What’s the point of optimising images?

With Google Universal Search now in full swing there is even more opportunity to see your website content rank on the search engines. And I am here to divulge to all you lucky readers just how to optimise the image content on your site to do just that.

By optimising all the images on your site you can increase your chances of higher rankings within search results for relevant keywords and therefore drive increased amounts of traffic to your site.

Optimise your image alt attributes
So what is an alt attribute and how can it help you achieve world domination? (Well, perhaps not quite.) Alt attributes are tags given to an image that use relevant search terms to describe what the image is.
If a browser is unable to display an image it is the descriptive information within the alt tag that is shown instead. Placing search terms within the alt attributes for certain images will aid rankings.

Google is like a blind robot when it comes to viewing images, so no matter how pretty / humorous / absolutely fantastic your image may be the only aspect Google can appreciate of it is how you describe it in the alt tag. So, bearing this in mind here are some tips on how to make sure your images aid rankings and visibility:

  • Ensure all images have an alt tag containing relevant search terms but also describing if the image is an illustration, photo, graphic etc. For example, if you have a photo of a dog wearing sunglasses and a sombrero the alt tag would look like this:

alt="Dog wearing sunglasses and sombrero" >

Try not to be ambiguous with the alt tag description, it should be descriptive but not keyword filled. The alt tag text will be displayed in the search engine results so relevant search terms are essential in encouraging users to click on your image.

  • Build relevant words into the file name and organise images into relevant folders. You should place photos into a photo folder on your site so the image url contains the word “photos” and the same for graphics and illustrations. Make sure once you have decided on a logical folder structure for images that you don’t change it otherwise this will affect your rankings. An example of an optimised file name looks like this:

Notice the use of a dash (-) between the words in the title of the image. This is the most search engine friendly way of labelling images as Google commonly interprets this as a space in the file name.

  • Have relevant textual content surrounding your images, perhaps explaining what they are.

To summarise: Remember to make the tags highly relevant to the content of the image as this could lead to your images gaining their own individual rankings within universal search and Google Image search. Use tags and descriptions on images to drive search.

Once visitors are on your site thanks to the above optimisation techniques you need to optimise your images to convert for you. And as luck would haveit, I also have some tips on how you can use images to reap the rewards from your increase in search engine traffic.
Images for conversion
Ultimately, any images you place on your site which can be located via search on Google Image search or appearing in Google Universal Search are a possible means of driving traffic to your site which may result in conversions. Follow the tips below to increase the likelihood of your images converting visitors for you:

  • Let your images tell a story. If your image is of a product available to purchase on your site then take photos of someone using the product or the product in use. Or if your site sells a service then include photos of customers participating in that service. See the example below for the product “apple peeler”:

  • Include labels pointing to different parts of an image to detail what each part is / what it does. An example of this can be seen below for the Sony Playstation 3:

  • Join Google Webmaster Tools and opt in for Google Images. Within Google Webmaster Tools it is possible to view top search queries for images that drove traffic to the site. This information can be helpful when writing relevant alt tags for images on the site and for finding out what types of images drive traffic to your site. To view this information you must log in to your Google Webmaster account,click on “Statistics” on the left hand navigation then select “top search queries” from the drop down menu. Once in this section click on the arrow next to “All searches – All Locations” and under the “Search type” drop down menu select “images”.

  • If the images on your site are available to view as thumbnail images then there must be the option to view these images full-size to encourage conversions.

So there you have it folks…some easy-to-implement tips to see your images ranking in search engine results. I’ll leave you with a quick tip overview to get you on your way:

1) Write relevant alt tags
2) Write relevant image file names
3) Decide on a logical file structure for images
4) Surround images with relevant textual content
5) Consider photos of product / service in use
6) Consider including labels on images
7) Use Google Webmaster Tools
8) Provide large scale image sizes

Image sources:

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