Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Naming Your Second Life Photos - A Cautionary Tale

I've been thinking about this topic for some weeks now... ever since I found out about the recently added Stats page in BlogSpot. Oh I've used Google Analytics for a long time and it gave me a fair amount of information, but the BlogSpot Stats allow me to do more. This is all relevant to the topic of naming your photos, as I shall explain. :)

For the longest time Google Analytics has let me see the countries where my blog hits are originating. My country list seemed very odd though and, having compared lists with other SL Bloggers, there were a few anomalies that my colleagues didn't share. I have nothing against the places in Asia and the Middle East which provided all those visitors, I just couldn't figure out why they were coming to this blog. These countries are not well represented in the general Second Life population so something specific was bringing them.

Google Analytics would not let me (or if it does, it's not easy) to link specific hits to specific posts by country. BlogSpot Stats does if only because it lets me see the google search which was used to find the post and it lets me view the data in a very narrow time window so I can link them to country of origin (many of the google searches also show the country through the google address). The solution to my country of origin dilemma was interesting but a little creepy.

More than a year ago I did a post about finding two avatars exercising bed pose balls on my island. I posted a photo of them (which was almost safe for work) and it is this photo which has been generating up to 40 hits a day from countries such as Iran, China and South Korea. The reason? I named the photo, as I usually do, something which would allow me to find it again. I have way too many unorganized photos on my hard drive so I would try and name them something I would remember. I named this particular photo "Sexin Store". It was a typo of course - I should have called it "Sex In Store" but it was late at night and I could still find it. I didn't realize (having never needed to know) that "sexin" is an extremely popular image search term.

Now I'm not a complete prude, but I feel really uncomfortable with the thought that my blog would be "known for" something found in a search for "pron". It's just not me. I've deleted the post and started thinking seriously about how we should name photos we put up on our blogs. Not just to avoid hits but also (if that's your objective) how to potentially generate them. I've tried to think about the titles of my blog posts (not too seriously mind you) but it had never occurred to me that the photos should be considered as well.

The choice of photo name should, therefore, reflect the type of search you want to result in a visit to your blog (I know, it sounds pretty obvious.). The top photo of Omega Point is fairly simple (Omega Point in Second Life). It is descriptive, accurate and easy enough for me to find if I need it. However I have adopted a new discipline....when I start taking pictures for a blog post I create a new folder and name it with the post name and store all the photos there. Much easier to find things. :)

The second photo is not as straight forward. Typically I'd name it for the reason I had done the photograph. If I'm showing off a skin I'd give it the name used by the designer. If I was showing my new kilt I'd give it the name on the outfit folder. If it was for a profile pic, I'd call it a head shot with the date. For the purposes of this blog post it was named "Omega Point in Second Life - Honour".

I'm not going to spend a lot of time naming things to troll for blog hits. But I will be more careful with my naming conventions and at least try to be accurate if still bland. :)

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