5 Things to Unlearn from BlogHer ‘13
I had the opportunity to spend time last weekend at BlogHer in Chicago when the behemoth of the blogging conference circuit came to town. For the most part, I had fun. I enjoyed the festivities and made a point of absorbing as much knowledge and inspiration from the blogging elite as I could. Heck, I even met Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In.
But, as I listened to several of the presentations, I “learned” a few un-truths about blogging, the internet, and how Google works. It is one of the perks of working for a web design and development company. There were a great deal of half-truths shared, so I addressed a few of them here.
False: Google indexes EXIF data from images.
The Truth: This is quite simply untrue. And it hurts my brain that they said this in a session. First, what is EXIF data? It is the metadata embedded in an image file that has the camera and exposure settings recorded in it. With specialty image editing software such as Lightroom or Bridge, you can add things like copyright data and keywords.
Ah, keywords. They aren’t for search engines. They are for you on your computer. Or maybe for Flickr or Google+, which read the file to see if these are there to display. But if you don’t add them to the file, you can add them to either site’s image information after you upload. And there is no difference in search engine visibility. At least not yet, so please don’t panic about something else you need to add to your photos.
You should, however, employ SEO best practices by filling out the ALT, Title, and Description fields in the image uploader on your site. There is no way out of that one.
Pro tip: Go read Andy Crestodina’s book, Content Chemistry, for a guide to creating excellent, SEO-friendly, human-focused content.
False: Pinterest displays images at 600px, so you need to have them exactly that size on your site.
The Truth: Your site can have full width images at 1000px, so go ahead and upload them at that size. Pinterest can shrink images that are too large to fit its ideal size. What it can’t do is increase the size of the pinned image. So, sure, make sure you upload images that are at least 600px wide to make them pinnable.
If you are concerned about page load speeds by increasing the size of your images, you can always install Jetpack from Automattic (the creators of WordPress) and turn on Photon. It will serve your images from the WordPress.com cloud to reduce page load times and server strain. It is a win-win.
False: No one pins anything if there isn’t a rollover pin it button on every photo.
The Truth: Sure, Pin It! buttons on every image make it easy, and easy is good for visitors. (It is always best to assume your visitors are lazy and are as computer literate as the least computer literate person you know). But you don’t need to go and install a bunch of new plugins to make your posts easy to pin.
Make sure you have sharing turned on and configured within Jetpack (or your sharing plugin). Visitors are used to sharing icons being in standard places such as the top or bottom of a post. If you have them there, you are golden. No need to freak out about not being social enough.
False: Changing a headline is enough to keep you from the wrath of google when it comes to duplicate content.
The Truth: Google knows, and Google does not approve. Tiny tweaks will not save you when it comes to a duplicate content penalty because Google already thought of that. So, what’s a blogger who wants their post syndicated to do? Learn about link relationship attributes.
At the end of the article on any site other than your own, you need a simple “This article originally appeared on YourAwesomeDomain.” There should be a link back to the post (not your site). And then you just need to do one more little thing: specify a link relationship.
False: You need to use Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn like a pro to get your content out there.
The Truth: You need to pick the ones with which you are most comfortable and work it. It’s like my mom always said: “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” If you love to get your Pin on, go for it. If your people congregate on Google+, that’s where you need to be. If you write about business, LinkedIn is your home.
So, have profiles on all of them, and make sure they are up to date, but don’t stress if you can’t be a superstar on every network. We aren’t all the Pioneer Woman, and that’s ok (even if it would be awesome if we were).