SES Chicago 06: Images and Search Engines

Filed in Conferences/Educ., SEO, Social Media by Matt McGee on December 6, 2006 2 Comments

SES ChicagoHere are my notes from the Wednesday, 9 am session titled “Images and Search Engines.”

Shari Thurow, Grantastic Designs

SEO Review – building blocks
– successful SEO depends on
— keyword-rich text
— information architecture and page layout; spiders have to be able to reach pages & images
— link development

Keyword-rich Text
– primary text — what all SEs read to determine relevancy
– secondary text — what some SEs read to ” ”
— includes alt text
— (uses Art Institute of Chicago to discuss alt text)
— Google doesn’t use alt text to determine relevancy
[Ed. note for readers: Google does use alt text for matching]
– graphic-heavy pages tend not to rank well unless it’s a big brand

Graphic Image Search
– about 15-16% of searches are for images

How SEs “see” images
– don’t “see” what the image says
– looking for text on web page, captions, title tag, alt text, to determine what the image says
– when using alt text, indicate “image” or “illustration”
– SEs look at file type — JPGs are interpreted as images
– file name, file type, URL structure all have impact on image ranking
– use captions to indicate what image is about
– watch out for javascript-based “click to see larger” links – can block SEs from crawling the bigger picture

Li Evans, Commerce360

– focus on images and retailers
– 91% year-over-year increase in image search from ’05 to ’06
– shoppers are visual; want to see item before they buy

Retailer Opportunities
1) Hot Products (RoboReptile Robot example)
— very few of image SERPs have images from retailers = opportunity
2) Niche Markets
— better conversion for specialized products/niches
— “Flameless Candles” example
— all images returned are from small retailers; no major retailers
3) Shopping Comparison Engines
— many retailers fail to include images in feeds to shopping engines
— make sure images match keywords
4) Images in “regular” SERPs
— 3 of the 4 major SEs show images at top of SERPs when appropriate (Google, Yahoo, MSN)

What Matters
– image names
– alt text
– content around images
– page the image appears on
– anchor text used in links to images
– images folder is available to spiders

Chris Smith, Idearc

Photo Sharing sites — shows a good chart of PR, # pages indexed, and other attributes of various photo sharing sites; Flickr: PR = 9, 29.2 million pages indexed

Flickr SEO Advantages
– Title, H1, captions, tagging, cross-grouping, comments, sharing, alt text, optimal linking heirarchies, date taken and page views displayed

General photo-sharing site optimization
– use quality photos
– pictures with good contrast work well because thumbnail looks good
– experiment with subject matter related to your business

Flickr Optimization
– unique title
– write a description for the image
– always tag image with keywords
– loose licensing — allow others to use image in exchange for a link
– if photo is location-specific, geotag it
– add photos to related groups
– link to your Flickr photos from your web site
– post photos to

also consider Google Image Labeler as possible tool to help image visibility

Vanessa Fox, Google

(no presentation; quick comments; agrees with previous speakers)


Shari: engines don’t use title attribute on images

Shari: use hyphens, not underscores in file names

Vanessa: not sure how soon images/data from Image Labeler gets used in image search

Li: when I worked for a major retailer, we had higher conversion rates from image search than traditional search

[tags]seschicago06, ses, image search, image seo, seo[/tags]

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