Words do all the hard SEO work while pictures are just there to look pretty… right?
Well, not quite.
If you use images in a clever and intentional way, they can actually play a significant part in boosting your search engine rankings. Today, we’re going to talk about how they can achieve this.
You ready? Good.
If Google and other search engines can see where your website’s pictures were taken, this can provide vital clues about who your services or products are relevant to. If the geotagging on your website’s featured images reveals that they were all captured in Brisbane, for example, this reinforces that your business is ideally located for Brisbane locals.
This can positively affect your rankings for local searches (i.e. when somebody includes their city or suburb in their search query or uses a GPS-enabled device to perform their search).
Naturally, the more location-centric your business is, the more beneficial this can be. If you have a physical shopfront or offer an in-person service, local searches are crucial to your online success. However, if you’re a national or international e-commerce store, geotagged images may not be so useful to you.
Images provide a subtle (some might call it sneaky) way of introducing some extra keywords to a page or blog post.
When a robot crawls your website for content, it can’t ‘see’ your images the way a human browser can. While a visual that you’ve posted might be extremely relevant to a keyword people use, search engines won’t recognise it as such – unless you use alt text.
Alt(ernative) text is what usually appears in place of an image that fails to load. It’s also what Google and co. use to interpret what your image represents (along with the image title, to a lesser extent). So if your alt text is in line with what people are looking for, this could be the extra clue that tips your website onto page one of the search results.
But take caution: you should not overuse this opportunity. If you stuff your alt text with keyword upon keyword, search engines will pick this up just as easily as they pick up keywords stuffed into regular content. So keep your alt text accurate, appropriate and sensible. For example, for the image below, Clever Doge Crossing Legs would be good alt text, while Brisbane SEO agency would not.
To put it simply: a website with good visuals is typically more enjoyable and easier to navigate than a website with poor images or – worse – no images at all. Pictures can serve as excellent signposts throughout a website or blog post, breaking up text and preventing information overload. They can also provide useful bite-sized pieces of info (e.g. via an infographic).
What’s that you say? User experience is totally separate to search engine rankings? Au contraire! If your website uses images well to enhance the time people spend browsing, this can have a very real impact on your rankings.
It all comes down to metrics: time spent on site, pages per session, bounce rate, and so on. If these metrics improve, Google and other engines will notice – and they’ll understand that your site is delivering what people are searching for.
So, what have we learnt? Images are important for your website – and not just for ‘looking good’. They really can boost your search engine rankings. But, as with most worthwhile things…
(PS. Is your website already loaded up with great images? Depending on your budget and resources, the next step might be incorporating videos – but that’s a whole other story.)