I had lunch the other day with blogging and business development guru Chris Lema. Among the excellent tidbits of information I picked up was one about the use of images in blog posts / articles to increase visibility in search engines such as Google. You probably have at least some familiarity with the idea that keywords and phrases in your article heading and body are used by search engines to pull up your article when someone uses those words in a search. However, depending on how often those terms or phrases are used by other websites or blogs, i.e. how much competition your terms or phrases have, your article may not show up on the first page (nor even in the top ten pages) of a Google search. In this circumstance, an image matched with “alt text” may give you a second bite at the apple, according to Chris.
You may have noticed that many Google searches bring up a gallery of images in addition to the standard listings. When you click on the image, you typically get an inset of the image (a “light box”) in front of the source article or website page. In other words, even if your article itself doesn’t get an early listing in Google, the image used in your article may. That image leads directly to your article, accomplishing the same thing. Voila! – your on the first page of the Google search. Not all searches produce images. However, using an image creates another valuable path for readers to find your article.
In order for images to be found in Google searches, they must be matched with text containing the search term or phrase. Before this epiphany, I knew the importance of giving my images “alt text” with my keywords or phrases for the benefit of persons using software for vision disabilities, as well as for general search engine optimization. However, it never occurred to me that the article might get on the first page of a search with the image when the article itself was listed much further down for the same search term or phrase.
In case you are wondering where or how you give your image text, it can be done in three ways on UrbDeZine: In the upload window, in the insert window, or in the edit window. A sample of the upload and insert window can be found in the last image of this article. There, you will see a number of text fields. The “alt text” field is the most important field for search engines, but you should also enter a descriptive name in the “title” field. When you hover your cursor over the image (without clicking), you should see the title for that image. Typically, your more wordy text (containing more of your keywords) is placed in the alt text field.
Google searches the alt text of images when performing keyword or phrase searches. If the alt text of the image in your article matches the search phrase, your image may show up on the first page of a Google search, even if the article listing does not. So be sure to accompany your articles with an image; and be sure to fill out the alt text and title fields.