Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photo galleries help make newspaper websites 'sticky'

Photo galleries help makes newspaper websites 'sticky' - which is great web design as that means they encourage visitors to spend longer on the website as they click through the glorious images. It is also excellent Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as bloggers like Morgan PR here in West Berkshire, will link to such galleries and Google loves those inbound links.

Of course, the internet has delivered a terrific medium for newspapers to showcase photography in away the print equivalent never could. Do you recall how we would pore over those glossy 'Review of the Year' style supplements admiring photographs that were rarely seen in such concentration.

It also means that stunning photographs that might not cut the mustard as news, do get showcased - like these two Ferruginous Pygmy-owls called Bruno (left) and Braulio which were donated to the National Zoo of Managua, Nicaragua which is featured on the Telegraph's Earth Picture Galleries. It was captured on flash memory by a professional photographer from epa - the European Presssphoto Agency.

Such galleries has driven a growth in the popularity of such professional services - although equally the price has been driven down on all but exclusive images as budget pressures prompt newspapers to turn to cheaper and often generic stock photography. The quality can still be exceptional, but some readers might be surprised to discover this is happening. Significantly, when we read newspapers online we normally open all of them in tabs on the Firefox browser - and you quickly spot original photography and this can influence what we read. A lesson there surely?

Another clever approach is the use of user generated content - and it doesn't come cheaper. Times Online does this really well, and here readers are not necessarily clicking to see truly remarkable images (although to be fair they often do) they are making comparisons with their own efforts in a way they never would with professional images. Again making the site very sticky.

Incidentally, while you have certainly seen plenty of epa's work, you might have heard of them too. The company built a name as the leading newsphoto source from Europe since its foundation in 1985. epa is owned by eleven of Europe’s finest news and pictures agencies and they send out more than 1,000 photographs every day. They have also recently signed a deal with Google under which the search engine will host epa content on Google News. Under the agreement, Google News users will be able to quickly and easily find original text stories and photos from the online services. This is a contrast with many newspapers who bitterly resent that Google searches and returns links to their content without realise that Google is driving traffic to their websites!

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