Why optimized images are important:
Search engines' spiders are blind. They cannot "see" the images you choose for your Web site. Search engines do not know what the images show or what words are used in images.
Thankfully, there are SEO practices that allow search engines to understand your images, without actually seeing them. When used correctly, images can boost the relevancy and aesthetic appeal of your page, as well as aid the visually impaired to understand your Web site.
As you may have noticed, and as we explained last month, Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) are changing with more diverse selection of Web sources. Along with these changes, Image Search is a growing trend. Search Engines recognize the impact of visual search and are making these results a priority.
As images become more and more important on the search engines, it is critical your SEO strategy includes optimized images.
Tips for Optimizing Images:
- Use keyword rich Alt IMG tags. Alt IMG tags are used within the HTML code of a Web page, and describe an image. The description you add within the Alt IMG tag is the text that appears on screen when you hold your mouse over an image. As important as keywords are, it is important not to overuse these as well. As always, use keywords naturally, overuse will appear as spam to the search engines.
- Include descriptive keywords within the image file name instead of just leaving it whatever your camera or scanner saved it as. If it is a picture of one of your products, include the product name in the file name.
- Include content near the image that uses the same relevant keywords. Give the image a caption. You can be more descriptive with the caption than you were with the Alt IMG tag.
- Keep the file size of the image low. Make sure it doesn't take too long to load on your Web pages.
- A good rule of thumb to remember is to save files as JPEGs. It is the preferred file format for images on the Web.
- Make sure the images you're using are of a good quality. When shrunken to a thumbnail, they should still be easily recognizable.
- Don't restrict access to your images. Many Web sites add the image folders to the robots.txt file. This prevents your images from being indexed by search engines.
- Add your images to social image sites such as Flickr. You will be able to add keyword rich descriptions and tags to the images. Social sites like Flickr also allow you to create detailed profiles where you can add links to your Web site. You can go beyond the tagging of your images and become active on the sites. Join groups, discuss other images, be active in related communities. You can use these sites and your images to establish yourself as an industry leader.
Following these simple steps for optimizing the images on your Web site is an easy way to get your site optimized and on track, ready to enjoy higher search visibility.