When it comes to optimising your website, there is one area not to overlook: your images. Much like video content on web pages, people are now beginning to see that images can create links and traffic through photo sharing sites, such as Flickr and search engines, such as Yahoo and Google.
Let’s start with the search engines. Ok, we know that they are not yet able to know what a picture represents on a page, but there are ways to optimise your pictures, which is much the same as optimising video, and which gives search engines a better idea of what’s in the image.
Step 1 – Choosing the right images; make sure your images are clear and relevant to your website or blog, make sure they are aesthetically pleasing and of good quality.
Step 2 – Add a description of the content in each picture to the ALT TAG.
Step 3 – Rename your image files to clearly depict what is in the image in as few words as possible, using commas to separate descriptions.
Step 4 – Make sure the pictures are high resolution, so the dimensions can be increased to drive more search engine traffic.
Step 5 – Surround each picture with image text that describes the picture. This way, search engine spiders will understand that the picture is relevant to the content of the website and help it get indexed, allowing the picture to be displayed when a search query on the topic is entered.
By following the steps above, you are improving the chances of your pictures appearing in search engine image searches for topics relevant to your website. If your picture appears, it will allow browsers to click on it. This leads them straight to your website or blog and this type of traffic is usually very good for conversions, because traffic has actively searched for a specific topic.
Now I want to look at how to use Flickr, a photo sharing site owned by Yahoo. It displays over 300 million Flickr photos in its query results, via a live feed from Flickr, so this stage gives you the added advantage of increasing your chances of having images displayed in Yahoo. Flickr also has a page rank of 9, meaning it is a respected site in the search engines. I want to look at the uses of the site to build links and traffic. (Some of these techniques have been covered above, but I will add them again to be more specific to Flickr.)
Step 1– Choose a selection of quality images that may already drive traffic to your site. This way you know that you have chosen images that people want to search for. Popular searches are celebrity, sport events and famous landmarks, but don’t worry if your website is not about any of these. Also look at popular groups on Flickr and get a feel for what people want. Just have a think about which photos will work best from your site.
Step 2 – Create an account. Creating your account gives you a space to upload images from your site and gives you access to Flickr analytics, which shows which photosets are driving most traffic. More information and interesting stats can be viewed in How to Get Thousands of Visitors from Flickr (And over 450,000 Account Views) by Plugin HQ/ Viperchill. Some people believe that it helps for your user name to be your web address. I’m sure there is no harm in doing this and can see how it might produce a small amount of extra traffic.
Use Creative Commons licensing on your pictures (providing they are owned by you and you are allowed to distribute them externally from your site). This way you are giving people the opportunity to use the pictures, as long as they credit your Flickr page with a link back to it, helping drive further traffic via your pictures. Matt McGee’s article on Using Photos to Build Inbound Links goes more into detail.
Step 3 – Photo optimisation – Flickr allows you to add your web address into the picture description. This is no follow, but can drive traffic so it can’t hurt. It is worth noting that SETS and COLLECTIONS pages are able to be followed, thus creating a link to your site or blog.
A) File names – Make your file names relevant by briefly describing what/who is in the picture.
B) Tags – create tags that best describe the image and its content. Use tags that people
would be searching for and even add a few misspellings that might drive a few extra people to your image.
C) Create SETS and COLLECTIONS for similar pictures and give them relevant titles. This helps with internal linking on Flickr and gain back links to your site from a page rank 9 trusted site.
Another thing worth noting is that you can add links to comments you post on Flickr and they are auto approved and followed by search engines, so add your URL to comments.
Other Photosharing Sites