How to Make Vehicle Photos Support Your SEO

In a series of posts we have been discussing the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), these advantages can all add up together to make your company stand out from the rest.  In this post, we will be discussing the importance of making your images search engine-friendly.  Images can generate lots of traffic from image-based search engines (such as Google Images), which is why it is important to consider adding these tips to your on-page SEO efforts.  According to Raven Tools, 78% of all SEO issues were image related. The following 11 tricks of the trade will help make you stand out!

  1. Choose the right file name for your image. Using something that describes the picture, will rank better overall.  Instead of using the default DSC3948.jpg, call the file Toyota-Corolla-2016.jpg.  The main keyword should be at the beginning of the file name.  Determining the way customers search will improve your naming process.  For example, do more customers search for “Toyota Corolla 2016” or do they search for “S Plus 2016 Corolla”?  This information will improve your ranking in image-based search engines.
  2. Capitalize on multiple photos. This goes along with the previous tip of naming your pictures accurately and descriptively.  It is best to have as many as 40 images of a car according to local SEO guru–Greg Gifford, so create a unique alt tag for each one.  If the picture is of the interior, the spoiler, or anything else, include that.  Remember, the more descriptive your file name, the higher your rank will be.
  3. Using Alt and Title Text for an additional SEO boost. For whatever reason an image would not be displayed in someone’s browser, having an alt text behind the picture will still describe the image to the user.  On another hand, the title text will provide another boost to SEO.  Both of these give images the opportunity to improve the message to search engine spiders what your content is about.  Keep in mind that if your image is purely decorative, you will not need to give it a proper alt tag, this is called “over-optimization, ” and you could be penalized for it.

Example of Alt and Title Attributes:  <img src=”https://www.domain-name.com/make-model/your detailed image file name.jpg” alt=”Your detailed description of the image you are referencing” title=”The title of your image”>

  1. Scale your images for your use. If you take a picture that is 2000×1000 pixels and only shows it as 250×150 pixels, the entire image will still have to load inside the page before shrinking to your specifications.  This makes your page load time much slower, decreasing your user’s experience.  This will increase your bounce rate and lower your ranking in the search engine faster than you can say Mitsubishi.
  2. Reduce file size. This tip goes hand in hand with scaling images for your use.  The file itself should be as small as possible to increase site speed.  You can use websites such JPEGMini or PunyPNG to help you reduce size quickly.  A good rule of thumb is to try and keep your file size below 70kb.  JPEG has become the standard for images these days.  They can be compressed considerably while still retaining quality images.  GIFs are lower quality than JPEGs but work well for icons or decorative images.  PNGs are becoming more popular. However, the file size can be much larger than a JPEG would normally be.
  3. Know which file type to use for your site. This one can be tricky if you aren’t sure which type is best.  As discussed previously, the most common file types are JPEG, GIF, and PNG.  For ecommerce—JPEG is best, they provide the highest quality at the smallest file size.  GIFs should never be used for large product images; the file size will be large, and there is not a good way to compress it while keeping the quality.  PNGs excel at decorative images as well, but if you are only able to use PNGs, they can be an adequate substitute for JPEGs and GIFs.
  4. Thumbnails need your attention too. It is quite common for a thumbnail image of cars to be on websites as shown below.  But be careful, they will silently kill the time it takes to load a page.  Make thumbnail file sizes as small as possible.  It is worth having the quality slide in favor of a smaller file size.

    An image of a car with five thumbnails underneath of the interior of the car surrounded by a red box with an arrow pointing to the word Thumbnails

  5. Properly use image captions. This tip isn’t directly helpful to search engine optimization but is geared toward the consumer.  Using a caption will catch the eye of a customer who is purely scanning your page, and keep them on your page a little longer.  This, in turn, will decrease your bounce rate–the number of times a user comes to your site but quickly clicks back to the search engine.
  6. Add your images to your XML Sitemap. You may also make a different Sitemap for only your images, use the method that works for you.  Whichever way you decide to sitemap your images, this will ensure that Google can crawl and index your pictures.  This ensures that while using an image-based search engine, your pictures will show up.
  7. Add OpenGraph tags for your images. These tools allow people to share your picture to social media directly from your website. This takes some work, but it is well worth the time required to add a line of code.  WordPress has a plug-in for OpenGraph, which simplifies things.  If you don’t use WordPress the tag would go into the <head> part of your code and look similar to the following:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”An Eye-Catching Title” />

<meta property=”og:url” content=”https://www.car-dealership.com” />

<meta property=”og:type” content=”website” />

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Your entertaining and descriptive text here, if your meta description is good, use it.” />

  1. Context is always an essential element. Search engine spiders use the content surrounding pictures to assess the subject matter of your image. The best practices for images are to place them near the relevant text, as well as providing descriptive captions and titles as we’ve already discussed.

After reading through all the best practices for optimizing your images, you should have a better understanding of the best practices for optimizing your images.  Like all other ways to optimize your search engine results, not one tip alone will provide you with the top slot in the rankings.  Try some of our tips out on your images and you’ll see how well a little hard work and dedication can improve your website.

Be sure to check out the rest of our SEO series such as 11 Tips to Make Your Title SEO-Friendly to learn more ways to optimize your search results.

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