Ranking Images: How you can improve your traffic through image optimization technigues

Post written by Nate Vickery
On Friday, July 7th, 2017

SEO specialists, digital marketing agencies and content distributors generally ignore image search engine performance optimization. Even though images are all over the Internet today, somehow, most people still don’t see them as valuable traffic assets. Loads of business publications look at images as nothing more than content fillers. Their sole purpose is to make articles a bit more colorful and appealing to the reader. That’s it.

A big mistake. Images rock! Apart from generating quality traffic, neatly optimized images have the power to bring in a lot more than just random clicks to a certain site or page. The only thing you need to do in order to make them work for you is learn how to help Google truly understand what they’re about.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, not quite.

Ranking images high in search isn’t an easy thing to do. Most webmasters don’t really understand how image search works, and what they need to do in order to make the engine favour their work.

Bill Slawski wrote a great article about the mechanics behind Google’s image search. In that particular piece, the man behind Seo By the Sea explained that Google’s image search algorithm mostly relies on details around the image. Images are indexed by the URL they appear at, and the text associated with the page at that URL. The more relevant the text is to the image, the better chances you’ll have of ranking high in search.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Image optimization isn’t really a quick task. It takes more than a minute to properly prepare your creatives for search. If you want Google to acknowledge your images and rank them well in search, you need to focus on more than just your image titles and URL structures.

Apropos of that, in the following segments of this posts, I am going to list all the important details you need to focus on if you want to make your visual assets work for you in search:

1. Context

When choosing an image for your post, it is advisable that you think about how well it actually relates to the subject at hand. Context is king. Apart from the overall quality of the image, aspect ratio and resolution, your goal is to combine images with text in order to tell a better story.

Sure, everyone loves to see a picture of a cute cat, but before you decide to insert an image like that in your article, it’s advisable to think about how well it actually goes with the general agenda of your post. Does it make sense to put a picture of a cat in a blog post that talks about SEO and link building? – I think not.

2. Uniqueness

Original content matters. If you’re using content from a site that offers free images, you probably won’t get a lot of traffic through it. As you probably know, Google doesn’t really dig duplicate content. In fact, it’s pretty annoyed by it. Google doesn’t want to rank multiple copies of the same image in SERP for various keywords, so be sure to allocate a small chunk of your budget to buying or creating custom images. Sites like Inbound Now use a featured image generation plugin to spruce up their media compositions.

3. Try Adding a Keyword in the Page URL

Be sure to add the search text in the link. Even though there are top ranking images which do not include the search text in the URL, there are still examples that prove this could help. When you really sit down and think about it, this sort of thing makes sense.

Adding your keywords to titles, description fields, headings, the content, alt text and url is great for your on-page SEO. Describing what the page (or image) is about in your url could significantly help your site visits, because it speaks to the engine and your users as well, and they’ll have a clear understanding where they’ve landed on your site. Apart from adding your keywords to the url, be sure to keep your url structure clean, by separating words with hyphens and removing extra letters and numbers.

4. Image Size

Size matters! Big images tend to occupy a significant amount of virtual space, which of course drastically slows down your site speed, and thus negatively affects your overall ratings in search. That’s why we need to do our best to optimize the overall size of the images we post. Websites like Inbound Now use image optimization services like Kraken.io.

Finding the optimal settings for your images is never an easy task. There are a lot of different resources that preach quite different things about this subject. Optimizing images for search requires a lot of careful and precise analysis. Quality, pixel dimensions, formatting capabilities, the content of encoded data – you need to think about all these things and much more before you upload a single image.

When it comes to the size of your images, you should keep in mind that the fewer the bytes an image has, the better chances you’ll have of getting on Google’s good side. The faster Mozilla, Chrome, or any other browser can download and render your content on the screen – the faster the engine will pick up and rank your creatives.

Try to keep your image resolution at 600px. Large, high quality images should be kept between 100K and 60K, and smaller ones around 30K.

5. Proximity of Search Text to Images, Alt Tags and Titles

According to Google, it doesn’t really matter if the description comes before or after the image. The only thing we need to concern ourselves with is how close the words are to the image. Closer is always better. It’s recommendable for the search term to appear within 50 words of the image.

Alt tags define what will appear instead of the image. The recommended maximum length of an alt text is 125 characters. It’s recommended to use as few words as possible to define the image. Usually 4 to 6 will suffice, but sometimes more is required.

When it comes to titles, It is likely that an image will rank higher when the search text close to the image is in an H1, H2, H3, or H4 tag. Be sure to have this in mind when adding your images to a particular post or text. Also, while we’re still on the subject, you should also keep in mind that combining the title tag with your search term has the power to improve your rankings in image search. Even though this is not a decisive factor, it certainly has the power to push you up the ladder.

Closing Word

Thank your for reading this post from top to bottom. I hope it has helped you understand the importance behind optimizing your images for search and what you need to do in order to get on Google’s good side in this department as well. If you have anything to ask or add, be sure to write your thoughts in the comments section below, and I’ll do everything in my power to get back to you as soon as I find the time.

About the Author:
Nate M. Vickery is a business consultant and editor-in-chief at Bizzmarkblog.com. He has a degree in marketing and almost a decade of experience in company management through latest technology trends.

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