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Here's Looking at You

Make your site a better search engine target by optimizing your company's images.

Search for just about any topic using any search engine and you are likely to see a hodgepodge of links for information, news, video, images and even blog posts.
 

Make the Pictures Worth It

For even greater success in appealing to search engines, optimize images so that they are more accessible to your site visitors by:

• Using unique, relevant images that users cannot find elsewhere.

• Resenting high-quality images large enough for the intended use.

• Positioning images above the fold as much as possible.

• Including related images and content to enrich the user's experience.

• Linking to a larger, higher-quality version in situations where you must use a smaller image.
 

That's because search engines strive to provide blended search results. To ensure that images are included in the results, search engines give them preferential treatment.

Because SEO optimized images are more likely to appear in search engine results, optimizing your images in coordination with your pages boosts search engine rankings for both. Many businesses overlook or disregard image SEO, or do it all wrong. Properly implementing an SEO strategy can give you a competitive edge, especially when your competitors are clueless.

"It's time to rethink SEO," says Jose Nu?ez, an internationally recognized search engine consultant who splits his time between Moldova and Salt Lake City. "Traditional SEO relies heavily on search engine optimized text to raise a page's profile and facilitate indexing. Unfortunately, images contain no text describing what they are. Search engines must rely on tags, metadata, captions, file names and other contextual clues to identify and properly index images."

Fortunately, optimizing your use of these contextual clues can make your images clearer targets for search engines. Whenever you insert an image in a page or post, focus not only on the appearance and placement of the image, but also on SEO. Here's how:

  • Stick with search engine preferred formats: PNG, JPG and GIF, in that order.
  • Give image files recognizable names, such as volkswagen-beetle.jpg instead of something cryptic such as vwb1999.jpg. (Use a dash rather than an underscore to separate words, because search engines tend to treat dashes as spaces.)
  • Always include keyword-optimized alt text in the "" tag.
  • If using the image as a link, include a keyword-optimized title tag.
  • Correlate the words in your "" tag's alt text with surrounding text, the image name and the page title.
  • Use width and height attributes to specify each image's dimensions.
  • Store files in a search engine accessible folder and insert them via the image's URL rather than through your blog or CMS media library database.
  • Use images sparingly on a page to maintain a high text-to-image ratio.

 

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.

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This article was originally published in the June 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Here's Looking at You.

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