Sitemap and Image Optimization for Your Business
Digital marketers are constantly working on the optimizing websites. Determining what keywords to rank for in Google Ads, what phrases to incorporate into the header of each page, tracking the newest Google search algorithm changes such as BERT. With so much emphasis put into optimizing the phrasing and wording on our websites, sometimes we overlook a key element which affects ranking and searchability: images.
Images are a vital aspect of quality news and blog articles on the internet because they add interest and make the reading feel less like a textbook. Plus, images used in conjunction with text, meta data, and sitemaps offer you a new strategy to generate traffic to your website.
Creators should always use images for blog writing, social media posts, and pages for your website because they are attractive and can make just plain text look a lot more enticing. When people come across a piece of information by itself, they are likely to only remember 10% of it after three days. Unless an image is incorporated, then the capacity to remember jumps to 65%.
Since September of 2018, Google has put emphasis on image related searches, by making the algorithm more smooth and making the search for specific images easier. For search engine optimization purposes, we know Google has been paying more attention to image meta descriptions and alt image tags, so properly optimized images can be responsible for additional traffic to a site.
What do properly optimized images look like?
An example of optimizing an image can be as simple as titling the image something logical relating to the image, nobody will be searching “photo_1212587363” but “cancun-beach-sunset” could be a great image for a resort in Cancun or a travel agency.
Image optimization also requires the creation of an alt image tag. The alt image tag is a short description of any image on a page that gives text value to an image. It also serves the important role of providing a text replacement if an image does not load.
Selection of the right image is essential, non-sensical images that do not relate to the text around it can distract from the text. Plus, Google gives higher ranking to images and text that are related.
Animated gifs make a good alternative to images and can make a page look livelier, but do not overdo it because gifs can be overwhelming and can cause a page to load slowly.
In addition, the size of the image can make an impact as well, typically, larger images will take longer to load on a page, and as a result will take longer for Google to crawl across a page for ranking purposes. Sites should make smart usage of the size of images, and make sure images are compressed to the smallest file size possible.
Whenever possible, you should try to include image captions. Image captions are powerful tool, so do not neglect them! Captions are read 300% more than body text in articles and blog posts, so including quality captions is necessary to draw the attention of readers.
What are image sitemaps?
Google defines sitemaps broadly as a file used to provide information about the media content on a site. More specifically, a sitemap image will contain the information specific to page images.
What is the purpose of image sitemaps?
Google Image Sitemaps are how Google receives the metadata of all the images for a website. When a site uses Google image extension through Sitemaps, they can show additional information to the search engine, so the image is more likely to show up when searched for or a site is crawled by Google.
The most effective image Sitemap should include relevant information about images on a site for the benefit of Google. This information might include:
- Type of Image
- Geographic Location
How do I know if my website needs sitemaps?
- Large Websites: If your site has many pages or many forms of digital media, it is generally a good plan to create a sitemap. When the Google search engine scans a page to determine its ranking for searches, it can miss content on the site. This becomes a more substantial problem when there is more for Google to look through.
- Collections of Unlinked Pages: Sites without much of a logical flow or connection between their pages can cause certain pages to get lost in the eyes of Google, so potentially one page that has the exact content to get ranked first is being overlooked because there is not a sitemap in place to organize the content.
- New Website: New sites without much external links leading back to it may go undiscovered by Google search algorithms, and in turn can benefit from the creation of a sitemap. However, sites built through hosting services like Wix likely already have sitemap components built into the construction of the site.
- Lots of Media Content: Since the goal with images is to increase ranking position, it is crucial to have sitemaps implemented for a site with a lot of imagery in order to maximize searchability. A site with no images or videos does not need a sitemap, but probably does not have much traffic either.
How do I create a sitemap?
The first step is deciding which pages are most important to rank for, these will be the pages that you will have Google crawl over, and they will be implemented into the sitemap. Pages with content about the products or services you offer or perhaps the contact information for your business will need to be included. However, a page that talks about each of your employees’ bios might be an example of a page that can be left out of your sitemap.
Next, you must determine the format of sitemap to use, sitemaps can be created manually through XML and other coding languages, or there is this collection of 60 resources to help establish your sitemap.
Do not forget to create sitemap extensions for digital media on your site. Google provides resources to simply explain the process for video sitemaps, image sitemaps, and news sitemaps. Google treats news articles like they treat video and image content. By creating a news sitemap, Google will be able to crawl your website and locate news content more efficiently, this content can then be fast-tracked to rank on Google News.
With your sitemap now created, you must submit it to Google. The easiest way to do that is to visit this link. This page created by Google includes forms for submitting, resubmitting, or deleting your sitemap.
There can be a lot of steps to go through the whole process of optimizing images and utilizing image sitemaps. Many companies turn to professional marketing firms to make this process easier. Maltese Marketing is a Grand Rapids digital marketing company with vast experience in web development and search engine optimization. For your sitemap and image optimization needs, connect with us now!