One of the biggest problems an SEO or Search Marketing consultant can come across is a site which has overly used graphics to make the content more visually appealing. It is problem that can seriously effect your search engine optimisation results and today I really want to discuss working around this common problem.
Right, remembering the basics…. A search engine spider is a complaex computer program set to process the text of the pages it crawls. Now even though the spider software is complex it still does not read graphics, it doesn’t see the page how you see it. Even if you filled your graphics with appealing text, guess what? It’s still not going to be able to establish what the image is about. Yes Google and others could incorporate specialised OCR software but then this would seriously hamper crawl rates and with over a billion pages in the index, this is hardly a solution to the problem.
So the first thing you need to confirm in your own mind is that “you are going to have to use rich text on your pages” in order to make your site ‘spider compatible’.
Your aim with search engine optimisation is to let the little spider know exactly what your page is about as soon as it lands. We have to prove to the spider that our page is relevant to certain keywords by providing those phrases throughout the body of our page. This is why I always recommend targeting no more than 1 – 2 key phrases per page.
So if you have a site selling furniture or you offer wallpaper downloads, for example. How do we work around the almost justified use of graphical images. If you have an online store the use of images is necessary or else you would probably never make a sale. Unfortunately careless or blackhat optimisers resort to hidden text and stuffed meta tags. I personally do not recommend this, as a profitable site with longevity is what I like to provide my clients with. So how do we try and work around this problem??
- Right the aspect you should look at first and foremost is the ALT attribute. All images on your pages should have this descriptive attribute and must be no more than 100 characters in length. I would personally recommend that your first 3 images include your main keywords in your ALT tags.
- If your trying to deal with graphical thumbnails or samples try to add a bit of descriptive text above or at the side of each one. Again try and focus on the selected keywords for that page or similar variations.
- Always try to start your page with a paragraph of descriptive text, using your main keywords and making references to the images.
- Look to add a “more info” text box below or somewhere around the image. This again helps to drive up page relevancy.
- If appropriate add customer testimonials near the images or in the side panels.
- If your page is based on one exclusive image simply place it at the top of your page and add text below the fold of your page. This complies with all major search engine guidelines and could never be described as spamming as customers could simply scroll down and read it.
- One of the main things you can do for any graphic heavy page is build relevant link popularity for it. If you do this along with creating the correct keyword theme you will do more for the page than any form of on page optimisation alone.
Unfortunately heavy graphic sites are a common e-commerce problem and many SEO consultants find themselves pulling their hair out : ) , simply stick with it concentrate on building off page relevancy and never resort to black hat tactics unless it is your site and your happy to see it banned.
Hope this helps,
Author: Tim (292 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.