8 SEO Tips for Image-Heavy Sites

Text-heavy sites have a built-in advantage when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). They can include a variety of keywords in their body copy without having to worry about keyword stuffing, which makes it much easier to rank for those keywords. If your site is image-heavy, like a gallery site or photography blog, you may think that you can’t compete, or that SEO just isn’t doable.

The fact is, image-heavy sites need SEO just as much as sites full of blog posts or articles. If you don’t optimize certain elements, search engines will have no idea how to categorize (or rank) your site—meaning that the chances of Internet users finding you on search engines like Google are slim.

Whether you want your images to go viral or turn your site into a popular photo hub, SEO is the best way to generate traffic. Here’s how to optimize your site—images and all—to improve your chances of ranking well and being found online.

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1. Include appropriate alt tags

html code on a computer screen

Search engines can’t process images like the human brain. Instead, they rely on alt tags to determine what is being depicted. All of the images on your site should have unique alt tags describing them, and many should include relevant keywords.

When writing alt tags, aim to accurately describe your images in a few words as possible. And if the image is relevant to the keywords for the page it is on, be sure to include those as well. That being said, you should never use alt tags as a way to “keyword stuff” your pages. Search engines like Google with eventually catch on, which will only hurt your SEO in the long run.

In addition to being useful for SEO purposes, alt text also makes your site accessible to users who’ve disabled images in their browsers or have visual disabilities. And considering that great user experience is key to having a successful site, that’s never a bad thing.

2. Write body content

While alt tags are certainly important, they provide a fairly limited amount of information to search engines. Because of this, you should write body content on your pages to provide them with context.

If you’re thinking, “But I run a photography website—I’m not a writer!”, you’re not alone. Many image-heavy site owners don’t like the idea of spending time writing copy when that isn’t their strong point. However, many photographers (and other professionals) solve this by adding blogs to their sites.

For example, let’s say you just photographed a wedding. Instead of simply uploading all of the photos to your site, incorporate them into a detailed blog post about the day. This will give you the chance to use your keywords naturally, and will also add an interesting, personal dimension to your site.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your images and text are closely related. If your site is made up of interior design photos, but you write a bunch of copy about, say, your water skiing hobby, you’re only going to confuse search engines—and waste your time.

3. Incorporate title tags

In addition to alt tags, you should also include title tags for your images. Many site owners get confused between these two elements, but unlike alt tags, title tags will not take the place of images that can’t be displayed. Instead, they pop up when users move their mouse over an image.

Because of this, your title tags don’t necessarily need to be keyword-heavy. In fact, you can even use them to speak directly to users. Write them like photo captions, or use them to include further explanations.

Bonus Reading: How to Write a Tantalizing Title Tag

4. Minimize file size

Search engine rankings are based on many factors, including page load time. The larger the image files on a page are, the longer it will take to load. If your pages take a long time, your rankings may suffer from that alone. And if they take so long that users get frustrated and leave before they even see your content, your rankings could suffer even more.

Keep file sizes smaller to ensure shorter load times on each page. There’s no hard rule for file size, although anything larger than a few hundred kilobytes is probably going to hurt site speed. If you can’t find a way to compress images, consider following the next step.

5. Consider different formats

You might think file types are interchangeable when it comes to images. Who cares if a picture is a JPEG, PNG, or GIF? Actually, visitors will. If you have a ton of images, some of them will need to be compressed to ensure site speed. That sometimes means switching to a smaller file type.

In most cases, JPEG files take up the least space without compromising quality. If you can’t convert images to JPEG, PNG is another relatively small alternative. 

6. Share your photos

someone browsing facebook on a desktop computer

As with pages full of written content, the rankings of image-heavy reach are impacted by links. The more links your site has from high authority sites, the better your chances of ranking well. Because of this, it’s in your best interest to have as many people see (and if possible link to) your content as possible. 

This is where having lots of original visual content works in your favor. Images are much more attractive to viewers than long chunks of text, meaning that they are very shareable. Share your images on social media, include links in newsletters and other email correspondence, and encourage your followers and friends to do the same. You can also encourage site visitors to share your content by adding social sharing buttons on your website and blog.

7. Connect with other bloggers

Building relationships with industry influencers is an important part of SEO. Start by visiting other photography websites and blogs. Leave insightful comments on blog posts, and engage with other photographers on social media.

Contact them to see if you can create a guest post on their blogs. This will help you build relationships with influencers in the photography industry and might score you some social mentions and links to your content.

You can also invite other photo bloggers to guest post on your blog. This will bring their network of followers to your site and help you gain traction among fans. As more and more people link to your website, your pages will rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

8. Post Frequently

Maintaining a frequent upload schedule will keep your image-heavy website or blog fresh and help with search engine rankings. When you post new updates, search engines will crawl your website or blog, and new content can help generate traffic from search engines. Scheduling regular posts will keep site visitors engaged with your content and encourage them to come back for more.

Need help?

Doing SEO for an image-heavy site can be a challenge, but once you’ve started attracting visitors, there’s no telling what your site can do. Visual content can be wildly popular online, meaning that if you have a talent for creating it, you’re already well on your way to a successful site.

If you need help optimizing your photos or site, free to contact us! Our talented team has the experience and knowledge you need to grow your traffic, social presence, and rankings.

Ready to start your Internet marketing and design campaigns? Call 888-601-5359 or contact us online today to learn more about how WebFX can help with your SEO challenges.