An aspect of SEO which I think we are all a little guilty of occasionally is to focus too much on text alone, overlooking the importance of image SEO. It is interesting to note that Google has recently published some information about the optimisation of images, but looking at the reactions and responses of many website publishers and SEO advisers it seems a little odd to me how many people have misunderstood one of the aspects of Google’s advice.
Although you may find that your website is mostly focused on delivering text based information to your visitors, there are many businesses which rely more heavily on image-based information. This could of course be graphical representations of data in the form of charts and infographics, visual-based representations of styles, furnishings and decorations, displays of food and drink, and even of course photographs demonstrating the sort of services offered by a photographer’s studio.
What Google has made clear in its recent publication is how important it is to make sure that any images which you include on your page, and which may be discovered by somebody carrying out a search online for images, are optimised appropriately and effectively.
So what image optimisation advice has Google offered?
First of all they have made it clear how important it is to ensure that any images embedded on the page are named appropriately, and that the alt attribute of the image describes it in a human friendly way. It is also important to make sure that the text content of the page is highly relevant to the image, and in particular text which is positioned very close to the image very closely relates to that image.
One point raised by Google is that whilst their Googlebot will crawl all of the text within your website, it will not crawl your images. Instead it will be Googlebot-Image which does this. It is therefore essential to make sure that you have allowed crawling of your images and your pages by both Googlebot and Googlebot-Image. It is also important to make sure that you include an image sitemap to assist with this, and you can get more information about creating image sitemaps here – http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=178636
Many people have been pleased to see that Google is paying close attention to the correct optimisation and use of the alt attributes, but in all of the information and advice provided by Google there is no mention of the title tag for images. This has led many people in discussions online to suggest that the title tag is no longer of any value.
I have been astonished to see so many people, including so-called SEO experts, suggest this. After all, even though the title tag for images may not be actively crawled by Googlebot-Image, it is important to remember that the title tag is something which will provide useful information to your visitors. Websites which are not user-friendly do not generally have as much success in generating loyalty and strengthening reputation, which means that the site is less likely to be visited less often, linked to less frequently and recommended less too, therefore generating fewer signals which could be interpreted by Google as meaning that your site is unpopular with real people.
So while making sure that you have named your images appropriately, including suitable alt text, included relevant text close to the image and ensured that your page can be crawled by both Googlebot and Googlebot image, as well as including an image sitemap, do not forget the fact that it is real people who will ultimately be the ones looking at your images, your links and your website.
Do you actively ensure that your images are optimised effectively? Have you found that your website generates a proportion of its traffic as a result of image searches rather than text based searches? Is this even something you have investigated? How important do you feel effectively optimised images are within your own businesses website? Please feel free to join in the discussion and leave your comments and thoughts in the box below, or share this post with your friends. 🙂
Image Credit: http://www.wirecase.com