In this installment of the DIY SEO series, we’re going to talk about images. Why? Well, images are a very communicative aspect of any website – “a picture paints a thousand words”….right? Well, it does for human beings who have the pattern recognition and intellect to be able to see that the image on the left is a fuzzy television and that the image is a metaphor for the challenge the search engines have. That’s right, search engines are not able to see images. In fact, the spiders that crawl your site will strip it of all the fancy stuff that makes it look good for humans so they can digest just the raw text/code. Have look at your site through the SEOBrowser or the WebConfs Search Engine Spider Simulator to see what I mean. So this article will give you some simple steps to make your images more visible and relevant to search engines.

Image optimization involves two main steps:

  1. The first step is to make sure your images are re-sized to the exact size you want. If you’re wondering why your pages are slow to load, take a look at the image sizes because big high-resolution images can really slow things down. If this is the case, you should re-size all of your images to the exact dimensions that you want to use on the web. For instance, I have a high-resolution head-shot that was taken as part of my SFU MBA. It is 2592 x 3872 pixels and is over 4MB in size. By using my image editor, GIMP, I can re-size it to 135 x 210 pixels at 36KB which is more than adequate for the web. Do this with all of your images and I guarantee that your pages will load faster.
  2. Then to make your images more friendly to search engines, you just need to add some alternate text. Alternate text (or alt text) is the text that is displayed behind the image that Google reads but is not visible by humans. The bare minimum you need is a description of the image itself but ideally it includes a reference to the article content. To change the alt text, you just need to click on the image and then open the image properties using your WYSIWYG editor. In JCE, my favourite Joomla WYSIWYG editor, you just need to click on this icon to open the image manager. Then you will see the “Alternate text” line. Try to add a description that has keywords from the article in question but isn’t too long so that it looks like you are trying to stuff keywords into your picture descriptions. In general, alt text of any kind should not exceed 80 characters.

OK, that’s an easy two step process but it can take quite a lot of time if you have a lot of images on your site. So you may need to set aside a few hours to go through your entire site to check all of your images.

As usual, if you have any questions, fire off an email to [email protected] or add a comment below and we’ll get back to you.