Flickr SEO in Action: Google Crawling Photo Tags and more

Filed in Social Media by Matt McGee on August 2, 2007 9 Comments

I’ve shared tips and theory on how to market on Flickr plenty of times here on SBS, so how about a concrete example for a change?

Here’s an unintended example, but a good example, of an individual Flickr photo ranking for a commercial term — actually, for two commercial terms.

First, have a look at the Flickr photo so you know what we’re talking about.

Second, let’s look at the Google SERPs:

[ladder bookcase] – it’s #3 in the natural SERPs (after all the ads and product results)
[ladder bookshelf] – it’s #1 on this term

(BTW, the photo is #2 and #1, respectively, on Yahoo for those terms.)

How’d this happen? … and … What does it mean?

1.) If you didn’t do this already, go back and read through the comments. You’ll see that this photo was linked to from several blogs and Web sites, pushing plenty of “link juice” and PageRank at this photo page. That’s a basic tenet of SEO: You need inbound links. Flickr pages are no different.

1a.) The above relates to the idea of “buzzworthiness.” There are countless photos of ladders and bookcases on Flickr, but this is unique. This gets attention and earns links. Buzz marketing and viral marketing are important parts of any search marketing effort; you have to stand out in the crowd.

Flickr tags2.) The words “ladder” and “bookcase” are in the photo’s title, which also means those words are in the Page Title (title tag/element). Ergo, it ranks well for the phrase [ladder bookcase]. That’s another basic tenet of SEO: Page Titles matter.

3.) Check this out: It ranks even better for [ladder bookshelf], even though “bookshelf” hardly appears anywhere on the page. In fact, it only appears in the Flickr tags that the uploader assigned when uploading this photo. (see image at right) Ergo, the obvious conclusion is that Google is crawling and using Flickr tags for ranking purposes.

::::: That’s nice to know, isn’t it? ::::::

4.) Those external blogs and Web sites I mentioned in #1 above? They’re all getting credit — admittedly not a lot, but it all adds up — for the links they posted in the comments below this photo. That’s another basic tenet of SEO: Participate in social media and share your link when possible without spamming.


What if that crazy ladder was for sale, and what if the owner had a link to the product page right below the photo itself? Think that would be good for business? I do.

Do you have a unique or noteworthy product photo or image related to your business? Think about the example above and how it can apply to what you’re doing. Upload your photo. Optimize the photo page with a relevant title, description, and tags, too. And then go to work on attracting some buzz. It works!

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  1. Miriam says:

    Wow, Matt! Awesome. That sure seems like proof to me that Google is crawling those tags.

    Gosh, I wish I could spend more time on Flickr. It’s one of the best SM sites, for sure, in terms of the positive atmosphere and the really neat things you get to see. The nature photography really thrills me. Some of it looks good enough to be on the front of National Geographic.

    At any rate, I’ve tried very hard to follow all of your steps you’ve laid out in your Flickr posts. I just need to make more time to socialize. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Adam Snider says:

    I’d say that this is proof positive that Flickr works for SEO/SMO.

    Maybe I should start putting screen shots up on Flickr.

  3. Matt McGee says:

    Adam – Miriam, I really do think you should be using Flickr however you can and when it’s appropriate for your business or your clients. And Flickr is also going to be hosting videos soon, too – another opportunity!

  4. JM says:

    I was looking at flickr for SEO as we’ve seen the benefits in terms of referral traffic and I wondered whether there was any link juice to be had (such as from the profile page link on youtube) – I gues this isnt so much SEO for your own website but using the SEO power of flickr to drive referral traffic to your own website.

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