Monday, July 16, 2007

Blogging 101: How to Optimize Your Blog Photos

Lupin in AlaskaThere are two important things to remember when adding pictures to your blog posts. First, photographs and video footage significantly lengthen the time it takes for your blog to download--as in for-ev-ver.

If you only have one or two pictures in a post it may not be noticeable but I’ve often been surfing through my favorite blogs and found posts with five or more pictures and have been a little frustrated at how slowly they load. And even if you only have one picture per post if you have a week's worth of posts on your home page that means seven photos are downloading every time someone visits.

When the pages load so slowly I tend to get a little impatient—kind of like standing and waiting for an elevator to arrive—and I have to control the urge to click my mouse repeatedly as I wait, rather like pushing the “up” button on the wall hoping to speed the elevator’s arrival.

What will help? Optimize your pictures. Optimize them I say! Your life will be blessed and happy—or at least the lives of your readers—and I’m going to tell you how:

Never post pictures straight from Photoshop or Picasa or whatever photo organizer you’re using. Save the images as smaller files and they’ll download faster. How? Well in Blogger I upload my photo into my post draft, preview the post, right click on the preview photo and save the photo as a smaller image by clicking "Save Image As" (this saves it as a smaller file automatically without you having to resize it yourself). Then I throw out the old photo and re-upload the smaller file. The smaller file uploads in a fraction of the time and gives you an idea of how much time you’ll be saving your readers.

But wait, there’s more! The second important thing to realize about images on your blog is that each image you post is a chance to get the search engines' attention. Don’t publish that post without giving it a title and an alternate name. If you go into the HTML for the post and photograph file you’ll see a place where it says:

alt=""

What that is is a place for a title so that in the event your photo cannot be found (problems with the server or whatever) an alternate phrase can be published. You can also gives your photo a title so that when a cursor hovers over the photo a title will be displayed (try it on the photo in this post to see what I mean).

However, it is also helpful for search engine optimization (SEO) because the search engines will read whatever key words you carefully and thoughtfully choose to place between those quotation marks. And you are being thoughtful and careful in your keyword choices, right? Go back and read my Ten SEO Tips post if you’re not.

So go to the HTML of your photos and add an alternative phrase between those quotation marks then also insert a title (and I always make them the same). When you're done it should look something like this:

alt="Lupin in Alaska" title="Lupin in Alaska"

And that’s it, you’ve optimized your photo and will get that much more weight with the search engines. So go now—use those smaller files, title your pictures! Your readers will rejoice and you will too when you see your Google hits begin to increase.

***

Oh, and here's something that may be of interest. With my parents moving to India I've signed up for Skype--a way to make phone calls via computer. It's free to download and free for calls between Skype users so if you've got it and are feeling chatty you can find me filed under my email address: scribbit at gmail.com or under my Skype user name, AlaskaScribbit. If I'm at the computer I'll answer. It would be good to take a break from blogging once in a while.

***

Wednesday is the last day for July's Write-Away Contest. Have you entered yet? The topic is Adventure.

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41 comments:

An Ordinary Mom said...

We should try chatting sometime instead of always emailing :)!! Then I could know what your voice sounds like.

My word verification: tboilox

I don't think I will be boiling an ox anytime soon :) !!

Past my bedtime, off I go ...

amanda in taiwan said...

I would like to add . . .

Using a site like flickr or photobucket to host your photos eliminates some of the extra work for uploading, saving, deleting and then re-uploading.

When you upload a photo to their service, they then provide that same photo is a variety of sizes--you just have to choose which size you want--anything from icon and thumbnail to original.

Also, using a site like flickr allows you to point to photo collections that won't slow down your blog. Post one or two on your blog--all the rest can be seen from your flickr account.

sandierpastures said...

Thanks for the gem of info! Flickr is a banned site here in the UAE so I am always disappointed if bloggers post pics extracted from flickr.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Thanks for the tips...while I am relatively savvy with computers, HTML is a whole new world!

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

mmmm...interesting. I thought it was the opposite case: i.e it was better to link to images elsewhere because it was less to do that than upload images to your own blogging server.

I'm happy to let you know my skype details - although, it might be hard to coordinate mutually acceptable speaking times...;)

Anonymous said...

