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.
When it comes to SEO, many people only think about text and code. Of course, these are major elements of good SEO, but one would be surprised to see the sad state of images in the field. Images can (and should) be optimized, and it’s not even difficult to do. When optimizing the images on your site or blog posts, remember these three things:
Optimize the Name of the Image: For the same reason you optimize a title or H1 tag, you should optimize the file name of your image. Search engines cannot “see” what an image is, but they can read its file name — which is why it needs to be accurate and keyword-rich. After all, no one searches for “img00759.jpg.”
Optimize the Alt. Tag: The alt. tag is not only another chance to help search engines understand your image; it’s also helpful from a user perspective. If the user is having a browser issue that keeps the image from loading, they will still have the alt. text to help them understand what they should be seeing. Visually impaired users who use a program to read aloud text on the page can only enjoy the image if there is alt. text available for the program to read. Keep these uses for alt. text in mind when writing it.
Optimize Relevant Images: Just like you can have irrelevant content, you can also have irrelevant images. Oftentimes, irrelevant images are used on a page to serve some design purpose. Although they may be off-topic, they can add to the visual appeal of a page and are fine to use. However, images that don’t contribute meaningfully to the content on the webpage or the keywords that you are trying to target do not need to be optimized; you can focus your efforts elsewhere.
If gaining or maintaining a strong Natural Search presence for your website is in part your responsibility, then it’s essential to understand the additional elements that drive SEO results today.
The best way I can think of to describe the evolution of SEO is that the playing field has gone from singularly to multi-dimensional. The basics of intelligent site architecture and navigation still matter, as do keywords, content, meta data and alt tags, but there are so many other factors.
Google’s clear-cut direction for their search engine results pages is all-inclusive. Content is encouraged, be it blog posts, images, video, tweets, etc. The more relevant and frequent the content that a website contributes, the greater the likelihood that Google & Bing (Yahoo) will rank your site favorably.
That said, quality content is not self generating, which is the gotcha. It requires a roadmap and accountability for execution. Take your eye off the ball and you’ll go weeks or months without any meaningful addition to the breadth of your website. Identify and prioritize the content you are intending to develop, assign responsibility for creating it to multiple team members and hold them accountable to due dates.
Lastly, another new aspect that needs to be taken seriously is the fact that Google is now evaluating your page “load time” as a component of their algorithm. So it’s imperative that the page be constructed in a proper way. Otherwise, the content I am encouraging you to incorporate may hold you back more than it helps you.