Having an attractive site is important for making a good first impression on your visitors. This is why it’s crucial that you use great looking images to accompany your site copy and to communicate the overall “personality” of your company. However, it’s also important that you optimize your images for indexing by the search engines and optimize them so that they will load quickly. This article will provide you with specific instructions on how to optimize your site images using Alt tags and other tools.
How You’re Images “Look” to the Search Engines
Search engines send out automated programs called “spiders” that crawl your site and search for what type of content it contains. Although spiders aren’t able to “see” images, they are able to read the text which is associated with those images. With this information, and the information gathered from your content and your meta data, the search engines determine the theme of your site. There are three types of text that the search engine spiders “see” when they look at your images:
- Image Alt tags: accessible (by means of programs which dictate text) also to web users who are vision impaired.
- Image file name: this is the actual name of your image file. For example: “ocean landscape.jpeg”
- Image captions: the text which is found directly beside, over, or underneath your images.
Optimizing each of these types of text enhances the SEO of your site and assists you in further communicating your site’s theme to the search engines.
Since Google and other search engines are unable to see your images, it is important that you use the alternative text to tag the image with the information you want the search engine to know about the image you have on your site. These alt tags, or alternative text, will help the search engines locate your images and display them in the SERP’s. Google doesn’t know you have an image of a flying squirrel on your site, unless you tell it….so read on.
How to Optimize Your Website Images
Optimize Your Alt Tags
Every time you put a new image into your site, you’ll be asked to input what’s called an “alt tag” to describe the image. Below is an example of what your image alt tag will look like in your HTML code:
The place where it says image alt description above is where you’ll want to use the keywords which you’re optimizing that specific page for. For example, if your page is being optimized for the primary keyword “healthy weight loss plan” and you have a before and after image of someone, your alt tag might look like this:
Notice here that the primary keywords are used in the beginning of the alt tag; but that the image description is also included to make sure that vision impaired visitors hear an accurate description.
Your Image File Names
When you create and save the images for your site, it’s a good idea to use your keywords in the image file name as well. For example, let’s look at HTML code for the image for “healthy weight loss before and after” again:
Notice here that the image file name includes the keywords just as the image alt tag includes the keywords. Just be sure that you still have a way to distinguish the images on your site from one another. You do not want all of your images using the same keyword or keywords, so notate what is different. When naming your images, be as descriptive as possible. You want keyword rich words to describe the image to the search engines. Think about how you would easily, efficiently, and effectively describe the image to someone visually impaired.
Be careful not to stuff keywords into the alt tags or image titles. For example, the alt tag below is overkill, and will likely be flagged for penalties.
Also, it is important to note that decorative images should not have alt tags. Search engines like Google could end up penalizing you for over optimization if you start using the alt tag option to stuff keywords into your page for borders, decorative lines, or other decorative images. ONLY describe your image in the title or description for what it is, and only use the alt tags for images that require them.
As an additional measure of optimizing your images, use you keywords in the captions above or below your images as well. For example, if you have an image of a before and after shot (as in the examples above), you might use the following caption:
“Jane says the healthy weight loss plan helped her go from a size 14 to a size 6!”
As always, just be sure that the use of your keyword within your captions looks natural and that it adds value to the visitors who are viewing the site.
Optimizing Links to Your Images
If you have any links (either on your site or off) which are leading to your images, be sure to use the keywords within the anchor text of that link. For example, if you’re linking back the image in the above examples, your html code for the link might look like this:
In this example, the words “results of a healthy weight loss plan” would appear as a hyper link that visitors could click and to find the “healthy weight loss plan-before and after.jpeg” image.
Check Your Images with Google Images
As a final step, you can check to see if your images have been indexed in Google images. To do this, just go to Google images and type “site:yoursite.com” into the search bar. For example, if your site name is http://www.mysite.com, you type “site:mysite.com” into the image search bar. Once you do this, you’ll see a page displaying the images on your site as they have been indexed by Google images.
- Do not use large images on your website and simply shrink them down, this will increase your load times.
- Use smaller images and provide the option for a larger image view with a pop up screen.
- Compress images
- Make sure images are clear and crisp for viewing
- Only use images on your site that are directly related to your theme or topic
- Optimize images to 70k or less when possible
- Use decorative images liberally
- Consider using an image site map
- Be leery of content delivery networks
- Always check your images
Optimizing your images can do more than just increase the SEO of your site, it will also help you get traffic from Google images. If you feel that the image data on your site needs to be optimized according to the guidelines in this article and don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can always hire the job out. This is a job which can be completed in about one hour’s time for every ten pages of your site which include images. Elance, now called UpWork, Freelancer, and ODesk are great places to look for a freelancer to get the job done quickly. You can also check your site’s optimization on SEOSiteCheckUp.com.
Images are a huge part of Google’s searches, so they can help boost your website traffic, if you know what you are doing. It doesn’t take long to go through the pages and add alt tags and proper descriptions, titles, and captions to your images, and it is well worth the effort.
Royalty Free Image Websites
Below are a few of the sites that offer images with royalty free options. Some of the sites require you to pay a fee for the use of the image, where others are free. Each site is different, so be sure you read the instructions for each before using any of the images available on their site. When using image source from other websites it is important that you check your images for any broken links regularly, especially if you use the image source from smaller websites, or ones that offer the image for free.
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