One of the interesting observations following the roll out of Penguin 2.0 were the number of clients that now have their images appear as search results! This development isn’t necessarily the result of changes in the Google algorithm, but may be related to some of the things we (SEO Consultants in Denver ) did to prepare for it.
As rumors of a new Penguin update grew louder, we recommended to several clients that we again review their on page optimization and update any page assets to make sure we were clearly communicating to the search engines the unique content of each page. Included in this effort was attention given to image descriptions. This is a process that had occasionally been overlooked in previous reviews, but with the looming threat of a new algorithm update, we thought it best to give extra effort to all page assets.
Optimizing images for search is nothing new. Properly set and descriptive alt tags make the page more readable and searchable. However, prior to Penguin 2.0, we encouraged clients to give a little extra effort to making sure that image files and alt tag descriptions were consistent with the keyword and term strategy for each page. Renaming a few image files as well as resetting the alt tags for some of our client images didn’t take long and was something done almost as an afterthought to the entire Penguin preparation effort. In the end, there were some very positive results. Several clients now have their images appearing in non-branded searches.
Product Image Optimization
Organizations that have unique product images on their website can use these images to compete for more search engine traffic. In addition to the website appearing as an organic search result, images that match search terms may appear as separate search engine results. The image is clickable to a larger version on Google, beneath which is a link to the website from which the image was pulled. In a sense, this is an additional opportunity to compete for reader attention and to display any visual product advantages to potential buyers.
Inspiring the search engines to display images then seems to require a simple, two-fold strategy:
- strong on page optimization
- image optimization consistent with on page term strategy
On Page Optimization is essentially the same methodology of identifying keyword terms and installing descriptive title, description and even keyword terms. Making these consistent across all meta data types has proven important in building each page to attract traffic.
Image optimization requires the Web operator to make sure the file name from which the image is pulled, is somewhat descriptive of the type of image displayed. File names such as “snowthrowerimages” instead of “images1” work well. Setting alt tag content to a more descriptive level is a simple matter of describing the product, preferably utilizing a keyword term. Alt tag descriptions such as “Red Snow Thrower” then describes the image further. When the search engines crawl the page, they will note that the images come from a file named “Show Thrower Images” and one of the actual pictures is of a “Red Snow Thrower.” If the page is optimized using the term “Snow Thrower,” these images would then appear to be more likely to be picked up and displayed as a search result.
In the end, thinking of image display as part of the meta data exercise may be beneficial. Whenever meta data is modified or updated, including the image file name and alt tags in the modification process enables the search engines to more clearly understand what each page contains. And when some of the expected search terms are used, the search engines may be more likely to grab an image from the website to use in their results display.
Much of this is not news to experienced SEOs, but we’ve seen a number of Webmasters forget to include image optimization in their page maintenance programs. And after the latest Penguin update, we are seeing more client product images appear on search results pages.
Service Businesses and Image Optimization
What does this mean for service oriented business? Images can be developed for any line of work. Services that develop images or info-graphics that describe improved performance or better user experience may also offer some opportunity for image result display. Google in particular though, seems to be able to sniff out non-product images fairly easily, so image display for non-product business Websites may be a bit more challenging. Optimizing these images may require talking more about results, achievements and relationships and then describing them in a fashion consistent with other page meta data.
We are working a couple trials using descriptive service images, so we will keep everyone updated in this blog space.