Marketing Bootcamp

How to Optimize Google Search Results for Pictures as Well as Words

Back in 2007, Google introduced "Universal" search results which combined results from general (text), news, video, image and book search results. It's also called "blended" search because it "blends" all types of web results together.

Ever since, diversifying your content marketing strategy to include more formats and media types has become increasingly important. A few years later, monitoring and expanding your business visual context became even more essential when Google tweaked its image algorithm for it to become more varied and blended image search results with most "navigational*" query search results. (Navigational queries are those entered with the intent of finding a particular website or webpage. More often than not, these are proper names, such as brands, celebrity names, cities, etc).

Related: 5 Ways Google Is Changing SEO

Go ahead and try searching for [ann smarty], for example, and you'll see what I mean: #3 position is taken by image search results relating to my name. That's how important images are for my personal brand!

With blended search results, controlling your brand media (video and image) context has become more important. Let's see how we can improve our visual brand visibility.

Visual variety

Ever since Google introduced "Search by image" ("Reverse image search") feature and thus marked the beginning of the high-precise visual recognition technology, the search giant has been paying more attention to the visual variety of its image search results.

In many cases, Google will even try to display original images sacrificing on relevance: If Google can't find a new-looking image of you or your business, it will show something vaguely related which can often pose a threat to your brand integrity.

That being said, the more original images of your (personal) brand you publicize online, the better. This includes providing original images when doing an expert interview for a blog and publishing your images on your public social media accounts.

The more images of yourself or your business you publicize online, the more control you gain over your visual search results (which make it to your general search results as well!)

Basic search engine optimization (to make it easier for search engines to figure out it's you) is still essential as well: Make sure your images have your name in the file names and (if you can control that) in the alt text of the embedded files.

Related: Video SEO Can Change Your Business

Hosting variety

From tests, it looks like Google is also looking for original sources (domains) in addition to visual variety. Neil Ferree shares his own success story with dominating image search results that proves that point to some extent:

"If you search Google for the long tail How to Manage Your Social Media Presence and select Images you will see I've got eight images that render above the fold. Some of these images point to my SlideShare Deck, some to my WordPress Website and a few to my Scoop.it topic page."

That being said, extend your visual marketing efforts to as many channels as you can handle without sacrificing on quality. My own personal branding visual strategy can be summed up as follows:

  • Host your images on your own website (Think about your "About page", blog sidebar, etc.) Whenever I mention hosting images on your blog, I always note that if you are going to do so, make sure your hosting is reliable. Images (especially if you or your readers are going to hot-link them from other sites) can bring any server down. Keep an eye on monthly hosting stats report from Sitegeek to make sure your hosting company is doing well.
  • Get very consistent with your social media profile pic: This is the only place where variety may hurt you. To make sure your friends are able to recognize you from social media network to social media network, keep your avatars the same throughout all the communities you are participating in.
  • Share more images of yourself and your team on your business pages, Pinterest account, Instagram (the more, the better). This will both drive more interest to your brand and diversify your brand visual context.
  • Create a set of professional images you are going to use in expert interviews. Here are some great ways to find blogs to be interviewed on.

Related: Focus on the Big Picture, and Your Website Will Thrive