June 23rd, 2013 by Mardy Sitzer
Believe it or not, Google considers photo images on your website for ranking purposes.
While that may seem silly since spiders can only read text and cannot see images (yet), it makes sense if you go back to Google’s mantra that if it is good for visitors it is good for Google.
While imagery is an art and science on its own, you can still make the most of your website’s overall experience by using good quality photos or even do-it-yourself photography. Personally I think you should have at least a designer involved but if not, don’t do nothing – do something.
The following are the basic recommendations and while it is an overly simplified explanation, even the beginner or non-techie can comply. My goal is to help you have a critical eye toward developing or maintaining your website for optimal results. However, the art and science of photography and of image optimization are far more complex. Deciding on the right kind of image file such as jpg, png, or gif let alone the aspect ratios, color palette size and extraneous code require knowledge and experience. But my hope is that this helps you at least get started. I’m even providing links to some websites and services that you might find helpful.
Bringing your website up to date for best search optimization should include looking into your website’s images. Some things to consider are:
- Make sure that the images support the copy. Having irrelevant images such as cute puppies for a financial consultant’s site or cute kittens for an accounting firm will not bode well for visitors or search engines.
- Naming of the image: use keywords to describe the image in the name. Don’t use the image987508.jpg, change it to something relevant such as photos-for-seo.jpg. While you are at it, check the name of your logo file and if it is logo.jpg then it is time to change the name to a keyword or your company name (.jpg).
- Use [alt tag] for each image to provide a name for the image that would appear if for example image download is turned off – people will know what the image is and decide if they want it to show (this is for mobile devices) and of course keywords support your SEO efforts.
- Try using original photos: if you don’t want to invest in a professional photographer, play around with your digital camera or smart phone camera to get some good shots of people, things and places that are relevant to your business. Clean them up, name them with keywords and load them on to your site where it makes the most sense. Need some tips to take better photos from your smart phone? Check out this article in PC Magazine.
- Optimize for quick loading times: page load speed effects your search ratings so make sure that your images are optimized for quick load times and maintain a crisp clean look. The following are online services that you might find helpful:
- Smush.it is a Yahoo project that allows you to either upload directly or via a URL. It offers, if possible, lighter images to replace the ones you have uploaded or have on an existing page.
- Punypng will try to reduce the size of any image file that is uploaded. It works with PNG, Gif and Jpegs.
- Webresizer is a free service that offers resizing and some editing options.
- Using stock photos: while it is common practice to use photo services to find images, double check to make sure you aren’t violating any copyright laws, and if you are ‘snagging’ photos from random places on the internet, be careful that you are not in violation as well.
- If you want to hunt down some free or inexpensive stock photos, the following are some sites to explore:
Ask friends for recommendations of photographers or if a professional isn’t in your budget, put out requests on craigslist.com or taskrabbit.com and you should get a substantial enough responses to find someone who is in your budget range and who can get the job done.
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