In the modern search era, image may be everything. New tools are emerging that will help you understand if your product images and Business Photography are good enough to drive sales, and take your eCommerce or lead generation programs to the next level.
By utilizing Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, we start to see a clearer picture of how many times our product pictures are being seen on search results pages, compared to how many times potential customers take action on those images.
Understanding Image Effectiveness in Google Analytics
Previously, I’ve discussed connecting Google Webmaster Central to Google Analytics so you can start to utilize the new Search Engine Optimization reports. Once accomplished, we can look at both Search Queries and Landing pages to see how often they are displayed in Google Search Results. We can see WHERE in the results we show up on average, as well as the Click Through Rate, which we can also call the EFFECTIVENESS of that image.
To get to this view, you click on Traffic Sources -> SEO Reports -> Queries. I then added in a secondary dimension called Google Property. That will tell us where on Google the search took place, i.e. it was specifically an image search, or it was a standard web search. NOTE: It will also tell us if it was a mobile search, which can also have an impact, but we’ll discuss that elsewhere.
In my above example, we are looking at results from a hobbiest blog, and the images haven’t been optimized for SEO purposes. The column in bold shows us the number of times ANY image appeared in Google Image searches for a particular keyword search. To determine what image showed, go out to Google and complete that search yourself. You should see your image show up in the early results, especially if the report is showing you had a significant number of impressions.
We’ll take “life jacket” as an example. Here’s the Google Image results: Image Results for Life Jacket.
Somewhere on that cluttered page is the image from my blog. And from the chart above, we can see the blog image resulted in a low click through rate. Well less than 1%. So how can we drive that number higher?
Making Images Stand Out in Google Search
If you’re willing to put in some work, you can move these results higher. Here’s a few ideas:
To Move Your Image Higher in Search Results
- Make sure the ALT tag, File name, and image caption are all relevant to what you want to show up for.
- Utilize an Image Sitemap (great example for WordPress blogs) and submit it to Google and elsewhere.
- Consider including a price on the image. These will have to change from time to time, but well worth it.
- If the item is on clearance, put a Clearance call out on the image.
- How about Buy Now or Add to Cart stickers on the images?
- If you offer free quotes, why not say so in the image?
- If you have the image on a great landing page, how about text that says Learn More?
A Few Caveats on Image SEO
The images that show up on Google Images are of course the ones that are on your web pages (unless you are manipulating results, which I never encourage). So we need to be careful exactly what call to actions we use, because they need to make sense when the visitor arrives on the landing page as well.
So if the image includes CLICK HERE or something similar, the action needs to be repeatable on the live image on your website. Otherwise, we’re providing a bad user experience, and that’s bad SEO no matter how you look at it.
If you’re running an affiliate program, you’ll want to have a different set of images available to your performance marketing partners. They likely won’t be able to mimic the same results from clicking on images, so that’s a bad experience as well. Plus, for the intent of this blog post, we’re trying to make your specific images stand out, not the image in general.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment below!