Written by: Kjetil Manheim
Yesterday I had a conversation with a professional freelance photographer. During the conversation, she asked me why she should use Publicisto when she already had a blog. Before I answered, I asked where I easily could find all of her published photos up to date. Google, she answered without hesitation. We went on to Google search to see if this was true.
It was not.
Searching for her name on Google displayed many of her photographs, but it was not close to the amount she must have had published over the years. She was herself surprised to find that a photo series she had done for one of the big tabloids, whom she would expect was popular and therefore indexed by Google, was not in the results at all.
The poor search result is not because Google search is failing. It is a result of how freelance photos are used, and how a freelance photographer display and distributes them.
Here are four reasons why you do not find your images in a Google search:
Reason number one: Your non-digital photographs are invisible.
When a freelance photographer is done with the post-processing of images, he or she usually export them in the requested formats and do a backup of them before they send them to their clients. It is up to the clients how they publish the photographs, as long as it is within the terms of the contract.
Even though we live in a digital world, there exists surprisingly many non-digital products. Most of these will never be digitized, and many have very short lives. The clients will probably not put much effort in keeping the photographs, certainly not in documenting how they used them and from whom they bought them.
The result is that most of your non-digital published photographs are hidden secrets you share with your clients alone. Google have no way of finding them.
Reason number two: Not all digital published images are easy to find.
If the client were a web publisher, you would think that search engines indexed the freelancer’s photo and everything was fine. Why would it not, it is published on the Internet? Well, it depends.
Some clients are very good at their search engine optimization (SEO). Many are not. If the image lack the so-called “Alt text” or a caption, the search engines struggle to understand what the image is about. If the photographer is credited in either of these
Google will find that information useful and will probably display the image in a search on the photographer’s name.
In addition, many digital publications have restricted access areas. Content that is hidden behind logins or paywalls tend to be less optimized for the search engines. Some sites are hidden completely, such as intranets. Others are just restricted and if your clients have been wise, they allow search engines to crawl through and index this part of the site. Not all are.
Reason number three: Published content gets deleted, together with your images.
Unbelievably for some, it is quite common for publishers and website owners to delete published content. This often happens in connection to a reorganization of the site, when they shift to another content management or publishing system or if the site was set up for a limited period.
When search engines discover that the site content and your images are gone, they remove the images from their search index and they are gone from the search results. This is a good thing, by the way. Imagine if it was otherwise.
Reason number four: Freelance photographers do not focus on SEO
This is a generalization, I know. I am sure many freelance photographers are doing a great job in optimizing for Internet search. Many do not, though. It takes time and requires effort and knowledge to set up a solid ongoing publishing routine for all images you take. Time freelance photographers rather would spend taking new photographs and get new clients and projects.
Typically, a professional freelance photographer will have a blog with a limited show reel and supplement it with different specialized image sites like Pixabay, Flickr and Unsplash and social platforms like Instagram. Some also cooperate with stock photo services like Getty and Shutterstock. Done right the images on all of these sites and services will show in a search on the freelancer’s name but to make all images available this way is probably too much work for most freelancers.
So why should a photographer who already has a blog use Publicisto?
The answer is that Publicisto offer a solution to all these four reasons, and in addition makes distribution more effective.
When a photographer use Publicisto, he or she publish all their images to their Publicisto account before they re-publish or distribute them to other sites and customers. Each image is given a permanent URL and the photographer tag it with all necessary metadata and description, including an alt text, caption text, immaterial license restrictions and credentials.
If the image is sold the freelancer can tag it with the clients name and where it is published, if this is not something the client disapproves of, of course. If the image is sold with exclusive rights, it is possible to tag it with this restriction and decide for a low-resolution format that is shown on the freelancer’s public page on Publicisto.
When the image is ready, it can be sent to the client directly from the Publicisto platform through simple tools. The photographer can also easily publish it to a blog and other web services through system integrations.
Whether it is for use on the Internet or in an offline publication or product, the image original stays on Publicisto and is available for search engines to index and you are no longer dependent on your clients to make it visible. For as long as you want it will show in the search results on your name and in other searches where the image is relevant to display.