I’ve been discussing some of the more overlooked areas of SEO in some recent blogs - The Common Misconceptions of SEO and Taking Advantage of Yahoo! and Bing. Now, let’s take a look at an area that is often overlooked in website design – images. Graphics play an important role in web design, and they can influence organic search rankings. As the Internet becomes a more visual place, taking the time to make your website graphics search-friendly can provide a nice boost in search traffic. Here are some tips for image optimization:
Make sure to compress website images to ensure your site loads quickly. Use an image software program rather than one that is integrated with your content management system. A graphics-heavy website will be slow to load, so stick to smaller, high-quality images. You only have a few moments to make an impression on a website visitor, and a slow-loading website may cause visitors to click away.
Also, the size of the image should be appropriate for its position on the webpage. If the visitor's web browser needs to re-size the image each time the image or page is viewed, it will take additional load time.
Name the Image
Use your keywords when naming image files = the filename should contain keywords related to the image and website. If you are using multiple words in the filename, hyphenate the words in the image filename so they are indexed correctly by the search engines. For example: domain.com/graphic/keyword-phrase.png
Be sure to use "alt tags" in the HTML code to describe the image. The alt tags should also contain keywords or phrases that relate both to what the image represents as well as to the content of the web page.
Do Not Lose Control
It is very important that you host all images on your own website. If you link to an image on another website, it not only makes the image load time dependent on their bandwidth speed, but also gives them control over your website! For example, if they decide to change that image, but keep the same filename, you could end up displaying something on your site that is completely different than the original image.
In addition to alt tags, images can contain "titles." The image title appears in most browsers when the mouse is on the image. It is important that the title accurately represents the image and also contain keywords.
When optimizing a website for search engines, take a few extra moments to optimize the images as well. It is not much work for the opportunity to have index-able keywords that will help improve any site’s page ranking.