Optimizing for Image Search: 3 Tips to Get You Going

orange county seoAny SEO project can take a little sweat and quite a lot of know-how. Images are one of the easier things to tackle, and the surprise is that they’re often one of the things that get overlooked.

Whatever images you’re currently showing on your website, you can probably tweak them just a little bit and get a big return on the effort. All major search engines scan the Internet to now what’s out there, and to deal with images they actually rely far more on the graphic data itself. There are just a few text fields, then, that are of key importance to making sure that Search Engines scan and understand your photos accurately.

Know Your Keywords
Like just about any SEO project, keywords are the keys to everything. Know them, add to them, and cherish them. Understanding how and why likely customers are searching the Internet is the key to getting your page in front of them. They’re searching for and with keywords, even when they search for images. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to search and research and understand all the possible keyword combinations and how they affect your traffic and visitors’ experience.

Once you understand the keywords and have a good list of them you can start to use them.

1. Use Keywords in File Names and Alt-Text
Don’t “stuff” keywords or make filenames too long, but do get a few keywords in there. If you are separating words in a file name, then use hyphens rather than underscores. Alt-text was originally supposed to be a field for when a browser couldn’t load images for whatever reason. Instead, the browser would show a description of the image in the space reserved for the image. Descriptive phrases are just what a search engine will look for, so even if (as is normal today) all of your images are loading, they’re incredibly important for SEO.

Placing relevant images on a page with relevant text is also a big help for search engines trying to understand the context of the photo. Place names can be both a help and a hindrance, particularly if your business is in a place like “Fountain Valley” or “Sunset Beach.” That is to say, you probably will get some irrelevant traffic from visitors seeking Fountains or Sunsets. Don’t let it discourage you, but make sure your main business keywords are just as prominent as your city name.

2. Optimize Files Sizes
Most websites that NettSolutions approaches have mostly optimized images, but nearly every one will also have a few outliers that should be reduced in size and optimized. That’s because most websites start out with one developer, but over time someone else needs to add a few images from different sources. Using GIF or PNG files for logos or graphics will give you the optimal sizes and likewise, for photos, good JPG files with color set to the lowest depth possible is still the way to go. See here for more information. Remember, you want your images to show in the maximum number of search results, so having them too big or too small will likely reduce visibility.

Also, make sure all images are cropped and reduced in resolution so that they’re not slowing page load times.

3. Use an Image Sitemap file
It’s a relatively recent industry trend to keep all your images in one file so that they can be scanned (and understood) easily and more quickly. That makes Google happy and generally keeps your Webmaster happier, too.  This is one the ways that NettSolutions works with business owners to optimize websites to better show images and to get more traffic from image searchers.

Remember, image search is just one part of a well-executed SEO campaign. Nett Solutions, an Orange County SEO agency, has worked on hundreds of campaigns, and we’d be happy to learn how yours has progressed so far.