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5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 – Part 3 of 5

5 seo best practices in 2016 - Part 3 - image information

In Part 1, we established that a mobile-friendly website is critical. For over a year, there are more Google searches on phones, than pads, laptops and desktops combined. “Nuff said”.

In Part 2, We took a look at creating relevant, holistic, consumer focused content and how that integrates with SERP (Search Engine Return Pages).

This is the 3rd of a 5 part series on SEO best practices in 2016, and how Web It 101 can bring life to your online presence. These are called Google Best Practices.  And it’s what Web It does for clients, day in and day out. Are these all new to you? Then shame on you for not following the rules.  We do it “by the book”. No overstated promises. No shady backlink buying. No outsourcing overseas. Just hard work and results.

5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 – Part 3 – Universal Search

google-485611__180If you are a business owner with a website, you are aware of how important it is to connect with people interested in the products or services that you offer. You also know the power of a Google search, and how useful a good position on a search term can be.

Google and Bing algorithms (Yahoo uses both services, depending on the search phrase) each contain hundreds of factors, they change search criteria frequently, and never disclose what the parameters are to anyone. SEO is, and always will be, an inexact science. It’s the nature of the beast.

People use search engines to source information, products, and services, therefore, if your website has content people should find, you should still be optimizing your website. But if you were to ask 10 SEO firms the best approach, they will give you 11 different answers. Understandably, with the rules constantly changing it becomes more difficult to manipulate top positions (Google aggressively goes after Black Hat tactics like shady backlinks).

But with all the emails we get here, and all the emails our clients get, the one thing no black hat firm ever talks about is how to utilize the power of Universal Search.

5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 – Part 3

Understanding Search and The Powerful Advantage of Universal Search

5 seo best practices for 2016 - part 3 universal searchSearch engine bots index a wide variety of content types, including web text (website text/blogs/news/update posts), event calendars, landing pages, articles, white papers, etc), relevant news articles, videos, images, maps, even PDF’s. Google has drawn conclusions about user-behavior in search, realizing that searchers prefer to see a variety of media formats for any given search query. Which makes sense, because for some search queries, a video or PDF download may answer a user’s question more accurately than a local business listing or blog post, and vice versa. The indexing and inclusion of these varying media types is referred to as “Universal Search”, and it is an attempt by the search engine to best answer a specific search query by a user by serving the content it determines is most appropriate, regardless of type.

Years ago Google (then Bing and Yahoo) added the “universal search” bar above the search box.  The Search Bar configuration for “search A” can read “web” “news” “images” “maps” “shopping” and “more”.  For “search B” it might read “web” “video” “images” “news” “books”, and “more”.  The selections and the order change, depending on the search term.

Fire up Google, search for “Desks” and you’ll see this…

5 seo best practices in 2016 - Web It 101

In this case, we get “Shopping, Images, Maps Video and more”

Now if you want to see desks, you can hit shopping or images or videos. Let’s click Images.

Go ahead, scroll down and click on an image

5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 - Part 3 - Image is Everything

How about that? See that first button “visit page”? It takes you right to the page that image in on. The same is true for any search, products, services, anything. But if that image was not embedded with a title, caption and alternative information, how would google know how to index it?

IT CAN’T. Google bots can’t “see” a picture when indexing a site. When that image is placed on a page, you need to embed information in order to make sure Google (or Bing) index it correctly.

And if Google deems it relative, other media types get dropped into the regular “web” listings as well. Any searcher knows that images, videos and PDF’s are dropped into Google web searches when warranted. 

Most people know this already, even if they don’t understand how Google works or what this process is called, or even realize that the selections change with every search. What most people don’t know is that website owners have the opportunity to include multiple types of media in their website, and harness Universal SEO to have a solid presence across the media types in search.

Because there are so many types of media formats available on the web, and for any given search, it is important to have a variety of these types of media content on a website.  That is if you desire to compete with the other types of media for their given search query. The key here is understanding the search environment in which one is trying to compete, in order to use the best suited content assets on a given page, or website, to effectively and efficiently satisfy users, as well as the search engines.

Optimized Images 

5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 - Part 3 image informationWhat all these files types have in common is a need for clear, descriptive names or titles. These are by all means not the default name spit out by your camera — e.g., 20160614233.jpg. These file names should be as descriptive as possible and match what the file represents. If you build decks, don’t label an image “deck”, label it “a custom outdoor deck by ACME”.

Why? Google Bots can’t “see” the picture, they can only read the text for indexing. Then, if someone searches for outdoor decks using “images” in the universal search bar and your image is there, there is a button to visit your site. That’s SEO that drives users to your website.

Such descriptive names are not only found by search engine spiders, but often have the added advantage of appearing beside the image itself, enhancing the user experience as well. Beyond any other optimization tactics, file names are accorded the most weight by search engines when it comes to ranking.

After giving media files clear, descriptive names, don’t forget to add more descriptive text (meta data) to the “alt” attribute in the file’s tag. Make it short and to the point, like the file name. This is an opportunity to go a little bit broader. That “outdoor deck by ACME”, for example, might have an alt tag as “happier backyard”, or “high quality outdoor living”. Or perhaps this is the place to indicate your service area, “By Houston’s Most Experienced Builders”.

This all seems dumb you say. Upload a photo on your website. Name it “Apple”

Google doesn’t know if it’s a fresh fruit, an IPhone, or a collectible record (baby-boomers will know the band).

5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 - Part 3 tell Google what the picture isIt needs

  • Title
  • Description
  • Alternate Information

Most important of all is how you describe your image in the Alt section (can be known as Alt-tags or Alt-text). Google can’t ‘see’ your images, but it can ‘read’ them and what it reads is what you write in the alt-attribute.

Alt-text should be clear, descriptive, concise and not stuffed with keywords. Alt-text is also what’s used by screen reader software to describe images to people with visual impairments.

Keyword and long-tail strategy, combined with content marketing goals, will influence what type of additional data is added in an image.

Because there are so many types of media formats available on the web, and for any given search, it is important to have a variety of these types of media content on a website.  That is if you desire to compete with the other types of media for their given search query. The key here is understanding the search environment in which one is trying to compete, in order to use the best suited content assets on a given page, or website, to effectively and efficiently satisfy users, as well as the search engines.

Google and mobile - seo best practices for 2016In its elemental form, If someone googles your business name directly, the “web” selection on the universal search bar, should have your business on the first page. If not, you’re in serious SEO trouble.  And unfortunately, that is what all SEO folks, especially grey or black hat, want to talk about…web listings.

But Web It wants you to click on “images”.  Is that your product or service picture from your website in the very first row? Is the photo crisp and clear?  Is the description accurate? That could be as important as the web result for many businesses. Image placement is SEO as well.  Why? Clicking on a picture gives a button to “visit page” taking you directly to the website, allowing you to cover “all the bases”.

Now tell me “image” placement ranking in universal search is not important for SEO

Lastly, any “white hat” SEO firm will tell you that image information; the title, description and alternate information helps the SEO of the page the image is placed on. That’s right. It’s one of the easiest ways to positively increase your ranking in a web search because it increases the website page SEO. So much so, that entering image information is standard operation in every SEO tool we have ever used.

And it’s on more reason to leave those free website builders that don’t even allow Google to index your images.

Continue to Part 4

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