SEO “Imaging”: A Guide To Using Images Effectively
When many people think of search engine optimization, they tend to associate SEO with the text used on websites, blogs, landing pages, and even social media posts. They may even go as far as to consider SEO while naming website pages or coming up with searchable titles for blog posts. One element that sometimes gets overlooked is the images used along with the text.
No one doubts that images of all types can enhance the visual experience for whomever visits different types of website pages. What's lacking is an understanding of how optimizing those images responsibly will earn more favour from the major search engines. That includes Google.
How much do you know about the concept of image SEO? If you don't know a lot right now, that's okay. Here are some essentials that will help you understand how to make the most of those images and use them to gain more traffic to your pages.
What's Meant By SEO Images?
SEO images is the name given to any image that's been optimized in order to attract more positive attention and generate traffic to a web page. The process used to transform a simple image into one that's properly prepared for SEO purposes is known as image optimization.
There are several factors that separate SEO images from other types of imaging. The subject matter, the name, the size, and even the positioning of the image on the page is carefully chosen to generate more attention from the major search engines.
What Does SEO Image Optimization Mean?
So what is image optimization in SEO? It's deciding what sort of elements will allow the image to attract the most favourable attention from search engines. In turn, the optimization fosters greater interest and attention from consumers who are searching for something in particular. In order to generate the highest level of interest from search engines and consumers alike, the image must receive at least as much attention as your choice of text and general page layout.
Think of the effort that you make with the text on each of your web pages. You make sure that the subject matter is relevant and the title reflects the actual content. Within the content, you utilize keywords and keyword phrases that are intended to attract readers who are looking for information on the page's topic. You also ensure that the content is easy to read by using lists, sub-headings, and other approaches to ensure it's more friendly to the eye. The idea of publishing a page that's nothing but a solid wall of content is out of the question.
SEO image optimization demands that you pay the same level of attention to the images. They must be relevant to page topic. It's imperative that they add something of value to the reader's experience. In terms of placement, they must be intentionally situated to help drive home a point or idea. There is nothing random when it comes to image optimization.
Google And Your Optimized Images
Google remains the single most popular search engine in the world. While there are pockets around the globe where other engines receive more attention, they are few and far between. Google's popularity means you want to know what this search engine does in terms of picking up on the images and finding them worthy of receiving more attention in search engine results.
Google image SEO efforts are detailed, but they are not impossible to understand. One of the strengths of Google is that the engine provides a number of tools that help people understand how images, text, and other elements of a page affect rankings.
As you explore those tools, it's easier to see why SEO images Google do matter. Do images help SEO in terms of gaining more attention from Google? The answer is yes. That makes it all the more important to prepare your images responsibly and in accordance with Google's current best practices. Let's discuss some of the more important aspects of image optimization that you must address.
Unique and Not Stock Images
It's easy enough to find stock images to use with your blog posts or on your website. Some of them do come with fees, but there are also plenty of stock images that are free for personal and commercial use. You may not even have to provide any type of attribution for those images.
It seems like a simple approach, but does it really help you in terms of gaining more attention from Google and the other search engines? The answer is no!
In order for your worldwide or even local SEO images to be effective, they must be unique. Everything you see touted as SEO stock images are already in use on more websites and blogs than you can possibly imagine. Experience has already taught you that most of the major search engines do not reward pages with duplicate content. Even using your own content on two or more sites that are under your control ultimately hurts the ranking of all the sites involved.
The same is true with your images. While it does require more time, effort, and often expense, creating images that are both relevant to the page content and truly your own will make a difference.
Remember that not all images must be photos. You can also use illustrations, graphs, and other visual media. Depending on the subject matter of the page, coming up with your own graph or engaging the services of a local professional to create a unique illustration will work nicely.
Image Quality and Size
Creating the right image is just the beginning. Now you need to address the concept of SEO image size. There are two points to consider closely: image clarity and how quickly it will load.
Both are a little more complex than in years past. At one time, you mainly needed to ensure the file size would allow it to load quickly on a desktop or laptop screen. Today, you still want that to happen, but you also want the image to load quickly on a tablet or a smartphone. In addition, fewer people are using wired connections than ever. There are some experts who maintain that the use of wireless devices is more prominent today.
The last thing you need is an image that takes a long time to load. Readers have limited patience with this sort of thing. If a page does not load completely in a reasonable amount of time, they will look elsewhere.
Here's something else about the image size for SEO: Google and the other search engines don't look kindly on pages with slowly-loading images. Opt for an image size that will not slow things down and you give the images one more reason to display your pages ahead of other sites.
Image clarity is also a key element in any set of SEO image optimization tips. What good is a quickly loading image if it's out of focus? It doesn't add to the user experience. In fact, it could be reason enough to migrate away from the page. The search engines know that and are more likely to rank your pages lower if the images are not up to par.
What Are Responsive Images?
