How, When & Why to use
The old cliché of an image being worth 1,000 words should be taken literally. Images are content. They convey a story. They convey a message. It is far better to have one or two great images than a bunch of mediocre images.
Also, it should be considered that with the right page mark-up you can control the image and thumbnail image that will be shown on the social network when the page is shared or linked to.
While social networks tend to be very image heavy, it is important to find a good balance for image use within every page of content on your site. Every image on the page must be downloaded every time the page loads and can really slow down the loading time.
Features and Functions
Images should rarely be posted without first being edited, enhanced and embellished. Whether adding words to create a meme, a logo for branding, adding the headline or important keywords for emphasis, creating a collage or just adjusting the exposure and filters, good images can grab attention better than anything else.
It is never enough to just show an image. Google cannot see images. Images should be optimized in the following ways:
- Name of the Image: The first or main image for the page should use the main keyword for the page. Subsequent images should be named for the supporting keywords or thematically related keywords.
- Alt tag for the image. This should utilize the target keyword in a way that also describes the image. Keep the alt tag in the 2-8 word range.
- Make sure the image is added to your image sitemap.
- Include a thumbnail image (a smaller version of the image) for use in blog rolls if applicable.
- Include Schema.org/ImageObject markup as follows:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject"> <h2 itemprop="name">Beach in Mexico</h2> <img src="mexico-beach.jpg" itemprop="contentURL" /> By <span itemprop="author">Author Name</span> Photographed in <span itemprop="contentLocation">Location where photo was taken</span> Date uploaded: <meta itemprop="datePublished" content="yyyy-mm-dd"> <span itemprop="description">write a short description of the photo</span> </div>
Marketing, Syndication, Distribution, Social Engagement
Images are particularly strong components of sharing and social distribution. Images attract eyes, clicks and shares. Follow these syndication strategies:
- Use an Open Graph Image tag to indicate which image should be displayed when the page is shared on Facebook.
- Use Twitter Card Image markup to indicate which image should be displayed on Twitter.
- Use Link rel=”image_src” to indicate which image should be displayed on Google+.
- Make sure that your image is added to your image sitemap and that your image sitemap has been submitted to Google Webmaster tools. This will help your image rank well in Google Images.
- Consider posting your image to all of the social photo sites.