One of the hot topics this week at SES San Jose is the coming of age of the blended and universal search engine results page (SERP). I won’t go too much into it as I posted about it earlier in the week, but it does have relevance to this post. Images are now and will be playing a greater role on the SERP – possibly taking up space once reserved for a standard web page listing. If images are a factor in your marketing, I would say now is the time to get them optimized for the search engines.
Adam Snider posted a comment on my universal search post yesterday asking if there was any information at the conference about ways to optimize images beyond the basic alt-tags text.
Well, given the new importance on multimedia and images, I decided to figure that out by attending the session on Images and Search Engines. It turned out to be loaded with great information.
Sheri Thurow led off with an easy to follow presentation that walked through tips and tricks to optimizing images. From her presentation:
- Alternative (alt) text is what shows when the image does not show. This alt text is also crawled by the search engines. Make sure popular keywords are included here.
- Relevant keywords should be in text around the image.
- Anchor text (hyperlinked text) leading to the page and image should include relevant text about the page and image. Instead of “Pictures Here”, try something like, “See photos of SES San Jose and the Google Dance”.
- Photos should be in .jpg or .gif, but .jpg is the best.
- Utilize caption or label text in the immediate area around an image.
- Make sure file names make sense to the audience. Rather than “img002.jpg”, try “patrickschaber-sessanjose.jpg”.
- Use dashes and not underscores in filename.
- Utilize correct SEO site structure on the page.
Liana Evans of Search Marketing Gurus also pointed out that the universal and blended search factor means companies need to have increased reputation monitoring. Non-professional images can quickly make their way across the web and now have a greater chance to make that first page of results. In other words, make sure photos from the company party don’t include anything too risky!! Liana also added to Sheri’s list wtih these suggestions:
- Increase your use of correctly formatted images in press releases.
- Create a sitemap of your images for the search engine crawlers.
Chris Smith of Netconcepts was next up and he had a great presentation on using Flickr for image marketing. Before I get into Chris’ tips, I want to point out that Matt McGee at Small Business SEM also has an incredible post about Flickr and image marketing. Matt also points out a great example of the potential of Flickr photo buzz.
Chris outlined some photo sharing sites but strongly indicated that Flickr was best optimized for SEO purposes. Utilizing a photo sharing service like Flickr for your images increases the possibility that your images will turn up in search results either on that photo sharing site or in search engines. Thus increasing the chance that an image will lead a searcher to your site. Here is what Chris indicated that Flickr will do for your images:
- Create a well-optimized profile page for each image
- Good caption text
- Includes links back to your site
- Images can be tagged for easier searchability
- Images can be cross-grouped
- Alt-text is used
- Date taken and page views displayed (search engines like this)
Here was his list of tips if you’re going to try Flickr:
- Add unique title to image profile page
- Add description
- Tag with popular keywords
- Make images publicly viewable
- Choose loose licensing so others can use photo (encouraging a link back to your site)
- Geo tag them if applicable
- Use flickr groups
- Add links to descrpition field
- Post each page to del.icio.us
I encourage you to take a look at your images used in your business and see if it makes sense to optimize them for search. It does seem like images will be playing an increasingly larger role on the SERP.