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  • What’s Going On With These Images

    There are very clear instructions on how to deals with images, within Google’s guidelines but for a few years now I have struggled with their implementation in some cases. The core idea is this. You name your image concisely, then give a more detailed description with the alt tags. So if your image was of a black dog play in the field. You may name the image “dog.jpg” and include alt tags “black dog playing” as an example.

    Here Is The Moan

    The issues I had were twofold when I started losing rankings purely to how I named images. Firstly, clearly the naming of issues contributed to the optimisation of the page and I found, that optimised images often took a page over the Google threshold and it was better not to use any naming that were related to the keywords at all. This was frustrating sometimes, as it was never about “gaming” the system and all about correct identification. I went through a period where I deliberately de-optimised images, so not to have an impact on the page and in some cases, I would just number them.

    The second issue, assumes that every image on a page should appear in Google’s image search. Quite clearly that is not the case, in fact there are often more images used for buttons, visa signs, general artistry than those within the actual content of the website. To try and optimise theses for better rankings would be suicide, so in these cases I used some generic words that described the button rather than the content. The good news is Google does separate content from menus, footers and generally what is around it, so in most cases there should not be an issue, but not always.

    When Images Are Too Similar

    Recently though, I once again lost rankings on a large sub-domain and on investigation, it came down to too many images on a page, that were named in a similar way. These images were within the content, but used to highlight data, rather than something that could used on another site. I would get it, if they were named after keywords, but they nowhere near, in fact they included the word “image” and a reference code. When changing these just to a numbering system, things picked up again.

    Are The Guidleines Good Enough

    So all this raises the issue, that Google’s guidelines to how to use images, is just not clear enough. It’s all focused on those quality images, you would want to be found for within Google’s image search, but fails to deal with those other uses, images have. You could argue to avoid images altogether, except for those searchable ones, I wouldn’t disagree in many cases. I have dealt with this issue by looking at sites that rank well and mirroring their process. So in the case of Ebay listings that have multiple images stacked above each other together, they use a numbering system. It works for them, should work for you.

    It seems more complicated that it needs to be. Google would say, don’t worry about it, focus on other things, and let us deal with the on page stuff. Trouble is, it is just not true, every site is unique and the Algorithm is just not flexible enough to figure out all situations
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    It is pretty sad, but the reason for this moan, is due to the many experiments we do, to measure how certain things affect SERPS.