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125 - SEO Photographs & Images

Day 125 - SEO Photographs & Images - what can you do to photographs & images to affect SEO?

Recently in recent SEO post 124 - SEO On Page Headings I talked about how important on page headings are in crafting your web page SEO to encourage search engines to rank your page highly for the given keywords that you decided to target at your website page in 120 - SEO Matching Keywords & Phrases To Web Pages. Today I want to talk about another very important aspect of SEO which is how you add images and photographs to your website page to help SEO.

Search engines not only look at text on your website page to work out what your web page is about, they also look at images or photographs that you put on your website page to help their understanding of your page. Artificial intelligence is getting better by the day but we are not at the stage where the search engine recognises what the page is about by looking at the visual images themselves, what they actually look at are properties that you define for the image and there are several properties that you can define where you can place essential keywords for the search engines to find in order to strengthen your SEO for that page for those keywords. Some appear on screen and some are behind the scenes but I have listed them all below.

Image Filename and SEO

If you have taken a photograph that you want to upload to your website, the chances are that your photograph has a serially named filename such as IMAGE0001.jpg, IMAGE0002.jpg or similar. Before you upload the file to your website be sure to rename the image file so that you embed some of the keywords that you want to target on the page that you are going to place the image. In order to separate keywords I suggest that you link each keyword with a hyphen and use between 2 and 5 keywords per image to avoid watering down keywords. Use the same keywords in your different SEO elements to make them stronger, using too many keywords will weaken them so use others on similar pages instead. Try to ensure that you always have at least one image on each webpage so that you are able to build SEO into the page through images and if you use multiple images vary the keywords so that you repeat some of the more important keywords but also possibly add in some lower value keywords too as well as mix the order up a little. Following on from my previous example where I was looking at Lucy Gell's 'All Bets Are Off' product I decided to target the words 'Running Whippet' at the web page. I might therefore name the main image on this page as running-whippet.jpg. If I had additional images on this page I might then name them running-whippet-art.jpg, running-whippet-print.jpg, whippet-running.jpg etc.

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Be careful when you add image objects to your website page, however. Despite your efforts to name your images for the purpose of SEO, your website content software may have other ideas and may rename your images again creating its own sequentially generated image names that no longer contain your keywords. Using Jimdo software which I use to build many of my websites if I add a single static (not changing) image file to the website, my image name is carried forward. I can tell this because if I right click on my website browser when viewing the page then choose 'view page source' then search for my image file name I will find it in the file that appears. If on the other hand I create a 'slideshow object' which rotates through a sequence of image files in turn if I look at the page source I find that the Jimdo software has renamed my files and given them new names which no longer contain my keywords!. I therefore avoid overuse of this object unless absolutely necessary and try to focus on static images in my main website page body instead so that it will have more effective SEO be sure to check how your design software works, however, and whether it renames images without you knowing!

Image File Caption SEO

As well as the filename, there are two other properties that you can associate with image files in order to provide extra information to search engines for SEO. The first field is 'caption'. Accessing the caption property will vary depending on your website software. With my Jimdo software I simply click the image then click the luggage label icon to reveal the caption and alt text fields. Caption is used to provide a visible 'caption' underneath the image which often sums up the image.

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Because this image is seen by human beings it probably won't read very well if you just stuff it with keywords like 'running whippet'. Similarly if I use it to say 'All Bet's Are Off' which is the name of the product whose image is being displayed these are not the keywords that I am targeting at this website page so that probably won't help me. I tend therefore to go with a bit of a hybrid solution here that tries to include both the product name and the keywords that I am targeting although this should highlight to you how important it is to try to get relevant keywords into your product name. I usually setup the first images on product pages so that they can be clicked on to zoom into the image. It therefore makes sense for me to use a caption such as 'Click to enlarge 'All Bet's Are Off' running whippet'.

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Image Alternate Text and SEO

'Alt text' or 'alternate text' dates back to the days when the internet was much slower than it is today and we used something called dial up modems rather than fast broadband which we are now all so used to. During those times browsing the internet was very slow, particularly if website pages contained images and as a result many users would turn the image setting off so that images did not display. Because they did not display they did not need to be downloaded and therefore the webpage text could be downloaded so much faster. Because this was common practice a field was introduced called 'alternate text' and instead of the image file appearing the text in the 'alternate text' field would appear instead describing the image that was missing rather than the image itself appearing but giving the user the option to download the image if the alternate text field appealed to them!

It is very rare these days for users to turn off images to display website pages quicker, however, the alternate text field is still available. It is used to describe images to people with visual impairment as well as to search engines that are trained to inspect this field in order to get an idea of what the image that is being displayed is about. Different website software will provide different ways for setting this field. On Jimdo software simply click the image object, click the luggage label button and complete the 'alt text' field below.

In my next post I will talk about how to get your keywords into the body text of your website page. It might sound simple enough but there is a skill to making it work for you whilst still being readable to human beings and not looking too spammy!

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