By now, most of us know the benefit images can provide when incorporated in your website’s content. Images can make any content more interesting and appealing by helping readers better understand the message you are trying to convey. In addition to that, images can increase user engagement.
All of these benefits do provide value with regards to search engine optimization (SEO). But, there has been the ongoing question of stock vs. original images, and whether or not using one or the other has an effect on your website SEO. Based on all of the information available related to this, Google’s former head of search spam is no, it does not.
Now, you might look at this reference from 2013 and think to yourself that things must have changed since then. From what I am able to gather, there has been no evidence that leads one to think otherwise.
With all of this being said, there are helpful strategies to make the most out of imagery you do have to benefit your site from an optimization standpoint, as well as instances where stock imagery can provide the best option when getting your message across to users.
Add image title attributes to each image (image title tags). If you want to get the most out of the strategically placed images on your website, concisely describing the image while including relevant and targeted keywords will help provide that additional information about the image to the search engines and users.
Add alt text (or alt tags) to each image. Alt text describes what’s on the image and the function of the image on the page, describing the image textually so that the search engines and screen readers (software used by the visually impaired) can easily understand what the image is.
Have an image site map that gives the search engines more information about the images available on your website. Web crawlers are unable to crawl images that are not called out specifically with the webpage source code.
Use images to help communicate the meaning of your content. With that being said, the longer it take for an image to load, the higher the chance a user will bounce off the site and move on to a faster loading site. Larger image files will slow your page down, and this does have a direct effect with regards to SEO.
If you have the ability to utilize original photography on your website, then I would suggest doing just that. Promoting compelling content starts with original photography. Unique visual assets of your team, your office, and your clients can not only help separate your practice from competitors, but also promote your brand and give users direct insight into what it’s like to receive services at your practice.
However, there can be instances when original photography might not be an option. You might not have the budget or just the time to allocate towards having original photos taken. There is also the instance where an original photo might not be an option for the message you are trying to convey within your page content.
Imagery in general is important with regards to SEO. Optimizing your images is a great place to start in order to improve SEO efforts, as well as user experience. Incorporating imagery to help the search engines better understand your site content is always a positive strategy.
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