Let’s Get Visual – The Importance of Images in SEO

Louise Armstrong
by Louise Armstrong on November 11, 2013 in Visibility
Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus

With all the hype about the quality of content, backlinks and other aspects of search engine optimization, marketers could be forgiven for thinking images are no longer important for selling on the web. Even if your company isn’t selling actual products, you need to “sell” your blog to your readers to build a community, and your website pages to potential clients. And with images still playing an important role in both SEO and user consumption, you need to know how to use them. Optimized Photos

Size Matters

One of the most critical aspects of optimization your online images to attract visitors through SEO is making sure they are the right size. If an image is too big, it slows down the loading of the page for users, causing many people to click out and go somewhere else. If it’s too small, it’s likely to be fuzzy and pixelated, making it difficult to read. Google prefers to direct traffic to larger, better quality images to help convert users. Most content management systems have tools that resize images for you without losing too much optimization, so if you’re using HubSpot or Wordpress it makes it easier.

It’s All In the Name

Photo 1. DCM0033. Names like this are meaningless, not only to you and your readers but to the search engines as well. Image names are a particularly good place to get some of your keywords in, but you also have to write for the humans. Setting up the mouse-over title option enables readers to see what the name of the picture is, so that has to make sense too. Particularly if you aren’t including a caption, your image name needs to say what it is.

So on a blog post about the services of a divorce attorney, for example, a photo of a woman with a computer would be better named “Divorce attorney spends time on discovery” rather than DCM whatever or “woman with computer.” Not only does it provide a title relevant to the company and the topic, but it gets in keywords like divorce attorney at the same time.

Behave Responsively

We live in the age of responsive design, where mobile is becoming the most widely-used method of accessing the internet. Smartphones and tablets are expected to outpace laptops and desktops by the end of 2013. This affects the way in which your images display, and since the last Penguin update Google has begun penalizing websites that report a high number of exits. So if the majority of your users are accessing your site via mobile devices and then exiting because your images don’t display correctly, sooner or later it’s going to impact how you perform in search results. Optimize your images for responsive design by using the right tools to prioritize the best image while still delivering fast loading time.

Feed the Crawlers

To get your images indexed for search, you’ll need to feed the crawlers. SEO works by isolating various components and adding those to lists, which is how it identifies the sites that come up in search results. Google attempts to “understand” the images it picks up by analyzing the text and keywords around it. So placing your image alongside relevant text helps the SEO aspect. Creating relevant alt text and naming it appropriately is beneficial, and the anchor text you link it to plays a huge role in helping the search engine understand the context.

In our visual society images play an important role in SEO, and it can be risky to ignore the requirements for optimizing them.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Louise Armstrong

Louise Armstrong

Louise is a Senior Digital Strategist at Bonafide. A pop-culture addict with a passion for all things digital. She's Scottish by birth, but don't ask if she likes haggis...