The fact that SEO is critical to creating content that is found by search engines and increases rankings and page placements is not new. Businesses are focusing on created content that is optimized to provide the best possible search results leading to more new visits on a daily basis.
However, many businesses are not aware that images should be optimized for SEO purposes as well. In fact, in many cases, having properly optimized photos and images will lead to better rankings than optimized text content. This is important since the number one search engine result generally gathers approximately 42% of all clicks. If you want your site in that spot, you must understand SEO for images and make it a part of your routine web maintenance efforts.
Below are a few terms and tools you should be aware of and familiar with when seeking out how to optimize your images for SEO purposes.
When you see a picture, you understand what’s going on. Whether it’s two people holding hands, a photo of a computer or a famous piece of artwork, you generally know what you’re looking at.
Search engine crawlers don’t work that way. In fact, physical photos mean nothing to them. What matters to a search engine crawler is the code behind that photo. Alt text makes this possible; it’s the language search engines use to understand images and to relate them to search terms, producing the best results possible.
To include alt text, add alt=”title of your photo here” to your image tag in the back end of your site.
If you want to see what other people are saying in their photos (say your competitors) you can do that too. Go to their page and right click, view page source and do a Control Find for “alt” and see what they are doing. Here’s an example from Xtrema ceramic cookware.
Page load times matter to search engines when compiling results for each search term entered by every user. Slower pages generally rank much lower than pages with the fastest load times.
Because of this, images in your site and your content should be as small as possible without sacrificing quality, this ensures a faster load time and allows you to rank higher than your competitors. Run a search to find tools that make this easier. Some of the more popular options include Picnik and Image Optimizer.
To edit your image’s size, use a program that allows you to manually change pixel sizes, do not rely on doing this with your html code.
Instead of using generic file names, choose a filename with a higher prevalence and low competition using Google’s keyword tool.
Because file names are another piece of the search engine crawler puzzle, they make a difference and can make the difference between your page ranking in the number 1 and number 25 spot. This means a lot of potential website visits are on the line.
Photo descriptions appear on the Permalink page of the image in the media library, which affects search engine rankings.
When working in the backend of your site to upload a new photo, check out what tools exist. If an option is available to add a photo description, do not skip this step. Instead, focus on ways to incorporate a few keywords in your image’s description.
While captions are not currently directly related to search engine rankings, bounce rates matter. If someone thinks they’ will be finding something on your site and instead are lead to information that is irrelevant to their search, they are likely to leave, or “bounce.”
Because of this, including image captions helps ensure potential visitors know what they will find if they visit your site, decreasing bounce rates and increasing search engine rankings.
Anchor text refers to text that is used for displaying a link, which allows visitors to visit your site by clicking on an image. While not commonly used, creating rich link anchor texts allows for reuse and backlinks, which are beneficial for SEO purposes.
Site Map Inclusion
Search engines index images and crawl through sitemaps to find keywords that are relevant to search terms. Because of this, including images with special tags in your main sitemap, or creating a special image sitemap are important as they pertain to boosting overall rankings. If you manually create a sitemap xml, this is especially true.
Don’t forget images when considering SEO initiatives, they may be more beneficial than SEO related to site text and could play a big role in increasing your search engine rankings and placement.
What tricks do you use for your photos? Leave your comments below!
After talking about it with you, I am going with putting the photo credit at the bottom of posts. Captions are great for most, but I am not a huge fan of the way it looks on my site. Thanks again for your help and expertise, Courtney.