Every now and again, a friend or acquaintance of mine would ask me to have a look at their business website and help them out with their SEO. Often, one of the first things I notice when I get in there and start tinkering is that even on websites where there is a great use of page titles and descriptions and other SEO elements, images are likely underutilized.
This is a shame, because images are like magic tricks to catch the attention of visitors and search engines alike. But in order for this to work and for the image to drive traffic to your website, you need to do it right.
The Power of Image-Based On-Page SEO
When you use images correctly, they appear in search results, attract attention and generally help tell your brand story. If you are running an ecommerce site, using optimized imagery is essential to product sales, and can increase them several times over. While Google can’t read images, it can pattern-match, index pictures by their meta descriptions and pop them up in image searches.
Image Alt Tag
The Alt Tag is the one most important elements to use when optimizing website images. When it’s a picture of a product, such as jewelry or apparel, putting a related keyword in the alt tag will make this image react to searches by this keyword. The thumb rule, therefore, is that every single important picture on your website should be tagged.
If you are a bit fuzzy on how to use the alt tag, here is a code snippet that should make things clearer: <img src=”image location” alt=”Target keyword and short description”/>
Image File Name
This is another thing that escapes people’s attention all too often. Using a descriptive file name helps search engines identify the image content and index it. “picture0001.jpg” is a lost opportunity. Use “keyword.jpg”, when ‘keyword’ can be anything from “gourmet dog food” to “used car tires”.
Image File Size
Image optimization should include paying attention to file sizes. Large images can increase page load speeds, especially in an image-heavy website. Longer load times mean higher bounce rates. If you don’t want to frustrate your visitors, keep your images just as big as they have to be so they don’t appear pixelated or fuzzy. If your image is too large, scale it down in Photoshop or another similar tool.
Link Building with Images
Link building is where image-driven SEO gets really interesting. While covering the on-page SEO elements for optimizing images is an absolute must, link building using images proves even better to generate referral traffic. The fact is that images are naturally more engaging than text, and a visitor is much more likely to click on an image link than a conventional text hyperlink.
This refers to both internal and external links. Opening an account on Pinterest, Flickr or any other image sharing site will allow you to use every single image as a link to your website. Infographics are again a great example of how images can be used for gaining natural links creatively. Professional digital marketing agencies use this method to amazing results, and so can you.
Checking Image Search Traffic
Once your on-page optimization work is done, it’s time to see how it affects your site’s traffic. For this, you can use different tools like Google Analytics, which show you exactly how often and which of your images fires off in image search results, driving traffic to your website.
The ability to examine this separately from organic traffic is immensely useful, and I promise you that if you made the adjustments listed above, you will be astounded at the immensity of the results it will display.
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