For those of us who sell ourselves primarily with images, there are a few things you need to know about how they can impact your search rankings when properly optimized. Search engines are unable to see photographs as images—they see them as code (essentially, gibberish). They know it exists, but they have no idea what is depicted in it, which is why it is extremely important that you explicitly tell. Now the question is how to make it happen.
Here is everything you need to know about optimizing your images for being found in search results.
By completing these next steps for every single image you publish on your website, you will see your stats skyrocket! Let’s start with an example image, and identifying everything we possibly can about it.
SUBJECT: The image above is a photograph of a beautiful bride with blue eyes and blonde hair, wearing a lacy champagne wedding dress and a floral crown.
ARTIST: The photographer is Stephanie de Montigny, who is based in Ottawa, Ontario and the image was captured at the storefront location of The Handmade Bride.
DETAILS: The wedding dress designer is Zarucci, the floral crown was made by Jewel Feathers, her hair was styled by Liana Lacroix Beauty, and her makeup was done by Modern Muse Girl.
With these mini descriptions, you can change the details to cater to your business and website, all depending on what you sell. For example, the designer would focus on the champagne lace wedding dress, whilst the crown maker would focus on the roses and other flowers that they used to create the headpiece, and the HMUA would focus on the bride’s natural look and organic products. There is no one right way to use these details because of the level of customization available, but leaving everything generic and vague is the wrong way, so let’s find out how to do it properly.
Image File Name
This is the part of your file that often ends up looking like NEF1234.jpeg and means absolutely nothing to anyone, human or robot. It is very important that you change the naming convention of your images to reflect the content of the image. I typically recommend the following structure: service/product + location + 3-7 descriptive words. Using the image above as an example, here are three possible file-names, depending on the different business using it:
Bridal Shop: Handmade-Bride-Ottawa-Bridal-Shop-Zarruci-Sweetheart-Champagne-Wedding-Dress.jpeg
Photographer: Ottawa-Wedding-Photographer-Bride-Natural-Makeup-Champagne-Lace-Dress.jpeg Floral Crown
This is what comes up in your website once you’ve uploaded the image file. This will often come up as a caption to your image in galleries, so you want to make sure that this part is optimized for human visitors first, and robots second. In this case, you would remove the dashes and keep it simple. For example: Bridal Shop: The Handmade Bride, Ottawa – Zarruci (Stella) Wedding Dress
Image Alt Tag
This is where it starts to get a little complicated if you don’t know what you are doing. These are VERY different from the post-tags you have in blog articles. The alt tags are what show up on the screen if the image doesn’t load properly, and is displayed next to that little box with the red X. This is also one of the main components that search engine bots rely on to know what is in the photograph. It is important that the alt tags be concise, yet descriptive of the image, and relevant to both human visitors and the bots. For example: Bridal Shop: The Handmade Bride, Ottawa Bridal Shop, Zarruci Wedding Dress, Stella Sweetheart Neckline, Champagne with White Lace
The image description box is where you can get a little more creative with your wording to make sure that every single image from this set (we always have a few different angles to sell products, and portrait sessions always yield a few similar images). The easiest way is to start with the filename: remove the dashes, add some prepositions and pronouns, and describe the details relevant for which you want to be found. For example: Bridal Shop: Ottawa bride wearing Zarucci Stella champagne wedding dress with white lace from The Handmade Bride, a floral crown by Jewel Feathers, and classic updo by Liana Lacroix Beauty.
The caption is the most important part of optimizing an image for human visitors, which also benefits your SEO. People are most likely to scroll through to read the headings and look at the images & their captions. The way that it benefits your rankings is by making sure you are always relating it back to the topic of the blog post or the product you are selling (ways to use it are a hit!), so that it’s got your main topic and keyword phrase included.
So the next time you are ready to post a few images in your new article or share about your cool new art piece, remember to take the extra time to rename them before you upload them. The extra little steps in the beginning will help you take big leaps later!