January 17th, 2017

Optimizing visual content for your digital marketing SEO

graphic of computer screen with symbols indicating various forms of content

Have you thought about your visual content optimization?

If there’s anything we’ve learned from SEO, it’s that every little bit counts. One easily-overlooked aspect, however, comes in the form of your visual content. We all know that including images increases engagement, but it’s easy to neglect optimizing visual content on the backend when you’re under a deadline. Or, you may have put a lot of time into a video, and then forgotten to take those few extra steps to ensure it reaches the widest audience.

Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Here are some tips to help take your digital marketing SEO to the next level.

What counts as visual content?

Think about all the video and graphic marketing content on your site. That includes all the images you use in your content, infographics, videos, etc. In short: anything contained in an image or video file type counts as visual content.

Obviously, some visual content overlaps with written content, as in the case of infographics. And while audio content such as podcasts don’t necessarily contain a visual component (unless you’ve created something specifically to accompany them), some rules apply to them as well. Good visual content optimization is all about accessibility. So think about how optimizing for video can help you optimize for audio.

Optimizing your images and infographics for SEO

Images form the bulk of your visual content. To make sure they’re SEO-friendly, check the following:

  • Start with alt text. This is the text that replaces your image when it can’t be loaded, and it also helps Google understand its relevance to a searcher query. This means it has to contain useful, descriptive information: this is not a place to stuff key words. On an accessibility note, this is the text screen readers use to describe page content to the visually impaired. So when you write it, try to think how someone who can’t see might want that image described. Then write a description that would be most useful to that person.
  • Use a unique file name. Instead of just 12345.jpg, make the name descriptive. Google will look at your file name to try to understand its relevance to the rest of the content on the page. In the absence of a more specific file name, it will look at the surrounding text. Using a descriptive file name will help Google, and by extension, your SEO.
  • Write a photo description. This is the text that appears when you hover over an image. Think of this as a meta description, except for your images. It can (and should!) contain your keyword, but the copy here should still be reader-focused. It’s not guaranteed your visitors will see this text, but you should still write under the assumption that they could.
  • Handle captions with care. Captions aren’t always appropriate. If you know that a caption will help your readers understand your image—or even if you’re just trying to add some humor to your post—caption away. If you’re using them as an excuse to put more jargon in front of the reader, hold off.

Optimizing your video content

Many rules that apply to images apply to video as well, but with a slight twist. To ensure the greatest reach for your video content, follow these rules:

  • Write an excellent title. This is no time to be careless or lazy. Your video’s title will go the longest way toward attracting viewers, so think carefully. Include the keywords you’re trying to target, but make sure they sound attractive and compelling. Also, don’t make it too long, as it will get cut off beyond a certain length.
  • Make your video description work for you. You have a lot of space with video descriptions, so don’t hold back. Remember that this is something your viewers will see along with the bots, so write something descriptive and helpful, but also include keywords in a natural way. If space allows, you can even include your video transcript in the description.
  • Tag your videos. Include key words and branding. Include words and phrases you think your viewers would search for that are relevant to your content.

Bonus tips for optimizing visual content

Once you go through all of the above, you may think your work is done. Not so fast! There are a few extra things you can do to set your visual content above the rest. Consider:

  • Use custom photography and graphics for key images on your site and for high-impact content. This will help your images appear less generic and will do more to attract interest and engagement.
  • Make sure you choose a clear and appealing image for the thumbnail that accompanies your video. It’s better to use an image of a person rather than just your brand logo.
  • Get transcriptions of your video and audio work. This will help your content be more search friendly, but it will also help it be more accessible to the hearing impaired.

We know that all these steps can seem like a big job, but once they become a habit you will find you take care of them automatically. Start focusing on your visual content optimization today, and you’ll be well on your way toward accessible and SEO-friendly content.

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