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May 21 2012

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips for Images

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When you view a webpage, your eye automatically darts between the text and the images, taking in all that you see and processing the information to determine what parts of the page are important and what to do next.   Search engine spiders “crawl” a page (by sorting through the text and code) looking for text that they can process and categorize.   Unfortunately they are unable to “see” the images that you have displayed on your website; however, they will be able to crawl the text associated with an image if you or your website designers use the following suggestions.

Alt attribute text is a section of the code behind an image that tells a browser what alternative text should be displayed if the image doesn’t load or the user has images turned off.   This alt text should be a description of what the image says or is about.   Savvy search engine optimizers will make a note to use the keywords that people would search for to find the image in an image search or the page associated with the image in the alt text.   The alt text is readable to search engine spiders as they crawl code looking for text that they can categorize; the follow is what the spider will crawl, an example of what alt text would look like if the image has yet to load, and how the final loaded image renders in a browser.

<img src=”http://www.Your-Domain.com/…/keyword-rich-image-name.jpg” alt=”alt text goes here”>

Above is the snippet of code that tells the browser where to load an image from and what alternate text should be displayed.

Another way that the search engine spiders can categorize an image is through reading the text in the image name.   For example, in the example code above, the image name is “keyword-rich-image-name.jpg” and could possibly show up in a theoretical image search for the keyword phrase “keyword rich image.”   If an image is optimized for appearing in a Google Image Search, it may also appear in something called Universal Search.   A search resulting in a Universal Search would result in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that shows results Google has pulled from Image Search, Video search, and other available searches that are relevant to the searched keyword phrase.   Most recently, Google has unveiled the Google Knowledge Graph which may also pull images into a new type of search result.   Keep reading MoreVisibility’s SEO blog for updates on Google Knowledge Graph.

Optimizing images is an important factor in SEO as well as website design and development.   The main takeaways here are:

  • Use alt tags
  • Use keywords in your image names

Added Note: Make sure that the images, alt tags, and image names are all relevant to the page they are included on, otherwise the search engine spider may not consider them relevant and choose not to display them in search results for certain queries.

Using the above suggestions will hopefully improve the search engine rankings of your images for your targeted keywords and allow search engine spiders to crawl your code and “see” the full representation of your website.

May 18 2012

Google’s Search for Your Website’s Pages

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Google can be a valuable source of traffic for your website.   Googlers who search for a specific keyword or keyphrase benefit from Google’s curated results.   These results, separated into Search Engine Results Pages, deliver the best quality content that makes sense with the query entered.   Behind the scenes, Google goes through a number of steps before displaying (or serving) the queried content to the user.   These include: Crawling, Indexing, and Serving.

Crawling refers to the GoogleBot, Google’s web crawling bot (or spider), that “crawls” or discovers new and updated pages by following links from site to site.   This is why the “nofollow” attribute (rel=”nofollow”) was created, to prevent GoogleBot from following a link.

Indexing refers to the process of sorting which GoogleBot conducts to organize different content types.   Information processed to help GoogleBot sort a page includes tags and attributes.   Some rich media files or pages with dynamic features are not able to be processed, which is why it is best to try to simplify coding on your website if you find that a page is not showing up in Google’s Index.

Serving is the end result, the displayed snippet when a Google searcher enters a query and results are “served” to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).   Google strives to serve the most relevant pages to a search query and it is a very complex process algorithm which weights results and orders accordingly.

If you are not already familiar, we urge you to read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to learn Google’s best practice suggestions for helping find, crawl, and index your website.

April 5 2012

7 SEO and User Experience Nightmares

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The following are seven web design disasters that every SEO and UX person should know to avoid.   Make sure that your business’s website has not fallen victim to one of these design flaws and make sure that your visitors, whether they be human or search engine bot, understand and enjoy your website.

1. Be Cautious of iFrames

Content that is within an iFrame is not on the URL.   Each search engine views iFrames differently and may or may not spider and index a page in an iFrame.

2. Being Horribly Vague

Your navigation and anchor text should not be “page 1,” “click here,” or “more.”   Make sure that every link has keyword rich anchor text and your navigation makes logical sense.

3. Only Hyper-linking Part of A Word or Keyword Phrase

Only linking part of a keyword to an internal page on your website will not give search engines a comprehensive idea about what the page is about.   Your visitors will probably be pretty confused as well if one half of a phrase or word is hyperlinked.

4. Pop-Ups

They wreck havoc on user experience, as they are one of the most annoying features allowed in web design — which is probably why a high percentage of people now use pop-up blockers.

5. Browser Incompatibility

While we could write this as browser and bot incompatibility, you should test your website designs to make sure they can be read and understood by the largest percent of the population of people and search engines.   Testing browser compatibility will help with keeping your human visitors happy and testing whether your code is readable to most search engines can help make sure that you are indexed and new visitors can find you.

6. Too Much Of (A Possibly) Good Thing

This can be Flash animations, pages of solid images, or excessive Javascript running your website.   It may crash a browser.   It may drive your users a little crazy.   It may be read as the bots as a blank page.   See number 5 for compatibility issues again.

7.   Indecipherable URL Structure

If one of your visitors comes to your website and wants to send it to a friend via e-mail or IM or other textual medium of choice, www.yoursite.com/bunnies will probably go over better than animals.yoursite.com/US/a9/3/small/v/rabbits/bunnies since it is easily identifiable as a page about bunnies.

Avoid these seven web design no-nos and take your website toward a better SEO and UX future.   If you have a favorite SEO or UX tragedy, feel free to share it with us in the comments.

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