Images and SEO

Search Engine Optimization

Read Time: 3 minutes

Using SEO on Your Images Can Boost Your Rankings

Images are useful tools to help attract customers and encourage viewers to read articles, which is why they are also a very important part of Search Engine Optimization. When images are used correctly, they can successfully elevate a website’s rankings by significant amounts.

How Do Search Engines Work?
When a search engine program browses or ‘crawls’ through websites, it reads all the data it can and stores it. However, most search engines are unable to analyze an image unless that image has specific information encoded into the file. If an image simply uses a generic file that has no relevance to your website, Google can’t recognize or use it, and you lose out on an integral part of the search engine optimization process.

Name Your Image Files
When you take a picture, your camera will automatically give that image file a default name like “45DTT2334.jpg.” It is very easy to get into the habit of uploading an image file without renaming it, however, renaming images in accordance with keywords specific to your website can successfully increase your Google ratings. Search engines do not only browse the text on your webpage, but also look for keywords within the file names of the images on your site.

Think of it this way: if you own a website that sells motorbikes, your customers might search terms like “Harley Davidson Sportster black.” If you have a black Harley Davidson Sportster to sell, naming an image of the motorbike “45DTT2334.jpg” is not going to increase your search engine rankings. However, if you were to name the image “black-Harley-Davidson-Sportster.jpg” search engines are instantly able to pick up your images, save them in the Google databank and display them as part of your content. Plus, adding keywords to your file names does not count as keyword stuffing, so you will be able to increase your rankings without Google disregarding your page as spam due to overuse of keywords. Remember to keep you file names short and concise.

What is Alt Text?
Alt text stands for alternative text and is used to replace images if a browser can’t properly display them or if a visually impaired person uses a screen reader to read aloud the contents of a web page. Depending on your browser settings, if you hover over an image with your mouse pointer you should see a little box appear that explains the content of the image. This is the alt text, and should be included for every relevant image on your webpage as it is one of the best ways to achieve better Google rankings by associating images with keywords.

Let us use the above example again: you have changed the name of your image to “black-Harley-Davidson-Sportster.jpg”. Now, your alt text needs to read something similar so that anyone who is unable to see your image of a black Harley Davidson Sportster knows what the contents of the image is. The basic coding of an image is:

<img src=”image.jpg” alt=”image description”/>

So, the coding for your black Harley would be:

<img src=”“black-Harley-Davidson-Sportster.jpg” alt=”black Harley Davidson Sportster”/>

This way, whenever someone hovers their mouse over your image or if someone is unable to download or see the image, they will still know what the image is.

When using alt text try and remember these important points:

  • Tell the viewer as much as possible using the least amount of words you can.
  • If your products have model or serial numbers, include them in your alt text.
  • Do not keyword stuff your alt text, it will count against you. For example, alt=”black Harley Davidson Sportster bike motorbike motorcycle sport dark buy cheap on sale”. This will quickly be regarded as spam by Google and ignored.
  • If your image is purely for aesthetic value, don’t include alt text.

It’s impossible to deny that we are very visually orientated creatures, constantly looking at exciting things that capture and lose our attention equally quickly. It is thus important to include eye-catching images on your website, and find a Search Engine Optimization specialist to help you ensure your images benefit you as much as possible.

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References:

Fishkin, Rand. “How Search Engines Operate.” Moz.com
https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/how-search-engines-operate

Hayes, Mark. “10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips.” Shopify Blogs.
https://www.shopify.com/blog/7412852-10-must-know-image-optimization-tips

de Valk, Joost. “Image SEO: Alt Tag and Title Tag Optimization.” Yoast. 18 August 2016.

Image SEO: How to optimize your alt text and title text

“Alt Text (Alternative Text).” WhatIs.com http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/alt-text-alternative-text

“Irrelevant Keywords.” Google.com https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66358

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