Optimize for Google Universal – Images

This is the final blog post in our series of optimizing for Google Universal Search. Today, we are talking about image optimization. We’ll also get into a few social media reasons why paying extra attention to your image content can be beneficial for driving traffic to your site.

Image Optimization for Google Universal Search

Until the launch of Google Universal Search, image optimization wasn’t such a big deal. Image search was its own stand-alone vertical that, more often than not, had a lot of random, nearly non-related, results for the same keyword. Since images have been folded into Google Universal Search, however, this offers a new element of optimization for those looking to show relevance for integral parts of their organization’s offerings.

Here is an example of images appearing in the results page of a Google web search:

The Mechanics of Image Optimization for Google Universal Search

Even at this early stage of the game, there are recommended ways to approach image optimization for Google Universal Search. Image tags should contain the following elements for the best image optimization results.

    • Image Source: <img src="image.jpg">
      The source attribute specifies the URL of the image you are using. Get the most from your source attribute by naming your pictures with terms related to the picture content and keyword, if possible.
    • Alt Attributes: <img alt="descriptive text">
      This is the text that displays in the event that the image does not render. It is also the single most important element of image optimization. This defines the content of the image for page readers and was initially designed for visually-impaired site visitors, in addition to search engine web crawlers.Word your alt text carefully so as to avoid any potential spam issues. As with the step listed above, use text that is directly related to the picture content first and related to a keyword/page content second.
    • Title Attributes: <img title="descriptive text">
      Similar to alt text, this is the optional text that displays when a user mouses over an image. Often times, for image optimization, you can simply use the alt text in the title attribute as well.
    • Image Size: <img width="225" height="250">
      Include both the height and width of the image, in pixels. While this may not influence an image’s position in Google Universal Search right now, it is a “best practices” step that gives engines more information should it be needed in the future.

As it is closely related to title tag information, don’t forget that you can also use captions in the body text to provide more information about an image, which provides another opportunity to leverage your image optimization for overall image and page relevancy.

Image Optimization Beyond Google Universal Search

Google is not the only search engine that returns multimedia results. Ask.com does also. While Ask doesn’t carry the same search traffic that Google does, the good news is that the same image optimization you do for Google Universal Search should also optimize you pretty well for Ask.

As social media continues to grow in popularity, so does the impact of images at those sites. A recent informal study at Adamantblog shows that approximately 40 percent of the items on the Digg front page were images. Further, Stumbleupon is also an image-heavy community. While we don’t recommend using crazy photos just to get social media traffic, interesting or enlightening images that are properly optimized can go a long way to creating more traffic from more sources to your site.