The sign outside the Loma Linda VA Ambulatory Care Center in Redlands says, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan”. This was part of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865 just before the Civil War was over. One month later, the president was assassinated.
A lot has been written about SmugMug SEO. I like SmugMug and will continue to use them. They are a great deal for image delivery. They are not trying to be anything else. They are never going to be your perfect place for each of your images to get correctly indexed by Google. You will get a few images indexed. They are a great service and will continue to be. I used them for years as a working professional to deliver images to clients. They are perfect for what they say they are. SmugMug SEO is fine for what SmugMug says they do.
Google does not index every page and every image of every site. Period. End of story. No amount of SmugMug SEO will fix this. But, if you want to optimize coverage by Google, and want to control the meta tags, filenames and whatnot, then build and host your own site. No image hosting platform will allow you complete control of this. There are many software packages online and off where you can build each page of your site with perfect SEO page titles, meta names, image filenames and all the other necessary ingredients. I started to do this about a month ago, and I am seeing good results so far. I am hand-coding my site. I don’t have to handwrite every page. I just write server side code to produce each page for each image on the fly according to my own specifications. My pages are very simple by choice. No extra fluff. They work great on mobile devices.
I once had over a 1000 images online. I took a leap of faith and deleted all of them. I then removed them from Google using Google’s tools. I am now going back through my entire image catalog and reposting every image that I want to post. I estimate it will take about a year to complete. I could go faster, but I am not in a hurry, and want to pay attention to each photo as I am posting them. The benefit of doing this will be to properly title, caption, keyword and write metadata for each and every image accurately and correctly. It has been fun to revisit old images and re-edit raw files. I laugh at myself sometimes when I see how I edited something 20 years ago.
Give SmugMug a break, SmugMug SEO is a bit of an unfair witch hunt.
Part of coding every bit of every page is the responsibility of thinking about things that I didn’t really have to think about with other photo-storage sites. On the flip-side, I get to control every minute detail. Here are just a few things that I have had to do to get my SEO to an acceptable level.
Title of every page to be SEO friendly and match the photo on that page. Most photo-sites don’t even do this correctly.
Meta description could only be a certain length and have content about the photo.
Canonical URL must be in the header of every page. I had to Mod Rewrite every php intensive URL into a friendly html URL. This wasn’t too hard once I learned how to do it. Now my site has friendly html URLs instead of crazy variable-laden php pages.
Doctype etc. Simple things such as declaring the language and doctype. You would be surprised how many pages don’t.
Favicon also had to be Apple friendly – didn’t know that. I drew my own just to avoid any possible copyright confusion. Yes it looks corny, but that is what I was going for.
Viewport had to be set correctly to be mobile friendly.
twitter:card and og:tags. I didn’t even know about these. Now I can shape exactly how my page is shared.
H1 heading. Almost forgot that.
GZip for compressed data transmission. Had to do that.
The moral of the story is once I got everything done – and I probably don’t yet – my site’s pages will get indexed correctly. The hard part is that I can’t control the actual ranking. That part just takes time, links, and good content.
I did go back and look at other photo-storage site’s headers once I learned what I needed to and I can see why they just don’t do well with Google.