Image Search Tips for E-Tailers
Because text is so important in the world of search, much attention is properly spent optimizing it in all its forms — paragraphs, sentences, keywords, snippets, categories, URL strings. Images are equally important, however, especially for e-tailers seeking visibility in a world where Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) rely heavily on images.
Why Image Search is Important
A quick glance at the analytics panels of many publisher sites demonstrates that image search often comprises 50 percent of a site's traffic from search engines. Google doesn't allow marketers to place ads on image pages, but that doesn't mean there aren't marketing opportunities on image search engine results pages (SERPs). If your image is highly ranked, you have an opportunity to show your brand, both when a searcher rolls over an image and when he or she clicks on the image, which opens a subsidiary page giving the searcher an opportunity to visit your site.
Image search is also important for online retailers because reaching email audiences with images has become more problematic in recent years, with many email applications blocking images by default.
How E-Tailers Can Cause Their Images to Be More Visible
Traffic from image search isn't paid traffic, but it isn't free either. Those seeking to have their images rise to the top of image SERPs will need to invest time and effort in the images themselves and in the text describing them that help the search engines put them into their proper context and category. Here are a few things you can do to improve the search performance of your images:
- Tag images correctly. Search engines have yet to evolve to a point where they can recognize the content of an image from its pixels alone. The text descriptions for images, whether via an ALT tag, ANCHOR link or category assignment, are critical. Without them, the search engine has no clue as to what your image is or why it should be ranked.
- Make your images original. If you list 1,000 products, it's daunting to think about the cost of shooting original images for all of them. But in an era when smartphones have quality cameras, there's nothing holding you back from selecting some of your best products — say your top-10 sellers — and creating original images for them. Yes, creating original content is expensive, but that's what the search engines are insisting upon today.
- Prepare for PLAs. Google PLAs, which rely heavily on images, have proven enormously effective for e-tailers who have figured out how to run PLAs in concert with traditional text campaigns. Coordinate your image production efforts with the requirements of your PLA team so that your products shine on Google Product Search.
Paying attention to image optimization can result in a steady, zero-cost stream of searchers who will appear at your door via image search. While many will leave, some of them — perhaps many — will hang around, check out your other offerings and convert, which makes image search a powerful sales channel.