You always offer the most interesting tid-bits! Thanks so much. And what are your favorite blogs? Do you have 'em listed somewhere...because I enjoy discovering new ones. Tessa

G's Cottage said...

I discovered that no matter what size I uploaded that Blogger resizes to a default for the blog post. So I make a copy of my raw photo and then crop the excess, change the resolution to 200 and then shrink to some approximation of 1"x2". (with practice this takes less than 2 minutes)

I also reduced the number of posts per page to 4.

The "Blogger for Dummies" guy doesn't recommend direct upload but it works for now and I don't have to sign up for anymore services.

Jen@doesthismakemelookfat said...

Thank you for the information! I am VERY new to blogging (like, a week) and I need all the help I can get. In that short time though I have noticed the same thing about blogs with a lot of pictures, I do not have the patience to wait for them.

Mercy's Maid said...

Thanks for the tips. I never knew about the alt title!

la bellina mammina said...

Thanks for the tip. As for skype, I've been using it for a year now and it sure beats blogging. Also, you can even see the person you're skyping with, if you choose to.

Meredith said...

I'm trying to minimize the photo size right now, toggling between your directions and Blogger's preview page.

Here's where I'm stuck: when I right click on the image, I don't get an option to change the file size, even under "save target as." Which command do you pick?

Until now, I had been editing and saving my photos as "best for web" before uploading.

Thanks!

janet said...

This is a great tip and I will keep in mine when posting and see how long it takes to become comfortable with a new way of doing it.

I have a couple of sites I visit on a regular basis that often post over 5 very large photos. I don't want to miss the photos so I click on her site go about my business and come back once it's loaded.

I hope I'm one of the sites you visit and hope I can incorporate your tips to make viewing a more pleasurable experience.

M said...

Thanks for the title tip!

Joyful Days said...

As always, you are so very, very helpful with the blogging tips, tricks and info.

I am still planning on working on the drop down issue. But due to life, anything other than posting has been put on hold.

Thanks!!

Amy said...

You rock, Michelle! I really appreciate your help. You should see about guest posting for Blogging 101 through Rocks in My Dryer. I am not sure if you are already writing over there or not, but I thought of you when I heard they were doing a blog.

We have also reduced the number of posts per page. Of course, if you go through the archives, there are tons of pictures in one month.

I am going to try out your advice (found your post via Like Merchant Ships!)

Alexandra said...

Clever! The other day, I went through and changed a lot of my pictures to the smallest version because of slow loading, epecially on my library blog. I would have never thought to use that preview picture!

Scribbit said...

Thanks for the comments-

Amanda in Taiwan, thanks for mentioning Flickr, I use Photobucket myself and you're right, it eliminates a lot of what I'm mentioning here. For those who aren't as savvy to that though, using the regular method I've described might be an easier introduction to smaller-sized photos as they wouldn't have to resize them themselves.

I also am hesitant to host photos on a separate page where people have to leave my site to see them, anything that takes visitors away from your site without any benefit to you (such as a specific link) should be used cautiously.

G's Cottage: not sure what you're describing, but hey if it's working for you, great! I'm under suspicion that the method of saving photos as a smaller size that I'm describing may be the dummy's way of doing things, that there is an easier way somewhere else but it's automatic and has worked well for me and . . . you know how hard old habits die :)

And as for my favorite blogs, you can find most of them on my sidebar under the plus sign at "Blogs I Read" and sometimes I'll mention others I'm visiting (I posted a few last week on Tuesday).

Daisy said...

I opened a Flickr account months ago, and I haven't used it. maybe it's time. It would save me the extra step of resizing my images before I post them.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Thanks for the info! I've noticed that a few of the blogs I visit are loading more slowly these days, and now I wonder if mine is doing the same thing!

AuthorMomWith Dogs said...

Oh, I do hope everyone who hasn't figured out how to resize their photos read this!

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

The lupins are lovely!

Great tip! I have gotten into the habit of resizing in Photoshop and then uploading to Photobucket, this sounds like it could save me a lot of time. Wonderful insight on the titling pictures, too! Thanks!

Lei said...

you've always got the best tips... thank you!

Meredith said...

Thank you! I would never have known that "save target as" automatically resizes the photo.

Learning so much from you, as always.

mcewen said...

