Optimizing your images help improve overall SEO (“search engine optimization”), but you need to keep conversion rate optimization in mind as well. Preparing the image properly is an excellent first step towards good SEO and conversion rate optimization, but there is more that needs to be done.
Conversion Rate Optimization
First let’s talk about conversion rate optimization, which is directly related to the user’s experience.
Many years ago, advertising legend David Ogilvy commissioned research into the use of images, and Kissmetrics shares how his research applies to the use of images on websites. They say that, “If you ignore these principles, your images will generally reduce your readership. If you apply these principles, your images will increase your readership.”
They go on to clarify that, as always, “they are just best practices—a sensible place to start. The only way to know for sure how they will work for you is by testing.” What? Yep – testing. I told you that testing would keep coming up!
Some principles that the study turned up are
Placement matters—a lot
In an excellent article by Yoast SEO about the psychology behind visual attention and how it relates to conversion, the author says that, “… it’s of great importance to direct your visitor’s visual attention to those parts of your website you want them to see. To make sure you’re keeping their visual attention.” You want to, “surprise them… they will pay attention. And once you’ve got their attention, be sure that you make it count!“
A featured image placed above the article’s headline increases the chances that the headline will be read at all.
Other images within the body of a page or post should be relevant to the text surrounding it. It should support, illustrate, or draw attention to that section of copy.
A great way to draw the reader into a section is to use an image with a caption.
Captions get read four times more than body copy
Kissmetrics says, “An image placed somewhere in the middle of text draws the reader’s attention more than the text itself. It might even draw him out of the copy (see the next point). For that reason, it’s extremely important to have a caption under every image—to press your main point home, and hopefully to get him back into the copy.”
SEO experts from Yoast remind us, “Keeping over-optimization in mind, I’d say you should add a caption if it would make sense to the visitor if that caption is added. Think about the visitor first, don’t add a caption just for image SEO.”
This is true for anything having to do with SEO. These are all guidelines, but always write for the reader, not exclusively for SEO. If no one wants to read the post, there is really no advantage to working so hard to get it to rank high on the search engines.
Don’t break the left margin
We read from left to right and placing an image on the left margin breaks our reading pattern. It can distract a reader, and breaking his pattern could ultimately turn a reader off.
Images without clear relevance are a waste of space
Each image should be carefully selected to either have story appeal or demonstrate.
“It evokes a strong sense of curiosity in your reader. He wants to know what’s going on in it—so he reads your copy to find out.”
But it can be very difficult to come up with these kinds of images.
“An image which demonstrates is exactly as it sounds. It demonstrates something you’ve said in the copy.”
It’s hard to go wrong with this sort of image as long as it conveys your value proposition or central theme with more force than copy alone could.
Good examples are product photos, before-and-after shots, charts or graphs showing comparisons and so on all fit the bill nicely. “And the higher quality the better—if it needs to be downsized to fit into a fairly narrow column of text (and it probably will), then make it clickable, so readers can see a larger version in a lightbox.”
Kissmetrics shares four types of images that will actually turn away visitors! They that these graphics very often convey the impression that you “are incompetent, thoughtless about your page content, or just unable to come up with anything of real quality.
- Stock photographs that are obviously stock photographs—their generic dullness and lack of imagination rubs off on you. Just because a stock photo is attractive doesn’t mean it will be effective.
- Poor quality images of any kind.
- Crowd shots. Try to use photos that have a single main subject.
- Bigger than life-size images of faces. According to Ogilvy, readers avoid them because they seem slightly grotesque.
- Historical subjects—unless you’re catering to an audience of history enthusiasts, it’s a safe bet your readers will find historical shots boring.”
It is super easy to optimize images for SEO, and once you are in the habit, you won’t even notice it as extra work. Your good habit will become something that helps move your web page further up search engine results!
Upload your sized image that is saved with a file name that includes your keyword phrase. Then, use an image alt text and title text (or tags), and, as always, make sure that they keyword phrase is in these fields.
Wikipedia defines the alt text, or tag, as “the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost” .. “In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment.” So, basically, in those situations where an image is not appearing for any reason, the alt text is what the visitor will see instead of the image.
Search Engine Journal explains that the Title Text, “should provide additional information and follow the rules of the regular title: it should be relevant, short, catchy, and concise (a title “offers advisory information about the element for which it is set“). In FireFox and Opera it pops up when you hover over an image.”
When writing both for your image, keep them relevant, but since your keyword phrase should be relevant, make it a part of both your title and alt tags. To keep from having the image as being seen as keyword stuffing, which could garner negative results, change the alt and title tags up so they do not exactly match each other.
You can also use the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress to add OpenGraph and Twitter Card tags for the image. It improves SEO and also gives you control over how your blog post or web page shows up when shared on social media.
The Yoast SEO Plugin also puts the images in your XML sitemaps, which improves results when engine optimizing images.
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