A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s a cliché because it’s true. And when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), the phrase is more than apt. That’s because in the rough-and-tumble world of SEO, adding visual content significantly boosts the odds that your message will flow to the top of the Google rankings. Kriselle Laran, VP of digital for the Zeno Group, will lead the “How to Optimize Visual Content for Search” session at PR News’ SEO Boot Camp, which takes place August 11 in San Francisco. Below, Laran offers a primer on how PR pros can juice their SEO efforts by adding—and optimizing—visual content.
1. Don’t let a little coding scare you off. Pictures are meant to be seen, not read. You need to help the search engines out with a little coding. If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, the good news is that you don’t really have to worry about any coding unless you really want to. When you upload an image, just make sure to fill out the “alt” and “title” fields. “Alt” is short for alternative. Alt text is the text that is associated with an image and allows search engines to “read” the picture.
Consider this: If an image doesn’t show up on a web page, what text would you want to show in its place? The title field is less necessary, but helpful to have to reinforce keyword usage in your images. In the title field, you’ll want to include a description of your image as you would like it to be seen when someone hovers over the picture with her mouse. If you’re not using a content management system, images will need to be hard coded with the alt and title attributes. Note that you can have spaces, punctuation and capitalization in your alt and title coding.
2. Name them something good. If you’ve ever run a Google search for an image, chances are that you typed in something descriptive. If you type “PR News logo,” the results that populate will be anything relevant to this search term. The most relevant results will be the images that somehow contain PR News or PR News logo in the text.
When naming your image, make sure that you’re giving it a name that makes sense. If your company’s name is Acme and you’re saving your corporate headquarters image to your website, name that image “Acme-corporate-headquarters” so that both people and search engines can easily understand what the image is.
Bonus tip: Use hyphens, not underscores. Search engines read hyphens as spaces and can see the phrase as separate words.
3. Size does matter. Search engines don’t just care about context; search engines are all about speed. Large files and images that take a lot of storage space can slow a website down. When saving your images, make sure that you’re saving them with these specs in mind at a resolution of 72 DPI.
Follow Kriselle Laran on Twitter: @krisellelaran
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1