Good visuals are one of the core elements of good content, and this is rarely truer than in the context of e-commerce. The images used to sell products serve a number of purposes, not the least of which being to entice visitors to buy from you. If you are writing for an online store that resells other manufacturers‘ products, it is vital that the images stand out from the competition. Time and effort need to go into their selection and preparation.
From an SEO standpoint, there are a number of reasons why the way you handle and present images are important. For one, good images get the attention of the visitor and decrease bounce rates. Lower bounce rates equate to better rankings. For another, there is a veritable goldmine of SEO goodness hiding in your images that many marketers simply never come close to tapping. This is where we want to place our focus for today: increasing the effectiveness of SEO using images on e-comm stores.
Using the Right Images
When developing an e-commerce store, we strongly suggest using original images or incorporating product images into the store’s product pages that have been professionally produced but also branded in a way that communicates that the product comes from that particular store. Good branding is essential to the customer experience, and it also affects SEO. You can showcase a product that is available in a thousand other stores and still communicate proper branding with the right visuals.
Preparing Your Images
Once you have selected an image, the next step in the process is to optimize it for use on its intended e-comm store. This involves a number of considerations, including:
Filename – This is the most important element of image-based SEO, mostly because it is the first thing the spiders see when crawling for keywords. Before the search engines ever get around to analyzing the image, you want them to know what the image contains. The filename should be a short, straightforward description of what is actually in the image.
To illustrate how simple this is, consider that the image is one of a remote charger for smartphones and tablets. Filenames like charger.jpg or remote_charger.jpg are easy to catalog, whereas using model numbers or SKUs are not. It is far easier for Google to recognize “charger” than it is to make heads or tails of “PC-1017” or something similarly vague. But cautious not to use too generic names though.
Scaling – Never use images with dimensions that exceed what is going to be displayed on the page. If you have space for a 250×150 jpeg, don’t upload a 2500×1500 original. The entire image will still need to be loaded, and that will affect how long it takes the page to load. Slower pages rank lower in searches. Instead, create a scaled version of the image that meets the size criteria on the page. You can always use multiple images if you need multiple sizes for different pages.
Reducing File Size – Even smaller images can have larger file sizes, so it’s always a good idea to run images through some kind of resizing tool to reduce the file size. There are many free web utilities out there that will do just that, and that will also help your pages load faster. A Google search for image file size reducer will put you in front of all the resources you will ever need for this.
Alt-Tagging – Adding alt text to images is another way to boost SEO. In fact, it is one of the oldest and most basic means of getting noticed. Most e-comm platforms encourage adding alt text to images and make it very easy. Keep the descriptions simple, but don’t be afraid to use long-tail keywords here.
Captioning – Adding a caption that emphasizes what is in the image just adds another layer to your SEO effort. Choose words that are unique to other descriptors so the search engines only see unique content surrounding all aspects of the image.
The combination of winning images and winning search engine optimization is crucial for the long-term success of any e-commerce store. Do not take the power in images for granted – good pictures and their proper presentation matter on levels that too many e-comm professionals fail to see.