We all know that Google is king when it comes to search engines. Its dominance in the field has been unquestioned for years. Recent stats show that close to 95% of all online searches are done via one of their properties. That number may or may not come as a surprise to you.
What is of particular interest is that approximately 25% of all those searches are Google Image searches. That’s a lot. Makes you think you shouldn’t be ignoring that route of promotion, doesn’t it?
I’ve discussed before the importance, in terms of readability, of including appropriate images on your web pages. Having nice imagery makes the visitor’s experience more enjoyable. This can lead to those visitors spending more time on your pages, which can improve your SEO.
So why not also have those images findable in a Google Image search? That’s one more way for people to discover your website. This is especially true if you sell products, but there’s no reason why photos that complement or promote your services can’t be found in searches that lead to your site as well.
So how do you do that?
1. Use original images
Google loves original content. This applies not only to text, but to graphics, audio, and video as well.
I’m as “guilty” as anyone of using stock photos to pretty up pages in order to make long blocks of text easier on the eye. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. But, because stock photos are not original content, and many other sites use them, chances are the ones you use won’t pop up on Google Image searches. However, if you can use original photos that you — or a qualified photographer — have taken, those will have a much better chance of showing up in an image search.
If you do resort to using stock photos, you can make them unique (or, at least, different from the initial version) by cropping, changing colours, adding filters, etc.
And don’t think that all images you use have to be photos! Graphs, charts, infographics, even cartoons can be valuable sources of original graphic content.
Whatever type of images you use on your page, make sure they’re related to the overall content of the page. A photo of an eagle in flight may be a lovely picture, but if it’s on a page about electric cars, how does it add to your message? Google will see it that way as well.
2. Use meaningful file names
Leaving a photo’s file name as img_8039.jpg tells Google absolutely nothing about its content. However, using something descriptive, like green-bicycle-helmet.jpg provides way more information.
In particular, if you have product photos, don’t save them as product_17784.jpg. If it helps you to keep things organized by using the including the number in the file name, by all means do so. But using something like organic-cotton-grey-tshirt-17784.jpg will be much more effective for a Google Image search.
3. Alt attribute and image title
The alt text associated with an image is your way to tell Google — as well as the vision impaired — what the image contains. Again, be as informative as possible and, if it makes sense, include a keyword or two, but don’t “keyword stuff” as this will be seen as a spammy technique that could hurt your rankings.
Image title is another way to describe your image. It’s debatable how much Google pays attention to this information, but it can’t hurt to use something similar to the alt attribute for this field.
These are the blocks of visible text that appear — most commonly, underneath — an image. They’re usually appropriate to use with people shots, whether to identify who each person is in a group photo, or to provide a title and credentials for single person headshots. Captions can also be useful with other types of photos. Use as you see fit. They’re another source of information for Google to use.
5. Surrounding text
I alluded to this earlier. The text near the image can tell Google what the image is about — or, at least, what it should be about.
You can decide whether you want to find a suitable image to match the adjacent text or write text to match the image. Either way, have the two elements in close proximity to each other.
Any way to get discovered in a Google search will help generate traffic to your website. Using images wisely can open up a new avenue for visitors to discover your site and spend more time browsing it. You win and your visitors win!