Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Going Pro: Name files for Google searches

This is my last post inspired by Kalliopi Monoyios' amazing Symbiartic post. This tip is one I've been doing for years now, but I thought it'd be just as good a time as any to share it.

Something I've noticed many people don't do, is use their picture file names as optimally as they could (I'm not stalking people or anything. I just get sent a lot of artwork for galleries is all :P). Instead of just saving the final version of your piece with a simple name, think about instead cramming it full of as many Googlable key words as you can.
Zealandia Dinosaurs by myself (Craig Dylke)
Though in reality as far as search engines are concerned its name is
Zealandia Dinosaurs New Zealand Dinosaur fossil fossils ornithopod Sauropod titanosaur ankylosaur minmi Craig Dylke 2012
The Internet is a funny beast. Search engines such as Yahoo and Google don't care what name or typing you put around a picture file. They will outright search the file's name itself first (though the wording around the picture can also play a part). Meaning if you type every possible related search word into your piece's file name, you've increased Google's odds of grabbing it that much more. When I name a file I'll only use these sorts of key words, and not bother with its fancy title.

The important thing is to pick realistic search words normal people are going to use, not just technically correct terms only an expert would use. A couple technical terms sure to maybe put you apart from the crowd, but you want as much exposure as you can. Unseen work won't sell or get used, and even better the more search engine hits you get the higher up list you appear in future searches!

The only problem I've ever had with these key words is that most software will only let you use about 15-20 words in a file name, so you do have to choose them a little carefully.

My formula is roughly:
  1. The genus' and any possible variants of the genus name, such as the plural or dropping letters from the end (ex. Tyrannosaurus, Tyrannosaur, Tyrannosaurs or Iguanodon and Iguanodons) I personally don't use species names, as 99% of people probably aren't going to search for it (but you can include it if you have the space)
  2. Any similar genus to the one you've depicted (especially if yours is obscure, but the other one is more popular ex. Triceratops to go with Pentaceratops) 
  3. The family name up to order (ex. Tyrannosaur + Theropod + Dinosaur. Wolf = Canid + Mammal)
  4. The time period depicted (especially when you've done a palaeo-environment)
  5. The words fossil and fossils
  6. The geographic region or palaeo-region when it is likely to be unique or of interest to someone on the web
  7. A generic description of the creatures eating habits (meat eating, plant eating) When combined with the family or order name above, you've covered a common Google search many lay people use to describe animals (meat eating Dinosaurs)
  8. Any popular names or nicknames for the critter (Dromaeosaurs = Raptors, Hadrosaurs = Duckbills)
  9. Any relevant or related pop cultural connections to your piece. This is a cheap, but sadly extremely effective trick. Two of my most popular images are popular simply due to hits from their pop culture names (This one due to Jurassic Park, and this one due to "Sea monster")
  10. Your name in case someone searches for you personal!
  11. The date as it is only four characters
Give this a shot. I know in my case it has done me wonders (both my museum gigs were secured through their finding me in Google searches for specific topics). This versatility of search terms can see your piece appear in nearly any search for such animals, and is especially effective for more obscure animals (good luck ever getting high up on the popular subjects, in particular Tyrannosaurus Rex). 

The best part is the more hits a piece gets from any term the higher up it will appear on that specific search engine. Meaning hits to something silly like "meat eating marine reptile" can get you higher up the much more competitive "Tylosaurus" list.