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The Link Between Images and SEO

Since Google made the switch to change to their Hummingbird algorithm, things have changed for images used on your site, in addition to your content posts. Luckily, though, the changes aren’t that drastic, and most of them point back to what we always urge: use images and descriptions that clearly reflect your content instead of generic stock images with meaningless descriptions. Here are five tips to help you out:

1. Make sure your pictures relate. Far too often, content creators rely on things like pictures of people smiling for every single blog. However, this is a big no-no with the Hummingbird updates, since Google will now be able to recognize content in pictures and then direct people accordingly. If you’re using a generic smiling person, then Google is going to pull up your site’s pictures for people who may have not be looking for your area of expertise.

2. Don’t rely on generic stock photos. I’ve said it before because of quality value, but it’s now even more important if you want your content to have a higher impact in search engines. Relating to the point above, if 200 sites are using the same stock photo of a smiling person, then your results won’t stand out in the search engines. Make sure your pictures are unique, and people will pick your picture out of the crowd.

3. Upload images at the size you need. Google includes page load time in its algorithm, and large images slow down the page load. Therefore, re-size your image to the size you want it to show up on your site using a basic photo-editing program, and then add it. Don’t use a widget in your site to re-size the image, which can sometimes lead to distorted images.

4. Use a meaningful file name. Sometimes people don’t think to change their file names from whatever comes off their camera, but this is a big mistake. Something like "Cannon440" or "IMG2259" tells search engines absolutely nothing about the content of your image. So, instead of just going with those, clearly describe your image by changing the name to something like "housing-sales-chart-august-2013" (and make sure to use hyphens not underscores).

5. Don’t forget alt text. Alt text may be hidden in the background of your site, but it has multiple uses. First of all, it shows up in search engines, so your alt text needs to clearly and simply describe your image. Secondly, alt text is useful on Pinterest, where your alt text can automatically show up as the description on Pins. This just emphasizes that images need to be related to your post, and your alt text needs to clearly describe your image!

So there you have it: five tips you need to make your images work with, instead of against, search engines. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

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