I was recently reviewing a site for a friend of mine to look for ways to optimize for SEO in addition to some usability recommendations and I came across one optimization which often gets overlooked, but shouldn’t. In this case, there were a number of images used on the site, but when I looked under the covers, the title and alt tags were rarely used. I know that many people concentrate on the typed content to make sure it’s optimized and then don’t think to go back and care after images.
Why care about images?
About a year or so ago, Google completely overhauled how the image search. It’s much more sleek and user-friendly. They took out all of the text around the images (which ate up valuable real estate) and made it just about the images. After they made this change, I noticed a considerable spike in some of the sites I manage. After looking at the analytics, I noticed that the traffic was coming from the image search. In order to determine relevancy in the ranking of the images, the title and alt tags are used against the keyword search value.
Don’t keyword stuff
That said, do not stuff these values just with the keywords that you want to rank high for. Instead, use a nice elaborate sentence describing the image (using all the relevant keyword, of course).
After making these changes, you’re almost certain to experience a spike in traffic. The next consideration, of course, is how to get people to convert from an interest in the image to an interest in the site.
That’s a discussion for another day.