Five Simple Ways to Optimize Your Images for Search
We can end up spending countless hours optimizing content and the websites upon which they appear, but few ever give the time of day to many of the multimedia components of this content. It has been shown that content-rich articles and blog posts are the key to increasing reach, PageRank, sharing and other desirable actions that readers commit, yet images are often ignored when it comes to optimizing them for search and indexing potential. Thankfully, optimizing your images is not a difficult task and can be done in mere minutes for even a larger library. Below, we’ll discuss five simple ways that you can optimize your images for search – before and after you upload them to your site.
Resize Before Uploading
Talk about killing two birds with one stone: the size at which the image will be displayed should be configured before you ever upload it to the server. This is due to the fact that a large image that is resized for display on a given page will require more bandwidth (and therefore, more time) to load. This can negatively impact your site and page loading speeds, which is a vital element that search engines assess when determining how to rank you. It will also in many cases provide a clearer image for your readers.
Provide a Descriptive Name
The worst thing you can do for optimizing an image with search is to be pinging noise so to speak for its file names. When you save an image as “picture-001”, for instance, you provide no context clues to search engines that wish to index it properly. Always give each photo a descriptive name. This will help it appear in more image-related search results and drive you some auxiliary traffic you never otherwise would have received.
Add Alternate Descriptions
Once your images are uploaded, you can then provide search engines additional detail by adding alternate text attributes. This information is not designed to be seen by your readers, but rather, search engines will use this to further associate your images (and your website as well) with relevant categories in search. Keep it short, however: anything more than 50 characters will likely be identified as spam as search engines.
Incorporate Social Media
A wide variety of social media sharing options exist, but many fail to ever use them for images just like they would content. If your images are important, jaw-dropping or otherwise alluring, then include sharing options for each. Particularly useful with Pinterest’s “Pin It” button, you’ll be able to create a variety of social signals while better optimizing images to be recognized by search engines.
Provide an XML Site Map
We use site maps for the main pages on our sites: why not for our images? An image XML sitemap can easily be created and used to index all of the images currently on your website. With images strewn all across your site, unconnected, you’re pretty much pinging noise at search engines in terms of its effectiveness. An organized effort via a site map that contains all of the links to your images will ensure fast and proper indexing.