You may have heard of responsive images and how important they are today. This refers to providing browsers with multiple sources for the same image. Each of those sources is scaled and sized for different environments. For example, the browser grabs the smaller scale image when loading a page on a smartphone screen. It grabs a larger scale image when loading the page on a laptop screen. This is one more strategy that will help your pages win more favour from search engines.
Naming The Images
What's in a name? As it turns out, naming images for SEO purposes is a big deal. You may not think so, since this is something that your site visitors will never see. The thing to remember is that the search engine crawlers used to find and index your pages do see this information.
How do you appropriately name the image? Customize the file name so it includes elements that are relevant to the page. You can include keywords that have to do with the page's subject matter. The key is to use the file name to provide a little more information to the crawler about the topic for the page.
For example, perhaps you're using a blog post to tout a book. Since you own a copy of the book, you take an image and prepare to upload it to the post. You could come up with a file name along the lines of "bookname-hardback.jpg" since your image is of the book, the title is clearly displayed in the image, and the photo you took is of the hardback edition.
Tagging The Images
Tags are also something that page visitors don't usually see. Instead, they are scanned by search engine crawlers and provide one more means of helping to increase your page rankings. Even so, there may be times when visitors do see one or more types of image tags. That's why you need to create tags that are descriptive.
When would a visitor see an image tag? The most common scenario is when something prevents the image from loading. It may be that the visitor has turned off images for the browser. There's also the possibility that the visitor is using a screen reader to compensate for some degree of visual impairment. With all these scenarios, you still want the visitor to have the best experience possible.
If the image does not display, what's known as an alt-tag may be visible. Sometimes referred to as alt text, you want this tag to adequately describe the image. A good rule of thumb is to create a tag that includes the primary keyword for the page's content. Add some descriptive information so the visitor knows a little about the image too.
Do you wonder how to tag images for SEO, specifically alt-tags? Many experts recommend keeping the tag to 125 characters or less. Include the primary keyword and something to describe the image. Don't waste characters using phrases like "photo of" or "image of."
Assume you own a pet shop and are creating a blog post about German Shepherds. You have an image of the breed that's unique, since you just took one of a dog you have in the shop. Your alt-tag could read something like "German shepherd puppy for sale at business name."
Along with alt-tags, you need to think about what's called title tags. These types of image SEO tags are not the same as alt-tags. It's true that search engine crawlers do see them, but visitors do not. That's true even if the image does not display. What the visitor sees is the alt-tag instead.
With some browsers, it's possible to use the mouse to hover over the image and have the title tag display as a pop-up. If you want to get the most from the title tag, don't simply copy and past the alt-tag into the page data. You want to make it unique if you use it at all.
Do you see a pattern emerging? Everything from the image to the image tags SEO strategy that you employ calls for unique elements. It's imperative to come up with something that's not already so common that those elements hurt your rankings. At times, it can be challenging to come up with the right alt image SEO approach, but remember you can always change the elements if something's not working.
The Importance of GEO Coordinates
Perhaps you've noticed more discussion about GEO coordinates these days. The term refers to geographic coordinates that make it possible to pinpoint an exact physical location. Business owners with shops or other facilities that are open to the public do need to pay close attention to GEO, especially if they are seeking consumer attention in specific locales.
What you may not be aware of is that GEO coordinates embed into EXIF files. Short for Exchangeable Image File Format, this is an element that you find in most digital photographs. That's because the software used to create the images typically embeds the data. Unlike some other elements, you will not be able to edit EXIF files. That's why you want to ensure the geographic information captured is accurate. In other words, don't try using images that were taken of a different location.
Will SEO Imaging Make A Difference For Your Google My Business Listing?
You can already see how unique images and the responsible use of SEO image tags make a difference for your website and blog. You can also relate this information to social media posts. What if you're using Google My Business as a part of your online presence? You can bet that all this information relates to making the most of that resource too.
Beginning in 2019, Google began to provide star ratings on the images associated with each Google My Business listing. Those ratings are based on factors like GEO, alt-tags, image names, and load times. Simply put, the same strategies for Google SEO image optimization that you use in other settings applies to the use of images with your Google My Business account.
Are There Resources To Help Optimize Your Images?
If you feel unsure of how to check what's already in place or how to set up one or more pages to best effect, don't feel as if you're alone. The good news is that you can find an effective SEO image optimization tool that helps ensure every aspect of the image helps rather than hinders your pages. That works well for people who create and manage their own sites.
When you have professional support for creating sites and pages, you can bet that the expert overseeing your account will know how to make the most of SEO services images as well as your other content. Feel free to ask questions that help you understand why an image should be tagged in a certain way, or why there's the need to have more than one option for a browser to load.
Remember that nothing is quite as sure as change when it comes to search engine optimization. Make sure that all of your image links SEO approaches are in line with today's best practices, but be prepared to make some updates when and as search engine algorithms change the way your images are evaluated. This is another area where working with a professional will make a difference. Together, it's possible to make the most of those images and ensure they are working for you rather than against you.