Image search is probably one of those very few opportunities that are still somewhat easier to cash on in the search marketing field. While it is true that traffic from image search might not convert as well as traffic coming from web search, for certain industries they work pretty well. Also, with all major search engines offering Universal search a well optimized might just get your website a wild card entry to he Google first page for some highly competitive keyword.
Having said all this let’s take a look at how we can optimize images for the search engines. We all know about the common factors like naming the image and alt attributes, while not leaving them aside, I have also tried to cover a few more points that you might otherwise miss while optimizing for image search.
- Image Naming – Use descriptive file names for your images and make sure your keywords are included. For multi-word file names use hyphen as the separator and not underscores. If you have an image of a Red Widget on your ecommerce site it is always better to name it as Red-Widget-For Sale.jpg, rather than using some nonsense name like DSC12345.jpg or even just Widget.jpg
- Alt Attributes – Again a known point for most of us, use a suitable descriptive alt attribute with keyword in them. Alt attributes are the prime source of reference for search engines to understand an image. Make sure your alt attribute describes your image properly.
- Title for Image – Add a suitable descriptive Title for images. Include your keywords in the Title as well.
- Surrounding Text – The text on a page and presence of keyword in it is important for image optimization as well and particularly the text surrounding the image is a key reference for identifying an image and adds relevance to it.
- Long Desc Attribute – If the image is extremely important and has got some text in it, you can probably use a Long Desc attribute to explain the image in details
- Heading Tags – Surprised? Don’t be. If you badly want to get an image ranked try this. Add a small text caption with your keyword for the image and put both the caption and the image within the heading tag. I would advise using H2 or lower tags and not really a H1. ( Honestly, no logical reasons behind the last line, I just feel that it might be a little overdone with a H1 )
- Get Links – Get a few links that points directly to the image itself. Make sure you are using the targeted keyword or some variations of it for these links.
- Link Out – If possible use that image to link out to another page about the image. Considering the Red Widget example above, you can probably use that image to link to a page that describes the Red Widget – http://www.domain.com/red-widget.html
- Enhanced Image Search – This is specific to Google. Log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account and activate Enhanced Image Search feature.
- Ranking of the Page – Google image search also considers the ranking of the parent or the linking page. If the parent or the ranking page does not have enough information or does not rank well, Google might be in doubt whether to show an image from that page or site.
Last but not the least, if not for search engines but for your user optimize the image size. Not all users are on high bandwidth, an optimized image of relatively low file size would be helpful for them.
Also, it is important to check that your images are not filtered out in Google Safe Search Filter. You can check this by using site:domain.com command on Image Search to check the index status and check the safe search status by toggling the link for safe search given below the search box.
Like most other things in SEO here is no hard and fast rule and most things are governed by common sense. Similarly, in this case while there is no concrete proof that all these factors contribute to get your images ranked, this is pretty comprehensive and covers most of the things that someone can do to optimize for image search. If you have any other points to add feel free to put them in comments.
Author Bio: Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury is a SEO Consultant from India. He has 7 years of experience in the Internet marketing industry and works as a SEO consultant for various US and UK based clients. Check his Internet Marketing blog for other interesting posts.