Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from Johnny in California, who asks:
“I’m an artist with gallery pages full of images of my paintings and very little text. How do I get those paintings to rank better? I’ve also noticed that Google ranks photos much faster and better than images of paintings.”
I’m not a very visual person.
Just ask my wife.
When we look at Airbnb listings, my wife immediately goes and looks at the pictures.
I scroll straight down to the property description.
Most visual artists I know think words and fonts are ugly.
They understandably want the visuals to be the star of the show.
For people like me, however, just looking at the pretty pictures isn’t going to make me buy.
When I’m looking for art, I want it to have a story.
I want to know the “why” behind the painting I’m going to buy.
Google Images are Pretty Cool
One of the coolest and biggest secrets Google has is reverse image search.
Take a picture and throw it into Google, and through the magic of technology, Google finds similar images and can even tell you where the image came from, in most cases.
This is particularly useful for those of us who use stock photography.
We use it to make sure that the stock image we are using isn’t overly used on other sites.
For artists, it can be a godsend, as well.
By placing images of art on your site, you can show up in searches for similar images.
In the original question, there is an assumption that photos rank faster than paintings.
I’m not completely sure that this assumption is accurate.
As the answer tends to be in SEO, it depends.
I imagine some paintings, particularly of the Jackson Pollack type variety, are more difficult for the algorithm to classify – and therefore may take longer to be indexed.
Photos are pretty easy, in most cases, for Google to see and analyze with modern image recognition technology.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – But Searchers Still Need the Words
If you are selling art, you need to write about your art (or have someone else write about your art).
A wall of images rarely sells very well on a site – even an ecommerce site.
If you want to get your art to rank, you need to write about it.
We all complain about recipe sites that tell long stories before you get to the actual ingredient list and instructions.
But those sites rank well and convert.
And thankfully, most of them now include a navigation button to bring you straight to the recipe if you don’t want to read about how grandma used to make the dish back during the depression.
If done correctly, writing descriptions and stories about the paintings you are selling will actually increase not only your rankings but your sales, as well.
I definitely want to know about the art I’m buying – especially if that art costs a lot of money.
So make sure that you:
- Use an optimized image file name and write descriptive alt text.
- Read Why Content Is Important for SEO to deepen your understanding of the value of unique content.
- Find a writing process that works for you so you can write better and faster descriptions of each painting.
- Learn more about what Google is looking for in quality content here.
When a collector visits a gallery to buy a very expensive piece of art, they frequently want to meet the artist and know more about the painting itself.
Understanding where the art comes from is a valuable part of the art-buying process.
And it’s also great for getting a painting to rank for relevant keywords in Google, Bing, and beyond.
- The 11 Best Image Search Engines
- 11 Important Image SEO Tips You Need to Know
- The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Featured image: Allies Interactive/Shutterstock