How To Optimize Images To Increase Rankings

If pictures are worth a thousand words to people, then they are worth zero to search engines. Simply put, search engines will not recognize images effectively that are not optimized, and if they are not optimized you might be loosing out on two things.

If pictures are worth a thousand words to people, then they are worth zero to search engines. Simply put, search engines will not recognize images effectively that are not optimized, and if they are not optimized you might be loosing out on two things. One, screen readers that use text or speech browser might not be able to surf your website, and providing them without information might cause them to leave once they arrive. Keeping visitors on your website is always an important part of getting your message across. Two, identifying images with your keywords will help rank your image and thus your website higher in the search engines. Using keywords that are relevant and pertain to the image increases the instances of keywords on that page. The most common mistake in optimizing images is not identifying what they are. Without identification, or an attribute to assign a title, an image is just a blank image, comparable to all the rest on your website. Now, how can you identify your images for the search engines’ Using the alt and title tag in an image link is easy to do, but very often ignored.

Alt tags are basically comments about an image that should be used whenever you add a graphic or image to a web page. Title tags can be used in images and in links and are a simple link of code that identifies further what an image might be about. This is an important line of code that text and speech browser use to communicate to the visitor about the website. Keep in mind that it’s important to make your website more accessible to search engines and to all kinds of visitors. {mospagebreak title=Let’s Illustrate.&toc=1} To illustrate here is a simple line of code for an image:

<a href="http://www.seochat.com><img src="http://www.seochat.com/images/services.gif" width="35" height="50" alt="Search Engine Chat" title="Chat" border="1"></a>

Inserting the alt="name" and the title="name" is very easy to do, and only should take a few minutes for each images.

This is what is displayed if images are turned off in the browser:

<a href="http://www.seochat.com><img src="http://www.seochat.com/nodirectory/image.gif" width="35" height="50" alt="Search Engine Chat" title="Chat" border="1"></a>

This is what is displayed normally:

<a href="http://www.seochat.com><img src="http://www.seochat.com/nodirectory/image.gif" width="35" height="50" alt="Search Engine Chat" title="Chat" border="1"></a>

You will notice that the alt text appears in the area where the image should be. This is important of telling people what that image is, where it goes, and what it refers to. If it where blank then it would not communicate anything to those browsing your website, just white blank space. If you where to move you mouse over the image, you will see a small box appear with the text used in the title tag. Ah ha! There is a way to communicate in all that blank space. Its simple details that can along in the search engines and for those that view your website. {mospagebreak title=A Short List&toc=1} Now, here is a list of things to keep in mind when optimizing for images.

1. Give an appropriate filename for images on your website. If the image is a picture of a green frog. Then name it something like green_frog.gif.

2. If possible, the title of the page should match the keyword. This strengthens the effect of an image to a search engine, and further reinforces what your page is about.

3. Make sure you image is not blocked by a referrer link, JavaScript, or similar. There can be many reasons to use a referring link, but if there is none then do not block the source of an image.

4. Use standard <img src=””> path, instead of JavaScript.

5. Use an appropriate ALT attribute with the keyword in the img tag.

6. Use an appropriate TITLE attribute with the img tag.

7. Text NEAR the image should be appropriate. Text near an image also can tell a search engine more about the images it’s indexing. Keep this in mind when writing content or ad copy around your images.

8. Use spaces, hyphens, or underscores in naming your images. This separates keywords, thus making them easier to identify.

9. Where the ALT or TITLE attribute is located in the img tag does not matter. An attribute is an attribute and where is located makes no difference to a screen reader or a search engine.

10. Keep keywords and relevant comments in the ALT and TITLE tags to a minimum. You don’t want to get penalized by a search engine for spamming with too many keywords crammed into a tag. Plus doing so will not do much for your either. Use only what it takes to identify the image.

11. Search for your images in Google or AllTheWeb. Do a search with Google’s Image search to see if you can locate your images in the search results. The particulars of ranking images are more controllable than websites, so the results should allow you to see changes more clearly.

12. The Red Button – If you do not want your images present in the search engines for what ever reason, then the magic red button to turn them off is using your robots.txt correctly. Put a disallow line to block your /images/ directory from all user-agents or select search engine robots. Likewise, if you are blocking your /images/ directory and can’t seem to find you images in Google then may you should remove the disallow line. For more information about robots.txt please visit here: http://www.robotstxt.org/wc/robots.html{mospagebreak title=Final Note&toc=1} Adding simple alt and title tags to an img tag may not seem to be too important. But it can be go a long way if it’s the little extra push you need to rank better in the search engines. Plus the blind and screen readers will be overjoyed that you thought of them. A well optimized page that pays attention to the details is always favored over one that does not take a few short minutes to take the opportunity to better itself for the search engines.

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