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Google’s recent algorithm changes have made Image Search Optimization more important to overall SEO campaign efforts now more than ever. Google is now including more images on the 1st page of organic search results. This is a perfect opportunity for marketers to put their images in front of users’ eyes. 

The Basics of Image Search:

In order for your images to rank more highly in image search, there are several important steps that should be implemented.

Pay attention to your File Names – It’s extremely important to use a file name that describes what the photo captures. Make the file name as descriptive as you possibly can. Also, the file name should utilize hyphens between words. For example: 

Utilize Alt Text – Originally ALT text was designed for screen readers or visually impaired people to know what the photo on their screen was showing. The goal is to use it to satisfy screen readers while being keyword focused enough for the search engines and without keyword stuffing. For Example:

Optimize Headings & Bold Text – It is best to optimize the image with bold or a heading tag of an important term right above the image. This also aids in telling search engines about your image.

Use Image Captions – Image captions are another way to tell the search engines about your image. It is best to use the keyword you are trying to rank for at the beginning of the caption.

Consider Image Size – Images that are a sensible size rank better. That’s not to say that really big or really small images won’t rank, just that images that are larger than 100×100 and smaller than 1000×1000 pixels work best.

Taking Your Image Optimization Skills to the Next Level:

Once you’ve implemented the basics to the images on your site, it’s time to step your game up. How can you do this?

Utilize Your Photos as Link Bait – Right about now you must be asking yourself, how do I use my photos as link bait? Well for starters, you have to have a great photo or image. The more unique, amazing, shocking, funny or unexpected the image, the better it will perform.

So once you have your amazing image available, it’s time to create an embed code so that other site owners can easily post your photo and you gain a link in the process. At this point in time you will also probably want to use some code to prohibit right-clicking (and copying the image URL) and instead put a “share” code underneath each pic on your site with a proper link all nice and pre-formatted. (That way, hotlinkers will probably use your code and put an actual link to your site when posting one of your images on a site, in a forum, etc.)

Use Schema.org Mark-up – What is Schema.org Mark-up? Schema.org is a collaboration between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to improve the web by creating a structured data markup format. Page markup of images helps search engines understand the information on webpages and provide richer results. A shared markup vocabulary makes it much easier for search engines to interpret websites and thereby increases crawl-ability and indexing. So you should definitely be using this for your images.

Add an Image Sitemap – You can use Google’s image extensions for Sitemaps to give search engines additional information about the images on your site. Doing this can help Google discover images it might not otherwise find, and also enables you to identify the most important images on a page. To give Google information about images on your site, you’ll need to add image-specific tags to your Sitemap.

Time to Address the Don’ts of Image Optimization:

Do Not Use Flash – Plain and simple search engines have a hard time reading Flash. Flash content is fundamentally different from HTML on webpages, and being able to crawl links in the Flash code and text snippets does not make Flash search-engine friendly. So with that being said, do not include images in a Flash image gallery. In order for images to be indexed individually, they need to be embedded on the site without flash.

Do Not Use Some Sort of Frame-Busting Code – Frame busting is a waste of time. When a user does a search on Google Image search and selects a result, Google displays the image in a larger view with more details. The user can then click through to the image to see more. However, many webmasters do not like that Google shows the image in a frame on their site thereby not allowing the traffic to pass to the site. They want the traffic, so they deploy code to bust the frame and take the viewer to their site. Google has disabled many frame-buster scripts so that the searcher stays on Google’s search results preview page. There is also talk about a penalty being assessed to sites that utilize frame-busters, so just to be on the safe side, don’t use these.

Following this set of guidelines will help your images rank well in image search.

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