Critique of the Field and Stream Photo Gallery

Photo galleries are hugely popular with hunters

The Field & Stream Photo Gallery appears to be a huge success with their readers. Their site has been gaining traffic and readers over the past year at great rates. It’s wonderful to see a quality publication have such success with their online initiatives.

I’ve been a reader of Field & Stream for quite some time. I’ve learned much from their annual articles about whitetail deer hunting and still look forward to their expert reviews on the latest in hunting gear.

One of the reasons for the success of the Field & Stream Website I have to believe is their photo gallery. I subscribe to the Field & Stream Newsletter and it seems they are always including remarkable photographs from the outdoors. These photos are often reader-submitted, which is great.

Field & Stream is involving their readers in their publication and it bodes well for their future growth. I’m excited to see how they continue to evolve as a business with online focus while continuing to offer the best in outdoor-related content.

There are however a few critiques I have about their Website and some suggestions for ways they could expand even more…

Technical SEO

Taking a quick glance through the extensive Field & Stream Photo Gallery I can find a few things they could adjust with relatively little effort that will yield some positive results.

A quick rank check for the general term ‘hunting photos’ reveals that Field & Stream ranks about #25 on Google. This is not acceptable since F&S has one of (if not the) best hunting photo galleries on the Web. And to top off those results, F&S is ranking for with their Hunting page rather than their Hunting Photos page.

The first thing F&S can do is to utilize a strong URL for their hunting photos. Something like http://fieldandstream.com/hunting-photos would be perfect rather than the current http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/editorial/1 . I would then redirect the current Hunting Photos page to the new one to keep any incoming links.

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Next I would utilize proper title tags for the Hunting Photos page. I would use something like ‘Hunting Photos and User Submitted Hunting Photos Galleries’ or something similar that best fits F&S’s goals for their photo galleries.

F&S does utilize title tags on their hunting pageHunting: Hunting Blogs, Hunting Photos, Hunting Tips, and Hunting Articles from Field & Stream’. That is a lot of great content. To avoid cannibalism I would remove ‘Hunting Photos’ from this title tag so the hunting photos page is optimized and the search engines aren’t confused.

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There are a few other things Field & Stream can do technically, but these are good changes to start.

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Photo Gallery Design

It appears Field & Stream has had great success with their Slide Show Style photo gallery design.

Field & Stream organizes their photos (professional and user-submitted) into individual galleries that are setup like slide shows. For example, Field & Stream’s 50 Best Reader Bucks of 2009. Each time you click ‘next’ above the photos you’ll be taken to a new page. That’s a new page view for each photo, which means big traffic numbers for F&S.

The gallery as it’s currently setup is great for building page views and each page/photo has a new description to the right, which is great for the readers as they will want to learn about each new photo.

It would be a change for my own personal preference, but I would change the slide show format to a design that more resembles a blog post with photos and descriptions taking up fewer pages. This design would lead to potential issues with page load time and decreased page views, but the advantages would include the ability to see more than one photo at once.

It’s mostly a personal preference, but there are also technical advantages. Currently, each page in a photo gallery has the same title tag, which diminishes the value of the tag.

Field & Stream has certainly had success with their photo gallery in slide show format so there is no need to make drastic changes. The traffic and page views are there and users can certainly link to individual posts which will lead to link juice.

There are a few things that could be cleaned up though as I’ve mentioned to make the user experience more enjoyable while taking advantage of some SEO.

‘Best of’ Lists

My absolute favorite part about Field & Stream’s photo gallery is their use of ‘Best of’ lists.

Example: 25 Best Big Game Reader Photos of 2009

Web users love lists and they love looking through lists of remarkable photos. F&S takes the interaction up a notch by including reader photos in their showcases. It’s a great way to get readers more involved in the site.

F&S steps up the interaction by including leader boards for top users, ranked photos and ranked comments, and related photos.

I would continue doing posts like these while also listing the Most Viewed galleries along with Trending or Favorite galleries on the main photos page.

Build on the success of the ‘Best of’ lists and create even more lists that Web visitors love.

Photo Gallery Commenting

Getting back to the issue of the slide show style design for the photo galleries – the commenting on the slide shows is awkward.

Users can comment on the galleries as a whole, but it appears they cannot comment on individual photos. Users will highlight photos in their comments (Ex: What is up with photo #3?) because they don’t have the ability or can’t figure out how to comment on the particular photo they finding noteworthy.

It would be beneficial to user experience and SEO to allow users to comment on individual posts.

One Last Word: Duplicate Content

I just noticed that there is an Additional Info section on most galleries – right side of the page when you view galleries.

It looks like the information in this area does not change from page to page when clicking ‘next’ to view each photo.

This is a search engine no-no as search engines are always struggling with duplicate content. They want to know the page that the content is meant for and sites can be deducted ranking as a result of too much duplicate content.

Example: Moose in Canoe and Elk Hunt 2009 both have the same content in the Additional Info section.

Summary

Field & Stream has one of, if not the, best outdoor and hunting-related photo gallery on the Web today.

The increase in traffic in the past year is proof that the great folks at the outdoor publication are doing great things with their Website. They’re writing content that people love to read and they’re adding photos that people love to view and comment on.

With a few adjustments to the structure of the photo gallery I think Field & Stream could see increased results. They can improve their user experience with a few technical changes, which will lead to more incoming links while also adjusting a few things that will increase search engine traffic.

I look forward to see the Field & Stream Photo Gallery evolve and grow as outdoor enthusiasts continue interacting with the site.

PS – It looks like image title and tagging could be improved too. The exciting part is that there is huge potential for Field & Stream to improve their immense collection of photos.

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

50 Best Hunting Website Designs

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What to read next on the Web

Best Practices for Title Tags

19 Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Site Using Google Images

5 Tips for Optimizing Images for Search Engines

Image courtesy of vauvau

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Dayne Shuda

I'm a blogger and hunting enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter.