By Jimmy Daly
Here is “everything you need to know about image optimization for lawyers” condensed into just a few hundred words. Let’s start at the very beginning. You need images on your site. In the same way video engages web visitors, so do images. And in the same way videos must be optimized properly to give you any kind of juice in the eyes of Google, so too must your images be optimized. If you don’t believe that images are important to SEO, just head over to Google.
Google is very deliberate about their user interface. If images is the second tab on a SERP (search engine result page), then you can bet that images are important to them. With that established, let’s dig into how to use images on your attorney website to improve rankings.
It all starts with the file. Whether you have a graphic from iStockphoto or a photo that you’ve taken yourself, you will want to change the file name and maybe even the file type. We recommend working with JPEG files because they are easily recognized by all browsers. Here are examples of default files names that are NOT helpful for SEO:
Note: These are real file names. You will come across file names like this. Before you do anything else, change the file name with your searchers in mind. The file name of the screenshot above is “image-seo-for-lawyers.jpg”. If you are a car accident lawyer in Topeka, Kansas posting a stock image of a car accident, an appropriate file name might be “topeka-kansas-car-accident-lawyer.jpg”. As discussed in this webmaster video with Matt Cutts, you want to use hyphens when separating words in a URL or file name rather than underscores. Hyphens, in the eyes of Google, indicate separate words while underscores do not.
The next step is re-sizing your image for the web. If you are using a photo that you have taken on a digital camera that is 8 mega-pixels, you absolutely want to re-size it before you upload it into your image library. That is a huge file that will slow down your page load time (a big no-no for SEO). You can do this in Photoshop and many other desktop programs but I like Picnik.com when I just need to re-size and not edit. Don’t worry about the exact size of the image, just try to keep the file at something reasonable, like 100kb. Once the file is uploaded, you can alter the size for styling purposes but the file itself remains the same size.
Once uploaded, you will need to surround your image with descriptive text to make sure the search engines understand what it is. This starts with your alt text. Here are some examples, taken directly from Google:
- Not so good: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”"/>
- Better: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”puppy”/>
- Best: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”Dalmatian puppy playing fetch”>
- To be avoided: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”puppy dog baby dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food”/>
You don’t need to dig into the code of your site to add alt text. Every content management system allows you to do this when you upload the image. Here is what it looks like in WordPress:
And here is what it looks like in Foster Web Marketing’s custom content management system DSS:
Now that you have alt text, proper image size and a clean file name, you can do a few extra things to help searchers find your images AND help the pages with images rank better.
- Add an image sitemap and submit it to Google Webmaster tools.
- Make sure every image (including file name, alt text, etc.) is relevant to the page you put it on. A stock photo of a lawyer optimized for car accidents should not also be used for medical malpractice. If you want to use the same image twice, start the process from the beginning.
- Style your images on the page so that the text wraps nicely around them and keep them above the fold.
- Build links to images and pages with images on them.