How Geotagging Images Can Help Local SEO

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Geotagging - Picture of a united states map showing multiple pictures geotagged in different cities.

Geotagging – adding geographical information to a photo – does more than remind you where you took a picture – it may also boost your local SEO efforts!

Geotagging: A Brief Primer

Geotagging refers to the addition of geographical information – such as latitude, longitude, bearing, distance, and location name – to a photo’s metadata. When you geotag photos, the aforementioned information is stored in the image’s “EXIF data”, where time, date, the lens type, focal length and shutter speed are also recorded by the camera.

How do I Geotag Photos?

Today, the majority of pictures are taken with smartphones, DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras, and MILC (mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras). Because other EXIF data (time, date, and technical information) are recorded automatically, so too are geographical coordinates, through GPS (global positioning satellite) signals.

Geotagging Photos with a Smartphone

The beauty of a smartphone is that it already functions as a GPS device – there’s no need to purchase a separate unit. In iOS – Apple’s mobile operating system, found on all iPhones and iPads – geotagging is enabled by default. It can, of course, be disabled, but for this purpose, don’t change a thing.

The Android operating system – found on most non-Apple smartphones – also geotags photos by default, but given the diversity of phones, hardware, camera apps and OS versions, it’s best to determine if geotagging is enabled, by checking your phone’s settings, and turning on location services.

Geotagging Photos with a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera

Larger than smartphones, DSLRs and their modern-day cousin, the MILC, pack serious photographic power: large sensors, big batteries, and high-end, interchangeable lenses. The most advanced of these cameras feature built-in GPS, allowing your images to be geotagged automatically. However, not all DSLRs and MILCs include GPS sensors, in which case, you’ll need to purchase an external unit, many of which connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled cameras, or to a camera’s hotshoe (the electrical contacts used to power flashes and other accessories).

Geotagging Photos with Picasa

Don’t have your smartphone handy? Don’t own a DSLR, MILC or other camera with inbuilt GPS? Don’t have an external GPS unit? Geotagging photos is still possible – by using Google Picasa. Though Google has transitioned away from the software, replacing it with Google Photos (an online app), Picasa remains available for download from a number of websites.

To geotag an image in Picasa, simply select the desired photo, and click the red “Places” icon near the bottom right corner of the Picasa window. Enter a location or address in the “Search for an address” box, zoom in on the integrated Google Map, and choose “Put a photo here”.

How to View a Photo’s Geotag Data

As discussed previously, geographical coordinates are stored in an picture’s EXIF data. Fortunately, there are myriad ways to find that information.

Viewing EXIF Data on a Smartphone

If you own a smartphone, consider a photo-viewing app that can also access an image’s metadata. Two good options for iOS are Koredoko and EXIF Wizard. For Android users, consider Photo EXIF Editor, or EXIF Wizard.

Viewing EXIF Data on a Mac or PC

Mac users need only launch the Photos app and right-click on an image, or thumbnail thereof, and select “Get Info”. Windows works similarly: Right-click an image, choose “Properties”, and click the “Details” tab.

Viewing EXIF Data Online

A number of online tools that allow you to a view a photo’s EXIF and geotag data exist, among which is Jeffrey’s Image Metadata Viewer, and “metapicz”, which features a more modern-looking drag-and-drop interface. Having said that, Jeffrey’s Image Metadata Viewer, despite its clunky interface, provides a great deal of information, including a map, altitude, and camera direction.

Why You Should Geotag Photos for Local SEO

If geotagging photos isn’t already part of your local SEO strategy, it should be. A comprehensive approach to local search engine optimization harnesses the power of Google, Yahoo! and Bing, as well as local business directories and social media – and images can play a role.

People absorb a great deal of information through text – but as the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Photos of you, your place of business, or projects you’ve completed, can act as the initial “hook” which draws customers to your website. Of course, to maximize this tactic’s potential, a few rules should be followed:

  • Optimize the viewing size of the image, while minimizing file size. Too small a picture, or too large a file, will frustrate online visitors.
  • Choose an appropriate filename – for example: cleveland-Recording-Studio.jpg for your company logo. Doing so is the first step in ensuring that Google and other search engines know your picture is related to a particular geographical location.
  • Use alt text wisely. Just as an appropriate file name will help identify your image as being relevant to local searches, so too will embedded alt text that includes a target keyword and location name.

When a potential customer searches for a local business term – such as the aforementioned “Cleveland Recording Studio” – Google often returns Maps results, which reside at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages).

By geotagging an image – whether with your phone, camera or Picasa – and uploading that photo to a Google+ business page, you’re signalling to Google that your image is relevant to a local search query, increasing the likelihood of appearing in the top three Places listing – good news for your customers, and your business!

That’s not the only reason to geotag photos – by ensuring that accurate geographical coordinates are included in a picture’s EXIF data (as well as optimizing the image as described above), your picture may stand a greater chance of appearing near the top of an image search for a local business term.

Geotagged Images are just One Part of the Local Search Puzzle

Successful local search engine optimization requires a multi-pronged approach. Geotagging is part, but not all, of the puzzle. Sometimes, putting together the pieces requires the help of an expert.

Danny Todd, The SEO Guy, knows local SEO – over the last decade, he’s helped dozens of business owners just like you develop a strong online presence, move up in the search engine rankings, and attract long-term customers. Let Danny help – contact him today, at (216) 214-5216, for a free SEO analysis of your website!

Picture of the Cleveland Seo Guy - Danny ToddThe Cleveland SEO Guy, Danny Todd says 'It’s not what you sell; it’s how you sell it. He understands that sometimes the best brands get left behind because their web design and SEO has become outdated. The Internet is always changing! Google and the other search engines are always adapting! Keep your brand current and reach Google’s #1 spot.

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