More SEO Tips for Images

Happy Web Diva offers three SEO tips for images based on a PodCamp presentation by John Ellis in response to Google’s universal search. Here are her takeaways along with a few I’d add to the list.

1. Use keyword-rich file names separated by hyphens.

2. Use the alt attribute with keywords.

3. Add an image caption.

To that great list, you can add:

4. Set the title attribute in addition to the alt attribute using the same text. Some browsers require such an attribute to get the tool tip to pop up. Do not use “Photo of Danny Sullivan” or “Picture of Danny Sullivan.” The search engines already know it’s a photo, they just don’t know who/what’s in the photo. Instead, use:

<img src=”/directory/something/danny-sullivan.jpg ” width=”200″ height=”250″ alt=”Danny Sullivan in full rant mode” title=” Danny Sullivan in full rant mode”>

5. Turn on “Enable advanced image search” in Google Webmaster Tools. (Here’s how.) Doing so makes your images available for tagging through the Google Image Labeler which in turn helps with SEO.

6. Link your thumbnail to a larger, higher resolution version. Put it on a separate, optimized page–so you can track your traffic–rather than linking directly to a JPG. You might also use Flickr, although as Natural Search Blog and SEOROI have pointed out, the site has started no-following most of their links. Nevertheless, it’s still an opportunity to drive traffic.

So, what photo optimization tip are you going to add to the list?

What To Do When Your Church Website Crashes

The parish website is down.

These words, perhaps inevitable, are ones I don’t want to have to say or read in an email, especially when approaching the busiest time of the year for church websites. Here’s how we prepared and responded to a recent outage so you can be ready when it happens to your church.

  1. Confirm with your admin and/or hosting provider the nature of the outage and when you get expect a resolution. Pad that resolution time because recovery often takes longer than expected.
  2. Contact the parish office to let them know you are aware of the situation and the (padded) estimated time for resolution if known.
  3. Send an email to your breaking news distribution list, one of the three essential email newsletters every church should have in place. Inform them of the situation and provide an alternate way to get essential church information. In our case, we were able to provide news updates in the email itself.
  4. Notify your website editors and contributors that they will not have access to make site updates. It’s helpful to already have a listserv or distribution list in place for the team since you won’t be able to look them up on your site in this situation.

Our site is expected to be out no more than a couple of days so we’re not redirecting the URL to another site, although we do have a Google Pages placeholder ready in case that ever becomes an issue. See Google Page Creator for details about creating a Google-hosted page.

How have you handle outages? Any other steps to add?

Resolve to Get Your Copyright Right

While coming up with your new year’s resolutions and enjoying some bowl games, remember to update the copyright year on your site so you visitors will know your site is current.

If you’re running PHP, here’s a way to set it and forget it:

<?php echo date('Y'); ?>

For example, Copyright © 1999-<?php echo date(‘Y’); ?> will always display the current year. Stick it in a footer or other global-include file and you won’t have to worry about it in 2009.

Any other tips to kick off the new year?

Best Free Tools for Picking Keywords

Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog wrapped up a reader poll of their favorite keyword research tools. Here are the free ones for SEO since most of us church webmasters aren’t working with much of a budget. See the full list if you can pony up for a paid tool or for PPC.

  • Wordtracker Ongoing free trial is available where you can get a reduced list of keywords emailed to you.
  • Digital Point Provides data from Worktracker and Overture, though the latter is no longer updating its data. While you’re there, check out the terrific keyword position tracking tool.
  • SEODigger What’s that church up the road ranking for? Find out.
  • SEO Book Keyword Tool One of many cool tools on this site.
  • Trellian Keyword Discovery Get a free taste of their premium product.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool Built for PPC, but works for organic search brainstorming.
  • Good Keywords You’ll need to download this one to your desktop, but I haven’t been nagged by them.
  • Google Suggest Scraper From Dave Naylor, so watch out for bad language on the landing page and don’t use it on the Sabbath.
  • SpyFu See organic rankings, related terms and estimated PPC cost.
  • MSN AdCenter Forecaster Another one built for PPC, but can be used for organic church terms.
  • Apogee Meta Tag Collector What are those other churches using in their meta keywords and descriptions tags? Even if the keyword tag has lost much of its value as far as search engines concerned, you can glean what the competition thinks is important. Links the results to Overture, Keyword Tracker and KeyWord Discovery.

Just remember that when you conduct competitive research through someone else’s servers, it’s not a secret.

