OK, bear with me. This would seem like a huge no-brainer but I’m still coming across this one simple mistake:
Remember to name your pictures something meaningful.
I’ve phrased it this way because somewhere long ago I read a psychological study that found that people remember positive reminders over negative reminders. “Please remember to take out the garbage” – vs – “Don’t forget to take out the garbage”. They actually subliminally remember the negative “forget”… I’ve digressed… back to the topic. 🙂
Google and other search engines index pictures and if the name of the picture fits the content of the page the page is often seen as a more relevant search result. This is a good thing. However, I’ve seen several clients get customers from a picture search. Why? Because if you are looking for a widget maker, it is faster to look for the widget you want visually and then click on the link -vs- sifting through various websites to find if they actually have the widget you want.
There is an unfortunate trend of technology abusing content redirects (another topic, another day), users are getting wise to merchants claiming to have widget x. Then they click on the merchant website only to be redirected to similar products. This is OK if it it is a clear redirect where the site visitor is clearly told what is going on with the desired product. But more and more sites are listing products just to get the traffic to their similar products & increasingly not so similar.
Honestly… ELC won’t be part of a bait & switch operation. It might lose us $ but we will have kept to an ethical standard of conduct ELC has pride in. It is better to let your customers know that you are out of stock, when the next shipment is due, any incentives you might have to entice the potential buyer to wait for the product & then offer optional products if they aren’t interested in waiting.
New User Search Trend
I’ve been seeing this new search pattern happen more and more often. As people become more search savvy (like I mentioned above – people are wise to your tricks), and time becomes shorter from the corporate world to the domestic world. Everyone from executives to home maker’s have less time to find what they need. They are not spending the time to read your website unless they are shown results that closely match what they are searching for. Now you have about 3 seconds to deliver the information they are looking for or they bounce off your site. Hence the change in searching for products from regular search to image search. I’m not going to get into the complexity of shopping results that can come into play, that is another post, another day. The “Bait & Switch” I mentioned above is a case study all its own. Believe you me, it’s a wild-wild west for shoppers right now. Caveat Emptor! Today we are sticking to the basics.
If you sell any type of product it is vitally important to be at the top of the image search results page. For instance the Google search I took a screen shot of above (forgive the horrible graphic – it’s a screen shot that got fancy with text) search for “clear acrylic prism”. ELC’s longtime client is Phoenix Proto Aluminum Tooling. They manufacture Aluminum Production Tools for plastic products. To you & I basically it’s blah, blah, blah. To a manufacturing tooling purchaser for medical parts, automotive parts, consumer parts and telecommunication parts “click on this to see the clear acrylic prism search result“. A regular search is less than satisfactory. You will find every other type of Acrylic other that someone that makes a clear prism version for prototype or production manufacturing.
Now click on the Google Image link at the top of the search page. Finally something that resembles what you are looking for – If you are are a OEM looking for plastic component suppliers.
This is just one of the pictures on Phoenix Proto’s website that brings them traffic. Currently they are experiencing 65% sales from web visitors. That is a huge conversion rate! But you have to remember they are in a niche market. You might be in a more competitive Internet market and only see 10% – 20% sales growth. That alone makes SEO worth it, up to 20% profit your business would have never had is 20% profit you have to lose by not updating and optimizing your website.
I’m sure you are thinking… why don’t you add the word custom to make “custom clear acrylic prism” now not only are the regular search results off, but the image search is coming up with every company that make clear acrylic trophy’s. This tells me 1 thing! Get the word custom on some of those pics. It is a wide open market. In Internet search marketing a wide open category is a rare thing. JUMP on it!
Update: I added the word “custom” to the clear acrylic prism pic above and now it is showing up in the image results for “custom clear acrylic prism”.
Because the market was so wide open, Google took an unrelated site’s info with the same pic from related site. Both details probably factors into the algorithm equation. It is interesting to see how fast a void gets filled in Google. This is directly opposite of a category with plenty of sites competing for the same keywords.
