There are many ways to get valuable traffic from the web, but one of the most underused is to use images on your site. It's simple, you just need to take a little time and effort beforehand. That means finding suitable pictures, optimizing them for search engines and creating links between them so the spiderbots can find what they're looking for.
Image SEO is relatively easy, as far as SEO goes. By committing a little extra time to find the right images and optimize them for search every time you add a page to your website , you can give your pages an extra edge in the search engines .
#1: Think before you act
The first thing that needs doing is designing an image SEO process into your workflow or content management system. It's a good idea to think about how you're going to find and optimize images before you even launch your website or blog, because once it's up and running finding the time can be difficult .
The first step is deciding which image search sites to use: here are some of the best:
Flickr - Free for non-commercial use only. But if you just want something quickly, or don't mind paying $25 per year for an account with more uploads and storage, this site has over 7 billion photos which makes it likely that you can find what you're looking for by using their Advanced Search options. This is especially useful as Flickr now has many greyed out options in its free search engine - these can all be unlocked by signing up for an account.
ImageShack - One of the most popular free image search sites, ImageShack hosts millions of images uploaded to it by its users. It also has a very useful tool that allows you to upload an image and then search Google Images for similar pictures.
flickr creative commons - This site is crammed with great photos, many released under Creative Commons licenses which allow you to use them without worrying about copyright issues.
All of these sites offer several ways to narrow down your search so you can find just the right picture for your blog or website. For instance, if you know what size the picture needs to be (say 500px x 300px) then include those details in your search. Also make sure you give yourself plenty of time to find the image you want by using more specific search terms rather than just 'dog' or something equally vague.
#2: Optimize your images for search
Once you have the right image, the next step is to optimize it for SEO purposes. This will mean creating a unique name that describes your picture while including keywords that are likely to be searched on by web users and other SEOs .
Here are some other tips for naming images:
Give images descriptive names so they are easily found later. Search engines look at what words appear in an image's URL, file name or ALT text when ranking pages - so if your file names contain relevant keywords , this can help them to place your site higher in the search list.
Match the file name as closely as possible to what you want it to rank for so people can find it when searching by name instead of an image.
Make sure the ALT text is sensible and keywords filled, this is something web crawlers look at too - but write it naturally! A lot of bloggers make the mistake of writing whatever appears in their mind, rather than taking time to create a meaningful description that includes relevant keywords. This makes no sense to anyone looking at your picture, least of all Google!
Posting images on social media sites? Don't forget to include links back to your website or blog where you have appropriate content - this way people are more likely click on the link back to your site and see what you're all about. The same goes for sharing images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other sites where you can submit pictures - make sure these contain relevant keywords so people interested in those topics will find it when searching for them.
#3: Utilize long tail keywords
Here's how to take your image SEO strategy beyond the basics by using long tail keywords . These are words that are added onto one word (or short tail keyword) to create a longer search phrase. For instance, 'dog' is a very popular term searched on by web users (hence why there's over 7 billion results when you search Flickr) but if you want to include more specific details like color, breed etc. then add these onto the search phrase.
This is where you'll really start to see results in your rankings as long tail keywords are searched on far less than terms that appear in short phrases and so it's more likely that web users will only be searching for one or two of these extra words - giving them a better chance of clicking on your image when they do a search!
Short tail keyword: Dog breeders Long tail keywords: Finding Australian Shepherd breeders
As you can see, there has been an increase in the number of keywords used to describe what people are looking for. This means, web users who type 'Australian Shepherd' into Google images will find my site because I this longer phrase in my image file name.
This is a great way to include specific keywords in your image titles without having too many - which would make the title look unattractive and completely random to people who happen to be searching for images with these descriptions.
#4: Include relevant keywords in alt text
Alt tags are also important when it comes to search engine optimization , because web crawlers use them to determine what a picture contains before they even open it up. If you have a picture of a black dog then there's a pretty good chance that someone looking for this image will type 'black dog' into the image search box - so including this phrase in your ALT text means Google can find the right picture much more easily, thus increasing your chances of being naturally found when people search for this phrase.
You can also include keywords in the file name that are related to what you want your image to rank for - so long as they don't sound spammy, everything goes! Including the same description used in the ALT text is an easy way of making sure you're including all the relevant details. So if my dog was named Lucky and I wanted it to be found when users searched 'Lucky Dog' then it would make sense to have both titles say 'Lucky Dog.'
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