The key to any successful website is variety. Web users are no longer content with simple navigation and large blocks of text. In a world where people use smartphones and tablets to watch YouTube clips and share videos on social media in the blink of an eye, your website will look archaic if it lacks images. Before you go slapping a bunch of images on your website and patting yourself on the back, there are some important things you need to know about using images on your page.
Just as the content on your site needs to be optimized with strong headings, reliable keywords, and H2 headings, so too must your images be optimized for search engine bots. If you haven’t noticed, there is a dedicated tab on Google’s search engine for images. Whether people are looking for a celebrity’s picture or the latest funny meme, they can do so by searching through images rather than a list of webpages.
If you want to incorporate images more effectively into the design of your website, you need to understand how those images play into your overall SEO strategy. In this post, we’re going to cover a variety of tips to help you optimize your images for success in your SEO efforts.
We’re going to start off with the most important tip. When you are uploading images to your website, you need to give them unique filenames. As you snap one picture after another with your camera and upload them to a computer, your camera assigns them a random filename that usually includes a series of letters and numbers. When the time comes to place those images on your site, it is important to rename the files with descriptive tags.
People searching for images on the web aren’t going to type “DNS12345,” or whatever generic tag was applied to your photos, into a search engine. People conduct image searches using descriptive keywords for specific products. When you are naming your files, you need to use plain English, and create filenames that accurately describe the objects in the image. For example, a car dealership cannot labels its photos “blue truck.” There could be 50 blue trucks on their lot. Be as specific as possible. In the case of the car dealer, the filename should read “2012 Ford F150 Supercrew.”
If you feel stuck creating filenames, try looking at the analytics from your website to discover the phrasing patterns commonly used by your customers. Sift through that information to determine which terms occur with the greatest frequency, and include similar phrasing in your filenames.
Optimize Alt Tags
If you aren’t familiar with alt tags, they are the text alternatives that are created by a website when it cannot render your image for the viewer. If the photo of the truck mentioned above doesn’t load on a viewer’s computer, the alt tag appears instead. In that case, do you want the viewer seeing “blue truck” or “2012 Ford F150 Supercrew in Blue Jean Metallic” as the descriptor?
Alt tags add SEO value to your website by associating keywords with your images. When you take the extra time to create unique, descriptive alt tags for your images, you boost your search rankings because your images are now associated with searchable keywords. Each product on your site should have its own unique alt tag.
If you’re having trouble creating alt tags for your images, Shopify offers some helpful tips to keep in mind regarding the tags:
- Use plain English.
- If your products have serial numbers, use them in alt tags.
- Avoid keyword stuffing.
- Don’t optimize alt tags on decorative images. You may be penalized for over-optimization.
The folks at Quicksprout pointed out an image optimization tip that is overlooked by many webmasters. Creating rich snippets is a great way to personalize your website in search results listings. If you have an image that you often associate with your business, such as a personal photo, you can use rich snippets to ensure it shows up when someone Googles your business.
When someone conducts a relevant Google search, a link to your site will show up that includes a photo of yourself, the corporate logo, or even the specific product alongside the link text. This is not only a great way of creating a personal look and feel for your search result, but it also can help boost click-through rate.
Marry Your Content and Images
Even if you properly optimize the images on your site for SEO, sharing an image by itself doesn’t guarantee you’ll experience any success. When you are placing images on your website, make sure to surround them with relevant content. Include the images as part of a product description or blog post, and make sure the text, title tag of the page, headings, and sub-headings are all optimized for SEO. Don’t go crazy and stuff keywords in everywhere, but sprinkle them throughout the content to attract attention to both the page and the image.
GEO-Location for Local Searches
If your images apply more directly to a local area, you’ll want to follow all of the steps above, but with a few twists. In order to rank higher in local image searchers, you need to add local relevant text. This means adjusting your filenames and alt tags slightly. For the sake of consistency, let’s go back to that blue truck.
When you’re uploading your images and creating a filename, you want to add the name of your local area into the file name. For example, rather than “2012 Ford F150 Supercrew,” you’ll want to use a local descriptor. Since the dealer name is probably well known in the area, the filename should be changed to “[Dealership name] 2012 Ford F150 Supercrew.” This allows searchers to identify the specific location of the vehicle near them when they are car shopping.
Additionally, the alt tag should be changed to include local keywords as well. The same tactic can be employed here by changing the alt tag from “2012 Ford F150 Supercrew in Blue Jean Metallic” to “[Dealership Name] 2012 Ford F150 Supercrew in Blue Jean Metallic.”
All it takes to optimize your images for SEO is a little time, patience, and attention to detail. If you take the time to get the little details right, you’ll be placing images on your page that are ready to help boost your SEO rather than become obscure photos that few people see.