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Photos, social media and SEO: 4 tips for optimizing images

By: Jennifer Perez on August 8th, 2013

For solopreneurs and huge companies alike, a Google update is more than enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most skilled marketer. Ranks drop. Techniques stop working. Strategies are scrutinized like the footage of the JFK assassination. While good content rules above all (and always will), images can pack a social and SEO punch as effective as blog posts or web pages. Here's how to make your images more SEO and social-friendly so you can squeeze as much juicy traffic out of photos as possible.

1. Size and format images for both social media and blogs

Have you ever come across a great image, wanted to use it on your blog (with attribution, of course) or Pinterest board, but found it was too small to use? Every single one of your web pages or articles should have a linkable image, sized for Pinterest, blog posts, and more. Keep your images under 70 mb, but feel free to pick the jpeg as your go-to format. While .pngs offer the best quality overall, jpegs can take up less space while delivering more than adequate quality for the web.

2. Be conservative and straightforward with file names

When searching for an image of a specific product, I once did a Google image search and came across a funny photo of a famous actor. The blogger who posted the image (and named it) complained bitterly that a) she was only getting traffic from that image, and b) she couldn't understand why people kept finding it in search engines. While most of us appreciate a clever nickname, pun or “play on words” phrase, resist the temptation to write pithy image titles that have nothing to do with your photo or graphic. Keep image names straightforward and meaty, use dashes instead of underscores in titles, and you'll get much more SEO value when people search for the same keywords in your photo titles.

3. Take advantage of the alt image tags

For bloggers or website owners, images that load quickly are mandatory. Unfortunately, when your image hosting site or even your favorite search engine has hiccups when loading photos, things are completely out of your control...or are they? With alternate titles, you can write a short phrase or description of your image that appears if your photo or graphic doesn't load. Site visitors will see the title or description of the image, and those alternate titles can give you an SEO boost.

4. Be extra concise with image tags

Like a radio ad for AARP that blares on in a 21-year-old's Prius, vague image tags can deliver unwanted, untargeted traffic to your blog or website. Now that Google has completely overhauled their image search, letting web surfers see images without visiting the site that hosts them, extremely targeted keywords in image tags are essential. Instead of going wide, go narrow. On-point tags will deliver quality traffic to your site, instead of large amounts of visitors that never make it past your photo preview in Google. While so many people pick up the pieces after Google's latest update, take this time to change your image optimization strategy so you can pinpoint and land better traffic. Images still deliver good attention from both SEO searches and social media, so make the most of these easily-executable tips.

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    Jennifer Perez