore this in considering why they rank. It's also not necessarily typical of other art and photography sites, where the whole point of a site might be to present images in an austere, fine arts gallery-like environment. So "photography" and "art" and types of community an market areas may be extremely different.
|If yes..add more "descriptive" text..describe it to a blind art aficionado |
I think this is a wonderful way of putting it. Yes, this is one approach, and one I like. I think it's possible to add unobtrusive text to a page, slightly grayed down, eg, on a black bg, that shouldn't interfere with an image at all. It becomes a design problem to be solved.
To toss out a bunch of questions/observations that come to mind within the broad topic of the opening post...
- are we talking only about stock image sites here? Seems to me that different kinds of sites... even different kinds of stock sites... may have different kinds targeting priorities, depending on the type of art and the market.
- depending on the above, what are you targeting, beyond, say, [stock keyword]?... The artist's name? The image subject matter? The photographic genre? If we're going beyond stock sites, are we talking about an art gallery name?... or perhaps even an artist's commercial services?
- if an individual artist's site, one photo or painting per page, or a jQuery gallery?
- if a stock site, organize images anonymously by subject matter, or by specific photographer, or both? Do dupe image-content issues apply to different data sorts?
- how does Panda react to a page that contains an image above the fold with the description to a blind art aficionado below?
- lots of art isn't about the name of its subject matter. So if you're verbally optimizing, what are you targeting?
- how does Google respond to a collection of images that aren't thematically connected?
- if you want to avoid image search, are you essentially throwing in the towel?
|- are we talking only about stock image sites here? Seems to me that different kinds of sites... even different kinds of stock sites... may have different kinds targeting priorities, depending on the type of art and the market. |
Hi Robert, thanks for your thoughts. My website in particular, is mobile art, our artists create themes for mobile phones.
|- depending on the above, what are you targeting, beyond, say, [stock keyword]?... The artist's name? The image subject matter? The photographic genre? If we're going beyond stock sites, are we talking about an art gallery name?... or perhaps even an artist's commercial services? |
We target mainly upload name + brand + theme. I realise this is different to stock image websites, but they were the closest example of websites that are image heavy, that most people will have some experience with.
We have galleries of themes, sorted by brand, model, category etc, as well as individual artists galleries.
|- how does Panda react to a page that contains an image above the fold with the description to a blind art aficionado below? |
Up until last night, when I made a design change (at users request), we had a couple of sentences before the preview of the theme, which consisted of 1. A breakdown of stats i.e This theme was uploaded on January 19th to the Abstract category, it has 50,000 views and 5,000 downloads and has received 50 likes. Then the users own description, which can vary from a couple of words, to several paragraphs.
We're working with our members, to encourage them to add more descriptive descriptions. Were also editing the really short ones and letting the member know what we've done and why. However we have a few hundred thousand uploads to get through.
Now the paragraph is shorter and below the image. Members complained that the chunk of text, pushed their previews below the fold.
|how does Google respond to a collection of images that aren't thematically connected? |
We keep the themes as well organised as possible, they are organised by brand, model, and category. There are also tags which group them together, but since being hit by Panda, I have noindex, followed the pages, as they need some work to prevent duplicate content.
|if you want to avoid image search, are you essentially throwing in the towel? |
Our web traffic is high, 25,000 unique visitors a day pre panda and 15,000 since being caught in a refresh. Image search traffic is none existant. I'm working on improving that, by renaming all of the images, to give them more context.
|There's also schema data. SE's might find this information delicious in regards to their "knowledge graph". |
Hi Panthro, we had Schema data, but as Google didn't use it, we dropped it recently. However, I will likely add it back, since the intro of the knowledge graph.
|Depends if they are your images or not..? |
Hi Leosghost, the images are previews of the themes, which are created by my members.
|If not your images..ask your artists / uploaders to give you a short text description of between 50 and 250 words ..tell them you may "edit"/ "rewrite" slightly..and ( if you think it is feasible to do so ) that you will let them see the edited / revised version before it goes live.. |
This is something we're trying, so far we've seen no positive effects. Many members are playing along nicely, others continue to upload 1 or 2 word descriptions, which we edit before going live.
