Jul 222012

By Stephen Sandecki

This is part three of a series designed to educate self-storage operators on the basics of on-page search-engine optimisation (SEO). To clarify, on-page optimisation relates to things done directly to your Web page(s). Everything explained in this series can be done by whomever manages your website. If you run your website on a third-party platform or use third-party CMS (content-management system) software, you may be limited to how effectively you can optimize your on-page SEO. To get the most out of on-page SEO, give it consideration during the website-development phase.

One of the most overlooked aspects of search-engine optimisation (SEO) is image optimisation. This is mainly because many SEO professionals and self-storage Internet marketers don’t realize the benefits. By properly optimizing your images for search engines like Google, you help expose your Web pages to a larger audience and increase your overall on-page optimisation efforts.

In this article, we’ll go over all the things you can do to properly optimize your images for Google and other search engines, and how such optimisation can be of great value to your self-storage facility’s website. The best part of image optimisation is it usually doesn’t require any major revising of your Web pages.

Optimizing Images

I bet some of you are wondering, “Why in the heck would we want to optimize images? How will that benefit my website?” It’s a valid question. We all know large-scale updates and revisions to a website can be costly, especially if you have a third party managing and hosting your website. However, the on-page optimisation value it carries will far outweigh the short-term cost of such an update.

Google’s algorithm for display-search results is very complicated and uses hundreds of factors. It’s believed that by using proper image optimisation you can help boost the relevancy of a Web page to specific keywords and keyword phrases. You can also help get your images ranked higher in Google Images. Every image on your Web page that’s informative should be properly optimized. Obviously, design images such as round corners, borders, etc., don’t need to be optimized.

How to Optimize Images

Below is my guide on how to optimize images for Google Search\Images. I always like to mention that these are the best practices at the time of the article’s publication. As times goes by, Google can and will make alterations to its algorithm, and those changes can negate these best practices. However, I don’t foresee any of the below information changing anytime soon.

Proper image filename. This is actually a no-brainer optimisation method for images. You want to accurately describe the image in a few keywords in the file name. For example, if we had a picture of a man riding a red motorcycle, you would name your image “man-riding-red-motorcycle.jpg.” This tells Google this image is related to a man riding a red motorcycle. On a large website, this can be a time-consuming task, but in reality, it’s very simple.

Use of alt image HTML attribute. The alt attribute specifies the alternate text for an image if for some reason the image cannot be displayed, which can happen with broken links. The concept is if the image cannot be displayed, the reader will get a brief description of what the image should be. Google uses this attribute when determining what the image is relevant to. Here you can see an example of the alt attribute being used in an img html tag for an image of a man riding a red motorcycle:

<img src=”/images/man-riding-red-motorcycle.jpg”alt=”A man riding a red Honda motorcycle”/>

As you can see, I used the proper file name for the image as mentioned above, and also included a more detailed, simple, relevant description in the alt attribute. Remember, the alt attribute should never be used to spam or stuff keywords. Strictly use it to accurately describe the image in as few words as possible.

Relevancy of image to page content. While this may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many times images on a Web page have no real relevancy to the content. While there are many plausible cases where you might need to put a non-relevant image on your Web page, it’s always a good idea to keep them as relevant as possible.

Link properly to images. There may be many instances where you might link directly to an image internally (your website) or externally (another website). When linking directly to your images, it’s generally a smart idea to use proper anchor text (clickable text of a link). The anchor text should usually be a keyword or keyword phrase directly related to that image.

For example, if I was going to link to my image of a man riding a red motorcycle I would use: “man riding a red motorcycle.” As you can see, this really isn’t too difficult to figure out. Just make sure you don’t stuff too many keywords into the anchor text and always make sure it’s human-friendly. When I say human-friendly, I mean the anchor text should make sense to a human and read properly in whatever content it resides within.

Don’t spam or stuff via image optimisation. We’ve gone over four main ways to optimize your images for Google, but the most important is to not over optimize your images. It can sometimes be hard to not stuff keywords into image file names and alt attributes. However, when doing so, you risk harming your search-engine ranking instead of helping it. Google is always looking for ways to adjust its algorithm to prevent cheaters and spammers. By stuffing and spamming your images, you can accidentally trigger a negative response.

As you can tell after reading this article, it isn’t very difficult to optimize your images for search engines. The process of image optimisation can help you build your Web page’s relevancy to specific keywords and keyword phrases, while also allowing you to rank your images at the top of the results in Google Images. It’s important to remember this is just one of the hundreds of factors Google uses for ranking Web pages and isn’t the main method to rank your Web page(s) at the top of the search results.

Stephen D. Sandecki is the Internet marketing specialist for LifeStorage Centers LLC. He has more than eight years of experience in search-engine optimisation, paid search and Internet marketing, and six years of experience in the self-storage industry. LifeStorage has 18 facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. For more information on Chicago Storage, visit Lifestorage.net.

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