The care and feeding of images: Optimizing your site’s images [SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

 

SUMMARY OF SEARCH | April 2016
The care and feeding of images: Optimizing your site’s images

 

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Google’s recent changes to search results means you can expect organic traffic to decline: There are more ads at the top for many queries, but Google may have also expanded the display in images in search results. There wasn’t an official announcement, but anecdotal evidence from the last several weeks proves this to be true.

Speedy 

Google loves speed. It’s because users love speed. A search engine that delivers speedy results can certainly expect to dominate market share. With exponential rise of mobile search, speed is more important than ever.

– Images should be sampled down to 72 dpi/ppi.
If needed, 96 ppi should be the absolute maximum. In photo editing apps such as Adobe Photoshop, this is usually found in a menu item named “Image Settings.”

 

– Try to scale images appropriately.

Increase width if needed, but rely on recommendations from http://gtmetrix.com and https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ to gauge the best size (one or both will recommend images are scaled down, if needed).

 

Experimentation here will help optimize user experience for the best load times and that’s a great investment of time. When editing your photos, this is also found in “Image Settings” in your image editing app.

 

Relevant
Google’s patents around reading text in images go way back. But they are not perfect, and if your image is of a certain item like a punching bag, there is no way for Google to instinctively “know” that.

 

– Keywords used in the image filenames.
Use dashes instead of spaces or underscores between words. It used to be hotly debated by techies, but now is mostly accepted that Google doesn’t see underscores as spaces. Dashes are so much better, and an improvement for your human audience as well. Image filenames with a space between words can look like this to users:

punching%20bag.jpg

instead of the more pleasing

punching-bag.jpg

 

– ALT tags with keywords describing the product.
Use “punching bag” or “martial arts punching bag” instead of just “bag”. Use model numbers and serial numbers in ALT tags where appropriate. But not every image needs an ALT tag. The decorative squiggle image your site might use in its footer doesn’t really need an ALT tag.

 

– Use the Title attribute for images
The (lesser) title attribute for images can usually fill with the same content as the alt tag. In some browsers, this text will popup when a user hovers their mouse over the image. Consider situations where you might want text other than the ALT tag here, but they are often very similar.

 

– Put captions below the photos.
Text content in the same <div> tag as the photo will help describe your images to Google. Or use the <figcaption> tag when using the <figure> tag for images.

 

Rankbrain
Google’s Rankbrain is an artificial intelligence system that helps Google return the most relevant search results for users. If users expect – and especially click – images for a certain query, Rankbrain is going to show more images for those queries.

 

– Prioritize images for related queries.
When someone types is a query “photos of dogs”, Rankbrain correctly guesses that a large block of dog photos should be shown.

 

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Diversify and Conquer the Ever-Changing SERPs [SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

Google is constantly changing their Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), and recently caused a stir by removing ads from the right side. For years, organic positions have been changing: Traditional “organic text listings” have been shrinking, but ads have always had their place. And ads have increasingly dominated above the fold. With 4 ads on top, and no ads on the side, it’s a big visual change for desktop search, but there are opportunities.

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Ad Domination

When Google makes a change, we all know by now that the change has been tested thoroughly – and will help them expand on their already 74.5 billion revenue.

 

For some queries, it feels like ads are the new page 1. There might be local, images, news, and perhaps some organic. What we see above the fold in these cases feels like an interstitial; something that we need to click past. With organic position 4 sometimes now falling on page 2, it’s another reason why traffic can decrease when rankings stay the same.

 

Brand Domination

The last several years have seen bigger brands dominate both organic and ppc. Big brands get authority links more easily, and have bigger budgets on the ppc side as well. Google is not the level playing field it once seemed for small business, but is increasingly becoming a way to search for “things to buy from top brands”.

 

On the organic side, Google’s updates have penalized the cheap link building of smaller businesses – while favoring brands in separate efforts. Now PPC will be feeling a crunch: Fewer spots near the top is likely o increase bid prices, while removing some bargain positions with traffic at ad position 5.

 

Opportunities

Look closely at the search results your best prospects are seeing. Trust Google’s ever-changing algorithm is making the right decisions – eventually – and use it to your advantage; both organically and in your ad campaign.

 

  1. Diversify

Check the SERPs for your favorite target keywords and ask yourself: “What content are prospects looking for with this query?” Luckily, Google has already measured for you! There are a variety of research tools to discover what content is getting clicked, linked, liked, shared, visited, etc. But Google is also figuring this out or you- and really has the final say. Consider the types of content Google has chosen for your query:

– Images

– News

– In-depth Articles

– Direct Answers

– Apps

 

And are images above organic text listings? That’s Google telling what is most important to people conducting this query!

