“One picture is worth a thousand words,” according to a Chinese proverb.
“A picture of a thousand words isn’t worth squat,” according to Google.
(Okay, we made this up.)
While images are important to your website’s message, they do not communicate to the search engines unless you take the extra effort to make them visible. There are several ways your web designer can code your images for better search engine visibility.
1. Name your images correctly. The image name should be descriptive and contain key words. If the site is about clouds naming your pictures cloud.jpg is good, but a name like “cirrus-clouds.jpg” is better. Don’t over do it, “clouds-clouds-clouds.jpg” or “clouds-cirrus-clouds.jpg”, may be looked on as spam.
Separate the words in the name with dashes. “Cirrus-clouds.jpg” will rank higher than “cirrusclouds.jpg” as cirrusclouds is not a word that is likely to be searched on.
2. The ALT attribute. The original intention of this attribute was to describe images for the vision impaired and to provide an alternate (ALT) description of an image which did not load properly. Thus, the ALT attribute should be a brief description of the content of the image as if you were explaining it to a blind person or a computer program which cannot see it, like a search engine.
The ALT attribute should utilize your keyword but not to the detriment of the description. A good ALT attribute for the picture above would be cumulus and cirrus clouds at sunset, it describes the picture while containing keywords relevant to the site. A bad ALT might be clouds, cumulus clouds, cirrus clouds as it is nothing but keywords. There is a good possibility it will be tagged as spam.
3. Image TITLE attribute. The image TITLE attribute can be valuable in making your images work for you. It gives you another opportunity to display keywords to the search engines. On some browsers, the TITLE attribute text displays when you place your cursor over the image, it also tells the search engine more about the image. It can be the same as the ALT or can go into more depth using your keywords.
4. Captions. Place a keyword rich caption next to the image. If the image is placed in the body of the site, surrounded by text content, having the keyword physically close to the image will also have benefits.
Images are important. They make your site more aesthetic and quite often are the only way to make your point with visitors to your site. However, to make them valuable to your sites search engine ranking remember the following:
- use keywords in the image file names
- separate the keywords in a file name with dashes, not underscores
- include keywords in the image ALT attribute
- include keywords in the image TITLE attribute
- place the image in the immediate vicinity of keyword-related content and use a caption
As mentioned in the last post, if your image contains words, such as a quote, a testimonial, or a beautifully calligraphed message, those words will not appear to the search engine unless completely duplicated in the various attributes. They will not help your search engine ranking the way properly done text does. Therefore you have to weigh the importance of how it will look versus what it can do for you.
In the next post we will discuss other HTML coding that make your website more easily found.