Most people think that adding images to their website is a straightforward process. In fact, those who want to get more SEO juice from their web content know that they have to optimize every single element listed on their website. Of course, images make no exception. So, when it comes to publishing website images, how could we possibly avoid major mistakes that might potentially affect the popularity and the profitability of our online businesses?
Google is determined to shed some light on this manner, by highlighting some of the most important Do’s and Don’ts around website images. Google has published a set of comprehensive guidelines on this topic, which can help you improve your ranking and avoid penalties.
Let’s start with the Do’s around Website Images
- Describe your images in the most accurate manner
If you want to please Google and get bonus points for your SEO efforts, start by describing your images the right way. It is preferable to be very specific when it comes to naming your files. This way, you could let Google know that your website images are relevant to your article, landing page, or blog post. For instance, “my-new-ford-car.jpg” is a suitable description for a picture; clearly, it is much more informative than IMG00633.JPG, for instance.
- Submit your sitemap with images included
This gives Google some clues about the images that you consider truly important. By doing so, you enable Google to identify certain images that it might not otherwise discover. Sitemaps can be created manually, or by relying on sitemap generators recommended by Google.
- Create excellent Alt attributes for your images
This shares relevant information on the contents of all images published on your site. Alt attributes are particularly important for two reasons:
a) They enable Google to facilitate a superior web experience for all users. By evaluating alt attributes, Google can identify and select the most appropriate images, posted in response to a visitor’s query. If you’re looking for an expert opinion on this matter, just take a look at the brilliant video in which Matt Cutts, an important member of Google’s webspam team shows us how to create the very best alt attributes and how to use them smartly.
b) They allow people with visual impairments and or with slow Internet connection to collect important information; if the website image is unable to be shown, then the alt tag is displayed instead, offering people the chance to find the details that were looking for in the first place.
Take a closer look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of website image alt attributes.
The good: <img src=”kids.jpg” alt=”Blonde kids playing in the park”>
The bad: <img src=”kids.jpg” alt=”kids”/>
The ugly: <img src=”kids.jpg” alt=””/>
The really bad: <img src=”kids.jpg” alt=”boy girl baby infant toddler child children kids little play grass park blonde youngsters”/>; this is keyword stuffing, a shady SEO practice that could easily attract major Google penalties.
• Rely on descriptive, useful external anchor texts
Informative external anchor texts will help you ensure a superior web experience for all visitors and give them a legitimate reason to click on your link. For instance, you could link to a webpage displaying some of your most recent photos taken on vacation this way: Photos of my 2013 trip to India.
• Come up with descriptive, concise, accurate captions and titles for all your website images
An image is worth a thousand words; however when it comes to publishing photos, make sure your describe them as accurately as possible, using titles and captions.
• Make sure your website images are correctly positioned on your website
It wouldn’t make much sense to post a photo of a Siberian tiger on a page where you offer plumbing tips and tricks. This practice would only work to your disadvantage, by confusing both users and search engines. It is always recommended to pair text with website images based on relevance criteria.
Let’s Go into the Don’ts around website images
- Don’t place important text fragments inside your website images
Don’t embed essential information in website images, because not all your visitors can actually access them. Keep the important content based on text in standard HTML to offer more people the chance to read, assimilate, and filter the information published on your website.
- Don’t turn your alt attributes into a mere string of keywords
This black hat practice known as “keyword stuffing” will never get you on page 1 in search engine results, so play by the book and create truly useful, accurate, descriptive Alt tags for all your pictures, written with your end users in mind.
- Don’t forget to find the best ways to protect your content
It’s no secret that users are constantly looking for the best pictures to illustrate their very own topics. Most of them won’t hesitate to redistribute your images, without mentioning the source. This is why it is so important to defend what’s rightfully yours. In this particular case, you can:
a) Let visitors use your image, but compel them to give you credit for photos, and make them link back to your page
b) Prevent visitors from using your pictures by denying their request to redistribute your materials, and by protecting your intellectual property with watermarks or copyright texts.
Choose (and use) your website images wisely to ensure an exceptional user experience for all your visitors
By now, you should be fully aware of the fact that all users, regardless of their age, skills, background and interest, have a preference for multimedia content. Web content based solely on text is often catalogued as boring, extremely unappealing, and difficult to scan. In this context, it is particularly important to select and publish only high-quality images, relevant to your vision, mission, and purpose in business. If you want to boost website traffic by making the most of the best images, follow these simple tips:
- Avoid blurry photos
- Consider creating one landing page for each important picture that you plan to display on your site and don’t forget to create unique captions and titles for every single image
- Place your images in the first half of your screen; many users with short attention spans never actually scroll down, so position your images in the upper side of your website to capture their attention
- Organize your directories in an ideal manner and make sure that similar images are stored in the same place.
Images boost the appeal of your site, stimulate the curiosity and the interest of your readers, and can ensure a superior online visibility for your business, as long as they are carefully selected, posted, and distributed. Analyze this list of SEO Do’s and Dont’s related to website images, implement the necessary changes and take pride in a fully optimized, attractive, user-friendly website.