The topic of search engine optimization often centers on a webpage’s ranking on a regular Google search. But have you ever looked to see where your photos are ranking? Google has an advanced algorithm and bot just for crawling images online, and this is another opportunity for your site to come out on top. First, you have to lay out the welcome mat for Googlebot-Image.

Isn’t that a cute picture? If your image tags look like the one above—especially if they lack ALT and title tags—then you’re making it harder for Google to “see” your pictures. Many of the search engine optimization practices we apply to copy are also relevant to organizing your images:

  1. Use a strong SEO keyword in the image name: Make sure it’s an SEO term that’s relevant to your site. Better yet, use the same keyword you’ve already optimized the page for.
  2. Treat the ALT tag like a header: This is another opportune place to use SEO and describe the picture, but keep in mind the rules you use for writing headers: be succinct, be informative, and don’t overstuff with keywords. Make this easy for customers to read, too, because the ALT tag content is what will appear if your site users can’t load the actual photo.
  3. Take advantage of title tags: Although title tags aren’t necessary, you can treat them like a caption to further educate your customers. They are also valuable when you use your image as a URL; in that situation, provide brief and descriptive ALT and title tags.
  4. Publish photos on the same page as strong copy: Google will look to the website content to give the photo context.
  5. Avoid duplicating photos across your website.

Once you have all of your photos correctly named and placed on your website, make creating an Image Sitemap the next thing on your to-do list. While it won’t guarantee that all of your photos will be indexed, an Image Sitemap is one of the clearest ways to shout “these pictures are important!” at Google. Ideally, you want the finished product to look something like this:

Now, isn’t that a cute picture?

Harvin Bedenbaugh – Project Manager

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