Sketchbook: seascape paintings

Firstly, note how the title of the blog post describes the collection. There can sometimes be a temptation (particularly when writing for social media) to include ‘arty’ or cryptic headings, however, these do nothing to help Google understand what a particular page on your website is about. The better Google understands your website content, the more likely their search engine will direct relevant visitors to your site.

This is a fictional online portfolio, pretending to display a collection of sketchbook pages relating to the sea.

Firstly, note how the title of the blog post describes the collection. There can sometimes be a temptation (particularly when writing for social media) to include ‘arty’ or cryptic headings, however, these do nothing to help Google understand what a particular page on your website is about. The better Google understands your website content, the more likely their search engine will direct relevant visitors to your site.

Note also how the website URL uses relevant keywords. You can format URLs like this by visiting Settings > Permalinks in the WordPress dashboard. This is shown in our video tutorial on the Student Art Guide.

It is better to present a portfolio of artwork in one blog post like this, than within a typical ‘online gallery’. Standard online galleries require clicking on each image to open (or clicking NEXT) or display images within a slideshow (slideshows makes your website load slowly and may display poorly on mobile).

Using WordPress blog posts to display artwork online has several advantages:

  • Mobile users can easily scroll down the page to quickly view all of the work;
  • Longer pages are typically viewed as a higher quality by Google. You are likely to gain more visitors to your website, than if you had only a single image on each page;
  • Any social sharing of images on this page encourages visitors to view all of your artwork, rather than the single image. For example, if someone shares one of these images on Pinterest, anyone clicking on that link will arrive at this blog post, which contains a collection of many images that they might be interested in. As there are many images on one page, your share stats are also likely to grow much faster than if there was just one image per page. Having a lot of social shares adds credibility to your work, as others may be included to think, “Oh wow, this work is popular.”

Begin the blog post with an introduction.

First, contextualize the project with a short paragraph. Add a title that makes sense and gives a hint of what this project is about. You want this to be quick reading — you need to be able to glance at it and understand what it’s about. The title, a short paragraph, and first image should be engaging enough to make people want to look at the entire project. – Matias Corea, Behance’s Chief Designer

A blog post format, such as is used here, allows you to add captions, an introduction, and other helpful information. Adding text to an online portfolio is very important, as this allows Google to understand what the page is about. (Google robots are better at understanding text than images). Lots of text makes it more likely that Google will understand the page. The text used in headings and subheadings is especially important.

It is better to have a collection of related images and text within the blog post, rather than have an assortment of unrelated content, which may make Google confused about what the post is about.

This is a sample image. Before you upload images to WordPress, make sure you name the files something useful, i.e. seaside-sketchbook-drawings.jpg, using hyphens in between words. Google reads the image file names and uses this to help work out what images are about. If you upload an image called xyz123.jpg you are wasting an opportunity to get more visitors to your website. Note how the title of the image also connects to the title of the blog post as a whole, helping to reinforce what the article as a whole is about.

In the body of your article, provide background information about the artwork. Text near to images helps Google understand images and provides extra information to readers. You may wish to share:

  • Ideas/themes behind the work
  • Mediums, techniques, and tools used
  • Discussions about relevant artists. When you mention others it is good etiquette to link to their websites. Links are created using the symbol on the WordPress toolbar when editing a post). Links to other relevant websites are also a good way for Google to establish what your site is about. By linking to others, you are more likely to get others linking back to you, as a thank you. Having other websites link to you is considered a very valuable signal by Google (as it implies that others think your website is valuable enough to mention and talk about).

Visitors like to know the story behind your finished work, so think about presenting your process — from the initial concept, to early sketches, to the finished product. – Matias Corea, Behance’s Chief Designer

This image is set at a ‘medium’ display size and is aligned to the right. Small images like this may display awkwardly on small screen sizes, with text forced into a tiny gap beside them. Inserting images at ‘full size’ avoids this problem.

Aim for each article on your website to be as comprehensive and thorough as you can make it. This doesn’t mean that you should waffle; Google can tell how long visitors spend on your page, so if they ‘bounce’ quickly away, Google is likely to send fewer visitors to your website in the future. Aim to publish at least 1,000 words of valuable content per blog post. This sounds like a lot, but once you have added captions and so on, it doesn’t take very long. For example, if you had a portfolio of 20 related images, a short 50-word caption under each would easily bring you to the 1,000 word total. There is no magic rule about 1,000 words and you can write much more than this. Many articles on the Student Art Guide are around 3,000 – 4,000 words long.

It can be very helpful to join connected images together in a tall, vertical column, as above. A tall image is more visible when shared on Pinterest, and can gain more shares, driving more traffic to your site. You might consider joining three highly related images, or perhaps a series of progress shots, showing the stages of completion for a particular artwork. I use Adobe Fireworks to format images before I upload them. As a real-world example, you may be interested in viewing a portfolio of sketchbook pages by Halima Akhtar, which has been shared over two hundred thousand times on Pinterest. This article features tall Pinterest-friendly images.
You may upload a group of images in any formation. It is important to consider how these will display on mobile, however. For example, the images above will be very small when viewed on mobile, which may or may not be appropriate.

Use the free Yoast SEO plugin, to help ensure your blog post is optimized for search engines. This is shown in our video tutorial. This helps ensure that your page meets current best practice in terms of being ‘search engine friendly’. This plugin is perhaps the most valuable WordPress plugin and is one of the many reasons why WordPress is a superior website building tool.

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