Author Archives: Fotoark

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What is SEO? And why should I care?


Is search engine optimization like another language to you?

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of making you website, and or content, visible to search engines. Without it, no one would find you website other than by word of mouth. Which is not good if you are looking for exposure!

The main search engines in the English speaking world are, Google, Yahoo and Bing. The later two are now using the same resources to deliver their results to you.

How does SEO work?

Before you understand SEO, you need to understand search engines. Search engines crawl the internet looking for content, which for the most part comes in the form of text. Text is easy for these automated programs to understand, compute and tell another program what score the content is worth having.

Why score content?

It the same as a book, or magazine article about. One may be well written, the other poorly. If both are about the same subject, then which one are you more likely to choose? The one with good content right?

So you look to reviews, recommendations and maybe even to book charts to make your decision.

Search engines do basically the same thing.

How do search engines tell what’s good or not?

There are several ways. Content, is it relevant to the subject? Are there other sites linking to the article that also have good relative content. Are there people mentioning it on social media, or subscriptions?

All this tells a search engine just how good, or not so good your content may be. And so, it gives your content a rank.

The higher the rank, the more authority your article will have over someone else’s with a similar subject.

Improving your SEO

In magazines and in many form of literature we doing things to highlight a point. We make headlines. We embolden subheadings, and we highlight areas.

In SEO, we need to do the same for the search engines. Who, or course, have their own language. They don’t visual read or look at our sites. They scan them and read the text. So making a heading red, to the public is nice. But, to a search engine it looks like style=”color: #99cc00;”>red. Big difference.

It does not see the color, it see’s the code.

Code your site for SEO promotion

So if you want to tell a search engine what your article or photograph is all about, you need to give it a code title.

Then, a description. This is a good start.

But, to continue on if you have more content, you should label something and headlines, or sub-headlines.

If all this sounds like work, well then, it is. But, there are many easy ways to do all this without getting technical that we will cover later.

Inherent flaws with SEO

This is, again, a basic overview of SEO. There are other contributing factors. For those with maybe a mathematical mind, or statistical background you might be frowning a little here. Can’t all this be gamed? The answer is of course, yes.

However, search engines are constantly evolving. And, this is the best system we have to work with up to know.

Do you need to care about SEO?

No not at all. Many programs out there that put content on the web automatically do a lot of this for you. But not all, and not so correctly.

If, however,  you do want exposure. Then you’ll need to place SEO in a priority marker along with the rest of your content.

It’s the best we have to work with for now, and we just have to go with the flow.

Sadly, many people, photographers in particular over look this. And a lot of great photographs, and articles slip by the Internets way of catching it all. Hopefully, in the series of upcoming articles, we’ll be able to tighten the net a little, and get your work seen a lot more.

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain at night

The beautiful Alhambra in Spain at night

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain at night

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain at night

Travel Photography from Spain:

The Alhambra in Spain is of breathtaking beauty. Built as a palace and fortress during the mid 14th century by Moorish rulers who occupied this region of Spain at the time.

Left in a state of disrepair until the 19th century the Alhambra is now fully restored and a beautiful example of architecture and relief work.

It’s now a UNESCO heritage site as well. Meaning it is flooded with tourists on a year round basis. Giant car parks included. Spending a few days in Granada, Spain and getting to the Alhambra early in the day in probably the best way to see it.

Travel Blog Workflow 6: Promotion

Just like a market in Budapest, you have to tell people what you have on offer, otherwise no one will ever know!

How to Promote your Travel Blog:

How did you find my travel blog, or website the first time?

Was it through a search engine when you were looking for something?

Was it through an email someone forwarded to you?

Or was it through a social media site like facebook or twitter?

Either way, somewhere along the line it wouldn’t have got there if there wasn’t some promotion out there.

My Travel Blog Promotion Workflow:

We already looked at a little of this in the previous work flow. But, here’s a recap.

  • I ensure my images are search engine friendly
  • Metadata is written out (many people don’t agree with this, but I use it in conjunction with excerpts)
  • Posts or articles are automatically listed out on social network sites like twitter, facebook and stumbleupon.
  • Subscribers are sent out an email with my latest article.
  • Replying to emails sent in by readers.

Why spend time promoting a blog post?

How many good content websites are there out there? I really don’t know. If I type travel blog into a search engine these days the chances are I’ll get back corporate, sponsored or paid for content.

