9 Ways of Optimizing your Site for Image Search
All the major search engines have their own image search engines. These may actually generate a lot of traffic. Here’s how you attract image search visitors to your site.
People may have different reasons for using image search engines. There are teenagers looking for pictures of their teen idols, iTunes users looking for an obscure cover of a 1960′s album, and bloggers looking for an image to use for their blog (in violation of all copyright regulations, of course!).
There will also be shoppers looking for pictures of cars, furniture, holiday destinations or clothing. If you are selling products or services it is the shoppers you are looking for. However, all of these persons may be potential future customers or subscribers. And they may become regular readers. You want that!
Note also that all the major search engines now include image search listings in regular web search results. If you have optimized your images correctly, you can get yourself a very attractive top 10 position by tagging your images correctly.
Help the search engine understand what the image is about
If you want your images to rank higher than others for a particular keyword phrase, you need to help the search engine understand what the picture is depicting.
You can do this by the following means:
1. Use descriptive file names
Make sure that the file name describes the image with keyword phrases searchers are likely to use.
Good: www. yoursite/images/red-volkswagen-beetle-car.jpg
2. Use the HTML ALT tags actively
(If you do not know what that is, make sure you use the description field in your blog or content publishing software when adding an image).
Bad: <img src=”http://www.yoursite.com/images/6789stp.jpg” alt=”Image”>.
Good: <img src=”http://www.yoursite.com/images/young-woman-pc-reading-news.jpg” alt=”Young woman reading news on PC”>.
If you have a series of images, use variation:
“Blond woman reading news on PC”
“Black woman twittering on a Mac”
“Asian man with laptop on table”
Both photographers and webmasters are notoriously bad at using words for feelings, abstracts and the like — even if people do search for images that may be used to illustrate non-concrete topics. This is where you can gain a competitive advantage.
“Happy woman using PC to search the Web”
“Moody and cranky girl”
“Green background texture”
3. Add descriptive text close to the picture
In order to determine what the picture is depicting, the search engines will also look at the text close to the image.
Good: An increasing number of women are found to be searching the web on their PC when looking for news. <img src=”http://www.yoursite.com/images/young-woman-pc-reading-news.jpg” alt=”Young woman reading news on PC”>.
This text may also be used by the search engine as a snippet that describes the image.
4. Keep the most important images close to the top headline or title
Embedding the image close to the top headline (which should be very similar to the TITLE-field) will increase your chances of having your picture in Google News, as it helps Google match the content of the article with the image.
It is a fair guess that the same principle applies to Image Search.
5. Put the photos within articles and blog posts
The search engines have a tendency of ignoring images in sidebars and other places where they can be interpreted as ads or navigational elements.
Images in articles and blog posts have the greatest chance of success.
There are also other technical issues to keep in mind:
6. Do not add code to break out of frames
The Bing Blog recommends you to watch out for frame breaking:
“Sites that attempt to break frames make it more difficult for the image to display correctly within search. Make sure you’re testing your site against the search engines.”
If you don’t know what we are talking about, you are probably in the clear.
7. Use images that read well when thumbnailed
Use high quality pictures with high contrasts and clear, bright, colors. The search engines will generate small thumbnails to include in search engine results, and you want images that survive that reduction in file size.
If you are not a photographer yourself, you can buy royalt free high quality images from stock photo suppliers like Photos.com and Shutterstock for a reasonable price.
Google are looking for large size photos with good aspect ratios.
8. Make the photos accessible
Make sure that the directory that contains your images can be accessed by the search engine crawlers.
Check your robots.txt file or ask your IT people to do it for you.
9. Use the social photo sites
Upload some of your images to photo hosting sites like Flickr.com. Add links back to the relevant page on your site.
Flickr may generatate traffic on its own, and the search engines may also include Flickr images in their image search results.
Check how many pictures Google has indexed
To check what images Google has indexed from your site, use the following URL, replacing “yoursite.com” with your domain name:
Note that it normally takes longer for the search engines to index pictures than ordinary text content.
See also our Search Engine OptimizationTutorial!