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.
Okay, so’ “Bing-ified” isn’t a real word, but I’m not sure how else to explain the new Google Image Search. When Bing was launched fourteen months ago, we discussed some of the interesting features in a MoreVisibility Round Table post to our YouTube channel.
One of the features that stood out to me at launch was the image search functionality in Bing. It’s one of the areas that Bing scored a clear victory and a better search experience over Google. Google Image search was very paginated and offered little in the way of segmenting results. Contrast that with Bing’s free-flowing, one page layout and filtering capability; it was a win for Bing.
Fast forward to July 20, 2010; Google announced a new interface for Google Image Search which seems to borrow heavily from Bing. In the official post, Google mentions “… some heavy-duty algorithmic wizardry…” to make it all work; which seems to hint that perhaps some of the technology is borrowed or leveraged between Google Image Search And Google Goggles.
If you’re not in the I-phone or Android set, Google Goggles is a smart phone application for the Android which allows you to search Google using an image taken with the phone’s camera. Hypothetically, if you are at the Miami Seaquarium and want to learn more about the dolphin you are about to swim with; snap a photo and Google could return more information about habitat, range, diet, etc. Currently, as with most Google Products, Google Goggles is in beta and the functionality above does not exist, yet. It will however, translate menus, search landmarks or tell you more about the bottle of wine on the shelf in front of you.
In their post announcing the new image search, Google mentions that it can even look at the spots of a leopard and return the proper subspecies. That statement reveals the awesome power and future of Google Goggles and image search. The possibilities are staggering, and the applications could help law enforcement or allow you to learn everything about your daughters’ beau with one click.
Google also announced that image search can be targeted separately for AdWords; so for advertisers there are some immediate benefits. If you’re selling image related products or “Free Lindsay Lohan” t-shirts; you can target those gawking at her in Google Image search.
Google held its very first live chat last Friday which was extremely helpful and interesting. The Google Webmaster Help Team, who hosted the event, covered various aspects of search. But what I found to be the most intriguing was the presentation on image search optimization. More specifically was the fact that Google image search can extract signals such as color, texture, spatial layout, and over all quality of an image when indexing. Essentially they are “looking” at the image. This amongst other factors should be taken into account when working on your image search optimization efforts.
The live chat also gave a few other words of advice for image search optimization. Make sure that the images on your website have alt tags with relevant keywords and descriptive file names. Also, the text surrounding the image is being analyzed to determine image content. So, make sure that the header and paragraph text around the image is keyword targeted and relevant. And one last piece of advice for image search optimization is to make sure that when ever possible the image is hosted on your own site.
With images showing up more and more in regular search results it will be crucial to make image search optimization an important part of your SEO efforts.