So, which tools do you use? For example, Google’s Hot Trends wasn’t on the list…

Help Your Church’s SEO, Win Free Training

Want to help your church or other non-profit charity rank better in the search engines? Giving of your time and expertise might get you rewarded in the here-and-now, not just in the hereafter. Bruce Clay, an internet consulting firm, is offering a free full-conference pass to SMX in Seattle and two free SEO training courses for the best search engine optimization plan.

Pick a charity that is already using the Web for outreach. That might be your own church or a neighborhood charity. Submit your plan and if it’s picked, make plans for SMX and two rounds of Bruce Clay training. Your flights and hotel aren’t included, but about $4,000 of training is covered. Find out more on the Bruce Clay site.

How About Our Own SEO Contributions for Charity?

This may be too big a commitment for many, so how about we try a mini virtual charity SEO contest here? In the comments, suggest a church site or online charity that could use some SEO help and that would be open to implementing our suggestions. We’ll pick one and see what our readers can come up with. The prize? Um, better rankings!

Hello Whoops: Delete Your First Blog Post

If you’re starting a new blog, delete your first post. Think of it as a test. When launching this blog, I plunged into my inaugural entry and triumphantly published. Some time later, to my horror, I noticed the URL for that post: Yes, that’s the WordPress default name, based on the classic phrase programmers use when learning to display text in a new language. Kind of like see-spot-run, but less sophisticated.

Facing a post whose URL screamed “newbie,” I contemplated deleting it and starting again. At the same time, the house blessings post turned into one of the most popular entries on my site to this day. Deleting or renaming could lose me links or search engine results so I left it as is. When sharing the link, though, I use anchor text whenever possible.

I haven’t made that mistake since, although it would be hard to since WordPress doesn’t set a default file name other than with the first post. But I don’t want any of you who are starting a new blog to make the same mistake so I’m sharing it here. You’ll also find this lesson on Daniel’s “blogging mistakes” group writing project on Daily Blog Tips. If you are looking for more blogging tips, Daniel’s site is a good reference. I previously participated in his site traffic tips project.

Has anyone else pulled a hello-world when starting a new blog?

10 Steps to a Church Lent Page that Shows Up in Google

UPDATED for 2017 Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent and is often the busiest day of the year for church websites. Are you going to get your ash in gear and build a dedicated Lent page that works? Here are 10 steps showing how to get your site ready for Lent to make the most of that traffic spike from Ash Wednesday.

  1. Create a permanent page for your Ash Wednesday and Lenten schedule of events and prayers. You want a spiderable page that is going to show up well in searches over time. If your only mention of Lent is a fleeting one on your home page or is relegated to a calendar page that’s soon going to look like last year’s news, then you’re missing the opportunity to reach potential visitors. You should still link from the homepage and your calendars, but use a fixed page and give it time to get noticed.
  2. Give your page a short, memorable name. Think or Use a virtual directory or a forward to preserve you information architecture if necessary, but don’t expect someone to remember
  3. Include your daily and weekend Mass schedules on your Lent page. Again, you want to make the offer to those newcomers, and established parishioners, looking to do something extra for Lent.
  4. Before the start of Lent, have your entire schedule of events posted, including Holy Week. This may be your only chance to reach newcomers; make sure everything you have to offer is there. Doing so also increases the chances it appears in the snippet of a search engine result.
  5. Include your street address and neighborhood nicknames on the page. You want someone looking for “ash wednesday [town name or neighborhood]” to find you.
  6. Include links to driving directions, parking and any other content you have for newcomers. Even if this content is in your regular navigation, call it out here.
  7. Leading up to Lent, push the Ash Wednesday dates to the top of both your Lent page and home page.
  8. As you get closer to Easter, move your Holy Week schedule to the top.
  9. Tie your other events to Lent, even if they are not explicitly Lenten events. Anything prayer related has a natural tie-in to Lent. Same with other educational opportunities and prayers/reflections.
  10. Include a printout of your page(s) or equivalent content in your bulletin. Make sure your URL is prominently displayed along with your street address and phone number. If someone wants to post the info on their fridge or share it with a friend, the recipient might not already “know” that the info came from your church. Leave no doubt and spell it out.

[Here’s the ancient St. Charles Lent page from my previous parish back in the day. Seen any good Lent pages out there? Share them in the comments.

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Related: 40 Content Ideas for Lent