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Optimizing Images for Better SEO #Blogathon2

Aeryn Lynne

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.

Nuit Blanche Scotia Tower - full image

 

Nuit Blanche Scotia Tower - focused image

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?

Like it? Share it!

Aeryn Lynne

The Geek at Geek Life
Living in Superman's Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, fights for fashion-equality, squees over comic art, and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction.
Aeryn Lynne

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11 Comments on “Optimizing Images for Better SEO #Blogathon2

Kathleen Garber
January 26, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Good start, very helpful, but what about title tags? Both are important.

Reply
Aeryn Lynne
January 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

*facepalm* Yes! I knew I was forgetting something when I had hit publish, lol. Thank you Kathleen! 🙂 I was meaning to leave writing that one to the end, ’cause while it is important, I’m not sure how yet. Google has mentioned a number of times that their webcrawlers only look at ALT text, but there has to be a point where the Title text is picked up as well… just not sure where, heh.

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Kathleen Garber
January 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

Okay maybe they aren’t simportant for SEO as I thought: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2007/12/using-alt-attributes-smartly.html

Reply
Brandy Myers
January 27, 2013 at 12:20 am

Thanks for the article. I always just uploaded my images and moved on. They were in the post that was enough right? Clearly not. So much to do so little time.

Reply
Aeryn Lynne
January 27, 2013 at 12:31 am

No prob! As long as you’ve got the know-how for future blog posts all should be good. 🙂

Reply
Savvy Suburban Mama
January 27, 2013 at 2:48 am

thanks for making a bit more sense of this for me. I’ll need to spend some time at it – but I know I can title a photo better than the serial number now. I’ll reread when I’m fresh – your writing style makes things seem so much clearer, by the way. You explain things very well in layman’s terms – which is so appreciated!

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OlderMommyStill
January 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Excellent post, I have just started using alt tags and found your post very informative.

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Little Miss Kate
February 8, 2013 at 9:47 pm

so much great information. I need to work more on my SEO

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Julia (nugglemama)
February 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Great tips! Thanks I will use these now.

Reply
andy
February 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

great advice

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Debbie Bashford
May 23, 2013 at 11:02 am

great tips

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