Behind The Scenes:

Tutorial: Photography SEO – Don’t fall at the final hurdle


when you’ve spent so much time shooting, processing and prepping your files, you want to make sure as many people see them as you are capable of getting. Flickr has become as standard a photography tool as Photoshop and the camera itself.

Using it in the right way is just as crucial to learn as it is the difference between shutter and aperture priority or desctructive and non destructive adjustments.

In this brief guide, I will take you through some simple SEO (Search engine optimisation) to garuntee an increase in your views.

Meta Data Major

I personally have been using Lightroom for some time now, it’s big pull for me was the meta data functions in the Library module. There are some obvious things you should be doing with all your images such as title and caption (or description as it appears on Flickr).

You can of course use the same Title and caption across a batch if you wish, but if you want to increase the value of your individual images and the chance of getting more views, then give each image a unique title and caption.

There are several options I recommend when it comes to titles, you can go the stock image route, or the marketing route.

The stock route means your title describes exactly what the image is. So for example, a picture of a green apple’s title would be Green Apple.

The marketing route means your title is eye catching. This is my preferred method. Don’t go totally crazy, but be creative. Make sure your title in some way relates to your image content and make it enticing.

An example of this is the image shown below. The title for this particular image when I originally posted it to Flickr was Lewis Is Rubbish.

Lewis is Rubbish

Similar to your title the caption, or description of the image should be exactly that. Some form of narrative or description of the image. This might be what is actually in the image, ‘green recycling bins in pay and display carpark Lewis East Sussex’. Or you could write more of a narrative, why you took the photo, perhaps technical information on how the photo was taken. Many members of the Strobist group (Flash photography) will add into their image descriptions the information relating to the settings provided on their flash units.

All of these add value to your image. They also provide more text to be searched on.

Tagging your images

Meta data also covers keywords. These keywords appear as Tags in Flickr. Keywords are a the breadcrumbs of all search engines. each word or phrase has a relevance. In standard SEO practice, you match keywords to your titles, and descriptions. However when it comes to their use on Flickr, and indeed the rest of the web, they bear a far greater relevance and can be scoped out far wider.


I conducted a research on what is known as black hat SEO. This is where you purposefully embed high rated search terms into your image tags. I posted the exact same photo twice. The first version was an accurate and truthful submission, it covered all the positive steps I have already discussed.

The second submission used these black hat techniques, this consisted primarly of adding pornographic references into the tag list.

The amount of views for the dirty file were considerably higher, by several thousand in fact. So why shouldn’t you do this?

The answer to that question is quite straight forward. The web began in a very similar way, anyone with half an ounce of intelligence were putting high ranked keywords into their meta data to increase the chance of hits. Of course the problem with this is that those clicks weren’t relevant. The visits weren’t there for the reason they had been mislead to said destination. The value of the click was negative.

Why not Black Hat Tag?

Moving forward with this and wishing to provide a better more accurate service (not to say that Google or Yahoo et al are smut peddlers) they began to improve thier search engines to rule these kinds of underhand tricks as having a negative effect on your site. This will eventually happen with Flickr once Yahoo work out how exactly to deal with the immense volume of unsolicited and policed pornography they are hosting.

Yes your views may not be as high but you can rest assured that the value of your views is far greater.

I hope that you can take this information away with you and add another small, quick element into your digital workflow, and that in doing so the number of views you have begin to increase.