At first glance the title may seem over-hyped, but I literally quadrupled the number of new visitors to my personal blog, Live Intentionally, using images. Recent changes in Google have made images a website traffic goldmine, and surprisingly few people are capitalizing on this opportunity. Here’s how I did it.
Every major search engine has an image search engine, that is search engine specifically designed to help users find images they are looking for. (Image search by Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask). If you think general search engine use has been growing rapidly (and it has), image search engine use has been growing even faster. Approximately 7% of the 10 billion searches conducted each month are image searches. That amounts to 700 million image searches a month.
Additionally, last year Google began rolling out what has become known as “universal search.” Universal search is the integration of specialized search engines – image search, video search, news search, product search, local search, and more – into the general web search results. So, as if image search wasn’t a big enough gold mine on its own, now the image search results are integrated into the web search results.
While Google led the way on universal search, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask have all followed and integrated images into their general search results. The search engines are still figuring out the whole universal search thing, though. They’ve started slowly by integrating images into a small number of search results and have been gradually increasing the percentage of search results that include images. That percentage will likely continue to rise in the future.
So you can see how big an opportunity there is to use images to bring new visitors to your website.
You may already be getting some visitors from image searches without even trying. Check your web stats to find out. (If you host your site at OurChurch.Com and have a Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze accout, login to cPanel, click the “AWStats” option, and check the “Links from an Internet Search Engine” section.)
The key to gaining visitors through image search and universal search is to get your images to the top of the image search results. And the key to getting your images to the top of the image search results is what’s known as image optimization.
Here are 5 tips for image optimization
- Put images on your website. Yes, surprisingly you have to have images on your site to captialize on the image search potential. Seriously though, I see an awful lot of websites that have no images other than the background image or header at the top. I recommend putting at least one image in the body of each page.
- Optimize filenames. If you put a picture of little blue heron on your website, give that picture a filename like little-blue-heron.jpg
- Optimize alt attributes. In the HTML image tag there is an “alt” attribute that is displayed when you mouseover the image. Make sure every image has a descriptive alt tag with the keywords your targeting in it.
- Optimize the text around the image. In addition to using the filename and alt tag, image search engines use the text around an image to determine the subject of the image and how high to rank it.
- Optimize the rest of the page. An image will rank even better in the image search results if its on a page with titles and text related to the keywords you’re targeting for the image.
Using these techniques I managed to get images on my little blog ranked for Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, and Homor Simpson (misspelled). OurChurch.Com has gotten more than 15,000 visitors this month alone from image searches.
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