Normally, when updating a web page for a local area, an image would be added/updated to include the name of the location within its file name and the location added to the Alt and Title attributes of the IMG tag in HTML.
We are now seeing an increasing advantage to updating the image itself with additional information – EXIF Data.
Firstly, what is EXIF?
EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format. It is a file format mostly associated with image and audio files for including information about the device (or software) that produced the file. In this case, such as a JPEG photo taken from a digital camera, additional information can be stored such as: date and time the photo was taken; the device that took the shot; exposure settings; shutter speed, etc. This hidden information stored within the file is known as EXIF Data.
With EXIF Data the information that will be of particular interest is to do with location and GPS tags.
So what are the benefits?
By default most images that are uploaded to a website do not carry this extra ‘location’ information. They are usually edited and published using software and a lot of digital cameras do not have GPS settings enabled.
Updating the GPS location can open up opportunities for Google and various other sites which display/use the EXIF meta information – a great way of associating your site that focuses on an area based location – great for local search and seo.
Ways of updating EXIF Data
There are plenty of ways of updating EXIF Data with countless offerings in the form of software solutions and online editors.
One favourite of mine that does the job is a free online EXIF editor, thexifer.net. Here you can browse for your photo, upload it, enable the editor, and off you go to update it with all the extra information you need – for me, paying particular attention to the GPS values. Enter the Longitude/Latitude values for the area you are targeting, hit Save, job done.
To check to see the GPS values are good I use another free site, Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer. I use this one as it has both options of reading the file locally from your machine or by pasting in a URL. Verify that the location is where you want it and then upload the image to your website and other online resources which accept images.
Is this ethical?
For legitimate photos taken within an area, yes. As long as the image is relevant then why not. But for graphical images that contain nothing but a white background and a bit of text/spiel then you should err heavily on the side of caution.