How To Make Images Work to Improve SEO

streaking lights on a cruved road with snow capped mountains

It’s a commonly accepted fact of communication, summed up in an old cliche: A picture is worth a thousand words. That has never been more true than it is now. The key for business owners and marketers is to incorporate the strengths of visual content without losing track of underlying business objectives. Images should contribute to marketing and SEO efforts that are already in place.

There are a few basic principles you can follow to make sure every visual illustration, video, or piece of artwork that goes into your web content has all the right SEO elements in place. That way, the different components making up each piece of content will all be working together to contribute to the overall SEO impact.

Images and Visual Content Need SEO Support

The proliferation of visual images has been unleashed by a perfect storm of smartphone and other digital cameras, graphics software, and digital storage and distribution technology. It is likely to become even more prevalent in even more types of communication as the technology base continues to grow. Investing time in research and testing the many options will pay off in helping to set programming priorities to guide your efforts.

From Instagram to Pinterest to YouTube, the amount and availability of visual messaging has created whole new paradigms in communication. These include video sales letters, TED Talks, webinars, ebooks, infographics, and so many more. Even though this boom in visual content is driven by audience demand, it still needs to be harnessed in such a way that it serves your business purpose. Here’s how to put it to work to boost your SEO results and increase audience engagement at the same time.

Visual Content Needs Keyword Cohesion

For every piece of visual content, you’ll want to make sure it suits the context where it appears. It should also be in keeping with the character and personality of the brand. This is the same set of considerations that would apply to any text-based production. Don’t lose sight of the basics when it comes to more elaborate kinds of content creation.

images and SEO strategy metaphor

In the same way, every visual element should be reconciled to the keyword strategy of the website and individual content pages. Image and video files should be named using keyword focused text in the file names, titles, URL references, alt text descriptions, captions and any other tags and anchor text opportunities that might apply. Make sure all visuals are given this keyword focus, whether they are stand-alone content or are embedded in blog or product pages.

Create A Consistent Brand Look For Visuals

The look of your visual content should be made as consistent as possible. Establish a set of brand visual elements that you can use on all images. These would include company name and website, and possibly a brand slogan if it is not too elaborate. Use a predetermined set of colors, fonts, borders, filters, and layouts. They don’t necessarily have to be identical for every visual, but they should share a certain look that makes it clear they come from the same brand ‘family.’

Optimize Visuals For Social Media Distribution

All the major social media platforms are designed to feature visual elements. Take into account the specific formats that work best for each platform that you plan to engage with. Images are increasingly being overtaken by short videos as the visual medium of choice on Facebook and Instagram. Pinterest favours the use of tall images. GIFs are popular across all platforms and web content settings. Again, using the programming priorities set out at the beginning will help to focus your social media strategy.

Respect Fundamental Principles of Visual Design

You won’t strike up a great deal of engagement with a background image covered in a clutter of different fonts in a random rainbow of colours. Decide ahead of time how and why image and text should work together, and choose elements that emphasize what is most important. Remember, rather than crowding the image with overlays, the caption can carry part of the message.

Any text overlays should be easy to read on the surface of an image. Choose a font that is large and heavy enough to stand out, and use a contrasting colour to stand out from the background. Obviously, you want to avoid blocking key parts of the image. If you know your programming priorities ahead of time, it makes it easier to select different components that will work well together.

Use Visual Content With A Clear Strategic Focus

A clear, current content marketing strategy should be the starting point for efforts to introduce or ramp up a visual illustration program. You can make it part of an overall SEO content plan that targets specific resources and specific objectives. That way, you’ll be able to concentrate your efforts where they will deliver the most bottom-line benefit. Work with one of Toronto’s most successful, most trusted SEO experts, and you’ll end up sitting pretty as a picture.

About the Author

Paul Teitelman - SEO Consultant

Paul is a well-respected Canadian SEO consultant and link-building expert with over 15 years of experience helping hundreds of companies rank for competitive keywords on Google. He is a Toronto-based SEO consultant who is passionate about search engine optimization and link building. Over the years, he has made a reputation for himself as a leader in the industry by consistently delivering phenomenal results to his growing client base.