May 16, 2011

Image Optimization - Tips and Tricks.

This is to address all my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) folks as I wished to say something for those people who have contributed greatly to my knowledgebase of 'SEO'. I found many friends in this field and I will relish it throughout my life.

  Few months back, I was looking for few keywords on Google and saw many images and ‘mixed results’ out of the entire search result. Some questions started to crowd in my mind. Why and when did we decide to merge web results with the image outputs in a 'Universal Search' result? How to optimize the images in the search engines so that they are visible in the 'General SERP'?

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Every time you write the name of a famous personality or a movie celebrity in the search box, the Google SERP (search engine result page) appears like this:

a) The first result obviously shows 'IMAGES'.
b) The third outcome displays 'VIDEOS'.

  If you type the name of any film diva in the search box then you will be able to see the above outcome on your own. Frankly speaking, I tried with ‘Angelina Jolie’.
             Another question that crops up in mind is that why pictures and videos occupy top rankings ahead of others in the Google's SERP. Well, my assumption on this is that majority of the search engine users look for those particular keywords that are generally associated with the pictures, wallpapers or videos. It means that most users add general keywords like ‘images’,  'videos' etc. with the name of ‘Angelina Jolie’ while searching something on her and they do not generally enter only the name. This leads one to assume that Google is very likely to look for pictures or videos of Angelina Jolie before other results. If search engine has information on the number of downloads of the most popular image or video of Angelina Jolie then it will place that particular image/video at the top of other images/videos of Jolie.

        Now, have a peek at some common terms apart from the film stars. When we say "Christmas", the images come below few web results. Why does not it appear on top? Applying the similar rule here, many researchers often look for the pictures with 'Christmas wallpapers' key-phrase. But the fact is that its search volume is not adequate to place the results on the highest place. Similarly, when searching for 'dogs', maximum users type 'pictures of dogs'. But when searching for ants, majority of them type the exact word 'ants', as very few people look for pictures of ants (But I have never tried such results).
            Are all the above observations really going to help the researchers? This may be regarded as a debatable point, but I consider that it relies on certain conditions. The search results show the data that are forced and irrelevant. Similarly, what is the necessity of the image results, if I want to search for some shopping on Christmas?

         Now, the main question is: how to get images in the results of common public search? Images assembled in general search engine results resemble those images that are visible at the top positions while searching with the same keywords in ‘Google images’. Orders of pictures may vary, but the images are the same. This means we optimize pictures for general search results in the similar manner as we perform for ‘Google images’. If any keyword represents a particular image, then the optimized visualization is automatically displayed in search results.

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         The search robots of the search engines are not human beings. They cannot differentiate between the image of a big animal like an elephant and a small creature like that of an ant. Instead, all search engines perform the processing in their own way to show the subject matter of the picture. If we can describe the image on the projected website properly and invite good quality links to it, it is quite possible that the image will be at the top of Google search results.

*** Few important tips to be remembered while optimizing images and to achieve top rankings in Google search results:

 1. Always use a single and beautiful image, which can gain quality links from different websites. Just duplicating the image from different site and optimizing it accurately cannot help much.
 2. Insert relevant and appropriate keywords in the image file name.
 3. Define the uploaded image with the 'ALT' tag, including appropriate keywords. You have to define the visuals with text including keywords, to ensure its natural effect.
 4. Compose relevant keyword- rich content around the visuals.
 5. It is crucial to optimize the web page that contains a picture. If that page is properly optimized with target keywords, then the image has greater possibility of appearing in search results. However, to ensure best results, always ensure that the target keywords appear in the title tag of that page.
 6. Always try to get quality links with appropriate anchor text, image and the web page.
 7. Ensure that your image is not extra-large or very small.
 8. Adhere to 'JPEG', 'PNG', or 'GIF' format.
 9. Always ensure that the 'URL' does not suggest an 'adult' theme, anyway. For example, if you look at optimizing your image for women and gifts, then you should avoid any 'adult' keyword in the URL or ALT text that is related to women and gifts. It may provide Google with the assumption that your site is associated pornographic contents, which will lead to filtration from certain search results.
 10. It is suggested to generate an image sitemap and adhere to the guidelines provided by Google (Do a Google-search on this. You will get a Google webmaster support help-page) to optimize images.
 11. Last but not the least, post your image in different social media sites like Twitpic, Google-picasaweb, Imageshack, Webshots and Flickr to give it greater visibility in the eyes of 'Googlebot'.