The main aspects of making your site attractive to the search engines are having plenty of content, targeting each page at an important search term through the titles and tags, and getting external links to as many pages as possible. But what other little tweaks can help? We’ll look at a few over the next couple of Wednesdays.
The first is optimising the images for search engines. This means considering the search term for the page and the way it’s connected to the image, and then getting suitable text into the filenames of the images and their “alt text” and/or title attributes. To understand why this is important, try to think like the brains behind the search engines. If they’re trying to associate pages with certain search terms, then a page with a picture of the search term in question is going to score that little bit higher, isn’t it?
However, here’s the problem: search engines can’t see what’s an a picture (yet). So they rely on clues: the text surrounding the image, the file name of the image, and the “alt text” and title attribute. The more of these you can tick off, the more likely it is that the search engines will know what your image is about, and the more likely it is that the image will help a page to rank for that search term.
How you set the “alt text” and title attributes depends on your website’s content management system, but there should be fields to fill in when you upload the image. The difference between the two is summarised in the first table in this excellent article. Changing the filename from 123456.jpg to blue-widget.jpg is something you’ll need to do beforehand.