The secret power of images on websites: they boost a page’s SEO value.
Of course, it’s not as simple as inserting an image on a page. You also need to optimize the image for search engines.
This is especially important for sites that showcase photos or other graphic work. SEO for photographers requires attention to the image file itself and how it relates to nearby content.
Here are 5 tips for optimizing your images, including animated gifs.
1. File Name
If you’re like most photographers, you have a particular way of naming your files. After all, you need to organize your images in a way that makes them easy to track and find.
But when it comes to posting images, you will likely need to change the file name. This is true for posting to your own site or providing images for clients.
SEO for photographers relies on relating the file name to the keywords of the page where the image appears. It doesn’t need to relate image’s subject or content.
For example, a veterinary office’s blog post might have the keywords “annual vaccination”. You’ve provided a compelling image of a cat to support the message. The file name needs to include “annual vaccination”, not “cat” to be SEO-friendly.
2. Alt Text
One of the most critical pieces of meta data attached to every image file is the alt text.
This is the text that appears when you hover your mouse point over an image. Even an image doesn’t display, the alt text will. It’s also what assistive devices “read” to users with visual impairments.
Alt text that provides a brief yet comprehensive description of the image provides the best user experience. If it’s relevant to the page, the alt text can state it’s a black and white photo or scan of vintage sepia print.
For SEO, the alt text needs to include the keyword. Good SEO for photographers includes the keyword and provides an excellent user experience for anyone who can’t see the image.
3. Other Meta Data That Affects SEO for Photographers
Three other pieces of image meta data that are important to SEO for photographers are description, title, and caption.
Description is similar but different from alt text in two significant ways.
First, it can be far more detailed. Many photographers include when the shot was taken, the lens used, if it was a candid shot, and other information about the image creation. The second difference between description and alt text is who sees it.
Alt text is visible to every user. For a person to read the description meta tag, they have to look at the code behind the page.
Few people do this. But search engines always read that description and factor it into the page ranking. The more the description relates to the content of the page it’s on, the better in terms of SEO.
An image file’s title is primarily used for the website’s behind-the-scenes catalog. The title isn’t seen by the user and doesn’t need to relate to a page’s keyword. A best practice is for it to be relevant to the file description.
It’s important to remember the distinction between title and file name.
The file name should include the page keyword. For that reason, the same image on two different pages should different file names. The title doesn’t change.
A caption is a brief description that appears below an image. It’s the image’s “headline” and should include the page keyword for best SEO.
4. Dimensions and File Size
To get the most SEO value from an image, pay close attention to dimensions and file size.
There are two considerations for image dimensions: its size when viewed on its own and the size displayed on a web page. This matters to load time.
For example, an image might be 900 x 450 pixels. But on the page, it’s displayed as 300 x 150. Despite the smaller size on screen, the larger image has to load.
The larger the image — in terms of dimensions — the longer it takes to load. Load time affects SEO.
To optimize load time, an image should be the same size as its display size. This practice also helps the user experience.
Don’t confuse image size with file size.
File size doesn’t correlate to image size. In other words, a 2000 x 2000 pixel image isn’t twice the size of a 1000 x 1000 image.
Image resolution and meta data are the major determinants of file size.
A file’s size affects load time and SEO. The goal is to reduce the file size without sacrificing image quality.
5. Surrounding Text
If you provide images to clients, you have little to no control over the text that surrounds the image. But you can provide added value to your client by reminding them about this important SEO tip. Of course, it’s something you can put in place on your own site too.
You want the paragraph immediately before and after an image to be relevant to the image. Specifically, its alt text, description, and file name.
The most practical way to benefit from this tip is to first know what the text will be. Then work toward making the most important meta data align.
For this tip, Google doesn’t look at keywords. It assesses relevance. In general, Google (and presumably other search engines) puts high value on a page’s relevance to its images as well as other pages on the site.
Putting It Together
SEO is becoming more about quality of information, not quantity of keywords. Images with meta data that is relevant to the content around them, improve SEO and page rankings.
If you’re a supplier of web-ready images, apply these SEO tips and increase your value to your customers. Think of understanding the basics of SEO like knowing how to create special effects. It’s another way for you to give the customer what they need.
If you’re looking to build your business and need more people to discover your online portfolio, consider using an SEO agency.
Trying searching for an agency by including your location. For example, “SEO agency Sydney” to discover the various ways to boost business with SEO for photographers.
No matter how you proceed, you now have tools that can bring greater visibility to your work.