04/02/13

Your Website's Images Can Do the Heavy Lifting

"SEO for images" is all the buzz these days. There are tons of articles about this topic and you'll see images mentioned more and more in conversations about search engine results.

Images are a great way to boost your site traffic but they're also good for making your site attractive and making your content easier to understand. Before you spend all day optimizing your site's images for Google, bear these two things in mind:

  1. Google does not exist to bring you business. It exists to help people find what they're looking for. Remember that as you choose which words to use.
  2. Google is blind. For now at least, Google relies on you to tell it what your images are all about.

How can you boost the usefulness of the images on your site? Here's a simplified version of a post from Web. Search. Social.:

Images must be sized before being uploaded1. SIZE - Try to upload images to your site as close to their final size as possible. While you may be able to "size" an image to 200 pixels by 300 pixels on your page, if it's actually 2,000 pixels by 3,000 pixels on your server, your site will basically be trying to shoehorn that whole image down into that tiny space and it will slow your page's load time. It's alright if you need to adjust down some after a picture is uploaded, but start close. (My favorite, free, online image editing tool is Picmonkey.com. It's perfect for quickly resizing images.)

Cookie Pic with Title 2. NAMES - This is where Google being blind becomes most important to remember. If your image is a "button" or link, make sure the title reflects that. If your image is a picture of Cookie Monster, don't upload it with the title "dc100983-12.jpg". Change the name to "Cookie-Monster.jpg" or something else descriptive.

Did you notice the dash instead of a space? There are some browsers and tools that will not be able to display your image if it's name, or the name of any of the folders it's housed in on your server, contains a space. For example, when you share a page on Facebook, images with spaces in them will not be available for your post.

Alt tags are very helpful 3. TAGS - "alt tags" are an optional data field in your image uploader on most content management systems. Alt tags are another way of identifying your image. It'll most often become important when the image link is broken or slow loading for some reason. An alt tag is the text that will show in the place of the unloaded image instead of a little broken picture icon. Their coolest function is to give screen readers something to read for site visitors who are visually impaired but they are also another way of telling Google what your image is about.

Carrots are not a sleep aid. 4. CONTENT - Don't forget that the content on, near or around your image should also reflect the key words you're working so hard to embed. Not only will it help your Google rankings, but it will also help the image make sense to your site visitors. We've all seen the ads with a seemingly random picture attached. Carrots on a sleep aid ad? Images should enhance your content.


Use your pictures wisely and they'll help both you and your site visitors.