Images on your website and Google Image Search

It’s been said that the written word is in decline, in fact not only text based communications but oral as well. We live now in the age of the image.

Television is favoured over the radio, cinema and video take preference to reading and listening, users skim read text picking out the bold and large fonts while processing images on the page for futher information while social sharing platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram have revolutionised image sharing.

Where do we source these images

Google image search is hugely popular, with over a billion downloads per month, yet who is entitled to use these images and does the newly designed Google Image interface make illegal downloading of images a problem for image owners or does it help drive traffic to your business via its website/blog?

Google argues that displaying the different images in an inline panel make it “faster, more beautiful, and more reliable. You will be able to quickly flip through a set of images by using the keyboard. If you want to go back to browsing other search results, just scroll down and pick up right where you left off” – full Google webmaster article can be read here – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2013/01/faster-image-search.html

Copyright

However, it could be argued that this layout enables users to display not only the image, but the original sized image without going to the website to see it in context or to find out more about your business offering.  So how do you protect your own image copyright?
Well, the easiest way is to just add a watermark to the picture in real time when Google (or any other  search engine) display your images. The script and the explanation on  how to install this script can be found on the following link: http://www.scriptsocket.com/imagehotlinkingcode.html.

Optimising Images

The other side to this argument is that by creating great images and optimising these for Google Image Search you can take advantage of the steady stream of traffic from this site.   In order to get your image on page 1 of this image search make sure you do the following:

  • Only use image types that Google can index – BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG,
  • Name your images in a descriptive fashion, e.g., mothers-day-flowers.jpg rather than IMG2543.jpg.
  • Use very descriptive alt text to describe the image in a sensible way – this suits humans who cannot view the image as well as search engines who cannot “see” it either
  • Surround the image with text which further explains what the image is about – referencing the image where possible
  • Create an image Sitemap using Google’s image specific tags
  • Use descriptive anchor text when linking from internal pages of your site to your images

Finally, remember not to spam the image by stuffing keywords into its meta tags and use the best, highest quality images you can.  Although size of an image file is not important when optimising an image for Google, Page Speed is important when optimising your site for Google and large files load way after text on your averge web page, making the user experience poor – and we all know what Google thinks about that!

Let us know if copyright on images is an issue for you and what you do to keep track of your own images.