The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Proper SEO For Images
Confessions of the Professions is entering its seventh year as a publication website and during the course of its existence, we have spoken with thousands of people from around the world, from independent freelance writers, authors, bloggers, etc. We have received articles from doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, and even porn stars. We have also worked with companies such as Coca Cola, Mint, GlassDoor, many universities, and other companies. We love hearing from everyone and have spoken to people from India, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Since our founding, we have published nearly 2,400 confessions covering topics from jobs, careers, the workplace, motherhood, fatherhood, babies, shopping, and so much more.
With every confession published, we have always done our best to include at least one featured image relating to the article topic, believing that an image on the article helps people visualize what we want the article to convey, even if it is submitted by another author. A wall of text is less likely to be read, than if it is to be broken up with at least an image or two to go along with it, especially in its attempts to portray what the paragraph or story of the article is about. Images are a favorite among anyone, as it is said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Very true.
When it comes to SEO and images, however, there are three places this works very well: filename, alt tag, and title tag. The filename and alt tag are superior to the title tag, which holds the least ranking and factoring in SEO, but the title tags serves a very good purpose of letting the humans know what is in the image, while the search engines use the alt tag to understand the image. The title tag might tell you about two people who are having a conversation with each other in an office setting, which could be written like this: “Two people in an office having a conversation in front of a desk”. The alt tag would tell an description of the image, and can be conveyed by describing the image. “Two people in front of a desk.” Another example of this might be that the title tag might say, “First-time home buyers standing in front of their house excited about their new purchase.” The alt tag for this might say, “Happy couple in front of house.”
Another important factor is the filename of an image. An image name should also somewhat describe what the image is about. Most images downloaded or copied over from a phone generate a random filename that might look something like “DSC_2034.jpg” or “IMG_1099.jpg” or “iStock_photo12980.jpg” which leaves little room for any search engine to interpret and categorize, thus this image may be ignored or receive a low ranking factor. An image with a good filename, using the examples above, would look something like, “office-space-people-conversation.jpg” or “two-people-buying-house.jpg” which puts emphasis on the keywords in the alt and title tags. Search engine algorithm scripts have been made smart enough that if the article contains the keywords and the alt, title, and filename of the image contains the keywords, than your website can better rank and be categorized at a higher position in the search engine because everything matches up.
Let’s take Google as the prime example for being able to categorize images. There is no way Google can truly analyze an image and understand what is contained within it, but what Google can do is look at the alt tag, believe what you are saying, and then categorize it and compare it to the rest of your content. If your article is talking about houses and homes and “first-time buyers”, then they know the image is actually legit and will categorize it in their image library, as well as link back to your article, which creates the essentials of good SEO. If the image has an alt tag that does not match the content, then the ranking for that article and the image within that article might not be given as much credibility as it could have.
The influence of images for SEO is quite powerful as we noticed a huge boost in traffic by fixing our broken images. In addition, we also added a new logo, increased font size, and added a “related posts” section. The backstory of the images is that about 3 or 4 years ago, we moved all of our images off site and unloaded them on to a content delivery network, or CDN service. This CDN service is DreamObjects from DreamHost. With this service, we are able to scale without worry about switching plans or unexpected pricing. DreamHost went through a major migration from East to West which required us to move all of our images over to the new host. Between switching our images from the web host to DreamObjects, and then a year or two later, having to migrate the images to DreamHost’s new object host, we lost a lot of images in the process. They just disappeared into oblivion. Maybe they still exist somewhere, but we haven’t been able to find them. Since we’ve been using the service, over the course of the past four years, DreamObjects has gone down twice, one that was expected and the other was not. Luckily, DreamHost has great support and fixed our issues within hours to less than a day or two.
We knew we had broken images on Confessions of the Professions but had not realized how many or the impact it had on the rankings for this website. After putting off what we knew was not a good thing, we finally caved in at the end of 2019 and looked at the analysis of broken links on the site. Going back to 2013, we discovered that over 500 images were broken. To fix this, we spent a few hours a day replacing images and took almost a week. Despite trying to publish only ever-green content, broken images still show signs of an unmanaged, unmaintained, or an old site, and thus, any search engines scanning the links on the website would see that this is an old page, and thus, give it less ranking and priority in its search engines. Instead of accepting the broken images as is, we decided to take a risk and replace all broken images on the site with related and relevant new ones for 2020.
In addition, we added alt tags where necessary, though not title tags, although we may add those in the future. We also fixed our meta descriptions which were blank on older pages by means of automation, which grabs the first sentence in any given article, if a meta description does not already exist. The meta description is also added to the OG data graph, which is used solely by Facebook and Twitter uses its own meta description as well. Finally, we added the meta description to a tag called itemprop which helps Google understand structured microdata better.
What happened just a week later is nothing short of the power of SEO. Here were the results:
While there has only been a slight increase in unique visitors, our pageviews began to rise from as little as under 10,000 pageviews on December 2 to nearly 80,000 pageviews on December 10. Clearly SEO at work by 70,000 pageviews in just eight days. While this number could certainly be the result of search engines bots crawling the pages to capture these new images on these old pages, we believe that both humans and robots that are now discovering these old yet still relevant pages through search engines, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and more. What possibly happens as a result of replacing these broken images is that when the articles are now shared, they actually show a relevant image to the article, rather than the default Confessions of the Professions image, which is likely to be a boost for getting people to actually click on shared posts.
Image SEO is for keywords and just as important unique content and the keywords that go along with writing good content. If you have old broken images on your website or just wrote an article, you should update everything and ensure that there are images on your website, which help people read and understand your content. When sharing your content, especially if you enable the social media og graph meta data, all content that is shared on social media will show those images. Your article is likely to be shared more on social media if it has images, and it will likely be better indexed not only in the search engine results itself, but actually in the images section as well, thus furthering the reach of your article. Although a person may just be looking to take your image, they may be led to see your article as well.
If you are thinking about SEO and what you can do to boost your own site rankings, do not neglect the power of images.