Many website owners and blog writers solely focus on their rank placing within Google’s search results but unwittingly miss out on the potential benefits they could be receiving from website visitors via Google Images. The focus of this article explains the importance of using high-quality images on your website and in your blog postings and how to better tag your images in order to gain better rankings in search engine optimization results and thereby increase traffic to your website.
Importance of images
Images used within your web pages and in each blog post cannot be underrated, they perform three important purposes. Firstly, they help to break up your text and give your readers a sense of white space. Your website readers typically tend to only scan content and usually have a shorter attention span than if they were reading a book. People who read a blog and see a large block of text without headings, paragraphs, images, bullet points or numbered lists are more likely to click away from the blog post rather than persist and try to read through the entire content. Images give your readers the mental equivalent of allowing them to pause, catch their breath and calmly read further.
Secondly, a high-quality, well-chosen image adds visual appeal and adds to the readers’ overall experience of reading through your website. A poor quality image harms not only your content but your reputation, decreasing the likelihood from your reader to subscribe or return to your website for a subsequent visit.
Thirdly, images which are search engine optimized offer yet another route for your website or blog to be discovered in the search engine ranked results.
Choosing the right image
Many blog and website owners choose to only use and pay for affordable stock images and may be unaware of the large number of websites who offer a large number of free images, which are licensed under a creative commons license enabling you to use these images for a variety of purposes. A lot of these images you can source by either looking through Google Images or by going directly to these image websites with whom you have an account. However, it is not always immediately clear on who decides who has the copyright on these images and what the licensing terms are for and how these images can be used.
Websites which sell images use agencies to carefully screen and vet images for quality so you can relax, feeling confident knowing that the images that you are buying will raise the attractiveness and visual appeal factor of your website and the copyright and licensing terms are also already resolved. Image selling websites are also very good at tagging and categorizing their images so that you can easily search through their images and find a suitable one.
Usually when most people come across a web page for the first time, the first thing they are likely to have noticed is the image. The image, if well and thoughtfully chosen, should immediately convey what your page’s content is about without reading any words! In this case, the clichéd phrase, ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ is entirely accurate. Content marking company Column Five Media recently published some research which demonstrated how long it takes for the brain to process visual clues. The research findings indicated that the brain only takes ¼ of a second to process the visual information on a page. They also noted that viewers who looked at a black and white image took only two-thirds of a second compared to those who looked at a coloured image which held their attention for longer and they remained looking at it for longer than two seconds.
Rename your image for SEO
Once you have decided on and downloaded your image, you need to take the additional step of renaming the image to something which will be more descriptive and meaningful. Giving your image an appropriate keyword-rich filename makes it easier for search engines to ‘understand’ your image. For example, “IMG3201.jpg” is meaningless to a search engine, as it is not a descriptive filename. However, if you renamed the image filename (with each word separated by a hyphen) to “woman-holding-laptop.jpg” this will help give the search engines three meaningful words that they can use to help present your image correctly in the search results.
Tagging your images for SEO
It’s also good website practice to get into the habit of using the image title and alt tag fields to accurately describe the image. This is known as ‘optimizing your image for SEO’. Where it is appropriate, use the same keywords you have used for your post’s content. It is unnecessary to separate the words with hyphens this time and spaces are fine too. You don’t want to over-populate this field with too many filler words, try to limit these fields to three to four words and avoid using small connecting words like, ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘of’, ‘with’ etc. Every additional word lessens the SEO impact of your other words.
Using high-quality, well-chosen images increases the visual appeal and desirability of your websites and social media postings. By optimizing your filenames and making full use of image tags, you can drive more traffic to your website by increasing the potential for your images, blog post and website to be found via a search on Google Images.