Images are a great way to brighten any web page. To anyone browsing your site, an image may be worth a thousand words but to a search engine spider, they can be the equivalent of a black hole. There are numerous ways to prevent this and actually optimize your images for search engines.
Alt / Title Tags
These nifty little tags sit within the image source code on a page and should be a succinct summary of what the image displays. Not only are they a great way to add some keyword rich content to an image but they also give viewers the image description, should the image not load!
Surrounding your image with related content or a descriptive caption is necessary. Not only does it provide those browsing your site a link between subject matter and image, but it gives search engines a reference for the image.
Image file name
This may seem simple but it’s amazing how few people actually bother to give their images a relevant file name. To anyone, let alone a search engine, 1234.JPG means absolutely nothing. Pink-snapper.JPG, on the other hand is obvious! On the same note, don’t spam your image file names and tags, it’s something search engines may pick up on and it’s not clever marketing!
Good quality images
There’s no point in using an image if it’s not good quality. No matter how much you may optimize a poor quality picture it will mean nothing to the users on your site and is simply a waste of space.
Another obvious point but very important nonetheless! Optimize the page holding the image with Meta data, description and title tags. Keep content keyword rich and relevant, for both search engines and your users.
Image File Management
Keep graphics and pictures in an ‘Image’ folder on your server in an organized manner, rather than hosted online. This will guarantee that they are always available for display (although the best of us suffer ‘technical difficulty’ at some stage or another!) and keep your image source code clean. If they are hosted by an online image gallery or sharing site then make sure it is reputable, and won’t randomly go offline or have difficulties.
Expand Your Audience
Encourage audience diversity and traffic by using images that relate to your site content but that are original, or a little different. For example, a fishing site uses images of fish and fishing tackle to display their products. Images of beautiful rivers and lakes around the world, boats or reefs are also relevant to the site content, and encourage a greater diversity in traffic as people search for these pictures online.
Images can be a deal maker or breaker for your website. They need to be seen by the search engines, and browsers, in order to work for, not against, you!