I’ve just bought some new curtains and, like many people searching for a product online, rather than read through the main results, I jumped straight to the image search results for my research and subsequent purchase.
Images have always been important online, whether they are used to illustrate your products on a retail site, help us understand your business and services or just to accompany your blog and add some context, but more and more, images are critical part of the buying process.
Last year, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, predicted that:
rather than merely viewing images, very soon people will use it to accomplish goals, purchase products, and learn new information.
In August last year (2019) Google overhauled Google Images on desktop to
make it easier to see what’s out there, learn more about the images you’re interested in, and take the next step toward making your idea happen.
Since the updates, when you now select an image, it appears in a side panel on the page, next to the search results. Importantly, it stays there as you scroll, letting you easily compare images with others on the page.
“To help make shopping decisions easier, when you select an image of a product, you’ll now see details such as the brand, price, availability and reviews. We’ve also added captions to the related images shown under the image you’ve selected so you know where you’re going before you click.”
Even if you’re not familiar with the image search results pages, you may have noticed that in the main results, they often present a universal search result, which encompasses images, videos, maps, news, and shopping listings.
Finally, Google has added visual image search attributes to search results, for example colours, models and sizes. These attributes are now available as image carousels within the main search results.
Sort your images out
I’ve mentioned in another blog the importance of adding images to your website but it’s not as simple as uploading an image to your website of your product and service and hoping that people will find it on search.
Aside from ensuring your images are visually appealing – good quality, well-lit and relevant, the images need to be uploaded in a way that helps rather than hinders your audience. Follow these 4 rules:
Large images can considerably slow down your website. You need to scale down the file size without losing too much quality for them to work well on the web. As a rough guideline for most ‘full page’ web images, the image should not exceed 80Kb-100Kb. If the image is only part of a page (e.g. half the width of a blog post), then 20Kb-30Kb is usually fine.
2Optimise image file names
Before uploading any image, name the file with relevant, descriptive keywords. Include target keywords at the beginning and separate them with hyphens. File names should make sense to both search engines and humans. For example, the original name for an image of a curtain might be “DSC01091.jpg.” Rename it with a clear and more descriptive title such as “blue-tab-top-voile-panel.jpg.”
3Use alt tags
Fill in the alternative text field when you upload the image. Without it it’s impossible for search engines to accurately index your image content. It provides context and helps visually impaired users too. For simplicity keep the alt text the same as the file name i.e. blue tab top voile panel.
4Use mark up
This is one to pass onto your web developer (unless of course you created your own website). Add mark up to your product pages so Google can provide detailed product information in rich Search results. By using mark up you can make the brand, price, rating and availability information appear on your product images. If this means nothing to you, send your developers this link.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a retail site, a service led business or manufacturer, images more than ever are driving our purchasing decision online. Make sure your images can be found ahead of your competitors in the search results.