The crucial role images play in your SEO
What is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of making small operational changes to your website in order to facilitate the systematic categorization of web content by various search engines, and ultimately helping your website rank higher in search results. It’s complicated to stay on top of since search engines like Google and Baidu are constantly updating their algorithms and formulas to make their search results more relevant to the average user.
Google has tried to make SEO as easy as possible to understand on their online guide, which is definitely worth checking out: “Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content.”
A big chunk of SEO is making sure your website has high-quality pieces of content, and that the text is properly formatted to make it as easy as possible for search engines to ‘scroll,’ ‘crawl’ and ultimately classify your content. But there’s an often-overlooked champion for improving your site’s SEO: Visual content.
This article goes into detail about why visuals can improve your site’s SEO, but if you’re more interested in how to optimize your images by editing the meta tags and compressing your images, be sure to check out this page.
Images and videos can improve the user experience
As the search algorithm becomes more advanced, more emphasis is put on improving the user experience. So imagine, as a user, landing on a page with only text, or poorly adapted images and graphics. You simply aren’t likely to remain on that page unless the content is exactly what you are looking for.
Videos and images are great to break up a long block of text and can help illustrate your idea or your business. By illustrating your website efficiently, you are more likely to maintain the attention of your audience, which will make them stay longer on your page.
As they explain it on the custom-website builder site WIX: “This practice tells search engines’ bots that users are happy with what they see on your site and that they should probably send more users in that direction.”
A word of caution, be sure that your photos and videos are not slowing down your loading time. Studies, like the one conducted by Imperva, have shown that 62% of visitors will leave a page after only 5 seconds if the page hasn’t loaded. You can follow these steps to make sure your images are properly optimized.
Visuals present new opportunities for discovery
In order for Google to classify and rank webpages for specific searches, it first needs to find the pages itself. Typically, Google discovers new pages through the links it finds elsewhere on the web, either through your homepage or through links shared by your team and by your users.
To put it as simply as possible: Google uses the quantity and quality of these shared links to determine how relevant your pages are, so it’s essential to create as many points of entry to your page as possible: namely, through images, videos, and social media.
One of the great benefits of adding high-quality images to your website is that the images themselves are searchable! Just think about how often you’ve used the ‘Image Search’ option on your browser. Depending on the search query, Google may even propose a selection of photos as the top results, even on their principal search page.
If you can harness the power of Google images to capture image search queries, you’re well on your way to creating new, powerful entry points to your page.
How to try to get your photos up on the first page? Make sure you are naming your JPEGs, PNGs, GIFs, and PDFs with relevant nomenclature for the keywords you want to be known for. Now, it’s not the moment to stuff words in, but it’s definitely not in your interest to leave your image file names as 20201007_141149.jpg either.
Your alt text (sometimes mistakenly called Alt Tags) are also important to fill out. To learn more about how to use the metadata of your images to appear higher in searches, be sure to check out this guide.
Depending on who you ask, YouTube, Google’s subsidiary, is sometimes considered the second largest search engine after Google itself with 3 billion searches per month. It’s definitely a platform to take advantage of if possible.
That’s not to say you should just pop any video onto your article or homepage, but well-crafted video content can help your search ratings. Currently, in 2020, for specific queries, Google will directly propose a video in the first slot of the results, meaning a well-crafted and categorized video may beat out a well-referenced text article. Not to mention the impact video has on social media...
Social Media sharing
There are two ways that social media visuals can help you boost your web ranking. The first comes from when users will share the article or webpage with their friends because they found the content interesting and relevant. Google also takes into consideration how other people react to your content, if they share it, Google finds it more trustworthy. You can encourage this by creating visuals to embed in your content that will be used as a thumbnail when the content is shared. Think Pinterest posts that look a little something like this:
(And feel free to reshare this article if you found it interesting!)
The second way that visuals can improve your performance? Well, did you know that social media posts with videos see 59% more engagement than other types of posts? You should already have a plan in action for sharing your incredible content around the web (and if you don’t start here to learn how)!
Unique and custom content makes Google happy
The basics of search engine optimization are about making sure your content is helpful, accessible, and original, and this applies to visuals as much as text.
Creating custom content designed to improve the user experience is huge for search engines under the current algorithms.
Not to mention the importance of custom visuals for your brand image. Stock photos can be a good solution just to fill out a page, but the visuals need to be created and chosen with your web page in mind. If you plan on using stock images, have your team ‘brand’ the images with your company’s unique style, don’t just copy-paste a stock image that will be used 200 other places around the web.
For companies with unique offers, custom photography becomes all the more important, to find out why, check out this article.
If you’ve made it all the way down this 1200 word guide, then you’re ready to learn about how to use metadata to help you harness that visual power. We’ve written an entire guide about how to optimize your images for the web here.
Check back in regularly as we’re also updating our info and guides to help you navigate today’s visual world!