How to Optimize Website Images and Video for SEO
Images and video are an excellent way to help convey information about your product, service, business, or other information to your visitors, and they can be optimized for SEO. Taking the time to optimize images and video properly is essential because search engine spiders cannot directly extract the meaning from photos or videos. Our job is to help the search engines understand ours by providing them with optimized metadata, including alt attributes, title attributes, surrounding elements (for context), and so on.
Here are some basic techniques you can use to improve the semantic value of images and videos so that search engines and humans can better process them.
SEO for Images
1. Make Sure Images and Videos Are Contextual and Relevant
When selecting photos, videos, or other media for your web page, you should choose those that support the text content you have written. They should also be logically related to the keywords you will optimize them for. Researches show that images are the basic selling feature of any website. Images provide critical visual queues to visitors when they land on your page about its relevance to their search. If the images and text content match their investigation, they are likely to stay on your site and read not only that page but explore your other content. Images also have the potential to generate some good backlinks.
It is essential to be respectful of copyrights when finding images for your site. There are many free and paid stock image sites available to get your pictures and other media from. Just because you can find an image on Google Image Search doesn’t mean it’s free to use. I’m a big fan of iStockphoto for paid royalty-free images and Pixabay for free images. Don’t forget that you can also take your own photos!
2. ALT Attribute
It’s essential to complete the ALT attribute for every image using clear, concise copy that includes keywords. The ATL attribute is generally regarded as the primary information that a search engine will use to gain images’ context and meaning. The text you enter in the ALT attribute displays in place of your image if the link is broken or doesn’t load immediately instead of the dreaded red ‘x.’ Therefore, image alt attributes need to make grammatical sense; don’t just list stuff keywords in them. Keyword-stuffing is a lousy practice anywhere on your page, and ALT tags are no exception; do it, and you may find your image or site banned from search results.
3. Title Attribute
The title attribute is an additional area where you can place a keyword-rich description of the image. The text you enter in the title attribute displays when you place your mouse over an image with a completed title attribute; it displays in a little pop-up window.
4. Image & Video Name
The quickest thing you can do to increase the SEO value of images and videos is to use natural language file names. You should always replace auto-generated file names from digital cameras (such as DSC00427.JPG) or those that come with stock images (such as ist_000000298881.jpg). Make sure every image you include in your website is named concisely and consists of the appropriate keywords for the page it’s being placed on. (Don’t overdo it, though – be accurate.) By naming your images in this manner, they will have a better chance of indexing the keywords included in the name. It’s even possible that you can drive new traffic to your website if the image ranks in the top rows of Google Images.
Note: There’s a seemingly endless debate as to if you should use an underscore (_), a hyphen (-), or some other character to separate multi-word-named images (e.g., my-seo-image-name.jpg vs. my_seo_image_name.jpg, etc.). Personally, my current favorite is hyphens, but I also have websites that use underscores. Whichever you prefer, be consistent. Google seems to prefer the underscore for their sites (e.g., https://www.google.com/images/logos/mail_logo.png). I haven’t noticed a difference either way in which images get crawled and which don’t. Just don’t use a space between words as it gets formatted with a %20 (the HTML code equivalent for a space) in the URL, which makes it look rather unattractive.
Captions provide yet another opportunity to include keywords on a page. If appropriate for your design, add captions to images and make sure they are wrapped in a heading or bold tag. Here again, keywords should be at the front of the caption.
6. Image Size and Load Time
You need to carefully balance the size of the images you use on your web pages with their load time. Large images tend to be more engaging, yet they tend to have larger file sizes. Small images tend to have smaller file sizes but are less engaging. While the search engines rank images with faster load times higher than those with slower load time, it’s essential not to sacrifice making a connection with your visitor by using small images when larger images may have enabled a conversion from browser to buyer. Also, keep in mind that thumbnails should be more significant than 100X100 for best results.
Take the time to optimize images, so the file sizes are as small as possible, yet the images maintain the visual quality you need for your purposes. Explore alternative file formats (JPG, PNG, GIF) and resolutions until you get the best combination.
Note: Google has confirmed that image load time plays a part in ranking, so if you find that your thumbnails rank instead of full-sized images, don’t be alarmed. If your image is something that a person is genuinely searching for, they will visit the page the image is located on to view the full-resolution version (Google makes this very easy in their image search results pages).
7. Image Sitemap
If you are running a WordPress site, you might want to consider installing the Google Image Sitemap plugin and setting it up if you have a lot of meaningful images on your site. This will help search engines specifically key in on them.
SEO for Video
8. Video Titles
The main thing to optimize is the video’s title, mainly when you’re using a third-party streaming service such as YouTube or Vimeo. Follow the same suggestions provided for images.
9. Video Description
Descriptions are another element that affects the search results of a video. Targeted keywords should be mentioned in the first few words of the description and repeated in the second sentence.
10. Video Sitemap
Make a video sitemap so search engine spiders can crawl your videos more easily. If you are running a WordPress site, you might consider installing the Google XML Sitemap for Videos.