If you owned a retail store but hid all your products and visually-appealing decorations in an ‘Employees Only’ back room, you probably wouldn’t make any sales. The same goes for a local business’s website that’s devoid of any images.
There are two primary reasons why your website should have images and why those images should be optimized. First, images enhance the web user’s experience, making them more likely to engage with your site. Secondly, images with the right keywords and attributes will give you a better ranking in local search engine results, allowing you to reach more people in your community and stand out from competitors.
Let’s take a slightly more in-depth look at why you should use optimized images before discussing how you can get the most out of those images.
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Benefits of Using Optimized Images
You’ll be able to tie in your keywords. Whenever you add a picture to your website, you’ll be able to add something called an Alt tag, which is a short description of the text that a web user can scroll over to read if the image doesn’t load. This Alt tag also tells the search engine bots what your image is and makes it easier for web users to find you when they search for something related to that Alt tag. Although you shouldn’t keyword stuff your Alt tag, you should tie in your primary keyword as well as your location.
You’ll appear in Google Images. Google Images is Google’s third most-visited property after Search and Youtube, and you certainly shouldn’t overlook it, especially if you run a local business with visually appealing products and services. Let’s say, for example, that you run a cupcake shop in Chicago and someone searches for images of “cupcakes in Chicago” because they want to find the best-looking cupcakes for their friend’s birthday. By including optimized images on your website, you’re giving yourself another search channel in which you can be discovered.
You’ll keep web users on your page for longer. If you have a high bounce rate for any of the pages on your website, the problem may be that you don’t have any images on that page. Web users tend to balk at big blocks of text and linger on pages with images for longer, so including images for your local business’s website can help engage potential customers for longer and boost your SEO (since search engines factor in the amount of time that users spend on your page when determining rankings).
You’ll build your authority. Images on your website help your site visitors put a face to your business’s name (and a product to your product descriptions). Images of your products, your employees, and even the space where you work can help set you apart from your competitors, build trust, and ultimately increase your conversions.
Best Practices for Images in Local SEO
Now that you know why you should be using images to promote your local business online, here are a few of the best ways you can use those visuals.
Show off your workplace and employees. This is all about building trust and the tone of your brand. Pictures of where you work and who you work with can help show web users who you’re catering to and what kind of business you are, and it’s a lot more interesting to look at an ‘About Us’ page with images than one that’s just text.
Include images for all your products. Whether you’re selling products online or you want customers to come into your brick-and-mortar store to make a purchase, the best way to increase your conversion rate is to make sure all your products have associated images. It’s becoming more and more common for consumers to do research online before making a purchasing decision, even if their purchasing decision will ultimately take place in a physical store, so give buyers the most information you can by including images. Depending on the product, you may even want to include multiple photos from different angles.
Always include an Alt tag. As mentioned above, the words you include in your Alt text tags help Google (and other search engines) determine when to include your images on an image results page, and it’s one of the many on-page factors that will help determine your overall SEO ranking.
Include a keyword in your file name. What many people don’t realize is that the actual file name of images uploaded to your website will also be factored into your SEO ranking. Be sure to use a keyword-rich file name that also includes the name of your town, city, or region.
Link your logo back to your home page. Having a logo on your website that you also use at your local business’s brick-and-mortar location is a great way to connect your online and offline presence, plus it also has some hidden SEO benefits. Include your logo image in the same place on every page of your website, link it back to your homepage, and include an Alt tag with the name of your business (as it appears in the logo) as well as basic information that may also be conveyed in the logo (e.g. ‘Mane Attraction: Hair Styling in Houston’).
Add images to your business directory listings. As a local business, you’re hopefully already utilizing online directories like Yellow Pages, Yelp, and SuperPages (if not, go and claim your business on these local directories now). If you “own” your business on local directories, you can enhance your listing by adding your own images. These images can help encourage local Internet users to choose your business, especially if they’re looking at your listing versus a competitor’s image-less listing.
Adding images with the proper attributes isn’t particularly time-consuming, but it can go a long way in enhancing your local business’s web presence.