The images on your website can drive a lot of free and targeted traffic to your website.
Let me illustrate with an example.
I took an article which I had published on the SubHub website 12 months ago.
From January ‘08 to March ’08, the page received 180 visitors.
During that time the image was called “dsc10067.jpg”. Not a sexy name!
So I changed the image name to “girl-on-the-beach.jpg” and I also added an alt tag which read “girl on the beach”.
Over the following three months the page received 403 visitors, over twice the number of the previous three months.
As you can see from the web stats nearly all of these visitors came from people finding the image, not the article. You will also notice the traffic came from all over the world.
By the way if you haven't used Google Image Search give it a go now at www.images.google.com.
I did this example to show the potential of using images to drive traffic. I deliberately picked a file name which was likely to get a lot of searches to make my point. Very few people looking for pictures of a ‘girl on a beach’ are likely to be potential SubHub customers, but hopefully you appreciate the value of using images to attract search traffic.
Your Strategy for Using Images to Generate Valuable Traffic
You should have a strategy for using images on your website to drive traffic to your website.
For example, if I owned a website about playing golf in Scotland this is how I would go about creating my image strategy.
1) Brainstorm Most Likely Images
The first thing I would do is brainstorm all the images that I think my potential prospects might look for. They could include pictures:
of every golf course
every club house
the view from the first tee
any famous holes or fairways
any famous features (bunkers, water hazards, etc.)
famous Scottish golfers
photos from major golf tournaments in Scotland
Once I had produced a list I would prioritise the images and tick off any images I already had on the site.
2) Change Any Existing Images
Next I would check that all my existing images had descriptive file names and alt tags.
The best format for naming image files for the search engines is to use dashes – girl-on-the-beach.jpg. Google translates the dashes as spaces so would show the image to anyone searching for ‘girl on the beach’.
You are kissing goodbye to a lot of free visitors if you don’t have descriptive file names and alt tags.
3) Add Images to Existing Articles
Then I would take look at all my existing web pages to see where I could add new relevant images. Don't just add images as eye candy. Add them to improve the overall content of the page.
4) Add Images to My Content Plan
I have a three month rolling content plan listing the articles that I'm planning to write. I have added a new column which lists the images each page will have.
5) Create an Image Gallery
Creating an image gallery can be a bad idea.
The search engines discount the value individual image if they appear on a page with dozens of jpegs. However having a gallery which links to individual picture pages can work well and is a quick way to add dozens of searchable images to your website. It is also worth putting a brief description under each image to attract normal search spiders.
6) Get Included in Google Image Labeler
The Google Image Labeler is a game in which you and a partner can write tags you’re your images. You receive points when you both submit the same tags.
The matching tags are then assigned to the images, and used by Google Image Search.
To make sure your images are included, access your Google Webmaster Central account, and go to the management page for your site. In the left hand bar, you will see a link which says ‘Enhanced Image Search’. Clicking this link will display the option to opt-in to the Enhanced Image Search features. This option notifies Google that you are happy for them to use tools such as the Image Labeler to help in the indexing of the images on your site.
Note: Choosing the Image Name
When choosing a name think carefully about what searchers will be typing into the image search engine to find pictures like the one you are publishing.
Few website owners are proactively using image to generate traffic. This is a wasted opportunity fro them and a good opportunity for you.
Put half a day aside to create your image strategy and change the labelling of your existing images.
You will reap the rewards from this effort.