It’s getting harder and harder to narrow down your search criteria without coming across someone else’s sales criteria. Be it for self promotion, or for sales.

The idea that “content is king” is in my estimation, a fallacy when it comes to today’s internet search.

There are so many people gaming the system of search engines for profit and promotion, that great content is lost.

In my estimation a great marketer, will rank a lot higher in search engines than a great writer.

A writer, unless they are tech savvy, have time, money and capability will lose out every time.

They want to write, they don’t want to spend countless hours looking for link exchanges, advertising, using Search Engine Optimization techniques, adding themselves to the latest top listed directories or buying themselves some votes.

A travel marketer or photography marketer is solely focused in ranking high in search engines. They may have some content, but, the priority will be to market it more than to write it.

There are incredible travel blogs, and photography websites out there that never see the light of day in the general circle of promotions due to this.

Hence, in this day and age – I do try to promote The Longest Way Home as much as I feasible can given my circumstances. Otherwise, it simply will never see the light of day.

It is however, not my number one priority. The journey is. As it had been from the start, the best promotion I have had is from the content I produce, and word of mouth.

Travel blog promotion workflow:

Once a blog post or article is released, the most common way I promote it is via twitter.

I use my phone a lot for this. I’ve tried tweeting out my latest post links on a frequent basis. If I am reading tweets, and replying to people. I usually tweet out my latest link before signing off.

Ideal restaurant social media flow

Social media plays a huge part in post publishing a travel blog article

From my own statistics I’ve found that once every 12 hours for a couple of days is good. The tweet needs to hit different time zones around the world.

After that, it’s an element of luck that the right person sees it, reads it, likes it and Retweets it to their followers etc.

I’ve also recently taken to asking an occasional question on Facebook regarding my journey and articles. I really don’t have the time for facebook, but do try for something different there.

Guest posts:

I’ve written articles on several other websites. Here I like to diversify my content and write about something I wouldn’t normally do, just like I am doing now. But I put an emphasis on high quality here, after all there will be a lot of new readers that will see you for the first time.

Attracting new subscribers:

I launched my first ebook 5 Top Places to Travel & Photograph earlier this year. It’s a free photo ebook to anyone who wants my free journals via email.

What people have found is that my statements are truthful and honest. They don’t get spammed. They get an update on average twice a week. They get additional content not seen elsewhere on the site. And, of course as promised they get a great photo ebook with lots of tips.

Link building:

I have a travel blog & photography directory. Anyone can ask for a link exchange. I do however ask you put you link up first, and then tell me about it via a comment on that page.

I get emails asking for link exchanges, but it really is better to just leave a comment on this page. It’s gets updated once per month.

Leaving comments on other sites:

Leaving comments on other websites is a great way to be noticed. I don’t do this for that.

I only comment regularly on a handful of blogs or websites. I do so because I like that particular article or the person who’s written it.

I simply don’t have time to do what I call “communal” commenting. Or “I’ll comment on your blog, if you comment on mine.”

This maybe a mistake on my behalf, but I simply don’t have the time nor inclination to leave a comment, for a comments sake.

However, if you do comment on my site, the chances are huge that I will go to your website and read it.

These days I tend to comment mainly on non travel blogs, simply to get away from “travel” 24/7. Or on helpful and constructive travel sites.

What happens next is up to you!  (hint: great content)

Ask for a comment or suggestion

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, is ego. There’s nothing wrong with sending a tweet, email or comment asking for your opinion on an article you’ve written. Try it, ask someone for their opinion and chances are they will give it.

Email Promotion:

I wrote about this in the previous article about content writing and revisions. I feel it’s important to reply to anybody who takes the time to contact me.

I do this not because of what I just wrote. But, it has the side impact that the person who took the time in writing got a reply. Just like if I write to a stranger via a website and they reply back, I think well of them.

But there is only one of me, and I am traveling so there is a delay.

This is a personal website, and I feel it’s important to establish ties with people this way. Word spreads via email very quickly. This in turn, may provide a return in time and investment via work coming in. Increased readership.

And, so the word spreads.

What I don’t do is send out spam like emails to my subscribers. I know it’s a huge marketing bonus. But if you sign up to my updates, its finance free, spam free, marketing free, you even get a free photo ebook for free.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

What happens if you don’t promote?

