I'm excited to share a guest post with you today from the lovely Charlotte at Bright Little Pixel. Charlotte is a web-designer and content creator who works with individuals and small businesses looking to launch an online presence. Charlotte has written some fab 'dos and don'ts' about how you can optimise the photos on your website for SEO. I've learned so much from her tips, and hope you all do too. Over to Charlotte...
When Clare asked me to guest post on her blog, I thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight the importance of optimising your photos. When building a website, everyone loves the more creative aspects such as writing and designing page layouts. In a way, websites are a little bit like food… you eat with your eyes first! However, how would you be able to see what’s on offer if you didn’t make the information available to people?
In order to do this, we must make sure each asset (such as a photograph) has as much information made available when uploading it to your website.
Firstly - What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. A way of highlighting elements, (such as copy, images and titles), used in your website in order to gain better rankings in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. The better the optimisation of a site, the higher your search rankings will be. But in order to rank, the search engine has to easily understand what you are promoting.
Most people place all their efforts into optimizing copy with keywords, and less so on imagery. As a result SEO for photography is often an area that is overlooked, but is one of the most crucial elements in search. I have put together a quick guide of Do’s and Don’ts to help you with Photography usage on your website:
DO - use a photograph that is related to the content on the page. A simple photograph used in the right way can emphasise the relevance of the article. It will also help boost the rankings of the keywords used in the text. A good way of doing this is to commission or take your own photographs.
DON’T – make a habit of relying on stock photography, especially from free sites. Not only is it hard to find a series of images that relates to your subject matter, but even when you think the image is copyright free, you may get a nasty surprise bill from the original owner. Be careful! If in doubt hire a photographer and I can guarantee your website will look so much better.
The Importance of File Names
DO - ensure your file name is descriptive enough to allow people to easily search for them.
If you have an image of a dog, for example, instead of naming the file dog.jpg you could call it sleeping-french-bulldog-puppy.jpg
I’m also a big fan of adding the image dimensions as part of the naming convention to help those wanting more size specific searches. E.g. sleeping-french-bulldog-puppy-1500x2250.jpg
So now, if you wanted for find a specific image with particular size requirements, Google will be able to scan your image and bring up the results with ease.
DON’T – use the automatically assigned image name e.g. IMG-21990. It means nothing to Google, and therefore will not rank in anyway. Another big no-no is key word stuffing e.g. cheap-stuff-affordable-things-on-sale.jpg .Google will give you a virtual smacked bottom for these kinds of tactics.
Use Accurate Images and File Sizes
DO - scale the image you are using to the size it will be featured on the actual webpage. There is no point having a 3000 x 3000 pixel image uploaded to your web page, only to be featured at 200 x200 pixels. The bigger the file size, the longer it will take to load on a page. Trust me, people don’t like to wait so you’ll end up with visitors dropping off like flies. Plus the quicker the page loads, the easier it is to be indexed.
DON’T – rely on resizing the image once it’s already uploaded using built in web tools. You may think it has reduced the file size, but a lot of the time it has the original file size sitting in the background taking up an awful lot of bandwidth, therefore slowing your page down.
Use Image Captions to Complement Your Content
DO – add captions where you are able to use it to your advantage. This is more of a nice to have, than an essential to SEO. In a fast moving world, where people view websites on the go, captions could play an important part in capturing your reader’s attention when they scan a page for relevant information.
DON’T – use captions for the sake of it. Only if it enhances the content. News articles are a good example where you could have an image that might not make sense unless the reader has read the copy, so a caption would provide a snapshot to grab the readers attention.
Add Alt Text for Accessibility
DO - add alt text (alternative text) to images where there is a possibility of web users needing to use screen readers e.g. the visually impaired. The description will need to give the user a good idea of what the image is showing, otherwise the screen reader or replacement text (if images are turned off), will be meaningless and make the page content confusing.
DON’T – worry too much about adding keywords in the description, as it isn’t taken into account in image SEO.
I do hope this helps give some clarity when using photography on your website, and shows that with just a few little additions and good housekeeping, you will greatly improve your availability in search.