Optimizing your web pages and images for Google’s image search is, in my opinion, underused. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. It’s good if you are looking to gain more traffic to your site from image search, because competition may be low. It’s a bad thing if you are doing the searching and looking for images based on particular keywords. At Abraxas, we always consider image search optimization when we design websites or optimize for search engines in general.
I’ll admit, when the Google image search was first introduced, I didn’t really understand its power. When I first saw referrals from the Google image search in my logs, I set out to block the Google image bot from my sites. My belief was that the traffic generated from these searches was of low value and was wasting my bandwidth. I came to realize that these image searches were of good value, especially for image heavy web sites such as photography related sites. You should consider whether or not image search has any value to you. If so, use these tips to make the most of optimizing for Google image search.
General optimizing for Google image search will help bring your code in compliance with W3C standards, which is a good thing, but obviously, we’re really going for traffic. If you keep in mind that the Google Image bot can’t actually see the image and relies on the text describing the image and how it is related to the content, you are ahead of the game. Of course, to make the most of these techniques, it’s a good idea to do to some keyword research. In order of importance, here are the things that you should be concerned with:
1. Surrounding Text
2. Alt Tag
3. Image Size and Location
4. Image Name
5. Page Title
Surrounding Text – I believe that the most important element that Google looks at is the text that surrounds the image. Adding a keyword rich caption to you image is recommended. The idea is that words is close proximity to the image are mostly related to the image.
Alt Tag – This is one of the most basic things to consider, yet still one of the most important aspects. Please insure that you use the alt tag.
Image Size and Location – An image that is 600×400 pixels and is located “above the fold” near the top of the page will have a better chance of scoring well in the search results than an image that is 100×100 pixels located way down at the bottom of the page.
Image Name – You should name your image using keywords that are relevant. For example, an image with the name “kevin-bacon-breakfast.jpg” has a better chance of scoring a result for the search term “what does kevin bacon eat for breakfast” than does “img0002.jpg.”
Page Title – It does seem that the basic title tag has relevance not only to SEO in general, but to image search as well. Your image should be related to the subject of your page as should your title tag.
Link – There is evidence that suggest that a hypelink boosts the image’s credibility. For instance, linking a smaller 500×500 pixel image to the larger 1000×1000 pixel image or linking the image to a page that has more detail about the image or subject.
These are some basic techniques you should think about if you would like to optimize your images for Google image search and capitalize on that traffic source. These techniques work for blog posts, product pages, and most any type of page on a website. If you have never attempted to optimize your images for Google image search, this will give a head-start. Your mileage may vary, and I suggest that you try different techniques and see what works best for your specific content.