The above results are all coming from one picture. It is a automotive light pipe that has unique geometry. To you & I a lightpipe is what lights up stuff on our electronics. Drum roll please for the magical name bringing all of these wonderful results??? Would you believe: 3-week-acrylic-prism.jpg. Seriously! It is named what it is & it might soon have the word “custom” in it’s name to capture that traffic.
Often I come across a website that has every picture named something unremarkable like:
Or my personal favorite “The Super Long Random String of Numbers”:
You are wasting a valuable tool if you don’t name your pictures correctly with truthful & meaningful names.
Images are just one more way for a potential customer to find your website. You should always take the extra minute it takes to name your picture what it is. If your picture is of a Widget X 5000 then name it that. People looking for that specific kind of widget will be able to find yours over all the others sellers who instead named their Widget X 5000 in a burst of uninspired naming pic437.jpg.
So what is the best naming scheme?
First off you should limit your name to 31 characters or less. This is because some (more current ones are raising the limit) Macintosh computers will truncate (cut) the file name at 31 characters. You can over ride this naming convention in photo editing software & even on a Mac. Windows XP and above support longer names, but I find that it is a good rule of thumb.
Here is 32 characters: blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah if you cannot get your basic description in that amount you start to cross over into keyword stuffing and lose credibility not only for the image but also for the page and website. Plus once your website gets on the search engine naughty list, depending on the search engine you have quite a wait till they will deem your site trustworthy of results much less top results.
Breaking Up Words.
You should either use a dash to break up the letters:
or use a lower line break:
This is because search engines see widgetx5000.jpg as one long word. I prefer dashes as a naming convention over lower line breaks. This is because lower line breaks can get hidden by link underlines / underscores and a person that manually types in your url can easily miss these or misinterpret them.
Naming Image Links
To get better results you can name it for the color or size or both:
Forming the best picture url that is descriptive will not only will help your on page SEO it will also help boost your image search ranking.
Image Link Naming Examples
Now that you have named your picture something meaningful, you should optimize it on your page. Use plenty of descriptive words.
This is an OK link:
- < img src=”large-blue-widget-x-5000.jpg” border=”0″ width=”200″ height=”300″ />
This is an SEO optimized link:
- < img src=”large-blue-widget-x-5000.jpg” title=”The Widget X 5000 Size Large Colored Blue – Your Economics Professor Will Be So Jealous!” alt=”Large Blue Colored Widget X 5000″ border=”0″ width=”200″ height=”300″ />
The Title attribute is the text you see when you hover your mouse over an image, it is also known as a tool tip. There are two sides to the Title tag debate. On one hand it’s nice to let the person know what they are looking at and it cannot hurt to use it. That being said, the other side of the argument is that it isn’t weighted as heavily by search engines because it is not an accessibility tool like the Alt tag. To me, I like using Title tags. I like the hover pop up and I feel it gives a little something extra to the viewing experience. No matter if you decide to use the Title tag or not, you have to add the Alt attribute.
The Alt attribute is what is seen by a person who either has images turned off in their browser, a popular trick to speed up page load times when dial up was popular. There are still people who have images turned off because they either are still on dial up or prefer it. Alt is also used by accessibility devices used by those who otherwise would have difficulty seeing your image (poor eye sight, blindness, color blind, etc).
One more thing about Title and Alt tags. If you choose to use them together please remember to make them different. I made sure to create the SEO optimized link above as different as possible while keeping on topic. If they are both the same that will look like keyword stuffing to a search engine… big No-No.
The Great & Powerful Google has posted image guidelines in the Webmaster Tools Help section. It’s a great place to learn for beginners and a good refresher course for the more experienced. Google also mentioned in this article that placing captions under images is recommended, here is a fairly easy to understand tutorial on how to create the CSS needed because HTML does not support image captions. Image Captions
Yes this is old school SEO. But I’m constantly surprised at the numbers of websites that totally whiff on this bit of low hanging fruit in the SEO world. No pun intended, but it bears repeating until everyone is getting this one right.
If you are seriously bored & can’t think of a good way to fill your time, you can try your image naming chops against a random stranger. Google has a little known online tool called funnily enough “Google Image Labeler“. You both see the same set of pictures and get 2 minutes to name them. Then let the best name win.