 

What content you see should be taken into account with your SEO Strategy. Great opportunities abound with image search for most sites.

 

On the PPC side, bargains tend to match Google’s latest innovations. Inexpensive clicks are best found in the newest kinds of ads: Product Listing Ads, remarketing, video ads, etc. Smart advertisers implement these before the competition arrives. And by diversifying among different types of advertising, marketers can measure, compare and choose the most efficient. And are you using all of the features of PPC? <a href=”https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/02/23/google-kills-right-hand-side-ads-what-does-this-mean-for-sem/”>Larry Kim pointed out</a> that, since the change, “now all ads can use call-out extensions, sitelink extensions, location extensions, etc.” That’s a huge opportunity to raise CTR in any position, especially if you implement before the ads next to yours.

  2.  Piggyback

Organic opportunities abound for those watching the SERPS. What sites are at the top of the results? Identify each organic slot as competitor or potential link partner. Those wikipedia pages at the top of many queries can become your next source of great referral traffic. And something Google increasingly references as it scrapes and answers related queries.

 

In the world of PPC, there are also opportunities to piggyback. See apps in the mobile results? Consider in-app advertising. Any site listed in Google’s top results is worth investigating as a potential advertising opportunity, as well. Consider Google your “advertising research engine” for the best sites.

 

As more ads and different kinds of ads are introduced, Google still gives opportunities to nimble marketers. Use Google’s SERPs to research both the content and advertising landscape of your best prospects. And then implement before your competitors.

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Title tags & Meta Descriptions: Technical SEO is the Foundation of Engagement SEO [SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

SEO still begins with being friendly to the bots. This “Technical SEO” is more focused on helping bots understand a page, so that humans get a chance to engage with it. Once visitors might see a page, Google can weigh more of the engagement metrics such as organic click-through-rate, bounce rate, time on site, conversion, etc. It’s a mystery -and a controversy – as to whether the current Google algorithm uses these engagement metrics, but pretty much everyone agrees they will move in that direction.

With title tags, there are nuances for the crawlers, nuances for the humans, and the sweet spot is where those two worlds connect. If the same title tag most appealing to crawlers is the same title tag your audience will find enticing in Google’s search results, you are on the right path.

Engagement SEO is the hard part, but let’s start with the basic requirements, aka Technical SEO.

Technical SEO

1. Title tags

  • Valid tags (No single quotes or trying anything cute)
  • Not too long, not too short (50-55 characters is usually best)
  • No duplicates: Every page should be unique, so every title tag should be too!
  • Your keyword targets should be in your title tag, because your page is about them

2. Meta Descriptions

  • Valid tags (We only mention because we’ve seen some crazy code out there)
  • Not too long, not too short (155 characters is the maximum)
  • No duplicates: Every page should be unique, so every description tag should be too!
  • Your keyword targets should be in your description, because your page is about them

 

Engagement SEO

Engagement SEO is user-focused, and only possible once a search engine has enough technical SEO requirements in place to give the site visibility. Engagement SEO maximizes whatever visibility the technical SEO provides and includes directives to maximize engagement in search results, landing pages, and throughout the entire buying journey of your prospect

1. Title tags

  • In most cases, Google uses your title tag as the blue link for your page in their search results.
  • Use Adwords to test variations of ad titles. Put the best performing (and variations) into your title tags.
  • No duplicates: Let the user know how this page differs from others you might have of a similar topic. Help them get the correct page first off. Know that Google is watching over their shoulder.
  • Your keyword targets should be in your title tag, because your page is the answer to the user’s query.
  • When a user sees the keyword query they typed in -right there in your title tag – it’s powerful. Google may not bold the keywords in the “ten blue links”, but Bing and other engines do.
  • Social media sites often use the title tag for their “blue link” when something is shared, too!

 2. Meta Descriptions

  • In most cases, Google uses your meta description as the black text snippet for your page in their search results.
  • Use Adwords to test variations of meta descriptions, too. Maximize the research you can get from those PPC campaigns!
  • Use calls to action, and entice your prospects to click. Did you know you can break most of the rules of Adwords here? (Don’t get crazy on the exclamation marks though!!)
  • No duplicates: Describe and inform your user what query this description is meant to answer.
  • Your keyword targets should be in your description, because your page is about them.
  • Google bolds the keywords your prospect typed in, right there in their search results.
  • Social media sites often use the meta description when something is shared, too!

Titles and meta descriptions must be enticing to searchers. Don’t settle for title tags and meta descriptions that your web developer created to “SEO your site”, but raise the bar. These vital tags are used for more than communicating with bots. This is a prime location to entice searchers with keywords and calls to action. That’s engagement with your user from the very start.

 

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