Optimizing Images for Traditional SEO
Although writing your posts for readers and not search engines is more important, there are methods of optimizing images that need to go on behind the scenes for search engines.
In my last post Optimize Images for Visitors I talked of images in relation to bringing return readers and encouraging them to share your images on social media sites.
Image Optimization is not only important for web search but also image search . Google image search records over a billion page views per day.
Using the following techniques makes sure your posts and images are more easily found and that you are not penalized by the search engines for unprofessional coding.
Make sure your images are SPANCT by hitting them with the following image attributes:
- Sizing: always add the width and height of your image
- Pixels: don’t post images that are so big that they slow down page load time
- Alt: Always Include an alt attribute to describe your image
Image Attributes Example
<img title=”A title including a keyword” alt=”Describe Your Image” src=”http://descriptive-image-name.jpg” height=”352″ width=”470″>
If you use WordPress or Blogger you don’t need to worry as the width and height of your image is automatically inserted.
Pixels Image quality and size
Include images that are crisp and sharp but use image sizes that don’t slow down your page loading time. Alter the image sizes before you upload them. I use the free Irfanview program when I want to quickly resize and reduce the quality of images. High quality images can often be reduced to half their pixel size and still look good on a website.
The ALT Attribute is the most important aspect for optimizing images. Search engines use them to understand an image. Your code will not be valid without. (There are some changes with HTML5 but I won’t go into that here) You can check the validity of your site code using the W3C Markup Validation Service .
The ALT attribute provides alternative text when images cannot be displayed and is also read out by screen readers when images cannot be seen. With no ALT text screen readers will read out the whole url, which is often meaningless.
Your SEO plugin may warn you if you have missed the ALT attribute. Under the advanced tab in your post window the SEO for WordPress plugin will say “The images on this page do not have alt tags containing your keyword / phrase.”
These are not a requirement for SEO but do no harm. It seems that image captions are read carefully by your visitors. The longer they stay on your site the better for SEO and the more captivated they are by your content the more likely they are to return. Read “The Biggest Mistake Every Blogger Makes (And How to Avoid It)” on Social Triggers to find out more about the popularity of image captions. The post title may be over dramatic, to capture attention, but it is an interesting read.
Captions can be added in the WordPress Add Image window and/or via Edit Image if you want to add it later..
An Image Title is one that appears when you hover over an image; a tooltip describing the image. Titles can also be applied to links. In WordPress, a title is automatically added to the image in the add media window, based on the image name, but it does not add this to the published image as a title attribute. WP uses the title for organizing images.
To add a title attribute to your image you need to do it manually. Once your image is inserted in a post or page, click on the image in the visual post window and then on edit icon in the top left corner. The edit image window pops up. Go to the advanced tab and write your title in the title box under Advanced Link Settings.
Search engines do not penalize for not having the title attribute but some bloggers like to use them to add extra keywords. I no longer use them myself (apart from in the example above that is!) because of problems they cause for screen readers and assistive devices. This is why WordPress stopped including them by default. They may also be seen by the search engines as keyword stuffing.
Add an XML Image Sitemap
The blog post How to Create WordPress Image Sitemap and Submit It relates to using the popular Udinra All image Sitemap WordPress plugin but you can also use Google XML Sitemap for Images Note: The SEO for WordPress plugin creates a sitemap only for media attachment pages not the images themselves.
Check Your Stats
Track your image popularity using Google Webmaster Tools so you know which type of images work best for you. Read the Tracking Image Search in Google Webmaster Tools tutorial to find out how.
- Giving your image a name that includes keywords will boost your Image SEO. You may need to rename an image before uploading to your site. Image04562.jpg has no SEO power for this blog post but wordpress-optimized-images.jpg does.
- Don’t run words together in image names but use dashes (hyphens), not underscores or pluses, between words so that Google understands that they are separate words.
- Keywords in image attributes can look forced so include them in descriptive terms to avoid search engine penalties. In the image above the ALT attribute reads “Optimizing Image in WP Edit Image Window”
I hope after reading this that your future blog images will all be SPANCT into submission and include an appropriate number of keywords. Hit them with all your image optimizing knowledge but don’t stuff them up, and see the benefits for SEO. It is a shame Google does not recognize puns, or maybe not as they might be penalized for poor humor!
Do you have any more tips for optimizing images and have you SPANCT your own images lately?