Image Optimization - Ironically Overlooked SEO

The success of an ecommerce business depends in large part on how easy (or hard) it is for consumers to find it in search engine results.  Unfortunately, far too many brands ignore one of the most critical SEO measures to maintain high rankings for their ecommerce sites—image optimization.

According to Positionly (a provider of SEO monitoring software), effective image optimization will improve your site’s speed and overall performance, contributing to higher rankings in search engine results:

“One of the most important features on ecommerce sites are images that are well-optimized to improve the usability, speed and design of the site.”

Search Engine Journal points out how critically important optimized images are to your on-site SEO:

“Images allow you to boost your search engine rankings and generate engagement from the users. They also play an essential role in conversion rate by reducing your bounce rate and increasing the time users spend on your website, which are two Google ranking factors.”

According to SEJ’s research, images are the most frequently clicked-on search engine result. More than 60% of users who click on an image will visit the website the image is from—but 97% of all image clicks occur on the first page of results (before scrolling down), and 17% of all clicks go to the very first image (top row, left). That means businesses that want to increase website traffic need to ensure their images appear high in image search results.

Image Optimization Is Not as Hard as You Think

While many aspects of search engine optimization are complex for all but the most-seasoned professionals, image optimization is relatively simple. Here are 4 steps you can take today to optimize your images and drive more traffic to your website:

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1.  Give Your Photo a Name

Your digital camera doesn’t know if you’re taking a picture of a dishwasher or a daffodil—neither do search engines(at least for now) unless you give your photo a name that clearly describes what it is.

When you take a photo, your camera gives it a numeric file name (like 12345.jpg). If you add that photo to your website with the numeric file name, you’ll be punished by Google’s image publishing guidelines. The first step in optimizing your image is to replace the numeric file name with a name that helps Google and other search engines understand what it is. Search engines will use the name you create to rank your photo in image search results. Users will also be more likely to click on a photo with a recognizable name.

2.  Don’t Skip over the Alt Text Box

If you add an image to your blog, you’ll see an alt text box which includes several text fields. You might be tempted to skip the alt text box to save time—but that’s a mistake, because Google’s algorithm relies on the data in that box to ascertain whether it’s relevant to internet searchers.

Including relevant information in the alt text box is also important given the increasing importance of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)—in other words, search engines are placing greater emphasis on the ability of individuals with vision impairment and other disabilities to access what’s on the internet. Because data in the alt text box is used to determine relevance and assist vision-impaired users, it’s important not to stuff keywords here—use words that naturally and accurately describe what’s in the image.

3.  Create a Smart Title Tag

The words you use in your title tag are what people will see when they hover over an image on your website. The most effective title tags both accurately describe what’s in the image and match one or more of your target keywords—but, as with data in your alt text box, avoid adding gratuitous keywords that don’t match your images. You should also steer clear of insider industry jargon. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for users to understand what your image is, and where clicking on it will take them.

4.  Add a Caption

Image captions might seem superfluous, since your title tag, if it’s well executed, already tells users what’s in your image.  But not everyone will take the time to hover over an image unless they first see a caption that grabs their attention. Strong captions will engage users and depress your bounce rate—since search engines consider bounce rate in ranking your images, adding captions helps your SEO.

Effective image optimization will improve your ecommerce site’s on-page SEO, but it’s just one of the many strategies you need to employ to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site.  

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Onestop Internet is an end-to-end ecommerce solutions provider, combining inteligent web design, development, full-service photo and video studio, and business intelligence to excel in SEO services for our portfolio of brands. Contact us to see how we can help your ecommerce enterprise grow.

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