When text content is king in Google, images are often overlooked for their SEO value. However, just look around Facebook, Reddit, tumblr, Instagram, StumbleUpon and all over the internet in general and you will see that image content is incredibly popular. The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is truer than ever from a user’s perspective.
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So how do images help your SEO efforts? You shouldn’t write 1000 word alt tags, you’re not likely to make friends with search engines doing that. Links are the cornerstone of the SEO process and images can help you get them!
Getting links through great image content certainly isn’t a new idea. Just look at how infographics have proliferated across the internet in recent years. Going out of your way to generate awesome image content as a small to medium-sized business is not likely to be high on your list of marketing tactics. But SMB websites often have images that they created to show off their products and services.
These images might be just what someone else is looking for to use in their own work. Of course as a business owner, you might be concerned that your images will be used by competing businesses, or you won’t get any attribution as the original author. Thanks to open licensing like that provided by Creative Commons you can share your work safely and openly, ensuring that you are only permitting it to be used under the circumstances that you specify.
For link building purposes, specify that any use of the image must be accompanied by attribution. If you’re concerned that your images might get used for commercial purposes, you can specify that only non-commercial use is permitted. Don’t want your images modified? You can say that you only want the work to be shown in its original form.
The next step is to get your images out there. Of course you can just say on your site that the images are available for use under a specific license, but this may not get noticed. Fortunately, there are a variety of websites that make it easy to provide your images for use under easily controlled licensing. A great example of this is flickr. If you take a look at flickr advanced search you will see that you can actually search within flickr for images that are available under creative commons.
Just by adding your images to these sites you will get links back to your site (though these are often “nofollowed”) and may send some quality traffic, even if your images aren’t used by others elsewhere online.
There are lots of other options to make use of image content for link building and promoting your website. Just take a look around online for more ideas. For instance this image link building post has some great alternative ideas and a big list of image sharing and bookmarking sites.