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By now, you should already have a pretty good idea how to optimize the content on your website and any video files used on your site for display in the Google SERPs. If not, take a look back through the posts in our SEO category, as the skills described there are vitally important to your site’s success in the natural search results.
However, if you’re ready to take your website promotion to the next level, consider the additional flow of traffic that can come from optimizing the pictures on your website for discovery by Google Images. Plenty of people use this alternative search tool to find content, a
The following are a few of the different factors you’ll want to address when promoting your website using Google Images:
1 – Image file name
As you might expect, an image file that’s named “dog training tips.jpg” stands a much better chance of being displayed in the Google Image results than a file fresh of your camera called “DSC_00342.jpg.” For this reason, it’s important to change the names of every image file you intend to promote via Google Images to a keyword-optimized variation before uploading it to your website.
2 – Image keyword usage
At the same time, you can increase the likelihood that your images will be displayed in the Google Image results by optimizing the file’s keyword usage on your site. Two particular ways you’ll want to do this include:
- Adding a keyword-optimized ALT tag to each image
- Describing the contents of your image in the text of the content surrounding it
Both of these elements provide additional information to Google’s indexing robots about the subject of your image and how it should be displayed in the Image listings. Just be careful not to over-optimize either of these elements. Use your target keywords in a natural way – as part of a larger sentence or description – in both of these situations.
One other thing you’ll want to consider with your image optimization practices is that the specific keywords you’ll want to target with your images may be different than the phrases you choose to target on your web pages. For example, users might not enter the phrase “dog training tips” directly into the Google Images engine, but they might conduct a search for “dog training picture.” If you intend to put a major focus on image search optimization, you might find it helpful to target some of these alternative keyword variations within your site’s picture files.
3 – Image format
Now, according to Google’s statement on the subject, there’s no one type of image format that’s prioritized over another in the Image results. Google is able to index .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .png, .webp and .svg images – so theoretically, any of these file types can be used to promote your website amongst the Image listings.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that .jpg images tend to perform better in the Google Image results, as this file type in particular is supported by all the major browsers. Consider testing your own image indexing results to see if selecting the .jpg file format makes a difference in the frequency with which your images are displayed in Google’s listings.
4 – Image size
Similarly, Google’s stated policy is that it does not discriminate based on image size – that is, picture files of any size should be indexed appropriately and considered for inclusion in the Image results.
But again, from both a site speed perspective and anecdotal recommendations from other SEOs in the field, it’s best to shrink your images down as much as possible (without losing quality, of course), before uploading them to your site. Doing so is likely to decrease your page load times and may be factored into your site’s Google Images placements, based on your superior performance.
5 – Image quality
When you think about it, the overall goal of promoting your website using Google Images is to entice readers who have stumbled into the image result listings to click through your result to your website. Therefore, it’s pretty obvious that the quality of your images matters! After all, if you upload junky, uninteresting images to your site, the odds that people will take the time to click through from the Images results are pretty slim.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to produce high quality images. Instead, pay attention to the following criteria in order to attract viewer attention to your pictures:
- Image resolution – If your image looks grainier than an 8-bit video game, the odds that visitors will click through to your site are pretty slim.
- Use basic image editing tools – You don’t need to be a Photoshop wizard to produce great pictures. Simple image editing tools like Picmonkey make it easy to turn an ordinary image into something extraordinary.
- Think in terms of “shareability” – When evaluating pictures to use on your website, ask yourself, “Would I click on or share this picture?” If the answer is no, look for better alternatives.
6 – Image freshness
When it comes to website promotion via Google Images, it’s also important to keep in mind that optimizing your images isn’t a “one time thing.” To really get the most out of this particular traffic strategy, keep your images fresh by regularly adding new pictures to your website and optimizing them according to the standards described above.
7 – Image sitemaps
To give Google even more information about the different images stored on your website, consider creating an image sitemap and uploading it to your Webmaster Tools account.
Be aware that this technique requires some technical know-how, as you’ll need to add image-specific tags to a new or existing sitemap (either manually or using one of the many third-party tools out there for this purpose). It’s also not necessary to do to get your images displayed in the Google Image results, though it may help to improve the number of pictures on your site that are indexed and the number of image listings they’re displayed for.
For complete instructions on how to create a Google image sitemap, check out Google’s support article on the subject.
All of these steps, taken together, should give your website the best possible odds of receiving traffic from the Google Image results. However, there’s one final element you’ll want to consider before throwing yourself in Google Image promotion – copyright considerations.
Although the standard industry wisdom is that you shouldn’t simply copy and paste a picture without first ensuring that the original creator has provided licensing rights, the reality is that any image that appears in the Google Image results is likely to be copied and slapped up on other sites – without a concern for proper attribution.
This might not bother you if you’re only optimizing a few quick pictures that you took with your own camera. But if your business has invested thousands of dollars in professional product photography, having your images copied and shared by others could pose a serious copyright concern. At the bare minimum, consider adding a watermark or in-picture ownership statement to any professional pictures that are uploaded to your website.
Then, think long and hard about how much time you’ll spend pursuing people who use your company’s files without permission. Though tools like the DMCA notice exist when it comes to copyright protection, it’s up to you to determine whether your resources are better spent going after image thieves or focusing on other aspects of your business’s operations.
Have you tried promoting your website using Google Images before? If so, share your recommendations and results in the comments section below!