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:
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.
With the continual advances in the search engines, especially regarding blended search results through Google’s Universal Search, Yahoo’s Blended Search, and Ask 3D, images will appear with even greater importance in the search engine results. In blended search, the user is provided with results from across multiple vertical databases that can include videos, image results, book results, news, blog results, and more. The search engines have taken their usefulness to a whole new level, and as a result, are able to provide more relevant information to the searcher even if the searcher doesn’t know exactly what he or she is looking for. With this being said, it is very important to take advantage of every opportunity to expand your reach on the internet through multiple types of search engine optimization (SEO).
In order to give your images relevance (so that they will be found by the search engines and included in these blended results) they should be considered as part of your ongoing SEO efforts. Below are a few tips regarding how to best optimize the images on your site.
As the search engines make changes to provide the best end-user experience possible, it is important that we do our job to adapt our SEO efforts to these changes. This will help to keep your site positioned in the best way possible and be visible to your targeted audience.
In my last few posts I have covered the different types of metadata and how to use each effectively. In this post you will learn about the “alt attribute” or more commonly called the alt tag. The alt tag is html code we use to label images found on websites.
If you view a site’s source code and look for an image, you will most likely see the name of the image in gif format and next to it will be the alt= tag. This is where you can label your image. Example: Alt Attribute example:
You might be asking yourself “What is the importance of the alt tag?” Good question! The alt tag is important for three distinct reasons:
1. Some searchers turn graphic functionality off so a page will load faster if they have a slower connection speed. When this is the case, the image will not appear, but rather the image’s alt tag will be viewable.
2. It’s used for blind and visually impaired readers who access a page using audio-based browsers, or screen readers. — These devices read the page aloud so the user can hear the content on the page. If there is no alt tag, the images will be skipped and important information could be lost.
3. Universal Search — This has been around for about a year, and is still evolving. Universal search uses alt tags and other information to display the images of your website in the “blended results”. These blended results feature images, video, news and regular listings in the search results. The search engines’ algorithm takes alt tags into account when displaying these mixed results.
Alt Tag Tips
While it is important to realize that the alt tag should be used for all of the images on your site, you should not over use this tool. Abusing this tag can have serious consequences when it comes to the search results. Below are some do’s and don’ts to creating effective alt tags.
– Use on every image on your site
– Describe what the image represents
– Use keywords where applicable
– Make sure each image has a unique alt tag
– Don’t stuff all of your keywords into the tag to “game” the search engine — This is called alt spam
– Don’t add alt tags for things like buttons and images smaller than 10 x 10 pixels. These items are not necessarily important to search, so you don’t have to label them.
As always, alt tags are not the “SEO Golden Ticket” but rather a piece of the bigger picture. Work on Metadata and alt tags, and you will be one step closer to having an optimized website.