Voice search, augmented reality, artificial intelligence – the competition for the new king of search is fierce.
But whichever horse you bet on, it will be a while before we transition to the future of SEO.
In the meantime, we must remember to think about online search in its current form.
So, I’d like to bring up the aspect of search you know all too well: images.
They’re neglected far too often, even though most websites rely on them heavily.
Of course, every aspect of SEO is important. But let’s face it: users don’t even notice your keywords and backlinks.
They only care about what they can experience directly through your content, and visual information plays a major role in that.
Any time you need to learn, find, or buy something, visuals will be there to assist you. Images can make sure you’ve found exactly what you needed.
Being so closely tied to user search intent and user experience, images have a greater impact on your rankings than you realize.
According to First Site Guide’s research, images make up 62.6% of all Google searches. And they are on the rise. See how much they matter?
Let’s learn about the art of turning your images into click-attracting user traps.
You look something up in Google, click on the Images tab and see a bunch of pictures. They all look the same-ish or outright identical.
Which one do you click on?
Well, if there’s little difference between them, you choose completely randomly. One of the websites from the batch of identical search results gets lucky; the rest do not. Switch back to the site owner’s perspective, and you can see how this situation is less than ideal.
How To Make Your Images Stand Out
So if you want your site to be the user’s first choice, the solution is to create and use unique images which don’t exist anywhere else and do leverage intent - Especially if you consider the most important role images play: converting visitors into leads.
The Reasoning: Can a picture you didn’t make yourself truly satisfy your target audience’s search intent?
The best image is one whose contents are closely related to the user’s search query.
Most likely, you will click on the infographic, right?
Hats off to the yolks – um, folks who decided not to use somebody else’s work as a crutch. And there’s your decisive argument for making your own visuals.
Last but not least, unique images and content save you from copyright infringement and expensive fines.
What’s the worst that can happen to an image? “Image Failed to Display.”
The broken image icon is a fly in the ointment of the best user experience, even if there was nothing important to show.
Obviously, the damage is even greater if you really need users to see the image. A product page without a product photo is a disaster for any online store.
How To Easily Identify Broken Images On Your Website
Don’t let it happen to you. Find all broken pictures on your site with WebCEO’s Technical Audit tool and make them display correctly.
Google likes fast-loading sites, and one of the biggest concerns around images is how they affect your loading time.
Naturally, you want to keep image sizes on your site to a minimum.
Try these steps to optimize your images:
Pay special attention to the Cumulative Layout Shift metric, as it’s another Google ranking factor and is also affected by images. If you want to lower your CLS, look for the Avoid large layout shifts point in Optimization opportunities.
Let’s go into a bit more depth regarding image dimensions.
Ideally (and realistically), you want your images clearly visible on all kinds of devices. But the screens come in all sizes, with PCs and phones being the most obvious options.
So, how do you make the same picture display perfectly everywhere?
The trick is to make your picture responsive. That is, make it automatically scale to fit any screen.
WordPress makes images responsive automatically, but if you need to do it manually, here are a few options:
“Keywords” is the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear “SEO.” Or maybe it’s just me?
There’s a whole list of ways keywords can make your images more SEO-friendly.
You just need to know where to use them.
Try adding focused keywords to these five locations to improve your image SEO game:
A local SEO tip for all the stores out there. Adding geographical metadata to your images gives search engines more information to work with.
If there are coordinates attached to a picture of a place, the search engine can tell where exactly that place is. And if there’s a user interested in that particular location, maybe that picture is relevant to their search request.
Modern smartphones and cameras usually have a built-in geotagging feature. If yours doesn’t, you may want to use software or online service for this task. For example, GeoImgr is free and user-friendly.
Sitemaps offer the fastest way to help search engines discover your site pages. But a separate sitemap just for your images?
It may sound excessive at first, but Google actually recommends it. Here’s a quote from Google’s blog:
So you don’t even need to host an image on your own domain, and it will still work for you. Sounds like a dream, right?
However, there is a catch: websites usually have tons of images.
Making a sitemap for them yourself is a valid option (and Google provides an example), but entering hundreds or thousands of image URLs manually would take forever. And, unfortunately, there are very few free automated services to do it for you.
Of course, you can just write a script for scraping image URLs and putting them into a sitemap – if you are an IT god. For puny mortals, we can recommend Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, which comes with an XML Sitemap Generator. Its free version can create image sitemaps with up to 500 URLs.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. Teach a browser to cache images and it will keep them for as long as needed.
Okay, you don’t need to teach browsers anything, but you get the idea.
Once an image is saved in the cache, the browser will retrieve it from there instead of loading it again next time you visit the website. It’s a real time saver.
Structured data tells search engines what’s what on a page.
All websites can benefit from it, but it’s a real godsend for ecommerce sites in particular. It’s not just regular search results that can become rich snippets; image search results get extra fluff, too!
See that little badge saying Product and the words In stock? You bet the user is one click away from visiting that site.
In order to generate structured data code for your pages, consider using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool. It’s free, but it requires a Google Search Console account associated with your domain.
It works like this:
Markup Helper can test and validate your code too. If you want an alternative, there’s also Rich Results Test (another free tool).
Easier than you expected, right? The only downside is that the effect will not be immediate; it may take up to three weeks.
Get an extra publicity boost from social media. You can never have too many of those.
The more shares your pages have, the more important and relevant they appear to search engines.
First things first: users are more likely to share a unique image. If you put an honest effort into making your own visuals, that’s a good start.
Now for the technical part.
Normally, enabling the option to share your images doesn’t require any hard work. WordPress already makes hero images shareable. Just copy and paste the page’s URL when making your social media post.
The secret lies in – you guessed it – those property=”og” things. If your website doesn’t generate them automatically, you may want to put them in your pages’ metadata yourself.
However, it’s much easier to install a plugin like Share This Image. Then the users will be able to share your site’s images on social media in just a couple clicks.