Gallery or portfolio page descriptions: what to write about, and why they’re useful to visitors and Google
A common question from photographers starting a new website: whether they need to include some text on gallery pages, above or below the thumbnails. And what to write about.
The answer is a strong YES. Each gallery on your photography website should ideally have a description at the top, above the thumbnails, explaining what the images are all about.
It can be a small paragraph of text, or a longer block of text if needed. If you feel it takes up too much vertical space (pushing the thumbnails too low on the page), you can just show a small preview of that text with a “more/expand” button.
Why gallery descriptions are important
Often, the gallery title and the actual thumbnails might seem self-explanatory.
But writing a brief gallery introduction can really help with a few things:
- It gives people “context”, it provides a better explanation of that topic and why you put together that gallery
- It does a better job instructing Google what the page topic is all about. Otherwise, Google can only rely on the page title and the image ALT tags (which are all defined uniquely for all of your images, right?)
On this last topic, here’s a rough preview of what Google “sees” on a page when you add a gallery description:
So, if you’re now convinced, what can you actually write about in your gallery descriptions?
What you can include in gallery descriptions
- what: describe the people, objects, products in your photos
- where: locations
- when: year, season, date, time of day (where applicable)
- personal experiences: write about taking those photos, problems you had, the obstacles you overcame, etc.
- storytelling & facts: do some research (Google, Wikipedia, blogs) and find interesting facts about your subject matter
- scientific names (for plants & animals)
- abstract meanings (depending on the type of photography)
Let’s look at a few examples of descriptions on gallery pages
A great read on this topic is
Images A great way to write about your own photographs is to write around them instead of writing about them. I mentioned earlier that listeners are not stupid or blind so don’t tell them what they show. Don’t tell them what you want them to see. If no one sees it, what else? Want to limit how people can come out of your image?
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