In search engine optimization efforts, the focus of your attention should be directed towards achieving higher search engine rankings for the pages on your website. However, an often overlooked aspect is optimizing your images to rank well.
Search engines such as Google and Yahoo! give the user the ability to use a variety of different search functions, one of which is the image search feature. The user can type in a keyword and any related images are shown in the search results. Because optimizing images to rank well in search engines is often overlooked, the competition is usually slim to none.
Why Optimize Images?
More searches are done for images than you might think. Ask.com reports that about 25% of all the search results queried are not for web pages, but for images!
This leaves many website owners asking themselves why they would want their images to display in the search engines. There are a variety of different reasons this can be advantageous to you. For one, if a user is searching for an image using a keyword that relates to your website and choose your image in the search results, they’re going to land on your website. In addition, users are more likely to click on an image over a text link, so if you’re linking a page to your images you may get some highly desirable web traffic as a result.
How To Optimize Images
There are some important ways you can optimize the images on your website to rank well in the search engines.
It’s common knowledge that search engines frown upon duplicated content. The same applies not only to text but to images as well. Now, chances are that 99% of us don’t actually shoot and edit every single image that appears on our website. However, rather than taking an image from another source and directly uploading it to your own website, you should rename the image to something that is relevant to either the image’s depiction or the content on your page.
Let’s take the following image for example:
Now, if the original name for this image is something like “P0052keyboard3.jpg”, due to the content of this article, it would be better for me to name the image something such as “image-search-engine-optimization.jpg”. This way, if a search engine user is searching for an image related to SEO and images, chances are the image will rank well, which would land the user on my page.
Now, whether or not your visitor simply downloads the picture and leaves or if they stick around to check out your website may much depend on you and your page’s content. However, you’ve successfully managed to attract a targeted visitor who is interested in the same subject matter that appears on the page they land on.
ALT TAG ATTRIBUTE
More goes in to achieving high search engine rankings for your images than simply a good name. Not to be overlooked is the alt tag attribute. This could be the most critical aspect that goes in to optimizing your images, but many people never bother to add this attribute to their images.
The alt tag attribute allows you to create an “alternate text” that appears when a user holds their mouse over the image. Use this opportunity to describe the image or the content on the page. For example, because this article discusses image search engine optimization, I can use an alt tag of “Image Search Engine Optimization” or “Optimizing Your Images For Search Engines”. This will be a big help in getting these images to rank well for similar searches.
Protecting Your Images
The goal of optimizing your images for search engines is not to provide the world with free content that you worked hard for. There are some steps you can take to help protect yourself and your images.
For example, by simply adding a small watermark to your images, if they are reused elsewhere without being modified, your site will get recognition.
I have written a free script that automatically watermarks your online images called Automark, which is free to download.
One step every website owner should take is the prevention of third party websites hotlinking your images. This is where they will link to your images on their website instead of uploading the image on their own site. This will suck your bandwidth and reduce the performance of your website.
I have written a free HTACCESS tutorial showing you how to disable image hotlinking.
By optimizing not only pages but also the images on your website, you can greatly improve the amount of targeted organic search engine traffic you receive which helps to increase the popularity of your website.