Tag Archives: Search engine optimization

Follow up to the Great Smugmug Hack of 2014

example of geolocation of IP AddressFollow up to the Great Smugmug Hack of 2014

 

Earlier this year we talked about the exposure of boudoir pictures on Smugmug, and I was one of the lucky winners. 8 months or so later it is still happening, people are still not password protecting their galleries, or making the passwords easily guessable. I get a report from Smugmug almost daily (early on it was a report 3 times a day) about people trying to get to the galleries.

 

Needless to say that we have implemented a much stronger password policy on the naughty bits so that they do not end up on “hot or not” or some other web site that ends up rating the person in the picture. Believe me there is nothing more unfriendly than a call from a model wanting to know why their pictures are on a “porn site”.

 

What is interesting is that the methods that the “hackers” are using have changed from exterior links (many of the voyeur web sites cracked down on that when it went public on much more public web sites than mine) to using Smugmug’s own internal search mechanism looking for those pictures we have posted, and made them Smugmug searchable.

 

Usually when you mark a gallery with a password it will not be indexed in Smugmug search, but the gallery keywords will be. So if you want to really annoy someone, post a bunch of pictures of cats, and keyword them with nude pussy. I am not above pranking people using Smugmug’s internal search mechanism to annoy someone.

 

If you use Gallery (Folder, Page) Key wording (like we should be doing to get more attention on the site, and in Google) then those will show up even if the gallery is password protected (as much as I can tell, for naughty pictures I stopped using Gallery, Folder and Image keywords and most of the “hacking traffic” has dropped to nill) and there will be a result in the search if they are looking for galleries.

 

This is one of the more interesting aspects of what we think we learned about Smugmug internal search.

 

The internal search tool is amazingly good, and absolutely relies on the keywords and text that you wrap around your images. Again you should be using text captions, you should be using key words when setting up your images either in Lightroom or photo editor of choice, and then going through and making sure that Smugmug picked up the keywords by looking at the images after the upload. A lot of photographers I have noticed do not use this function, it is critical if you want your stuff picked up by internal or external search engines.

 

But it is also a double edged sword, if you do not set a password on your gallery, or your pictures, then it is easily picked up by Smugmug internal search, and the “hackers” have resorted to using that tool to keep up to date on all the groovy naughty stuff being posted to Smugmug.

I have to applaud Smugmug though for their efforts to help photographers understand what was going on early on in the year. Indeed voyeur web sites and some amateur porn sites had picked up the boudoir and other pictures that were being posted online because of faulty use of the Smugmug system.

 

The bad part is that the “hacks” are still happening, but based on what we are seeing inside our Smugmug and Google Analytic statistics, 90% of all the attempts are being driven by the Smugmug internal search feature now, rather than the majority of this coming from outside sources.

 

Let us know if you have any questions, we would love to hear your side of the story.

 

So your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hacked

So your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hackedSo your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hacked

It seems that on February 7th, and ongoing through the end of last night people were trolling Smugmug and Zenfolio for all those naughty boudoir pictures that people have been taking and putting behind a password. The good part is that the link was taken down at the site collecting them, and the admin of the site was being pretty cool about it even if it is a voyeur web site. It was pretty easy to find with all the traffic going on about how this was happening.

Really your stuff wasn’t hacked, it was more using an automated scraper to find anything with the word nude in the title, then a quick automated check to see if you were using any one of the 100 most commonly used passwords for the gallery.

example of geolocation of IP Address

So if you used a name or the password password you can pretty much so figure out that someone saw the pictures who is not the client you were taking pictures of at the time. So nope, not really hacking, more like some pretty effective social engineering and those are two things in my mind. My adventure with this started last night when one of the most impressive smugmug support heroes gave me a quick shout that someone was trying to guess the password to a gallery I posted a year ago, I am kind of flattered that they would try this, and I am guilty of using password hints up through this morning when I reset all the passwords on my protected galleries. I am also thankful that really nothing got to where it should not have gone because I use at least some sort of password security, and now the hint shows the old password when the password has changed just because I want to be a jerk about all this.

From there it was a quick dive through my Smugmug Organizer and resetting about 2 dozen passwords, then going on a hunt, while I am a photographer by hobby, I am a computer security person by trade, so this was a great way to exercise just a few of my skills this morning. But you might want to keep an eye out on your traffic levels, looking for anything unusual, and if you have a pop on a password protected gallery, change the password on it. This one will come around again, now that people know to do this, hey there it is.

