With the widespread use of images, you could spread the cost of obtaining a photo by also making it rank well on Google Image Search. This way, with just one image, you can have enhance your blog posts and social media updates and also have a better SEO ranking with image search engines.
The beauty of images is that it is relatively easier to optimize for image search engines than it is to get a page into the first page of a Google Web search. Also, Google has been incorporating Google Image Search results into more and more Web search queries. This would make your images show up higher than some organic search results. In February 2012, Google announced that more queries on Google’s Web search would now include images. This is to show relevant images to a larger number of searches than before.
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More than that, Google also announced that due to the Panda update, they are now capable of indexing new images faster than usual. So new images show up in the index faster.
Images have always proved to be a good source of traffic to your content. This is the reason why it is a good practice to include relevant images with your blog posts and Web pages.
So how do you make your images show up on and rank high on Google Image search? Here are some of the best practices:
1. Use informative filenames.
Instead of using something generic such as DSC-000.jpg, change the filename to something descriptive such as Bright-Sunshine.jpg. Google can get a lot of information about the photo just from the filename alone. Google can also use file names as the snippet for the image file.
2. Use ALT text.
When you include an image to your blog posts or Web pages, be sure to fill in the alt attribute. Google uses the alt attribute to know what the image is all about. The alt attribute can also help people browsing your page know what the image is all about even when they do not load the images.
As usual, the more descriptive the alt text is, the better but do not stuff it with keywords.
For instance, a good alt attribute would be:
alt=”white siamese cat”
Keyword stuffed alt attributes:
alt=”white siamese cat kitten siamese kitten kitty pet food”>
3. Use anchor text
If you are linking to a page that displays your photos, it would be good to use a descriptive anchor text to link to that page.
4. Proximity counts.
If you are going to target keywords, remember that photos may be tied to particular keywords if they are near it. For example, your keyword is Great Wall of China. You images may rank well for Great Wall of China is you have that keyword written near it in the caption, or description of the photo.
5. Image relevance.
The image’s relevance to the page is also taken into account. For example, do not use an image of a DSLR camera on a page that talks about lung cancer.
6. Protect your images.
Always protect your images. Google frowns upon duplicate content and this includes images. If your images are not original, you would have some difficulty getting into Image Search results.
A good practice is to allow people to use your photos, but be sure that they attribute it to you or provide an HTML code that they could use to display your images. This will help you get more mileage from your images.
7. Think of human users too.
As with everything else, Google rewards those who take user experience into consideration. Your images should be:
a. Of good quality. Blurry images and photos that are not clear would turn off users and webmaster would not be reusing your photos for their pages. Sharp images also look better in thumbnail versions that people see in search results.
b. Use the prime space for your images. The prime space is that space of your page that can be seen by users without scrolling down.
c. Create a landing page for each image. You can use this standalone landing page to put in the different information about the photo such as titles, captions, descriptions and other descriptive and identifying information.
d. Save the images in one directory. No matter where you use the images, be it in your home page, your blog posts or other pages in your website, it is best to save all images in just one directory. You could separate thumbnails from full sized images in their own directories too.
e. Be sure to put in the height and width of all images. This can speed up the loading time for the page.