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How to Score SEO Points With Pictures

The differences between people and machines might be becoming smaller and smaller, thanks to artificial intelligence, but there is one difference that remains that’s important for search engine optimization (SEO): Computers still can’t “see” images.

As a human being, here’s what you see:

Panorama of wooded and snowy mountains, with blue sky and clouds
Photo credit: Flickr

A computer, however, only sees this:

<img src=”×334.jpg” alt=”Panorama of wooded and snowy mountains, with blue sky and clouds” title=”It was an awesome hike!” />

Images and SEO

Unfortunately, it’s machines that will almost always determine where you website should rank in a search engine results page. So how does your gorgeous panorama of a mountain range impact the ranking of your site when it’s just a line of HTML code?

Breaking Down the HTML

Let’s take a closer look at that line of HTML code for the image above. There are three parts to it:

  1. Image source (img src=)
  2. Alternative description (alt=)
  3. Title tag (title=)

When you put an image on your website, you upload it to the internet from your computer (or copy the location of the image, elsewhere online). The image source is the description of where the image can be found, allowing your site to pull it up whenever someone comes to visit.

The alternative description, also known as an alt tag, exists so screen readers – which are specialized browsers or browser programs used by the blind, and other people who disable images while on the web – can tell the user what they’re missing.

The title tag is for text that you want to appear if the user hovers their cursor over the image. It typically is used for additional information to explain the context about an image. However, browsers are increasingly eliminating this function, putting title tags on the wane.

Using the HTML of an Image to Enhance Your Law Firm’s SEO

When all that a search engine sees of your image are the image source and alt and title tags, you don’t have many options to score SEO points with pictures. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.

The image source is one way to score these points. Using an image with a generic file name like DSC.image895.jpg nets you, literally, nothing on the SEO front. Take the seconds necessary to change the file name so it includes some of your targeted keywords while still describing the image – it’ll be a solid investment of time.

Because an image’s alt tag is used by browsers to relate the content of an image, search engines tap into this function of an alt tag to help “see” the image, as well, just like a blind person. For you, as the master of your website, this provides an opportunity to exert some control over how a search engine understands your image. By describing the image in a way that not only relates what the image is, but also includes some of your targeted keywords, you can use the alt tag for its intended purpose, while also scoring some SEO points.

Title tags, on the other hand, are likely irrelevant for SEO purposes. Many sites now merely copy and paste their alt tag entry into the title tag field.

Remember: Keyword Stuffing is Still Keyword Stuffing

Just because the image source and alt tag fields are places you can add your targeted keywords does not mean that you should just blindly include them all, without context. Stuffing keywords into content – even if that content is your image descriptions, and not the text of a legal blog article – is a black hat SEO maneuver that search engines try to penalize. Be tactful.