Geolocate the IP Addresses, Smugmug will do that for you, check your referrers too if you allowed embedding along the way. Smugmug recommends setting the password before uploading, that way it does not get slurped into the RSS feed of smugmug while you are uploading, don’t use the same password, and for the love of all that you believe in don’t use an easily guessed password. Don’t use password hints, turn off Right Click Save As, and one site recommended not to post them online at all, meet up with the client and hand them a CD of their pictures. Of course that won’t matter if your computer gets hacked, but that is also a risk we face in this day and age.

SLRLounge also has some good advice to follow along the way as well.

So check your stuff out today, don’t wait, while the main thread is down at the creeper site (voyeur site), it does not mean that this won’t happen again, you might as well take good steps now to secure your stuff. And keep your clients from showing up in places they didn’t think they would show up in. There is nothing quite so much as to ruin your day as having a client ask you why their pictures are all over a porn site.

 

 

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SEO for Photographers

SEO for PhotographersSEO for Photographers

Well the book is out and I hope that you really enjoy it. It is just a couple of days old so through Friday we are offering the book for free so that people get a chance to read it and let me know what they think. I hope that people write reviews for it on Amazon, the book is right here, and if you downloaded it for free this week, please feel free to write a review. I am really interested in hearing back what you think of it.

I know when we think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) we have a hard time picking out keywords, and trying to describe the picture in 400 characters or less in some cases. This book really pulls out everything I know about getting picture views and following people through a web site to see what they do, where they go, and how long they stay there. What images or movies are the most popular, and how to attempt to sell them to people who are looking at the pictures you are taking.

I generally do not take pictures that people can like in public, and as I work my way through the vintage nude series, something like SEO for Photographers has been important in getting attention. I have already crossed over two million picture views for the year, and if you know anything about e-commerce, it is all about views. The more views, the more chance that someone will actually purchase something, and that is why this book is important, it really dives deep into the things I do to get those amazing picture views. In all this has been a fun book to write, and put together.

There are a ton of pictures, a ton of good ideas, a bunch of different ways of using site keyword clouds to pick out the ones that people are always looking for. The book goes into how to balance Flickr and SmugMug and Tumblr and everyplace else you might post pictures to. We also look at how to balance 500PX, it is a fun site, but has some interesting tweaks that people might not be all that aware of in how 500PX pulse actually works.

The bottom line to all this is to keep on posting, keep on taking pictures, keep on doing the media things you do and have some fun with it. Picture views are not everything, selling pictures is awesomely fun and sometimes happens when you are wondering if anyone is noticing. But the key is using the right keywords to attract the right internal audience. In all, I really hope you like this book, and through January 25th, it is free on Kindle right here.

 

 

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2013 The Statistics Year in Review

Behai Park Beijing China2013 The Statistics Year in Review

We all know that being a photographer means that you have to be an attention whore in a number of ways. We need to get people looking at our pictures online just to even think about getting started selling them. That means we need to stand out from the crowd, we need to keyword and tag what we are doing, as well as dealing with age gates, other photographers, linking and embedding, and all the processes that help us literally stand out from the crowd.

According to the blogs on Flickr and Smugmug something on the order of 3.5 million pictures are uploaded daily on those sites. Instagram if you use it and Facebook are more than billions a week. It is very hard to stand out from the crowd, and 2013 is the year I took SEO (Search Engine Optimization) seriously.

And it paid off, this is the first year I sold pictures, and sold enough pictures to pay for all my hosting plans at DA, Smugmug and Flickr. Here is how the numbers work out.

Flickr:

Starting number 700,000 ending number 10,223,640

Total picture views this year

Sales – Nada, Flickr really needs to figure out a way that others can purchase our pictures. While linking back to Getty Images is cool, that has turned into a dead process for me because of the pictures I take. I don’t do stock pictures, and that complicates Flickr for me. So no sales and unlikely to have any sales via Getty any time soon.

Smugmug:

Total picture views for the year 4,649,198

Sales – enough to pay for hosting and a small craft beer, which is not bad because this is the first year I have ever had sales. The interesting is the graph below, you can see the obvious difference between understanding Smugmug keywords and its internal audience and those days I did not understand them. The midyear point is an amazing turn for people looking at my pictures.