Guilty as charged! I can see that this is one of those posts that I'll have to actually print out. [homework punishment]
Cheers

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hi scribbit: i so agree. i do something like that, too. i save pics to a smaller file, then post to the blog. i really get impatient, too, waiting (seemingly forever) for photos to open up on some of my favorite blogs i like to visit :) kathleen

ps. i liked that fourth of july photo you posted of your daughter's braids, too. cute moment.

crazy working mom said...

Awesome! Very interesting information. I will try this next time I post a photo. :)

amanda in taiwan said...

I see your point about not wanting to lead readers away from your blog.

But I guess as an avid (al beit armature) photographer, I don't mind leading people to my flickr site (which if you want to manage your photos is the best site around for that).

But, as far as photos inside your blog hosted by blogger as "being part of your blog" . . . are they really? the URLs don't lead back to blogger blogs at all.

If I were to "lift a picture" (aka steal) I would just be stealing your free allotment of bandwidth with people having no way to trace back to your blog.

For example: here is the link to the photo in this blog post:
http://bp2.blogger.com/_H4_1ySoYfME/
RpMgdb-Q_7I/AAAAAAAABlI/76MrDvwwCZE/
s200/Lupin.jpg

They still leave your site to go see the picture . . . granted there are no other enticing options to keep them from using the back button to return to your blog like there would be on flickr.

Corrie said...

Thanks for the great info. I'm one who's guiilty of using a lot of photos. I am wondering if you know of a way to find out how long it takes your blog to load.

Mine never takes long on my comnputer, but I wonder about other people's PCs.

Leslie said...

Every time you have a "how to" post, I've almost always just provided a perfect "here's what NOT to do" on my blog. Today, my post had many pictures.

Then, I start thinking - this post was for me. Kismet? My good fortune? Paranoia, perhaps? Or maybe you just know your readers really well.

Anyway...

Love the how-to posts. They're always relevant.

Slackermommy said...

Thanks! Those are great tips.

Carrien said...

thank-you. This is really useful.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I will go and do what Scribbit commands. I knew I had to but I've been putting it off because I'm too lazy! I've been using Picasa so I think I will just resize them and upload them there.

Joyful Days said...

So, Michelle--is it me or my computer or my browser? I did optimize a few photos yesterday to try.

When I post, it is in Internet Explorer. I saw exactly what you meant about how that would get a search engine's attention.

But generally I read in Firefox because it seems to be less stressful for the old gray mare of a computer that I have. And--I when viewing my blog from Firefox I don't see the same results.

Any insight for this technically challenged reader??

Joy T. said...

Coming out of lurk mode to say thank you very much for this. I love visiting blogs that have pictures and am lucky enought to not have any problems. Where I have problems is if people have music or slides. Then it seems to mess with my computer a bit. I started putting bigger pictures on my blog but after reading this I will be going back to a bit smaller. Thanks again. Love your blog!

metaDAD said...

I want to stress that this is very sound advice and I don't want to come off as a killjoy but it should be explained that by "optimizing" your images for search engines in this way you are also exposing those images to be stolen or re-purposed without your knowledge and without your consent and without compensation. In other words, what is stopping that Australian ad agency from using that incredibly cute picture of you daughter in Brussels without contacting you and more importantly paying you for rights of usage.

Org Junkie said...

Thanks for this info!!

Makita said...

Great advice, as always. :)

We've been using Skype for a few months now as our only home phone service. There were a few 'bugs' to work out in the initial week (it didn't like our router so we bought a new one) but we now love it! And we got to keep our old phone number! :)

dcrmom said...

Michele, I just love all your helpful blogging tips! You are a wealth of information. Now if I can just figure out how to do this to the 110 pictures I posted today on my blueberry pie post. ARGH!

Mama Luxe said...

Good tips!

I upload them to snapfish or shutterfly, since I have to share with the grandparents and great grandparents anyway, and then save the smaller images from there as I sort, rotate, crop, etc. Then I upload to photobucket.

SJSFalter+ said...

I have been wanting to figure this out for some time, thanks for the tip. I have created an entry that links to this so that other may also learn. This is so much easier than I would have thought.

modmom said...

i didn't know blogger had a "draft preview" feature. i always publish, then edit + publish a zillion times.