The Secrets to Optimizing Your Site for Image Search

On May 1, 2010, wrote:

In one way or another, all Internet marketers have emphasized the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) techniques in growing one’s business and gaining a competitive edge over competitors. However, while some of us have focused well enough on optimizing the text on our websites and blogs, there aren’t as much taking the time to optimize images and photos for search.

Lakeshore Branding hopes to change that. Image search, after all, is a feature present in all major search engines. Optimizing your site for that will likely bring in more targeted traffic, more conversions, and more subscribers. That’s because image searchers are usually interested in what a particular product or brand looks like. Want these people to find your site? Focus on optimizing each of your images and they just might rank higher in search results.

image search

Use good-quality photos

Image search results take the form of thumbnails, so make sure that the images you use on your site have good aspect ratios and are big enough and have high enough resolution. You want to let people know what exactly they’re looking at when they do find your thumbnail. If possible, take the time to edit your photos, even if editing just means using auto-contrast, auto-color, and auto-exposure options.

Use descriptive file names

The file names you ascribe to your images should be sufficiently descriptive. Search engines don’t exactly “read” images based on visuals; they still rely on the text that’s associated with the picture. So go for descriptions that contain your most important keywords and phrases. If you’re running an eCommerce site, don’t just copy and paste manufacturer descriptions. Take the time to rewrite and describe as best as you can the pictures that you’re putting up in your site or product catalog.

Take advantage of the alternative text

Alternative text (alt text) is an attribute into which you can insert keywords that describe your images. Take the same approach as when you’re naming the actual file: use keyword-rich descriptions and phrases (without the hyphens). They may be the same as the optimized picture’s file name, but if you want to hit two birds with one stone, try modifying them a little bit and use alternative keywords.

Optimize the text that surrounds the image

It’s also good practice to optimize the text that immediately surrounds your image. First of all, make sure they’re actually related. Write out keyword-rich captions. Place an adjacent article. Avoid being too mysterious and letting a photo stand for itself. Accompanying your pictures with text will also encourage image searchers to read on and stay a little bit longer in your site.

Use social photo sites

Sites like Blogger and WordPress have their own “Upload Picture” feature, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use some other photo hosting and sharing site. It would be much better, in fact, if you use a third-party photo host that’s “socially inclined” – like Flickr, which has great search engine authority – because this allows you and your visitors to share your photos across a variety of social media and networking sites and, at the same time, increase your traffic. Social photo sites usually have their own Search feature and generate their own image search results; upload them there and your images aren’t limited to showing up only on search engines.

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