When it comes to website optimization, images are sometimes an afterthought. Copy, design, and coding all play important roles in an optimized website, but images can also increase your visibility in image based searches. Optimizing images is easy do if you follow these best practice guidelines:
Utilize image compression and file type: Maintaining fast load times is important for an optimized website. If your site is using lots of image data, you’ll need to compress the images to keep them from affecting your site’s performance. You should also consider which file extension your images use. For example, a .png file can show more colors than a .jpg file, but it’s larger and will take longer to load.
Create an image sitemap: To increase the chances that search engines will index the images on your website, create an image sitemap.
Don’t forget social sharing buttons: The advent of image sharing sites like Pinterest has only increased the importance of sharing buttons, especially for images. By adding social sharing buttons, you’ll increase the chance that web pages and images reach a wider audience.
Optimize image metadata: Most importantly, you should optimize the file name and alt tag. For both, use five to seven words to describe what the image is. If possible, use keywords that you’d like to target. If the image contains text, include this text in the alt data as well.
Better search rankings are an admirable goal for any website. But the best rankings aren’t very useful if no one is clicking on your listings and helping you meet your conversion goals. The landscape of search engine results pages (SERPs) has changed dramatically over the years — a trend that’s likely to continue. When your listing is competing with images, maps, Google Knowledge Graph, and other dynamic SERP elements, it helps when your listing stands out from the crowd. To get an edge, use these tips to improve the appearance of your SERP listings:
Improve your Metadata — Oftentimes, your metadata is a user’s first impression of your site. You may have optimized your metadata while implementing your SEO strategy. But, it may be worth revisiting — especially description tags. Description tags don’t carry weight for determining SERP ranking, but they are critical in convincing users to click-through to your site. Write compelling descriptions that include a call to action and one or two keywords (if a user searched for these terms, they will be bolded in the description tag and draw the user’s attention). Many sites let Google pull text from the page to create a description, but this is usually unhelpful for users. Get a leg up and increase your click-through rates with punchy description tags.
Use Rich Snippets — Although rich snippets have been around for more than a year, adoption has been rather slow among websites. Rich snippets modify your description with relevant information and images. Not only is this very helpful for users, but it also makes your search listing pop on the page. Google has useful information for understanding and leveraging rich snippets on your website.
Optimize for Site Links — Site links appear under your listing and direct users to your most useful and popular pages. They are perhaps the best way to maximize a listing’s real estate on a SERP:
As you can see, a listing with site links gets nearly three times the space as a regular listing. Unfortunately, site links are an automated feature, so there is no code you can add to your site to generate them. But, if your site is well optimized, you increase the likelihood that Google will display them. Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account and submit your URL and site map for starters. You’ll also want to rectify any site errors you have.
By following these tips, you probably won’t increase the position of any of your pages, but you’ll attract more attention and clicks to for your listings; so it’s worth the effort.
SEO is not a clear-cut concept, which is why many people — even marketing professionals — are mystified by it. Even at its basic elements, clients try very hard to quantify and prioritize optimization efforts. But, there is no clear path — no one thing — a company can do to increase its rankings. Good SEO is a conglomeration of factors. Google admits that its ranking algorithm examines hundreds of factors before ranking a page for search. However, Google is pretty tight-lipped about the weight of each factor. Is an optimized title tag “worth” more than the overall keyword density of the page? If so, by how much? What about in relation to the page’s load speed?
Although some elements of SEO carry obvious importance, all of them must work together to produce results. One great example lies in the basic SEO strategy of optimizing meta data. There are quite a few parts here, including:
As you can see, metadata is a great example of SEO elements working together. By looking at the big picture and optimizing your site as a whole, you can increase not only your rankings, but the quality and usability of your website.