|Screenshot from the Google search results page|
If your web graphics are optimized for Image search engines like Google they will help to generate an alternate source of traffic to your website. But unlike regular web search where we are more familiar with how search engines rank content, the rules associated with Image search rankings are very different and often based on assumptions.
Why do I say this ? Try a search for "Google" on Google Image Search. None of the top results show images from the actual Google websites or even associated websites. Now if you repeat the search for Amazon, none of the top 5 images displayed are from the official Amazon website. So how do individuals and small companies manage to stay ahead of corporate giants in Image search results? It's to do with image optimization techniques like the ones discussed below.
Regarding optimization, here are 6 simple things that you should keep in mind for getting good rankings in Google Images Search:
1. Image File NameUse a descriptive image file name which includes keywords related to the content of the image. If your webpage has pictures of an old country farm house - use file names like 'old-country-farm-house.jpg' instead of the default camera file name like IMG_401.jpg. In this way you are providing relevant information about the image to Google rather than just a string of meaningless numbers or letters.
2. Alt and Title
Attach a 7-8 word description with both the ALT and TITLE attributes of the IMG tag. Make it a habit to use these attributes. An example could be...
<img src="old-country-house.jpg" alt="dilapidated old county farmhouse in countryside" title="country style farm house ageing and run down">
3. Discuss The ImageA short two line description of the image just beneath the graphic is the best way to describe an image. It can work wonders for your image search rankings as well. For a live example, read any news story on the BBC website. The HTML tags enclosing the image descriptions will also matter. A description alongside a heading enclosed in H3 or Bold tag will have more weight than the one with just a description enclosed in the paragraph tag.
4. Wrapping TextIf possible, try to wrap text around your images using the CSS code of "float", like the old country farmhouse image above. If you site design won't allow wrapping text or if the image is large in size, try to place the images near text that describes the context of your image. Web Photo Galleries which have no text on the page can make use of the Title and Meta tags to insert information about the images.
5. Image Position On PageFrom personal observation Web Images placed at the top of the page are more likely to appear in search results than the ones which are at the bottom. They do not have to be at the very top of the page but certainly 'above the fold' images tend to perform better than those below the fold.
6. Image SizeAnother personal observation is that images which are very large or very small tend not to do very well in the search results. Try to keep images at sizes which will be useful to others who may be looking for them. In my experience images around 600px x 400px tend to do well.
If you do decide to use some or all of these tips, please keep an eye on your image performance and let us know how you get on.