IMAGES ARE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, BUT A COUPLE WORDS ARE EVERYTHING FOR AN IMAGE ONLINE: Three tips for architects and images.


When i’m not writing articles on Websites for Architects I’m a professional architectural photographer, so images are a big part of my life. Here’s a few tips I can give on architects getting more value out of their project images online.

 

1. Add text to your images

Images are incredibly powerful communication devices, but they need to text to work on the internet. Why? because Google doesn’t know what your image is about unless you provide additional information and this is important because people use Google image search a lot when it comes to architecture. So how do you add text to an image? In WordPress when you insert an image there is a field called Alt Text. This is shown below and where you tell Google about your project. If you’re not using WordPress don’t worry, almost every web platform will allow you to add Alt Text.

Alt text for images

WordPress image insertion box

What text should you include?

You want to add words that will help people find your project. So a good starting point would be to include the project name, the city it’s in, the word architect and your practice name. Here’s an example:

340 Albert st towers by Melbourne Architect John Smith

What this gives Google is good information about what the image (and your project) is about. You may also be able to include other descriptive words like BIM, home, or sustainability. Don’t go over board though because Google penalizes keyword stuffing. What you’re really trying to achieve here is to make sure you’ve included words that you want to be found by. For example if someone searches for Melbourne Architect now, you have a chance of one of your projects popping up. Adding alt text doesn’t guarantee your image will be on the first page, but without it you’re not really in the image search game.

What’s going on behind the scenes

When you insert an image into a website post it doesn’t actually embed the image. What it does instead is add a small piece of code that tells the browser where to find an image file and what to do with it. It includes things like the image size, the URL of the image online and it can optionally include text to describe it.  You can see this in the example below. The red text is the Alt Text and is one of the key pieces of information that Google is using to figure out what your image is about. The blue text is the URL of the image and the green text is the image size.

<img alt=”Alt text for images” src=”http://websitesforarchitects.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/alt-text-for-images.jpgwidth=”325″ height=”648″ />

More

You can read more about Google image publishing guidelines here.

http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=114016


2. Be the first to upload images of your projects

When Google decides which website or image to display at the top of search results one of the things it looks for is duplicate content. What they’re trying to avoid is displaying two pages, or images that are the same. Google explains this is not so much about plagiarism, but to improve the user’s search experience. This is because when we search for something we don’t want to filter through multiple listings of the same thing. Why this is important for architects is because images of your projects will be used by a lot of people; Magazines, blogs, social media users and more. And if they upload an image of your project first it looks like they are the original source of that image. This can mean that the search traffic produced by your project image may up end going to the magazine’s website rather than yours. Now if that’s what your after fine, but more likely you’d prefer those people to come to your website because that’s where they can contact you, see other projects you have, and if you have social media or a blog, become followers of your work.

The message here is that before you hand over your images to magazines, newspapers, or anyone else you should create a project page that includes those images.

More

You can find out more about duplicate content here:

http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359


3. Provide images of your projects for bloggers and social media users to use

The world of blogging and social media works on syndication. Which basically means people like to share stuff and pass it on their friends and followers. For this to happen with your projects though they need something to share. So if you’re NOT proving content like images for bloggers to include in their articles, or social media users to share then you’ve just missed out on a whole lot of people talking about your architecture.

So what do you include? When it comes to images my strategy is to give bloggers and social media users access to web sized project images. They don’t need high res images, but they do need images that fit nicely into their blog posts. A good size would be around 1280px for the longest edge of the image.

How to access images

It’s important to make it easy for people to access your images. Some websites use popup boxes to display images, which looks great, but often makes it hard for people to download images. For me there are two solutions, one is to just insert the images into your project page and keep it simple. Maybe it’s a grid of thumbnail images which each link to the larger original image. Another alternative is to provide a media kit download PDF which includes all the information the media need to write about your project including images.

Let people know you’re ok with them sharing your projects

This is one of those tips that sounds incredibly simple, but can have a huge impact on the number of people who actually share your architecture. All it involves is adding a simple message to each project page that let’s people know you’re ok with them downloading, sharing, or blogging about your projects. Here’s an example:

We’re blogger and social media friendly. Images and information about this project are ready for you to use right now. Find out more.  

You can obviously expand on this and link to a page that let’s people know what they can and can’t do, but I think you get the idea. What this is doing is legitimising what people are doing anyway and identifying yourself as a resource for architectural media content, and that’s a really good thing if you want to get your projects out into the world.

Licensing

Before you start sharing images of your project all over the internet make sure your photographer has provided a license that allows this to happen.