Search-Friendly Images, Google, and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Search Optimise Your ImagesGoogle is kinda like the all-knowing, all-seeing Wizard of Oz. We trust Google to have all the answers and solutions about everything. We expect Google to direct tons of relevant traffic to our websites. Though sometimes Google is not as all-powerful and all-seeing as we might assume. Like the old man behind the curtain, Google doesn’t always have all the answers. Luckily, with a little Search Engine Optimization magic, we can help Google learn more about our websites and therefore act more like the all-knowing and powerful search engine we expect it to be.

Google Behind the Curtain

Google has one glaring blind spot: images.  Images (arguably one of the most important aspects of the internet) are basically invisible to Google. Google can’t tell the difference between a witch and a scarecrow. Sure, they’re working on it, but recognizing a book or CD cover is a lot different than recognizing that a picture represents the 4th-annual flying-monkey toss and potluck. So we just have to tell Google what’s in our pictures. That’s right, we need to describe our pictures so Google knows what’s in them.

Follow the yellow-brick.jpg

Let’s say you’ve got a picture on your computer of the Lollipop Guild putting on a show at the Oz repertory theatre. You’ve saved this image on your computer as lollishow.jpg. Sure, you know what the file name refers to, but Google? Google will never get it. So try rewriting the image title as lollipop-guild-oz-repertory.jpg before you upload it to your website. Now Google will understand something about what is contained in your photo. (By using dashes you are telling Google where each word begins and ends).

If I Only Had an Alt Attribute

The file name is not the only place you can describe your image. When you upload your lollipop guild photo to insert somewhere in your site, you’ll have the opportunity to enter a title, alt attribute, or even a caption.  Most html editors will let you fill in this information, but you can also add it manually if you are familiar with HTML. The Alt attribute is meant to describe your image for people who are site impaired, but Google also uses it, because Google is also sight impaired. The Title attribute is often used with links to give the user a little more info about where the link takes you, but it can also be used to describe an image. A caption may or may not be weighed by Google in search rankings, but it’s a good opportunity to add a little bit more info for your image for your users. A caption is usually an on-page description that gives details about your photo. So fill out as much as you can and make sure the words you use correspond to things people will actually search for. That brings us to our next section…

There’s No Place Like Keyword Research

While it’s important to be accurate when you describe your photos, also consider what search terms people might use in order to discover your photo or web page in a search engine. Would someone search for “lollipop guild repertory” or “munchkin performance.” Which term is more commonly searched for?

This is when you click your heels (or mouse) together 3 times and visit Google’s keyword tool. Simply type in your search terms into Google’s keyword tool and Google will tell you which terms are searched for the most on a monthly basis. Not only will you see how many searches the terms you entered are searched for, but you’ll also see dozens of similar keywords that are typed into Google on a monthly basis.

In our case, “munchkin performance” and “lollipop guild repertory” have less than 10 searches a month . . .drat!

But if we dig a little deeper . . .”lollipop guild” by itself gets around 14,800 searches a month. Hooray!

So, we know that “lollipop guild” should be included. Even if we use the full expression “lollipop guild repertory theatre,” Google will still be able to identify the popular keyword phrase “lollipop guild” in your text.

So next time you upload an image to your website, give the almost-all-knowing and almost-all-seeing Google a hand and describe your images with some good keywords. You will be rewarded with traffic!

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