We talk a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) when it comes to online content, at least as far as text is concerned. What we haven’t talked about all that much – and we ought to – is optimization used for website images.

Did you know you actually can add SEO to pictures on websites – and should? If not, you could be missing out on a whole new spectrum of gaining new site traffic and, ultimately, customer interest.

Why it’s Important

One thing I’ve come across in prior experience within this industry is how there’s shockingly little to zero optimization being done for image-based content on websites, even after it’s been handled by a web developer. Written content once it’s properly optimized is not the only way to get your site noticed by search engines – it also applies to images. By optimizing both forms of content, you’re basically letting the search engines know that not only does your website exist, but also images from your company exist in places like Google Images, too.

And the thing is, pictures, especially where colours are concerned, make the difference between content that is read versus content that is merely glanced at. In fact, the attention spans and recollection of readers involved will increase by 82% – and that’s just for when colour’s involved. It’s like they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. The same thing goes for online photos.

Alt Text

This, aside from title text, is the main way to optimize your site’s photos and illustrations. The official definition of alt text, or alternative text, is “a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell Web site viewers the nature or contents of an image.” In HTML code, alt text is described often as alt= and then contains the description in quotation marks. For example, alt=”smiling couple” might appear in the caption for a photograph of just that.

The reason alt text should be used more frequently for images is because you can apply whatever keywords you want to include for your website that doesn’t fit well in the written content to your photos. For best practice, it’s important to use as few words as possible while describing the image as best you can, and also to treat SEO for images the way you would with text – in other words, nix the keyword stuffing.

It also will help to rename your photo files beforehand (plus it helps for organization’s sake!), which also benefits image SEO. A good example of proper optimization for an image should go something like this:

  • Instead of DSC4536.jpg for a photo of a sunrise in Cowichan Bay, title your image “sunrise-in-cowichan-bay.jpg”.
  • Instead of leaving the alt tag blank in your website’s code, apply the following instead: alt=”Cowichan Bay sunrise”

Sometimes there are images on your website that don’t really need alt text – for example, social media icons (unless you really want to), banners in your website’s footer and header, and so on. In these cases, it’s not necessary to go above and beyond to optimize those features. The rule of thumb is, alt text should be added to all images you want to have search engines follow and index. The title attribute (which in HTML code is title=) is also helpful, but it’s not an absolute requirement.

If you have way too many images to optimize on your website and little to no time for it, but are now realizing its potential, then contact us at V3 Media and let a professional handle the task. Applying SEO to both image and written content are a few of our many web development services offered.