How to get traffic from Google Images

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  • June 26, 2007
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Google Images can drive a surprising amount of traffic to your website
or blog and it’s much easier to get good rankings in the Image search
results than the normal results. The majority of visitors arriving
from Google Images won’t want to read your pages or buy any products – they are just looking for an image to use on their web page, PC or
blog post. Over 500 people have already downloaded the script to use
Google Images to build links so clearly people are getting traffic
from Google Images already and want to make the most of it.

Getting good rankings in Google Images isn’t actually very hard. The
first thing to do is make sure you have the basic page elements in
place so that Google can figure out what your images are likely to
contain. Search engines are experimenting with using software to
detect the contents of your images but until this is fully operational
they are reliant on using the rest of the page to determine what the
image shows.

The key elements that search engines use are the page title tag, alt
text of the image, filename of the image, title tag of the image and
the text immediately surrounding the image. A good example would be a
blog post with the page title “Paris Hilton goes to prison” and an
image with the following html code:

<img src="images/paris-hilton.jpg" title="Paris Hilton in prison"
alt="Paris Hilton">

The image should be placed either at the beginning or after the first
paragraph of the post for maximum effect.

The long tail of image search

While some keywords can attract a lot of traffic (especially in the
adult industry) the best way to take advantage of Google Images is by
ranking on the first page for thousands of image searches. This is
very hard for new sites unless they are some kind of web shop with
lots of products so the key is to concentrate on making sure the site
is as well optimised for image search as possible so it will gain good
results in the future.

A lot of web shop software programs are quite poor in terms of general
SEO but they fare even worse for image search optimisation. You would
need to make sure all the images have alt text and keyword filled
filenames and make changes where appropriate.

Choosing an image size

There is no “one size fits all” solution for Google Images, you need
to consider what type of images your visitor will be looking for and
size your images accordingly. Visitors searching for web icons will
want much smaller images than people looking for Britney spears
wallpaper. Check out the results for the search term you are targeting
and look at the sizes of the other images. I prefer to make my images
towards the larger end of the scale so that visitors are not
disappointed to see a low quality small image that they can’t use.

Maximising your traffic

The Google Images search results are laid out in a very clear way so
the user can see straight away which image they are looking for and
whether it is the right size for their application. To make the most
of your Google Images rankings you need to make sure that your image
is the best one on the page and that it stands out from all the others
in some way.

To illustrate this point check the rankings for the iPhone image
results
. Bearing in mind the searchers are likely to want a picture of
the shiny new Apple iPhone the companies with pictures of fake iPhone
prototypes are likely to be getting a much lower click through rate
than the number 1 result from Gizmodo which shows 2 images of the
iPhone in a good quality image. If you have good rankings in Google
Images don’t be afraid to alter the image or (keeping the dimensions
the same) replace it with a better or more interesting one. The image
search results take a while to update so it might take some weeks
before the new image shows but the results or changing the image can
be quite impressive.

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