As I said, we completely avoided Panda. Then in late December we upgraded our CMS, which introduced duplicate content bugs, such as 56 urls all showing our homepage, every thread in our forum that has multi pages, each page is seen as a new thread. On the next refresh in January, we were hit.
So while I do believe the reasons we were hit, is largely because of the duplicate content issues, I'm always striving to find ways to improve the website, it's content, my users experience and improve Googles perception of the website and content.
Thanks so much to everybody who's replied. Hopefully my answers give you a better idea of my website.
bit of a random question, our page now has 50,000 likes, but rather than using the main website url, I added the url to our Facebook page. Now I'm thinking this was probably a bad idea, especially if Google is using likes in any way, shame or form?
I don't think Google will be able to associate our Facebook page, with our website?
Switching now, would be like starting again with our likes, which would be a pain, but if its best for the overall good, I guess I can make the switch.
What do you think?
One of the biggest questions, I'd love feedback on. Is these generic sentences, that switch the keywords out with php, are we better with or without them?
I've sent another PM out to my members, well the ones who create the content. We have 2 million members and under 500 of them, are the ones who create all the cotent, the rest just download! I've let them in on "a little secret", as to how they can get more downloads to their themes. TELL GOOGLE WHAT YOUR UPLOAD IS ABOUT!
It's a slightly different tact than I used last time, which was more of a request. Different people respond to different methods, so hopefully I'll catch the attention of those, who didn't respond to my humble request.
Maybe next, I'll have to play bad cop and tell them if they can't be bothered to offer a description in their work, don't bother uploading it at all. :)
My suggestion would be to focus on user comments/reviews rather than adding more words to describe the picture. Picture is said to convey a lot of words and why should one waste time on adding additional textual description beyond what is needed? Is it for google? If the answer is Yes, then don't do it. Because, you are essentially converting a page that might be falling within Google's "shallow" definition into some thing that might be genuinely (i.e. not falling within google's definition) duplicate or redundant.
But user comments/reviews are more natural and an active discussion would definitely convey the interest/popularity to users. Yes, this can be and is already being manipulated. But if you are worried about google, I do see them ignoring these as they probably can't find out whether they are genuine third party comments or "paid" comments.
Thus, if you have art/picture sites, the best thing IMHO is to have UGC.
ps: A few days later they might come up with some technology to understand the words behind the picture and then they might penalize you for having duplicate content on the same page. :(
But for some niches, there is also the problem of having to deal with a lot of useless remarks. For example, say a site with celebrity picture galleries. Most of the user remarks aren't worthy of approval and the site owner wasn't approving them for years. But with panda, he had started approving all user comments (including the old unapproved ones) even if they don't add value. eg: "beautiful". It is at-least an acknowledgement of user's interest.It is being done recently and so the effect is not known yet.
With sites like these, I'd pay a lot of attention to social media as well as user/browser data. Watch and improve bounce rates at the very least, and user scrolling if you can measure it with the analytics technology you've got in place.
Google is using this data, and with a low amount of text to work with, I'll bet these factors are even more important.
@indyink, most themes get a page or two of comments. And I agree entirely, that I hate adding ANYTHING for the sake of Google. We've even removed functionality for the sake of Google.
My users experience means a lot to me. I work hard to win the artists loyalty.
@tedster, that was at first my entire focus. Bounce rate went down to 30% and from the webmasters I know in the niche, theirs is closer to 60! Page view is 12 I believe and 8 minutes average visit.
Our fb page has 50,000 likes but now feel that should have gone to my site not the page? I will work more on having users share content too.
When I put all the pieces of the puzzle together, it seemed very likely that the 56 home pages, along with tens of thousands of other similar issues, was likely to be the culprit.
Largely because we avoided Panda and then after an upgrade to the buggy version of the CMS, the site was hit on next refresh.
But what really oinks me, is despite what I consider amazing improvements in user metrics, fix after fix, traffic has continued to decline.
I'm going to focus further on user metrics and attempt to make them even better. If I can get a 20% bounce rate ill be happy.
I've also got an idea, for changing my sites architecture. Will post it when I get to my pc. (online via iPhone ATM)
Thanks to you both for your advice.