When it comes to images, many Website owners don’t realize that search engine spiders (robots that crawl the Web and gather information for search engines) can’t actually SEE the pictures on your site. In fact, search engines have no idea what a picture is unless you tell them what it is. To help search engine spiders SEE your images, you need to practice a technique called “image optimization.” So how do you go about optimizing images for SEO, and is image optimization really necessary? Read on for the answers to those questions.
Why Image Optimization Matters
With the introduction of Universal Search in 2007, Google began blending news, video, shopping and local listings into the traditional text results to create a better user experience. Images were also integrated into the Universal Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as well. To demonstrate this, I ran a search query for “German Shepherds” and here are the results.
There are two key elements worth noting about these blended results:
- Prevalence of images: This particular result contains seven different images, demonstrating the growing trend of a higher ratio of images to text results in the Google SERPs
- Image prominence: The placement of the images is also important; they live above the fold and occupy the top spot, so they are seen immediately by users
Now, whether you know it or not, many searchers click on images in the blended SERPs. So the reason for optimizing your website images for SEO should be pretty clear by now. Image optimization greatly increases the chances that Google will integrate your pictures into the search results and rank them highly.
In addition to the Universal SERPs, a large percentage of searchers also use Google’s image search function to find pictures and discover image content. According to study by Alexa.com, about 10 percent of Google’s visitors use the image search page.
So having your website images displayed prominently and frequently in the search results gives you the opportunity to get more clicks and drive more traffic to your website.
How to Optimize Images for SEO
As I mentioned earlier, search engines don’t have eyes, so they can’t see images and interpret their visual aspects. What they do see (and crawl) is text, specifically the HTML code of your website. So to aid search engines in identifying your images, you need to tell them what they are through image optimization methods. Here are six tips to help you effectively optimize your website images for SEO.