When do you make the decision to pull the trigger and replace one solution that is working perfectly well, for another that has the promise of a more feature rich experience? This was the very question that was facing our management team this week, as we have moved to revamp and improve our social media presence on 4 major platforms. The missing piece of this whole six month stratagem was how we would integrate our image heavy and text light website into this push. What the decision came down to were the three following factors:
1). Image heavy and text light kills SEO and natural search results.
We had a very nice website on the template site, format.com. And while we were very happy about how the site worked, and how easy it was to update and add photos, one of the missing aspects was the ability to add text to our photography so that it could be indexed easily for SEO. While format.com offered easy access to ALT tags, it simply pales in comparison with the ability to add even actual paragraphs to all of our images and have that text hover over the image as an option on our galleries. While it is a LOT of work for use to go through and write about each image, this will increase the amount of searchable text on our site that drives search results. One of our goals for this six month project is to be number one for commercial and advertising photographers in Orlando and Central Florida in natural search results. While this won't be an easy task, it is doable given the technology that Squarespace provides easy access to. We are excited to see what additional insights our friends in the industry can suggest to us to help us meet this goal.
2). The tools on the old platform for social media integration were poor
While format.com offers a small amount of social media integration, and they have all the buttons and everything else that squarespace provides, they failed to deeply integrate these tools to the rest of the site. Squarespace has allowed us to really leverage our blogging platform and make it part of our larger social media strategy. Before all of this integration (Instagram pages, social content appearing on our blog) the website was sort of a sad stepchild that you would send people to see some of the work that our photographers turn out for our clients. Now the website interacts with the content on the social platforms, and has the ability to interject into those platforms in an elegant and automated way. We don't have a lot of time during the week to create posts on the fly with proper writing and attribution of credit along with stunning photographs. We need the ability to schedule this content across the platforms and on our website. Squarespace's robust Word Press blogging platform gives us all of this for free.
3). The ability to create and edit blog posts on a native mobile iPhone application became important.
One of the biggest gripes about the Format.com platform was that the blogging feature seemed like a bolted on piece of technology that simply didn't go well with the rest of the tools. There has been no way outside of attempting to use a mobile browser to go into the blogging CMS and manually attempt to type out content into this window. There has (as of press time) never been a native Format.com app for the iPhone that we could use to do this. Now while Squarespace's mobile blogging app isn't perfect (far from it) it does give us some basic functionality and allows us to knock out at least the rudimentary text of our posts before we can go on the web from a computer and edit them directly. For simple post without a lot of integration needed with image galleries or other advanced blogging features that Squarespace provides on the desktop, the mobile app tends to be a great stand in. If the inspiration strikes or if we want to post a cute behind the scenes blog post, the mobile app is perfect and most importantly instantly accessible.
So that is where we were at in making the leap from Format.com to Squarespace. I feel like that we have put a ton of work into the site, and that while we have a ton of work left to do, this work in progress will pay dividends now and in the near future. The ultimate goal of all of this is put our services in front of more decision makers and make it simple for brands to create and publish quality photographic content. Hopefully with this move, we will continue on this 6 month journey to show some real results. Thanks for coming to visit!
-Christopher Rank (photographer and CEO)