18 May Supporting your Image SEO Strategy with a DAM
Images and videos are playing an increasingly important role in SEO. We look at how search engines see your images, how you can optimize them to drive more organic traffic and finally how a DAM can support your image SEO strategy.
A picture is worth a thousand words
We all understand the importance of images in telling a story. Among other things, images make the page more visually appealing, grab the visitors’ attention and can convey a message in the blink of an eye.
For this reason, visual marketing is a key ingredient of the marketing mix. Images and visual-based content play a central role in augmenting the customer experience and driving conversion.
What Image SEO brings to the SEO equation
Google’s SEO algorithms place great importance on the user experience. As a proxy for this, Google evaluates metrics such as bounce rate, session time, and load speed.
Likewise, images play a major role in how the user experience is evaluated by search engines, yet their role in SEO is often overlooked.
No matter how visually compelling your images are to the reader, if you have not optimized them for search, you’re missing a key part of the SEO equation. And you’re missing out on high-intent organic traffic!
Understanding how search engines “see” your images
Search engines don’t “see” images in the same way as human visitors.
Although it is true that search engines increasingly use AI to analyze the inside of image files, they don’t have the resources to crawl everything. They still rely on available descriptive metadata.
What does this mean for you?
To ultimately improve your SEO ranking, you need to help search engines first crawl then index your images by providing the right keyword metadata. More specifically, you need to add appropriate alt text (alternative text) and an SEO-friendly and human-readable file name (a slug) to each image.
From user-friendly to crawler-friendly
Alt text (or alternative text) is what is usually displayed whenever an image is not rendered graphically by the browser. It describes the meaning the image is intended to convey using text.
Its original goal was twofold: to serve in cases of low-bandwidth and to make images more accessible. For example, if the visitor is visually impaired and using text-to-speech, they will directly make use of the alt text.
Unlike URL paths, image file names are not usually exposed to the end-user directly. You will see them, however, if you open an image directly in a new tab, or if you discover it via Google Image Search. A good file naming strategy enables search engines to parse the meaning and context of the image. For example, “bike-blue-kids.jpg” is much more search friendly than “E039483.jpg”.
Getting metadata and file naming consistently right is what enables search engines to efficiently crawl and index your images.
The same holds true for video. In combination with other on-site media, video content that is labeled with the appropriate metadata helps crawlers function and demonstrates to search engines that your page contains rich, quality content relevant to search requests.
The need for speed
When getting your images “internet ready”, you also need to take into account the image itself. High-resolution images are great for high-definition screens but they drastically increase site load time. Slow loading increases your bounce rate and negatively impacts your SEO ranking (not to mention your conversion rate).
You need to create image variants for every device to ensure speedy loading and an optimal user experience for all.
When resizing an image you need to consider what the most important part (the point of interest) is and ensure it remains the focal point even after producing cropped or recomposed versions.
You also need to ensure that you are using the most appropriate image format (JPEG vs PNG, etc.) and that the image file is optimally compressed. For example, Google is actively promoting the alternative WebP format, which offers several advantages for web performance and SEO. However, it is only currently supported by Chrome and Opera browsers, meaning that responsive design and SEO challenges are made even more complex.
Why it’s smarter with a DAM
Let’s face it, making images “SEO friendly” manually is tedious, time consuming, and error-prone. Importantly, it is only feasible up to a certain volume. Thankfully, there is a smarter way to do this at scale.
A enterprise DAM can automate the process of producing image variations at scale.
This supports responsive design and ensures you can produce the optimal user experience, whatever the viewing device. The DAM will provide variations in terms of size and format. It is also able to use AI to detect the point of interest of an image and automatically crop it to keep this point as the focal point. The DAM then can automatically compress the image to the optimal file size, ensuring the correct balance between image quality and loading time.
Automatic variations provided by the DAM also facilitate product configuration strategies – for example, if you have the same product in multiple colors. In addition to this, multiple variants ensure you can support emerging use cases such as mobile ready hero images and visual shopping.
The DAM can automatically rename all file outputs with descriptive elements and automatically suggest relevant alt text – ensuring that your metadata is SEO ready, as well as user-friendly every time.
The payoff? A lot less effort and time spent on your side. The risk of error is drastically reduced. You have the peace of mind that you have a future-proofed process for optimizing image SEO at scale. All of which translates to a better SEO ranking to drive organic traffic to your site.
Talking with an expert
We spoke to Olivier Grenier, Wedia’s CTO, to get some more insights on how Wedia is helping its customers enhance their image SEO strategy.
Can you give us some examples of how Wedia is helping brands with their image SEO strategy?
Wedia performs many specific automatic actions to improve image SEO. Beyond automatically renaming files and adding alt text with carefully curated data, we also ensure a pixel-perfect version of every image, whatever the viewport size, resolution or capabilities. Using state-of-the-art perceptual image compression we remove all excess weight from images to guarantee optimal loading speeds.
We also retain some EXIF data that Google uses to improve the media indexing. Furthermore, we leverage the Open Graph protocol to provide search engines with a better understanding of what is in the image.
How do you see the role of images evolving in the customer journey?
We are seeing increasing interest for AI-powered visual searches: “I liked this dress, these shoes in this Instagram story, or even in the street, find this for me”.
Search engines will eventually make these kinds of capabilities generally available. It is our mission as a DAM to provide engines with images that are “AI-process friendly”. This will be a new touchpoint for the customer journey, and we need to show relevant images with regard to the stage in the journey: providing context-aware images, ecommerce-ready images with clickable hotspots, deep zoom capabilities and so on.
But what we are expecting the most is the advent of 3D-ready, VR-enabled images: the world is shifting from flat, static images to rich, immersive experiences. New devices including augmented reality capabilities are spreading quickly.