You may have noticed that Google recently rolled out a new Image Search format, with a sleeker and slightly more dynamic appearance. And much like Google Places listings (Maps and Local Business now combined), Google Videos and Google Products, the Image Search will often show selected results at the top of the main Google Web search for whatever keywords you have entered. The other search engines also feature image searches, and although they are not as popular or prominent as Google’s, they should not be forgotten about. So optimising your images is another path to increased visiblity, and for the little effort it takes it is also very much worth it.
There are two tags you should be adding to your image code:
Alt Tag: This is displayed for users that have chosen to turn off images and is also read aloud by aural browsers (used primarily by the blind). Google has also confirmed that they focus on this tag to understand what an image shows (because a search engine cannot ‘see’ an image as we can). The Alt Tag, therefore, should be a short and relevant description of the image in question. If it’s a product image showing some trainers, your description should mention the brand and product name and item, something like this: “White Nike Air trainers with red stripe”
This means that the search engines know that particular product is represented in that image and may well list your image for people searching for those shoes, plus aural browsers and users with photos turned off know what the image contained and may (in the case of those with images turned off) decide to view. Do try and get your important keywords into your Alt Tag, but write primarily for the visitor and do not cram loads of irrelevant keywords in there. Make your Alt Tags short and to the point.
Title Tag: This has less importance for the search engines, but is still text that they will read, and is best used for the purpose of supplying more information to the visitor. You do not always have to fill in this field, and may not find it appropriate all the time. For example, an Alt Tag for a company logo would be “Company logo” where as a title might be “Our company offers this service and this service” (where company and service are substituted for those things, obviously) because the logo itself can be thought to represent the company and therefore the Title expands on what that means. Again, get some keywords in there, but only if it makes sense – and keep it short and relevant.
If you take the time to optimise these tags on your images, and also ensure that images are relevant to the rest of the content on the page, you will stand a better change of having your site images appear in the Google Image search and possible at the top of the Web Search for your chosen keywords or products, adding another level to your increased visibility online.
About The Author: Camilla Todd manages Search Engine Optimisation, social media campaigns and brand awareness for WNW Design SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01395 542569. You can also follow WNW Design on Facebook here.