Deviant Art

Starting Number 112,000, ending number 236,927

Total picture views for the year

Sales – enough barely enough to pay for hosting, but this is also the first year I have sold pictures on DA so that makes it special. I mostly sold electronic downloads there, no prints.

Total picture views for the year are: 14,297,765

Facebook and Google Plus

After a small ruckus caused by my pictures from AMDEF 2013 this year, I had to move all the photography over to a page. I was effectively shutdown in Facebook for something like 30 hours this year because people would flag them as porn or something else. While I have had thousands of picture views on both sites, I had to move everything over to a fan page to keep the flaggers/trolls at bay and not upset their fine sensibility, or run afoul of Facebook’s solid issues with Nipples. Seriously Facebook has almost a deviant psychosis when it comes to nipples, or at least some of their users sure do. Although I am ok with it because a lot of other international and national photographers also found themselves shutdown at times. So I am not going to count them this year because of the transition from timeline to fan page.

All other sites, I don’t really post much to 500PX or Instagram or others so they don’t really count. All the numbers are below 10,000 and insignificant in comparison to what is happening over on Flickr, Smugmug and Deviant Art. 2012 was in comparison a pretty paltry year, with maybe a couple hundred thousand picture views, and with the millions of picture views this year along with making enough coin to make hosting payments I really cannot argue where this year ended up. Remember to do all the SEO you can to help you stand out of the billions of pictures that are uploaded weekly.

 

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SEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

Flickr Tags and KeywordsSEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

This is something I have been meaning to post for a very long time, but one of the issues that so many of my photographer friends have is not tagging their pictures. Or if they do tag, they are all over the map thinking that a ton of tags are what is going to drive the picture views. If you are using more than 20 tags on your images you are typing too much. Really what you want to do is work out a plan for how you want to tag, keeping in mind the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr will cross over to Deviant Art and 500PX. They should work on instagram but that is a different audience and I don’t really do instagram. They will work on Tumblr, but Tumblr is pretty much so fragmented into communities. So you are going to want to use community specific tags over there for your pictures.

For this article though I am just going to go over the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr. They are the two major warehouses for images, used by people all over the world, and store hundreds of terabytes of data that people are going to be looking through. There are millions of pictures uploaded to both services every day, so you need to be smart about tagging to cut through all the noise. The good part is that Smugmug and Flickr both make it easy to find what people are looking for on their sites, and gives you a lot of information about popular keywords.

Smugmug – Surprise, Smugmug only indexes the first 30 keywords and tags, if you added more than that, Smugmug is going to totally ignore them. Smugmug also has a great page of recommendations here, but the real heart and soul of the system is Smugmug’s own search page. The Keyword cloud is one way of finding out what people are searching for on the Smugmug site. It looks like this, and is really hard to find with the redesign. You can find your own keyword cloud at yoursite.smugmug.com/keywords/ but they might not be what people are really looking for.

Smugmug Keywords and Tags

This is where Flickr comes to the rescue with their own keyword cloud right here. You can see three sets on Flickr, last 24 hours, last week, or all time. I usually use the all time keywords as they are somewhat the same across both Smugmug and Flickr for tagging your pictures with the right keywords. This does not mean that you will suddenly get millions of picture views a day, but it does help Google, Bing and Yahoo find your stuff better. It also helps people who search internally to the picture warehouses find your stuff better as well.

From a user perspective, you want to try to use the same keywords on both sites, and Flickr’s cloud is pretty similar to Smugmug’s hard to find hide and seek keyword cloud. Adding keywords is one of the only ways that a search engine is going to know what your picture is, and what it is about. Remember though, Flickr has the same kind of cut off for keywords, if you are keyword stuffing then you pretty much so are working too hard.

Use the right keywords for your photo or video. If it is not about California, then don’t include it, if it is about Hawaii then use the keyword Hawaii and if traveling use the keyword travel. For example when I am in Beijing every summer I always come back with thousands of pictures. I break each set into their own location, like the Forbidden City, add the year, and then add china, Beijing, travel, and other key words to describe the area I am in.

It is always important to use keywords wisely. Google and other search engines are onto keyword stuffing and other techniques to try to gain page views. Most of your searches especially on Flickr are going to come from other Flickr users. Smugmug is about 50% internal and 50% external users for search. Keywords are the way to have people find your images.

 

 

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