When you search online for products to buy, do you ever flip over from the standard text-based search results to look at Google Images? There’s a good chance that you do. Before people buy products online, they almost always want to see those products. That’s particularly true when the way a product looks is a major influence on whether or not people want to buy it. Although it’s obviously the case that people care what clothing looks like, that’s also true of a wide variety of other products ranging from computer parts to a device like a cart battery. For almost any type of product, there’s a good chance that people will want to see an overview of what’s available before making their choice – and Google Images is a great way to see a lot of products at once.
How much traffic can your e-commerce site potentially get from Google Images? It’s been suggested that Google’s image search receives around one billion views per day – perhaps even a great deal more than that. Needless to say, you definitely want to grab a slice of that traffic if you can.
Image optimization is an aspect of search engine optimization that’s often overlooked. Many owners of e-commerce sites focus so much on the main text-based Google search results that image optimization falls by the wayside. Don’t let that happen to you. When people search Google Images for products to buy, you definitely want your site’s pictures to appear among the results. Here’s how to get your product photos to appear on Google Images.
Take Your Own Product Photos
The first thing you need to know about showing up on Google Images is that your chance to do so is almost nonexistent if you’re using the same stock photos that everyone else is using. Google is a pioneer in the development of artificial intelligence, and one of the first things that the company used AI for was image recognition. In a moment, we’ll explain how to use that to your advantage. For now, though, the most important thing to know is that when people search Google Images, they don’t want to see the same picture over and over. Google Images attempts to trace each image back to its original source, and sites displaying the exact same image are generally excluded from the search results.
If you want to appear on Google Images, the most important thing that you can do is take your own product photos. Stock photos might be useful for people who are already on your site, but they definitely won’t bring search engine traffic. Thankfully, taking your own product photos generally isn’t too difficult because you probably already have a great camera built into your phone. All that you need is a good backdrop and some lighting, and those things are easy to find online at affordable prices. Don’t forget that the pictures should also look good at smaller sizes, because you’ll want your pictures to stand out when people see them on Google Images.
When preparing product photos for your website, resize each photo to a manageable size and compress it accordingly. Your phone may have a 12-megapixel camera, but people who visit your website want the images to load instantly. A width of around 2,000 pixels is usually the maximum that anyone will ever require, and many images can be even smaller than that. Use JPG or WEBP compression to make the file sizes as small as they can be without reducing the image quality.
Give Your Pictures Descriptive File Names and Alt Texts
From a search optimization standpoint, it is absolutely crucial that you give every image on your site a descriptive file name matching the search keywords that people might use to find that image. If you have an image of green running shoes, for instance, the name of the file should be “green-running-shoes.jpg.” Google pays close attention to this.
Most content management systems will also give you the ability to add alt text when placing an image on a product page or blog post. Alt text is important for accessibility because it’s shown in the place of images in text-only browsers for the vision impaired. It’s also important because it’s part of a page’s source code and thus adds to the page’s keyword density. The alt text for an image should describe what the image depicts, and it should also include the image’s target keyword phrase. Returning to the example of running shoes, a good alt text for the image might be something like “A young woman poses on a boardwalk in a pair of green running shoes.”
Surround Your Images with High-Quality Text
If you have a great picture of green running shoes that you’ve taken yourself with a high-quality backdrop and good lighting – and you’ve optimized the image by giving it a keyword-rich file name and alt text – it should have an excellent chance to show up on Google Images. It’ll have an even better chance, though, if it’s placed on a page that’s filled with useful information about green running shoes. Since we’re talking about a product image, that should be easy to accomplish since the product image should perfectly describe the page’s main idea.
When creating your site’s product pages, it’s important to remember that you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you copy the product description text from your distributor or from one of your competitors. Google doesn’t just use the image data to determine what a picture is – it uses all of the information on the page such as the page’s title and body text. However, duplicate images aren’t the only things that Google ignores when ranking content – it also ignores duplicate text. If your product pages have text that’s copied from other sources, you could end up going through all of the work to optimize your images only to have Google not index the content anyway.
Every time you add a new product page to your site, take the time to write a helpful description that explains what the product is and who should buy it. High-quality product text always gives you the best possible chance to appear on Google’s main search results pages – and with the proper optimizations, good on-page text will help your performance on Google Images as well.
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