When it comes to the Search Engine Optimization of photos, the content surrounding the photos is as important as the alt attribute in the img src tag. Yes, the alt tag is important, but it’s not the only thing the search engines look at. They also look at the content on the page.
There are really two ways to style a photo – three if you consider putting the photo in an enclosed table or iframe. If that is the case then the content outside of the iframe is less relevant than if the text simply wraps around the photo without an iframe. The same goes for a table.
The two ways, outside of iframes and tables, to style a photo with your web page content is above/below or aside. With above/below, you place the photo below a paragraph of text and above another so that the photo sits between paragraphs on the page with no text beside it. A more visually appealing way to position a photo is with content beside it. To get the wrap around effect with a photo you need to add align=”right” or align=”left” as an attribute within the img src tag. Then you resize the photo with height and width attributes to give the exact effect that you want.
Either way of positioning a photo is acceptable and it doesn’t really matter for optimization purposes. It does matter for visual appearance. But that’s page design, not optimization.
When it comes to optimizing a photo, you need to pay attention to the text above and below, or beside, the photo. What is your web page about? If you are writing about automobiles, for instance, and you include a photo of a Ferrari below a paragraph that uses the word Chevy more than any other and the paragraph below the photo also uses “Chevy” more than other words then search engines will consider the word “Chevy” important. If your web page is indeed optimized for the word Chevy then you probably don’t want a photo of a Ferrari on that page. You can give it an alt tag that uses the word “Chevy” but your human visitors might consider that deceptive, so it’s something to consider.
Be careful not to misunderstand the Search Engine Optimization photo process. Just because your web page is optimized around a particular keyword doesn’t mean that will be the most important word for a specific photo. The paragraphs and sentences nearest to that photo will be weighed much more importantly than the entire page. Your page might be optimized around the word “Chevy,” but if “Chevy” doesn’t appear anywhere near the photo that you are attempting to optimize then it won’t matter. If the word “car” appears three times in the aside paragraph then your photo will likely be optimized for car more than for Chevy even if you use “Chevy” in the alt tag and not “car.” To be sure, content on the page is actually more important than the alt tag. You are a lot better off with no alt tag and highly optimized page content than you are with an alt tag on a page that is not optimized.
The best way to optimize a photo for any page is to match your alt tag with the content that surrounds your photo so that they work together to inform the search engines of the content of the photo. In summary:
- Use a photo that is relevant to your page
- Place your photo near content that uses the keywords you want that photo optimized for
- The content nearest the photo is more important than the entire content on the page
- Alt tags should be used to re-enforce your photo optimization, not define it
Search Engine Optimization for photos isn’t difficult. There is still a long way to go before it is as scientific as onsite and off site content optimization, but there are ways to ensure that the search engines pay closer attention to a photo and it behooves you to pay attention to those.