We learned from last year's Beginner SEO post for the Biannual Blogathon Bash that a picture is worth a thousand words right? For one of the few posts that I'm going to publish during the blogathon, I figured I would expand further on what anyone can do to improve their website/blog's SEO concerning pictures specifically. I obviously did not come up with this information myself! This is info that I've picked up over the years and am more than happy to share with you!
Let's start with the most important part of image SEO...
#1 - The image itself.
Its best to ensure that the subject is the sole focus of your picture (which is something we can improve upon with any image editor.)
Here's an image I had taken at Nuit Blanche 2012, just in front of the Scotiabank Tower.
The two pictures above came from the same image file; I only cropped the 2nd image to give a more central look of the art display. The unedited image was fairly busy with the full crowd circling the showcase, as well as the shiny Scotia Tower being fairly distracting in the background, so that stuff had to be removed. The only thing that would have made this picture better is if my hand wasn't shaking from the cold! 😉
Part of image SEO is what Google users see when they search through the image database. If someone was Google-ing "Scotiabank Nuit Blanche", they would be more inclined of viewing an image that had a lot less clutter (and less blurriness but this was the best I could find for short notice, lol.)
And of course, the image needs to have some relevancy to the blog post it will be published in (erm... do as I say, and not as I do!) There will most likely be some keywords found in the surrounding text which helps improve the importance of image (and vice versa.)
#2 - The File Name
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;"
~ Juliet, Romeo & Juliet
I was never a fan of Juliet. Although she had a point about Romeo being the man he is should have nothing to do with the family he was born to, if you have a picture of a rose for your blog post, you've gotta call it "rose.jpg" for Google.
So my file name for the image above should be something like "nuit-blanche-scotiabank.jpg" and not "DSC251934.jpg", (take note to not make an image title too long, as I believe the file name is truncated - though I could be wrong with this thought.)
Bottom line is that Google doesn't know what to do with a serial number. If you want to do a social experiment, find one of your photos saved from your digital camera - for instance I have one titled "DSC09646.jpg" - and Google that photo's title to see what other people have for pictures with that exact same serial number. Trust me, there are lots out there.
So the point is to not be part of the obscured serial number crowd and have your pictures actually mean something for Google Image Search. As much as we love image searching, the images that we're finding are the ones that were described well within the title description and whatever text is within the ALT of the image code.
Google can't see a rose, no matter how beautiful it might be, and know that it should be gathered with the other rose pictures unless the text tells Google that it IS a rose.
EDIT (Thank you Kathleen for reminding me I forgot to write this bit, LOL!)
The TITLE tag, not to be confused with the ALT tag. To be honest, I'm not fully aware of how the Title tag is used in SEO, but it should still be used. In Juliet's case, she would write code as something like:
<img src="//YOURSITE.com/images/this-is-a-rose.jpg" title="This is a rose." alt="A rose by any by any other name would smell as sweet." />
Despite giving similar information, there is a fine line between Title and ALT - use the Title tag to title the image, and use ALT tag as descriptive alternative text.
and as I've just eluded to...
#3 - The Alternative Text Tag
This tag is pretty important, think of it as your image's wing-man, the alt will tell everyone what your image is about so that your image doesn't have to. You can be a bit more relaxed with how many keywords you place in the alt, but don't go overboard. It's better to place descriptive information that will look "natural" to Google's webcrawlers. For instance, the ALT text I would place for the picture above would be something like, "Nuit Blanche 2012, in front of Scotiabank Tower, Toronto Ontario." I've give some key information, such as:
- the event,
- the year,
- the location, and
- the city and province
That will hopefully be enough to get viewers that are looking for Nuit Blanche photography. The only thing that would improve this is if I had the name of the art installation.
The code for the image above so far should look like <img src=""//YOURSITE.com/images/nuit-blanche-scotiabank.jpg" title="Scotiabank Tower during Nuit Blanche" alt="Nuit Blanche 2012, in front of Scotiabank Tower, Toronto Ontario." />
#4 - Images Work Better In Numbers
One image just doesn't cut it when it comes to SEO, your post is actually better off with two or more images, because people just love to stare at photos and Google knows this. Google was taught that people generally enjoy looking at pictures rather than reading (plus photographs are arguably the best universal language), so the search engine giant gives more precedence to blog posts/articles that have more to look at graphically.
And as a side note, I've heard that Google is lazy and prefers all images to come from one folder on your site. If that's true or not, I haven't figured out yet, but I do see the possibilities of that actually being the case.
#5 - Size Does Matter
You know my stance about judging people by their size, but for images, we're allowed a little leeway. And we should be conscious of size for our mobile readers as 5MB is the same whether its shown on a desktop screen or a smartphone. The image might look itty bitty on a smartphone screen, but if the size of the image is 5MB it still takes 5MB for that image to download to the phone. And though telecoms are doing better at giving us more data for an affordable price, if you have a 500MB/month plan, that really just means you should only be looking at a 100 photos if they're all gonna be hi-res.
For SEO purposes though, the longer it takes to load an image, the longer it can take to load everything else that hasn't shown up on the page yet. If your image is taking its time to load, Google's webcrawler isn't going to stick around to see what else you have to offer, it has other blog posts to see.
Well, that's all I can think of at the moment. Did I forget anything?