With so much content competing for attention on the web, your web pages, blog posts, tweets and other text content can use all the help they can get, to stand out. Images can certainly help. Using images can not only help illustrate the subject matter but also draw attention to your content.

Visual interest is, however, not the only reason to use images. With the ability to use search engines to search for images, the images on your web site can be another way to draw visitors to your site. Whenever Google or other search engines crawl your website, they detect the images there and catalog them based on how the images are set up. When someone searches for images relating to a certain subject, the search engine displays the images from many sites as the search results. Along with these search results, they also provide a link to the page that each image comes from. This is how image searches can draw visitors to your site.

Even though search engines can detect images on your web pages, they cannot recognize the content within those images. Here are some ways to make this easier.

  1. Alt Tag: You can use the 'alt' tag in your HTML code with the description "Photo of The Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., taken on August 12, 2012".
  2. Long Description:The Long Description tag allows you to add a more detailed description than is recommended for the alt tag (not more than 50 characters). The tag itself holds only a URL that points to a page that has the actual description. This was originally meant to benefit the visually impaired. However the added content has a positive impact on search engine optimization.
  3. File Names: Instead of giving your image files generic names, give them descriptive file names. For instance, instead of img27478.jpg, your photo of the Lincoln Memorial could be named lincoln-memorial.jpg.
  4. File Size:How quickly a page loads is one of the many factors considered by search engines in determining what position a page should receive in search engine results. Using images with large file sizes can slow a page down. Saving an image with the dimensions at which it will be displayed on the page, instead of trying to resize a large image using HTML will help considerably.
  5. Context:The content before and after an image gives search engines an idea of the context in which the image is used. This helps with cataloging the image appropriately.
  6. Keywords: As with any other text on the page, you can use keywords within alt tags, long descriptions, file names, etc. Rules that apply to keywords elsewhere apply here as well. For instance, don't overuse keywords.

Use every resource you have to boost your positioning on search engine results. You can start your own blog, use videos, use podcasts - there are so many things that you can do. Images are by far the lowest hanging fruit. Get started with optimizing images and you will be well on your way to obtaining better visibility for your content.

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