Friday, January 22, 2010

SEO Tips for Birders- Image Optimization

This week's SEO tip for Birders (image optimization) is an important one since most bird bloggers like to post pictures of their sightings.

Many of you have noticed that when you search on a bird species there are image results blended in with the rest of your search engine results.
Example of bird species image results:

SEO Tip for Birders: Optimize your images for bird species names.

Bird Blogger Image Optimization Tips:

Always use the species name in your image file name- do this when you are reviewing and editing your digital images for your blog post. To rename a file simply right-click on it in the folder and choose "Rename." If you have multiple images of the same species use a - (hyphen) or a _ (underscore) to add a numeral to the end.

For example: female+common+yellowthroat.bmp and female+common+yellowthroat_2.bmp

If you are unsure of the exact species name then get as close as possible- "sparrow.jpg" Every little bit helps when it comes to SEO!

•Include captions or descriptive text- As a best practice I try to precede images with the species name:

That way they get indexed nicely in the image search engines:

Use smaller images for optimal download times- If you have lots of huge images on your blog, these will take a long time to load, which will make the entire page load slowly. Page load time is one of the factors search engine ranking algorithm take into account, so this could hurt your chances of showing at the top of results.

My solution? When I import images I usually go with Blogger's "medium" size. That way my pages will load quickly, and users interested in seeing the larger version can click on the image to view the enlarged (full-page) view.**

•Include keywords in the Alt Attributes (sometimes mistakenly referred to as "ALT tags")- ALT attributes are meant to help users who are having trouble viewing pictures since the image is replaced with text. You can view ALT attributes by mousing-over an image when you are on a website.

Here is an example of an image with an optimized ALT attribute on the 10,000 Birds website:

If you don't see anything, then the image does not have its ALT attribute optimized. Some content management systems will automatically optimize the ALT attributes, so if yours does great! If not (which I just realized is the case with Blogger), there is a way to do it manually by editing the code, but it's probably more effort than its worth.

In my opinion it's a nice-to-have, but if you're also optimizing the image file name and are using good captions immediately before the image you don't need to optimize the ALT attribute. If you want that extra search engine ranking boost- go for it. Email me of you would like more information about how to do it manually.

**Important note about including enlarged pictures in Blogger- my friend Larry from the Brownstone Birding Blog was the first to point out to me that in blogger when you add a picture and drag it to the point in the post you want it to appear, it loses its hyperlink to the enlarged view. That's why when you first import it you have to click on the hyperlink button, copy the URL for the enlarged picture, move it, then click the hyperlink button again to paste and add the hyperlink back in.

Next week's SEO Tip for Birders will be about external linking.


search engine placement said...

image optimization helps your site to be more visible over the internet..image optimization drives good traffic too

Andy Mabbett said...

Good post, but really bad advice about ALT attributes. They're not meant for keyword-stuffing, but to assist blind readers and other people who have difficulty viewing images:

Birdinggirl said...

@search engine placement- thanks for stopping by!

@Andy- I agree completely. I by no means advocate keyword stuffing in ALT attributes. My post does not tell my readers to stuff arbitrary keywords in the ALT attributes. It tells them to put a description of the image (such as a specific bird species) in the ALT attribute. This is absolutely the appropriate use of an ALT attribute and I stand by it. But I really do appreciate you bringing up the issue of keyword stuffing in ALT attributes because I would hate for one of my readers to unintentionally get into a bad practice such as that. I don't think you have to worry about bird bloggers though- they're pretty ethical folks. It's the binocular sites you have to watch out for! haha

Andy Mabbett said...

The screenshot of your alt atrribute example shows that it merely repeats the text on the page - it offers no increased accessibility; and should instead either describe the image, or be null (alt="").

Birdinggirl said...

@Andy- Thanks for the additional information about your stance on accessibility. I'm always willing to engage in a little friendly debate :)

I still stand by the ALT attribute example I used because it is assigned to an image link, which does give it an additional layer of accessibility. And repeating the title of the article isn't such a bad thing in my eyes. The intention is clearly not keyword stuffing- they're just trying to present it in more than one place to make sure people read it.

Larry said...

I'll have to remember that tip.I did not know that.

Anonymous said...

those tips are very good - I'll have to get over my pictures! thank you for sharing