Optimizing Images & Videos for Search
Good morning, bloggers!
After two weeks of SEO boot camp I bet those blogs are looking pretty fit. So far we have built a solid foundation for our blog and have – at least started – built out a good keyword list for our content development strategy.
Congratulations! You are well on your way to SEO success.
So, this week I am going to take it a little easy on you with a shorter SEO Boot Camp segment. This does not mean it is any less important, however.
Today we’re going to discuss optimizing images and videos for search.
Wait; there is a strategy for images and videos? Can’t we just toss pretty pictures on our blog and call it a day? Is search engine optimization going to infiltrate every aspect of my blog?
I can hear the questions already and the answers are: yes, no and yes!
Search Engines are Blind
When you think of a search engine spider crawling your website, you may want to think of them as a very intelligent, but blind person. Unfortunately, spiders cannot read images; they are nothing more than colored pixels on the screen. Videos are the same. While there are some in the SEO community who feel the spiders are becoming smart enough to understand and translate voice on video, is it worth taking that chance? And what if your video is nothing but images and music?
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to improve the SEO on your images and videos and ensure that search engines understand the content you are showing to your audience.
Steps for Optimizing Images & Videos
- Use contextually relevant images & videos. When choosing videos or images for your blog post or page you want them to be relevant to the keywords you are using and to support the message you are trying to get across. While it may be fun to have oddball images in a content, your users will likely find it irritating.
- Use descriptive file names. When you save your image or video to your computer or to the media section of WordPress it always asks for a file name. And while “blog-post-one-image-7.jpg” may help you curate (not sure how, but people do it), it does not help the search engines understand what the image or video is portraying. If you are writing about a great Scotch tasting you attended (yes, I am still using that analogy) and the image is of the MC for the night, name the image “scotch-tasting-mc-talking-about-scotch.jpg”. Yes, it seems like a lot of work (especially if your blog is image-heavy, but it is well worth it when those rankings start improving.
- Optimize the alt and title texts of images and videos. Alt tags and Title tags are another step in describing your image to the search engines. Adding these tags to your images in WordPress this is easy. When you save your image into the Media section it will have a space for Title and Alternative Text. Simply fill those in with descriptive language about your image (as seen in the image below) and you’re all set!
- Use proper file sizes for images and videos. Site speed is a big factor for search engines when they crawl your website. Everything you can do to lessen the amount of work the spiders have to do to find content on your website, the better. Every time you add an image that is 1000 x 800 and it has to be downsized to 500 x 400 or whatever this just means extra work the spiders have to do. When you add an image to your Media section, this means deciding how large you want your image to be and making it that size to start with by saving the image using your photo editor to the appropriate size before adding it to the media section (as shown in the appropriately named image below) (I use Gimp, you may use Photoshop or any other editing software).
- Use contextually relevant text around the image. Any time an image or video is added to your blog post you want the text surrounding it to be as relevant as possible. This means adding the image to a section of the post where you are talking about its contents. This will help add relevance to the image and make it more important in the search engine view.
- ***Video Specific Optimization*** Add the transcript to the page. The transcript of your video is the actual spoken words added to the page. By doing this on a video page, you will tell the search engines EXACTLY what the video is about and also help any visitors with hearing impairments understand the video content as well. Depending on the size of the video, you can either transcribe the video content yourself or outsource the work to a third party.
And that’s it for this week! Like I said, a quick and easy – and somewhat painless – segment for our SEO Boot Camp for Bloggers series. Tune in next week when I will be discussing the biggest SEO myths and mistakes bloggers make in regards to search engine optimization.
See you then!
Jeff Loquist is a search engine marketer with more than seven years’ experience creating search-friendly content and optimizing websites for the search engines. He runs Zen Search Marketing, a Baton Rouge SEO Consulting, PPC management and content development company. Outside of search, Jeff enjoys making soap (yeah, you heard right…soap) and writing poetry and short fiction. Mostly, Jeff enjoys a good Scotch, a fine cigar and great conversation; pretty much in that order.