Search engine optimization strategy often focuses on a combination of keyword-rich text, consistent blogging, external link building, HTML optimization, social media, and writing engaging content. What many online marketing people fail to realize, however, is the effect uploaded files such as infographics and images can have on your search rankings. Although Google can’t interpret the graphic elements of a jpg (yet), it can take cues from elements like the file title, the context, and the alt text. Images factor into SEO, and you’re already posting them on your website and blog. You might as well get the most out of them! Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be on your way to a truly search engine optimized website.
1. Title Image Strategically – The first thing a search engine crawler will look at when evaluating the relevance of an image is the file name. Your file names should always be true to the image and keyword rich. Title every image some term for which you’d like your website to be competitive and make sure the keywords are related to the overall page content . You probably don’t want to show up in a search for something like “IMG2333.jpg”, so say goodbye to generic names and take the time to rename files before uploading them to the back end of your site.
2. Include Alternative Text – Alternative (Alt) Text provides the search engines with another clue as to what the contents of the image are. This text will appear in the event that the image cannot load, and should be utilized to give a short description of the image. This allows the search engines to relate each image to the overall page content. Don’t be afraid to write a sentence. However, do not use alt tags for decorative images. Search engines may penalize you for over-optimization.
3. Contextualize Consistently – Believe it or not, search engines are sophisticated enough to determine whether or not a image is relevant within the context of the website, the page, and the surrounding text. If your picture is of a snowboard you are selling, make sure to have snowboarding related language in the title, Alt Text, and description, but also in the page text that surrounds it, the page title, and ideally the main keywords for the website as a whole. SEO improves when these things are all working in sync.
4. Resize Images – Search engines like fast-loading websites, and they reward them with better SEO. Huge images bog down sites, frustrating the users and causing the site to fall out of the good graces of search engines. In order to keep your website as light and quick as possible, resize your images to as small as you can reasonably get away with before uploading them to your site. Resizing them from within your website will prove ineffective, as the original version will then have to load and then convert each time someone goes to the site.
5. Delete Unused Files – The back end of your website is no place to store files. If you upload an image and then decide not to post it, delete it. If you have a post in draft mode, wait until posting time to upload the images. As mentioned in #4, images weigh down sites and their size sometimes has a negative impact on SEO. You want to get the most out of the images you are showing to your audience, and you definitely don’t want your website to lug around the images that are not being used within the site.