Tuesday 7 July 2015

How to stay out of trouble when using images online

Yes,you can get sued for using copyrighted images on your site.
On websites, a picture really is worth a thousand words. You don’t want your site to look like the yellow pages, just a list of information with a few paragraphs and headings, so you need a few pictures to lighten things up a bit. While some of you are lucky enough to have a ready-made stash of local photos lying around, many people don’t; and their first choice is usually to look on the internet for images. Given that the internet seems to contain 150% of everything that ever existed, it’s a safe bet that you’ll find what you need- but you can’t just save the image and use it on your site.

It is illegal to use any copyrighted images without a licence or the owner’s permission. This rule is enforced- not every time, but more often than you’d think. Sometimes the action is brought by large agencies or companies who have brought the rights to the images; other times a photographer may see their image online and ask for it to be taken down, or may sue for compensation; or they may do both. In a majority of cases, the amount of compensation awarded runs into the thousands of pounds- a lot of money for what could have been a £10 stock photo.
In these occasions, the website owners often claim that

1-      They didn't know the picture was copyrighted
2-      They haven’t made any money from the picture, or
3-      They thought they were covered because they wrote a disclaimer on the site, or mentioned the author’s name beneath the photo.

None of these make any difference. If you’re not sure if an image is copyrighted, it’s safest to assume that it is. You don’t need to be using the image or your site for financial purposes, and no disclaimer or copyright notice has any legal effect.
So what can you do? There are a few options.

1-      Don’t use photos. Leave your site a selection of text pages, charmingly reminiscent of a set of low-tech information posters. Maybe not the best option.

2-      Use only copyright-free images. You can find this on Google by searching entering your search term into Google images, selecting Search Tools, then Usage rights, and selecting ‘Labelled for reuse / with modification’. If you won’t be making any money from them, you can search ‘Labelled for non-commercial reuse’- that will include all the other categories too. See the picture below for more information.

1-      Get snapping! If you've got access to a decent camera (and a sunny day!), why not spend the day taking photos around the town? You can get the exact shots you want, without having to worry about copyright. If you don’t have the time- a common obstacle- see if you can enlist the help of a local photographer, amateur enthusiast, or helpful volunteer.

2-      If you want your website to look the best that it can, you’ll need professional, high quality images. Have a look for skilled photographers in your local community and see how much they charge. If it helps to portray your local area in a positive light, you may make some of the money back in tourism!
So go for it- get searching, snapping or shopping, and liven up your site with a bit of flair that won’t bring you a court warrant.

Thursday 2 July 2015

The Importance of Link Building for SEO

Having a fantastic website is one thing but to help build your SEO and please the big search engines, you need to be seen to be popular and to do this, you need to rank well. Links are a powerful signal that shows search engines how popular your site is and they use links as a key indicator in determining rankings. With a high-quality number of links pointing to your website you can significantly improve your position in the top search engines and be found easily by potential clients. 

What is Link Building?

Link building is the process of acquiring links from other websites to your own. Links are the most common way for users to navigate between pages on the internet and search engines use links to crawl the web and this is how they help to determine your website’s ranking and positioning in their results.

Link building is a process that many SEO professionals find the most complex and difficult and mastering the art of building high quality links is a real skill.

Why is Link Building important for SEO?

Once search engines have crawled a website they are able to extract content for that website and add it to their indexes for ranking. From the index they are able to decide whether a page is of high enough quality to be ranked for relevant keywords and the determiners for ranking are not just the content, though it is of high importance that the content you’re putting out is of high, engaging quality, they also look at the number of links pointing to a page from other sources and the quality of those sources linking to your page. The general rule of thumb with Google and the other search engines is that links from higher quality websites give you a better chance of ranking well in search results.

Strategies for Link Building

There are many strategies for link building which may have varying degrees of success dependent upon, as mentioned, the quality of the websites who link to you. Here are five different strategies you could consider.

Customer Links

If you have partners or businesses you work with on a regular basis or even loyal clients and customers who would be willing to champion your brand than capitalise on this. You could put together partnership badges which link back to your site, or brand ambassador badges for loyal clients. It is very similar to giving away a branded t-shirt or mug, you are getting links back to your site from people who really do want to promote your brand.

Company Blog

Your company blog is a powerful tool for link building and it is actually recommended by Google’s engineers. Blogs allow you to constantly put out fresh and engaging material and if you’re on the pulse then you’re going to be more engaging and you are naturally going to get more people linking to your website and content, as a means of sharing it or commenting upon it or simply highlighting it as a valuable source of information. A blog may also earn you a position on other websites blogrolls and directories, creating more links.

Inspire Viral Sharing for Natural Linking

This kind of content is very clever and takes some skill to put together. Known in the SEO world as linkbait, content which manages to bridge the gap between usefulness and humour or usefulness and truly informational can break the viral barrier. Users see this kind of content and want to share and technically minded users will do the same but through posting links on their own sites rather than simply directing people to your site. High quality, editorially earned links are highly lauded and Google and the other search engines respect them greatly as they help to build trust, authority and rankings potential in your website.

Keep it relevant

The more relevant, newsworthy and up to date content you can offer, the better. Earning the attention of the press, other bloggers and news media can spell real success and earn some high value links with ease. It could be as simple as offering a freebie, an exciting new product or speaking out controversially. The latter of these should be done with care as there can be repercussions and it should only be done in line with your core brand values.

Website visibility is key to ensuring you get the hits you need and then are able to convert these clicks and hits into customers.

For business website design check out: www.visionresponsive.co.uk
For local council website design check out: council.visionict.com