30 second summary:
- Visual content offers a lot of value to your website.
- It can improve critical stats like time on the page.
- Visuals guide the reader through your content more smoothly.
- They make your content more consumable and increase sharing.
- Google loves images that are optimized for search.
- Read on to learn more about how adding optimized images to your website can improve your search visits with your target audience.
- Check out examples of how companies are successfully incorporating visual content into their marketing and websites.
It’s no secret that visual content is hot right now (queue of Zoolander references). They know that content formats like videos, infographics, GIFs, memes, and more should be part of your content strategy. However, did you know that these also affect your website’s SEO?
How does visual content affect SEO?
It is so valuable to add visual content to your website. While your written content is there to allow you to naturally incorporate keywords and create more content to rank in search engines, the visual content you add to your website and elsewhere can help improve that content further.
1. Video content keeps visitors on the page
One stat Google loves is “time on page”. If visitors check out your website and leave after an average of 10 seconds, it means to Google that your content is bad or not relevant. By putting a video in the middle of your written content, you can keep people on the page longer.
Think about it. For example, let’s say it takes someone 10 seconds to read the first two paragraphs of your article. Then there is a video right on your website that your visitors can simply click on to add more value to the piece.
You click to view and watch the full two-minute video. This will fascinate your visitors to dig deeper. Before they know it, they’ve been on your website for five minutes. This can significantly increase your time on page statistics.
Video also affects critical stats like your bounce rate, which is also a critical factor used by Google. The last thing you want is people visiting your website and recovering from it after reading just a few lines on a page. Video can help reduce your bounce rate and convince people to stick with you.
As we delve into this, here’s a video by Neil Patel explaining this concept in a bit more detail. In the video, Patel points out some ways (including video) that you can use to reduce your bounce rate.
2. Visuals guide the reader through your content
Reading a 1000-word article directly, no matter how well-written, can quickly become a chore. To keep site visitors flowing through the content, you can add infographics, screenshots, and more to visualize the concepts you’re presenting and bring your visitors further down.
If you split your content with related graphics, readers can pause to soak up the copy and watch some related graphics, video, or other visual content instead. It also provides a chance for the reader to pause and view a graphic that can more easily explain a complex topic you are presenting or visually highlight some related statistics to really bring home the impact so that it doesn’t get lost in text.
Here’s a great example of an infographic that will grab readers’ attention and give them something more to soak up than just text. These are some screenshots of a larger infographic published in an article on the State of Search Engine Optimization in 2019.
Click here for the full infographic.
3. With machine learning from Google you learn to read images
While it’s not 100% clear how this works, it is known and known that Google is actively learning how to read images on pages. With billions of images on the web, Google machine learning can use shapes and other elements to compare and understand what the images represent on your website.
I mean, do I really have to say a lot more here? If Google is focused on learning how to crawl something and then ascribing it to the value your website brings to the internet, this is the place to look. This is why it is so important that your images are relevant and formatted for Google to read.
How Can You Use Images to Promote SEO?
Now that you know the “why” part, let’s move on to the “how” part. It’s important to go a little deeper and explore a few ways you can apply visual marketing to your SEO efforts.
1. Make sure your pictures are added to the story
Adding graphics, screenshots, and other content that actually relates to your item and adds value offers a lot of value. It is decidedly less valuable to add generic images that simply represent the concepts and don’t actually add anything. Why don’t I show you what I mean since we’re on the subject?
For example number one, you can see educational screenshots that have been put into this content. These are screenshots from an article I recently wrote that describes in detail how HARO is used for SEO and backlink creation. I used screenshots to walk readers through each step and to provide them with actionable instructions like the image of the email template and the walkthrough on setting up an email.
On the opposite page you will find the following images which show an example of the use of images related to the topic but not really adding value. This is another article on my website. I decided to test generic images on this piece as you can see in the screenshots below. The images relate to the content, but they really don’t add much more.
As you can see, they both add a certain amount of appeal to their respective items. For example, one, the HARO article, has 12 times the number of page views, 11 additional comments and twice the time on the page. So you can see the value is clear, that adding relevant images that contribute to the story will improve your SEO.
2. Optimize your pictures
It’s not enough to just add images to your pages and posts. You also need to make sure that they are optimized. If you ignore this step, you may experience problems with your site’s performance. For example, unoptimized images can cause slow loading times on your website, and website speed is a critical ranking factor for Google.
Use appropriate image types to make sure you don’t clutter your website with heavy images. The best formats are JPEG, PNG, and GIF. And for videos, host the videos somewhere else (e.g. YouTube) and then embed them on your website instead of uploading them directly.
Another important factor in optimizing your images is the tags you add. Just as you need to add meta tags to your posts, you need to add tags to your images too. This way you can tell Google (and don’t forget other search engines, of course) what your images are about.
3. Use the external search
You’ve probably heard this before, but it deserves repetition. YouTube is the second largest search engine. Second after … drum roll please … Google!
So take advantage of the opportunity to post videos on YouTube and optimize these videos to get more content to search.
This is obviously an off-site strategy. However, if you create great video content and then optimize it so that it shows up in search, your videos can achieve some SEO value.
You can then add links to your website in your video descriptions and on your YouTube channel. As your videos grow in popularity, clicks on the links on your YouTube channel will increase your website traffic.
So you get it now, right? Images are good for your website health and the impact of your SEO strategy. Not only will they add life to your website and grab readers’ attention, but they’ll also help you improve key stats that can give your SEO a boost.
If you’ve used graphics in your content, the first thing to do is check them to make sure they are optimized. Make sure they are added to the story and see if there are any missed opportunities to improve your files with the right file types and labeling.
Using images and video content on and off your website is a breeze. In today’s visual world, it’s important to keep an eye on the ongoing trend towards a preference for visual content. Make sure to incorporate visual content into your content to give your SEO a serious boost.
Anthony is the founder of AnthonyGaenzle.com, a marketing and business blog. He is also the director of marketing and business development for Granite Creative Group, a full-service marketing company. He is a storyteller, strategist, and eternal student of marketing and business strategy.