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How to optimise a photo gallery - 90% is supplemental

1:07 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I run a few photo galleries pased on the 4images PHP script. They are heavily customised in terms of URLs and titles. I've also made sure all pages are redirected so no 2 pages the same appear under different query strings.

Previously I used to dominate Google images (it was almost embarrassing!) Anyway, this has completely dropped off, and that isn't the issue.

Whilst I still do pretty well in terms of visitors, on a recent site search I noticed nearly all the gallery pages were suplemental. What I'm thinking is yes, the pages are pretty similar BUT how can pages with over 2000 images be that different? They all have 2 or 3 line descriptions, keywords and titles.
One thing I am thinking about is stripping out a lot of the HTML and using some decent CSS based layouts. Do you think this will sort out the suplemental issue?

Any comments appreciated

9:06 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Adam basically said that such pages will often now not get indexed or will be put in the supplemental index. It appears that regardless of pagerank, unique titles, alt text and descriptions, Google is choosing to be anti-user and not index such pages. They have billions of blog comment spam pages to crawl every day after all...

So what can you do?

Hope the folks at the plex change their foolish priorities. I wouldn't hold my breath tho.

9:48 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Do you have text on these pages describing or discussing the photos? My DH has a site that is primarily photos. I keep telling him he needs to put more spider food out there and spiders need words.
9:59 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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How to optimise a photo gallery

Add relevant text. It really doesn't take that much.

2:49 pm on Apr 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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How bout a review or comments add-in. Let your users add your content.
5:39 pm on Apr 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This happened to my image-based site, also. I took out as much of the repetitive code and text as possible, put the images as close to the top of the page as possible, added content where I could, and opted in on google's webmaster tools' "enhanced image search". Something seems to be working, as the pages are gradually coming back into the index.
2:50 am on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm inclined to agree with the people who suggest adding more text. It's been my experience it helps. I've also read other semi-success stories here on WW from folks using the "add more text" approach.

I don't have any official way of estimating, however, based on my experience and reading about others' experiences here, I'd guess that maybe 85%-90% of the supplemental listings for photo galleries can be traced to lack of text on the page.

Think of the issue as one where a picture may be worth a thousand words, however, not to the googlebot. The Google guidelines say,

"Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images."

I'd also suggest double and triple checking your gallery's source code. It's also been my experience that a majority of open source photo galleries still run on code that produces too much duplicate content.

For example, you can have two or three different urls for one photo based on whether or not the software allows you to show different sizes of the same photo.

A general example of this might be

url.... (the photo as you want it to be seen by the public)
url&full=1 (for a larger photo)
url&full=2 (for an even larger photo)

Another problem that I've noticed with many open source photo galleries (at least the ones I've looked at on the open source comparison site (whose url will remain unsaid) is their lack of attention to properly dealing with deleted photos. In other words, they don't properly put out 404 or 410 error codes when you delete a photo, or an entire album.

One way to check for these potential problems, and others, is to carefully examine the source code as it looks when the gallery is called up in a browser. Typically there are many different urls present for navigation, thumbnails, etc. al.

If you do all the code rechecking and things look ok, then I would have more confidence saying that adding text to your photo pages will help you out of the supplemental index.

3:00 am on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, to back up what greennature said, after reading a lot here, I changed how the headers were reporting pages not found, got them to show a 404, and also requested that the old pages which are no longer in existence be removed from the index.

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