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Since the birth of SEO, online marketers have stressed the importance of having text on your website. “The Googlebot can’t read images,” they warned. For the most part, the advice to have lots of text on your website still stands. In fact, in a recent video by Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, he explicitly says that Google still wants plain text. Although Google’s technology is constantly improving, they’re not going to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) any time soon to translate the text in the images on your website.
While having paragraph after paragraph of elegantly written prose might make your website appealing to Google, not everyone is a word nerd that gets all hot and heavy when they see giant blocks of text on a Web page. People—including your customers—love multimedia, and I’m sure I don’t even need to look up a statistic to prove that to you.
Images, videos, graphs, charts, infographics, memes, etc.—do them well and people will lose their sh*t. Retweets, reblogs, +1s, co-citations, likes, shares: they’ll all be yours. It’s like wrapping filet mignon in bacon–you’re only making a great thing greater.
When was the last time you heard of a plain text landing page going viral? Exactly.
Enter image sitemaps.
What Is an Image Sitemap?
If you want to get more of the images on your website found in Google’s image search, you have two options. You can either add images to your existing XML sitemap (you do have an XML sitemap, don’t you?), or you can create an entirely separate XML sitemap—one that contains only your site’s image files.
According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog,
“To give Google information about images on your site, you’ll need to add image-specific tags to a Sitemap. (You can also update an existing Sitemap.) You can create your Sitemap manually, or use one of a number of available third-party tools that can help you generate Sitemaps. You can use a separate Sitemap to list images, or you can add image information to an existing Sitemap. Use whichever method works for you.”
The Benefits of Adding Images to Your Sitemap
Google receives hundreds of millions of image-related search queries every day. Now, if you own a plumbing company, this fact means very little to you. If, on the other hand, you own a remodeling business, we probably just piqued your interest. Remodeling companies are notorious for having websites that are especially image-rich. If you have an image-heavy website and the images on your website a) aren’t optimized for organic search and/or b) aren’t included in an XML image sitemap, you’re probably missing out on search engine traffic that you deserve.
If images are an integral part of your Web page, Google recommends adding images to your sitemap with XML schema. With Google’s image extensions for sitemaps, you’ll be able to add information like,
- The type of image
- The subject matter
- A caption
- A title
- A geographic location
Of course, if marking up your sitemap with XML scheme by hand doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun afternoon (although I will argue that anything is fun if you do it while drinking a margarita), you can always use an image sitemap generator. Even better, if you use WordPress as your CMS, you can add a plugin that will do this for you.
Need help adding images to your sitemap or generating an optimized XML image sitemap? Contact Blue Corona today. We love helping our clients get more traffic from search engine results almost as much as we love SEO-themed Ryan Gosling memes.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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