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Use SEO for Images to Boost Results

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Using SEO for images is both simple and effective, although it isn’t the most important step in growing search engine optimization.

An image has three potential opportunities to use a naming convention of some kind — the image filename, the image title and the image alternative text (also known as the alt tag).

A fourth but somewhat separate opportunity exists with the caption. It is the text description of the image that usually appears below it.

SEO for images begins with a set of keywords already in the article’s title, headline, meta description and body. Publishers can either repeat those keywords in the image or use synonyms.

This assumes the image is highly relevant to the article’s topic. Either way, it’s important to avoid overusing some keywords.

SEO for Images Delivers 2 Big Benefits

Optimizing images for search engine optimization has the potential to boost an article’s ranking in search engines in two major ways.

First, the tags tell a search engine more about a page’s topic. They are an opportunity to use either the major keyword phrase of an article or synonyms for that phrase. They also guide the spiders in showing more relevant rankings based on keyword searches.

A page about “red widgets” won’t get much love from search engines if that keyword phrase appears in just the headline and nowhere else. The image creates another opportunity to emphasize the topic.

Second, search engines index the images themselves in addition to the document containing the image. Visitors to and will find millions of them. Image searches are another source of traffic for a website, although not nearly as much as text searches.

Just like documents, the images are indexed based on what the spiders can detect about them: filename, alt tag and title.

Visitors to the image databases usually just want to view or borrow (ahem) the images. But they also can click on the images to see them on their landing pages.

Image traffic is small compared to search engine traffic and depends in part on how many images the search engines have indexed and other factors. But in an intensely competitive online environment, sites usually appreciate the extra traffic.

Image Filename

The image file name is the simple first step in having an impact on how the page is indexed by search engines.

The filename should use words that have some keyword relationship with the rest of the article. Two words in the file name are better than one, and three are better than two.

Trying to name an image file with more than two or three words is often impractical and cumbersome.

Like everything else in SEO, the more specific the keyword, the more narrow the audience, but also the higher the chances of getting a response.

Alt Tag SEO

Next is the alt tag, which appears as “alt=’keywords’ ” in the image’s html code on the page.

The alt tag space allows more room to play with keywords. It presents an opportunity to use synonyms that complement the file name. It also allows more room for extra words beyond just two or three.

Keyword stuffing will trigger a penalty. So make sure to use variations on the keyword rather than repeating the same one, especially if it appears elsewhere in the article. One keyword phrase every 200 words is a good goal.

Image Title

Now for one that probably has no impact on SEO at all — the image title, which appears in the image path as “title=’title of image'”.

The title’s purpose is not for search engines but for users.

When a site visitor runs the cursor over an image that has a title, a small yellow box is displayed that contains the title. It may be a repeat of the alt tag or some other text.

An example of title text that is something other than a simple description is found on Google itself. Wave a cursor over the Google logo inside the site. The yellow title box will say “Go to Google Home.” The logo links back to the home page.

Image Caption

The fourth opportunity for impacting the image SEO is with the caption if one exists.

The reason why is the Google Images directory. Go to Google and click on Images at the top. Do a search on a keyword to bring up related images.

Google Images indexes graphics based on the image name, alt tag and relevant contextual keywords in any text near the image. The closest text is the caption. It’s not unlike the meta description that details the text of the entire page.

When the images go live with an article, check the total number of keywords repeated from the images, title, meta description, headline and article body to make sure the same keywords don’t appear too often.

One Response to “Use SEO for Images to Boost Results”

  1. Photo Kitch Says:

    Image optimization is something I’ve been pretty lazy with, but I’m definitely going to make more of any effort to go thru my site and optimize images as much as possible. WIll be interesting to see the results

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