Image Optimization, The Classic Backseat Driver

Search Engine Optimization regrettably often takes a back seat to a company’s offline marketing efforts. Print, radio and TV advertising are often the frontrunners when companies decide where to spend their marketing budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Year after year companies seems more comfortable with the natural processes and terms of the traditional marketing outlets. GRP, ROI, ROAS and other exciting abbreviations the marketers and executives can come up with, are always the deciding factor to where the money is allocated.

It is inevitable that one day somebody from the marketing department will come across information-rich web analytics and suddenly realize how little traffic the company’s website(s) generated. How could this have happened? So many marketing dollars have been burned through ensuring the site is appealing to consumers and investors alike. And you know how it is; as a result, the marketing department picks up the phone and starts interviewing tons of SEO agencies that each tells them to focus on optimizing textual page content. This fanatical concentration of text-oriented search engine results pages (SERPs), to increase their client’s rankings, rarely takes into consideration the actual intent of every search engine, which is to bring all of the world’s information to every user seeking answers.

Most Webmasters and SEOs interpret this as making all text-based information accessible; completely ignoring a part of their search engine optimization capabilities which will bring a significant payoff to a clients’ website and branding initiatives: Image optimization.

Read on, and I’ll clarify, after all, an image can tell more than a thousand words.

Basics of Image Optimization
The terminology image optimization has been used in the context of web design for a long time, most often referring to the practice of compressing and converting images for presentation on web pages. The term takes on new meaning when used in the context of search engine marketing. Search engine marketers can use images to both increase traditional organic search engine rankings and also as means of being found in search engine results when people search for images.

Good search engine marketers have been using images as a means of building relevancy for keywords for quite some time now, though, most rarely go beyond the use of ALT text. To gain a full understanding of how to optimize images on your web site for search engines, it is essential first to understand which images to optimize, because not all images garner the need.

The most common understanding of an image or picture is that of an artifact, two-dimensional, that has a similar appearance to some subject, usually a physical object or a person. Images and photographs are also referred to in a broader sense for any other two-dimensional figure such as a map, graph, pie chart, or painting. Pretty fancy explanation, but granted I might have gotten some of that from Wikipedia, however, it must be understood that we shouldn’t optimize every small type of pixel on your website that only exists to display your site, and not tell a story.

Five fundamentals which you should consider and utilize to optimize the images on your site:

  1. Proper Naming Conventions
  2. Alt Tags
  3. The proximity of Relevant Content
  4. Image/Photo Formatting
  5. Image Quality

So next time your marketing guys pick up the phone interviewing SEO agencies make sure they are looking for companies that go beyond the fundamentals. Content is critical, but please people, let’s expand our traditional definitions of content, it is not just textual anymore!

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