5/03/2011

Quick Writer’s Guide to Finding Free Images

Quick Writer's Guide to Finding Free Images  阅读原文»

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Finding free photos

Writing for the web often requires a great deal of self publishing, especially if you run your own blog or news/feature website. Because of this, there is a good chance that at some point, you will be required to find images, resize them, and add them to your articles.

Nothing can fully replace having your own photographer at your side, but there are many photographers who use the web as their digital portfolios and allow writers and website owners to use their images royalty-free. Just because an image is on the web does not mean it’s a free image and you have the right to use it, and if you start making money off your blog while illegally using copyrighted images, you could be in for a world of hurt.

There are several types of royalty-free photo sites out there. Some have their own licenses, and others use copyleft licenses like Creative Commons or GNU Free Documentation License. Still others allow the users to specify the terms such as notification and crediting. The following are several sites you can use to find free images for your writing.

Where to Find Free Images?

stock.xchng – One of the most well-established free stock photo sites, stock.xchng showcases an amazingly large number of photographers. Licenses include the standard restrictions, which do not require attribution, as well as an attribution, permission, and/or notification requirement. All of the images are high-quality, and all are free of charge.

Flickr – Since Flickr itself is a photo sharing site, there are plenty photos with “all rights reserved” that are off-limits to you unless you gain the photographer’s permission. With the “advanced search” feature, however, you can locate usable photos by scrolling to the bottom of the page and checking: “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. If you need to use the images for commercial promotion, also be sure to check “Find to use commercially”.

A word of caution: Flickr uses the Creative Commons feature trusting that the person who uploads it will honor its terms. Unfortunately, some are prone to later change the license or upload images that they do not have permission to license in the first place. Therefore, always use your best judgment.

Wikimedia Commons – Created by the same non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia, this free image site has a plethora of usable photos and art. Because of stricter requirements for submission, Wikimedia Commons photos are all reusable under Creative Commons. Most require attribution, so be sure to credit your sources.

OpenClipArt – Although clipart may be the last type of image you want to include in your writing, OpenClipArt has some quality vector SVG artwork that may cause you to reconsider. All of the images on this site are released to the Public Domain and do not require attribution.

Google Advanced Search – Rather than an image hosting site, Google image search is a meta search tool that you can use to find reusable images. Simply click on “Advanced Search” and for “Usage rights” select “free to use or share”. Most of the images will come from Flickr, but it may also find additional ones, and best of all, it relies on Google’s speedy search interface.

everystockphoto – Another meta search tool, everystockphoto searches many of the sites mentioned above, such as Flickr and stock.xchng. Each entries clearly defines the license type, resolution, image source, and more.

morgueFile – An interesting concept, morgueFile is designed specifically for creative people looking for free images to use. The site license does not require attribution, and the collection of photos is quite impressive and high quality.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog – The Library of Congress has tons of digital images, and it would make this article unduly long to list all of the categories. If you are looking for art, historical photos, or things you might not be able to find elsewhere, LOC probably has it. Most of the old photos and art are in the public domain, but be sure to check the restrictions for each collection you use.

Now you have no excuse not to include beautiful free photos and art in your writing. Like you, a writer who shares your creations with the world, there are plenty of photographers and artists who do the same. Enjoy their work, and be sure to give them credit when they request it.

About the Author

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in writing, information services, and Linux system administration, relying on only quality web hosts like server hosting company 34SP.com.

You may also want to read: Where To Find Free Images For Your Blog
Photo credits to Miguel Ugalde


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5/02/2011

Optimizing your Blog for Google Panda

Optimizing your Blog for Google Panda  阅读原文»

Have you read "How To Be a Rockstar WordPress Designer" yet?

Google Panda and BlogsThe recent update made by Google (Panda) is the first major change since 2009. There were many blogs that were affected by this update. Some experienced a drop in their traffic, while some experienced a surge. Whatever change your blog experienced, I'm sure you have noticed a lot of buzz around these algorithm changes. What is Panda all about? Let's take a look:

No gibberish

According to Google, the Panda update was made to enhance the quality of search results. This made spammy sites disappear from the results. Though there still are some gibberish sites on search results, there are many websites that were pushed down in the search rankings. The Panda update is not perfect, but it did make considerable changes.

The update targeted low quality sites with superficial and shallow content, and brought down their rankings. The websites that were hit the hardest by Panda were content farms and article sites.

Content farms

Talking about a content farm, many people generally ask what exactly a content farm is. This is actually a very hazy area. Following the definition on Wikipedia, a content farm is a website that uses a lot of freelance writers to write content in order to rank high on search engine results. These websites earn money by getting many page views and thus selling ads on those pages.

This definition brings all the article directories under the definition of content farms. There are many content farms that are still standing strong, though some were penalized.

If you allow guests to post articles on your blog, chances are that some people add low quality content just for some backlinks. If this happens, your blog might have been affected by the recent updates. Opening your blog for guest posts is a good way to encourage reader activity, but some level of moderation is required so that it does not become a content farm.

Keep it Panda friendly

There are some basic steps that you can follow to optimize your website for Google Panda. Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing CEO, prescribes four steps that can work with the post Google Panda update.

1. Evaluate your blog for these characteristics: low informative value, short form, too many ads or duplicate content. If some part is being duplicated, just remove it. If the content is not too useful, add bits of information. Remove extra panels of ads. Make sure the person doing this has enough web development expertise and SEO knowledge.

2. For subsequent blog posts, focus on high quality useful content that is not duplicated from anywhere else.

3. Promote your content in such a way that it attracts links from other blogs. You can do it by providing content in a way that makes people comment on it. When people get interested in your website, they will talk about it, or post links to it on other sites. This will increase your page rank. But remember- keep it original.

4. Offer users a chance to share your blog on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Social engagement will popularize your blog faster than other mediums. This will be useful for both your blog and your readers.

Though there are some legitimate sites that got caught up in the Panda update, it has proven to be a windfall for real content marketers – the blogs that provide great content to their readers. Continue to feed the Internet with the best content with less stress on the sales pitch, and you will stay good in the eyes of Google.

If you are looking for something that would let the Panda update work in your favor then use all the organic SEO strategies that you know, and stop building low quality links. Maybe some content farms have been spared by Google, but judging by the direction Google is taking, their next update might not be so kind.

About the Author

June Buckley is an SEO specialist and avid blogger. She likes writing about social media, business blog hosting, internet marketing and mobile technology.


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