How Geotagging Images Can Help Local SEO

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What is Geotagging?

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical information like GPS coordinates and location name to a photo’s metadata. When you geotag photos, the photo’s information is stored in the image’s “EXIF data”, along with time, date, the lens type, focal length and shutter speed which are also recorded by the camera. All this info can be accessed in Photoshop or any photography software.

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How Do I Geotag?

These days the majority of pictures are taken with smartphones, DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras, and MILC (mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras). With these awesome modern digital devices, EXIF data (time, date, and technical information) are recorded automatically. The main task for the user is to use this data to help your images gain more reach.

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Geotagging Photos With Your Smartphone

The beauty of a smartphone is that it already functions as a GPS device. There’s no need to worry about GPS data because it’s being logged 24/7 already! (That’s not creepy right?) Anyway, in iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, all iPhones and iPads have geotagging enabled by default. It can, of course, be disabled, but for this geotagging, don’t change anything.

The Android operating system is found on most non-iphones, also geotags photos by default. However, 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.

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Geotagging Photos With Your DSLR/MILC 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).

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Viewing EXIF Data on Your Smart Phone

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.

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

People absorb a great deal of information through text. However, photographs still convey 10x as much information as plain old text. Photos of you, your place of business, or projects you’ve completed can act as the initial point of intrigue that draws customers to your website. 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.

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Removing a Geotag

You may have photos that you want geotagged in your own personal library that you want to share on the Internet without keeping their location data – pictures of your home or family, for example. In this case, you want to make sure that the photo’s EXIF data (or at least the location part of it) is removed.

Some websites will preserve the EXIF data for each image, while some automatically remove it as each image is uploaded. For example, Google+ and Tumblr leave location data intact, whereas Twitter and Facebook (thankfully) remove it. Others, like Flickr, will give you the option to keep or remove it during the upload process.

If you want to make sure that location data is not included in the first place, most applications have some sort of setting to remove location data as you export your photos for sharing. There are also applications available for most platforms to remove location information from batches of photos all at once.

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Get Out and Start Tagging!

By reaching out to people who are in your neighborhood, you can detail your rewards so that they are location specific. Are you located near a university? Offer a reward for fans who wear the school’s colors. Is there a big music event coming up? Offer a reward for users who show you their ticket stub. These kinds of offers also open up possibilities for organizations that don’t necessarily have a business location but want to receive the recognition involved with geotagging rewards.

With geotagging services, the playing field is leveled. Local brands can easily reach out to users through targeted specials and in turn, compete with national brands.  So if anyone should be looking to take advantage of geotagging services it should be local businesses.

Does your local business use location-based social networking apps like Foursquare or Gowalla to attract local users? What about Flickr? All these mostly FREE social media and geo-tagging tools can be used to increase your presence online! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start tagging!

And if you’re looking for more ways to use the photos on your site to improve SEO, consider using a Google Photographer or even becoming one yourself.


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