An excellent example of a non-promoted travel blog is Karl Bushby’s. I can’t think of a traveler out there, today, who should be more promoted than Karl. But isn’t.

The reality of it is that Karl is working his butt off just to make ends meet. And, to complete his epic journey. To spend time and money promoting his blog everyday just isn’t feasible.

It’s a catch 22. Become a marketer with average content, and you will do very well these days.

Be an extraordinary writer, photographer or traveler and do nothing to promote your work in the realm of today’s internet. And, the chances are very few people will ever read or see your work.

I think of the above everyday.

The reality is, if you don’t want to be seen, don’t do anything. If you want to get noticed, do something. There are, however, limits.

What path you go down, is up to you.

Next will be the tacking of cost in running a travel blog

Car on the Khyber Pass Pakistan

Khyber Pass Valley of Kings

Car on the Khyber Pass Pakistan

A lone car on the Khyber Pass, Pakistan

Travel Photography from Pakistan:

The Khyber pass is synonymous with the word legend and travel. From Alexander The Great to Gengis Khan, they have all traveled this pass that links Europe / Central Asia with East Asia.

It is, and still is one of the worlds greatest trading routes. Though, today it’s no longer spices and gold that are transported through it. It’s guns, drugs and people.

People washing along the Ganges in Varanassi, India

Ritual Washing on the Ganges, India

People washing along the Ganges in Varanassi, India

People washing along the Ganges in Varanasi, India

There is perhaps nowhere else on earth that can replicate what happens every morning along the Ganges river in Varanasi India. The Ganges is India’s national river, it is also the largest river in the Indian sub continent.

More importantly it is the most sacred river in the world for all Hindus.

It is here in Varanasi that many Hindus come to die. Their bodies cremated along the shore, and their ashes placed into the river.

It is also said that the water from the Ganges can heal the sick or dying.Washing in the Ganges is said to rid a person of their sins.

Everyday life along the Ganges in Varanasi is one of the most colorful, fascinating places on earth.

Sunken cemetery in The Philippines

Sunken Cemetery

Sunken cemetery in The Philippines

Sunken cemetery in The Philippines

Travel Photography from The Philippines

Today is Blog Action Day 2010, the subject is water. In aid of supporting a cause that makes up most of our bodies and the planet we live on here is  post about protecting out water based tourism locations. You can check out their website here

I really don’t know what the sunken cemetery in Camiguin Island in The Philippines is not more popular? In fact, it’s actually endangered as the local government wishes to build a new ferry terminal nearby.

The sunken cemetery is located on the small island of Camiguin off the north coast of Mindanao. You can hire a small boat man to paddle you over (4 mins). Or, you can swim over. Though again, here confusion rocks tourism as some people say you are not allowed to swim here.

All around the giant white cross are tombs that are under water. An earthquake stemming form a volcanic eruption sunk the cemetery. While most are now covered in coral. You can still make out the odd cross or two.

If anything, this place, in my view, should be protected, and not endangered by a new ferry terminal. Get there, before it’s too late!

Humayun's Tomb in India

A tomb that looks like the Taj Mahal in India

Humayun's Tomb in India

Humayun’s Tomb in India

Travel Photography from India:

Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun was a Mughal Emperor who ruled present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 only to loose it and regain it again from 1555–1556.

Humayun died in 1556 when during the call to prayer he knelt down, tripped on his robes and hit his head. Injuries sustained left him near death, and three days later he died.

Looking more like a palace than tomb, Humayun’s wife built this tomb for him. Built in the style of the Taj Mahal in style it is one of the finest Mughal monuments in India today.

Colored Chickens in Pakistan

Techno colored chickens from Pakistan

Colored Chickens in Pakistan

A box of colored Chickens in Pakistan

Travel Photography from Pakistan:

A bright yellow baby chicken is not an uncommon sight. But what about a neon pink or orange? In Pakistan this is also quite normal!

In many markets you will see brightly colored chicks waiting to be sold. Even brightly painted eggs. It’s not a way of marking them out either.

The answer is quite simple. To make them more attractive to buyers. Brightly colored chickens are more likely to sell than ordinary chickens. So says the market seller.

I’ve seen this in a few places, but not to the extent of neon glowing colors being used. That said, it must work!

Photo credit with permission from: