Last week we began discussing Website Design from an SEO perspective, and demonstrated the importance of Page Titles. Today we will show you how to properly include images into your design to ensure the search engines find your website and rank you for your target content.
Aesthetic Appeal of Imagery
Whether you are using raster drawings, stock photos, or your own photography, there is no question that the inclusion of high quality images vastly increases the aesthetic appeal of any website or blog design.
Provided the images used in your design relate to your content, they will increase the appeal of your design to your readers.
Studies show web designs which utilize images have a higher visitor return rate. Studies also show that visitors spend more time on pages which utilize images in their design. The same websites have a lower bounce rate too.
Image inclusion in articles breaks up the article in a way which makes it more digestible for the reader. Besides adding emphasis to your article or blog content, the use of images increases the chance that a reader will continue reading your article, rather than abandon it.
Images and SEO
A search engine can only see words. It doesn’t know that the image on your website is a Monet painting or a Lisa FX construction worker. No matter how artistic and aesthetically pleasing the image is, the search engines will ignore it completely unless we tell them about our image.
The first thing we need to do is name our image appropriately. If you downloaded a stock photo with a generic file name, you need to rename that photo before uploading it to your blog or website.
The photo name should follow good SEO practice. It should be simple and relevant to the content on your website. If your website focuses on growing flowers, a good file name for an image might be “growing-dahlia-flowers.jpg”.
Notice our use of dashes? We use them because search engines struggle with underscores and tend to concatenate the words together when underscores or other characters are used. Google will recognize three separate words in this example, all of which can be found through their main search engine as well as Google Images.
Image metadata needs to be included. Make sure to use the image Title and Alt tags. Don’t leave them blank. These tags also tell the search engines about our images. Make them simple and concise, but absolutely relevant. Do not consider spamming.
I like to make the Title and Alt tags similar to, or the same as, the file name. Except there is no need for dashes. Using our example above, our image title and alt tag could be “Growing Dahlia Flowers.”
One more thing. Don’t include words like and, or, the, with, and so on if you can help it. Those words slightly decrease the relevancy of your true key words that you want search engines to focus on.
Image placement within our design or article comes down to both artistic reasoning and SEO importance. If the target key words used in our image tags are very relevant to our content, then the higher we place the image toward the top of the webpage, the more important the search engines will deem the image to be.
This makes sense. We tend to put the most important items near the top of our websites and blogs. Less important items are generally in the footer. Search engine algorithms are programmed to use this logic when determining which content is most important on a page.
Don’t sacrifice your design by placing an image near the top of your webpage if the correct artistic placement is much lower. Just be aware of how search engines will use your choice of placement to weight the importance of the tags used in the image.
We hope we gave you some good ideas you can use in your web and blog designs. Next week we will focus on some more techniques for improving our ranking and visibility within search engines.