Most digital marketing experts are desperately trying to take advantage and understand the developing area of voice search as one of the most popular emerging channels of searching. However, there seems to be an easier search method that has perhaps been overlooked and has lacked as much enthusiasm, but which is just as important: Image Search.
Before going on to explore new channels of search, experts in digital marketing should be making certain that site images are optimised as much as possible. Studies by Rand Fishkin of Moz data and Jumpshot report that the second most popular way of using a search platform on Google is by searching images. This proves that image searches are indeed far more important than perhaps previously thought in that Google Images relate to a large amount of searches, in fact considerably more than Amazon, Google Maps, Facebook and YouTube combined. Google Images are searched ten times more than searches on other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing, and forty times more than searches on Facebook.
Reports show that websites who post images on Google do not necessarily utilise them to the draw traffic, as much as they potentially could. Posts are overlooked and not used to significantly show up in search results. For example, a Google search for an IMG file with a 4-digit number attached (representing a number between 1 and 9,999) can pull up around 200,000 results and clicking on a specific image tab will show Google image search results, but will also show numerous images that are labelled with the same raw data file name. Of course, a search for a unique IMG file is unrealistic and would never be done, yet a huge amount of data is still uploaded this way. Instead, the image file name could be replaced with relevant keywords or product descriptions, either promoting the product, the brand or the website. Businesses who want to show up on Google Images, should be therefore naming each and every image that relates to them. If images are left unnamed or labelled as the default raw file name, then they are essentially not linked to a brand.
Google can analyse the index and content surrounding the image but neglecting to name an image with relevant context, fundamentally abandons optimising for search. Failing to give Google any extra data that could be used to index the image is a missed chance in promoting a website, product, service or brand. If every image on a website is named according to the context or relevance, then this guarantees more clicks and traffic to the site through Google Images. Images are extremely effective in promoting and marketing consumer goods and retail products, especially as images are far easier to scroll through and more attractive than search listings. Consumer and retail goods are focused on by Google’s Product Ad Listing categories, presenting a sponsored carousel of shopping results that are listed above organic results.
Business websites should be focusing on optimising images that are retails and consumer goods, promoting them for organic search. However, there are also other image categories which will benefits websites in optimising, making goods easier to search. Professional services or businesses that promote individuals with good reputations should be taking the same steps with optimising. For example, a law firm who has highly regarded lawyers should use profile or portrait pictures to market their service. This is especially good for local businesses to promote themselves through respected workers or individuals with good reputations.
Google will rank images better if they enhance a user’s experience on Google Images. It values quality and relevance and will increase search results for returning users, measured by user experience feedback. Therefore, the more popular the image, the more clicks it will get and the more highly it will be ranked by Google. Here are some valuable tips to give users a better experience with your images:
The quality of your images is incredibly important. Poor images that are either unappealing, unclear or distorted will put users off. A survey carried out by Shotfarm reports that consumers assume a poor image will give them a poor product, with a shocking 63% of users saying good quality images are extremely important. Good quality pictures will bring you more clicks and boost your ranking.
Stock images are usually obvious and can make a company look insincere. They can damage what some consumers like to see in a local business – a quality, personal service which is much more appealing than a clean-cut corporate look. If stock images are linked to your brand and rarely clicked on, Google Images will lower the ranking of the image. Unfortunately, you also run the risk of using an image that may have been used a thousand times before by other businesses.
Make sure you do not have very large image files on your website, or it will affect the page load time. You can reduce the file size without losing the quality. Research online tools that can help to strip data and optimise images for your website, for example – JPEGMini, Kraken.io. or PunyPNG.
It’s important to remember to understand how an image will be presented in search results. Google does not crop images, but they should fit the standard image ratios and are likely to be resized to 16:9 or 4:3 dimensions. Large group images can lose clarity and detail when they are reduced to a thumbnail size and will therefore detract clicks.
You can optimise images by labels, data, descriptors and tags to take advantage or Google ranking and indexing. Google uses labels, metadata and descriptors to index websites, so it is important to make sure that your images are easily identifiable for Google to understand the context. If your images are optimised well, then Google will index and rank your website higher:
The image file name is the essential description for your image that Google finds searchable. Make the name relevant.
Alt tags describe your image and are important HTML attributes. If an image does not show for some reason, then the alt tag is used in place of the image. The text is also displayed by a screen reader for the visually impaired and will show when an image is disabled or can’t be decoded. In simple terms, the alt tag is used in place of the image as an alternative, when the image cannot be presented in the browser.
A description is a field displayed giving a full explanation of an image, giving the user additional information and/or links. A description is shown when an image is clicked on in a post or site and opened in a separate window.
A caption is usually the description or title that is shown with the image.
Text content, image sitemaps, text content, page URL and page title are all relevant to Google surrounding images on search results. Optimise all relevant information with consistency and configuration, combining the information so that it merges well for Google.
Visual images have become a key channel of engagement for consumers and experts suggest that Google’s future could be pinned on image technology. It’s inevitable that images will continue to play a significant role in engaging leads and sales from new customers for businesses, helping them to promote and market their services or products in search listings. Yet, still many businesses are failing to optimise their images separately from their websites, articles or landing pages – wherever they are displayed. As a result, businesses are losing valuable search opportunities to help promote their store, brand, service or product in search results. Unlock your businesses potential and spend a bit more time optimising your images to engage consumers more effectively.
To make sure your website is optimised to its full potential, use our digital audit service to make sure your online presence is at its maximum potential.