Wednesday, June 3, 2009

SEO Tips: Image Search Optimization

by Jon Sparks

Image optimization is a relatively new trend in the world of organic Search Engine Optimization. While ever more people are searching for image content on Google and other search engines the amount of traffic operated by the image search is becoming more significant. That makes optimizing for images worth the effort not only for websites built around image content but also for the industries where images are not main or even secondary product.

If you want your website to appear in the image search results and tap into new visitors and customers you need to optimize your website for image search. This is not hard to do but will require some time and effort from you. Here are the steps to follow when optimizing your website for image search.

- Think How You Can Employ Images On Your Website

First of all you need to think how you can employ images on your website and what kind of images that would be. The key point here is that you need to attract targeted traffic, i.e. people who might be interested in the products or services that you offer not just the pics on your website. First of all think about how you can spark up interest in your prospective customers with images and base your choice of the image content on your sales pitch.

Once you've come up with the ways to use images on your website you can start looking for them.

- Find/Create Images

There are two ways you can go to get the images for your website. First, you can create them yourself. In this case make sure to add some copyright protection such as 'image by your_name' or 'picture from your_website' watermarks because image theft is a real issue and the content you create may get scrapped.

If you're anything but Michelangelo there's always a second option: you can get the images elsewhere. Search the web for free images, buy images or ask someone to make them for you for a fee or a beer. Optimize for Image Search

Once you have the images in place you can start optimizing for image search. Here's a checklist of things you need to see to:

- Alt Tags

Alt tags are perhaps the most important ranking factor in the image search algorithm. An Alt tag is a description of your image that is used to help search engine crawlers determine the relevancy of the image. Besides the Alt tag will be shown instead of the image in cases when users have pics disabled in their browser or when image cannot be displayed for some reason. Be sure to use your targeted keywords in the alt tags. Also keep in mind that words like 'image', 'picture', 'photo', etc. are often attributed to the search query.

- File name

Try to include the file names with your keywords but make sure they stay logical. Note that hyphens are better word separators then underscores.

- Avoid Duplication of Images

If you have one and the same image in several sizes make sure they don't all get indexed. The best way to do it is to deny search robots access to the variants of the image you don't want to get indexed (thumbnails for example) in the robots.txt file.

- Build links

Build links to the page with images. The easiest way to do it is to submit the page to social bookmarking sites.

Hope these tips will help you optimize for image search and you'll see a nice increase in your website's traffic.

About the Author

Jon Sparks is an SEO expert and Web Marketer. Check out Jon's favorite SEO book for more search engine optimization advice.