SEO: 7 Ways To Optimize For Local Rankings Via Images
Do you wonder how to get your business listing to rank better in local search results? Google and other search engines use a combination of factors to determine the relative rankings among businesses. Two of the main popularity factors — Google calls it “prominence” — are (a) links to the business’s website from other popular websites, and (b) citations, which are mentions of a business’s name, address, or phone number.
On the surface it sounds simple. Yet, your links and citations have to come from good, solid, influential sources for search engines to count them.
One good source for both links and citations can be social media sites that are devoted to sharing photographic images. Sites such as Flickr, Pinterest, and Facebook are highly popular and have very large audiences of frequent users. Their pages typically have a healthy degree of influence from the perspective of search engine algorithms. Businesses that get this concept can enjoy advantage over their competitors, merely by engaging with these photo sharing sites and their users.
If you don’t already have an account with these sites, register for one in the name of your business. With Facebook, you need a personal account, and then set up a page for your business. On all three sites, make yourself familiar with how to upload photos to those accounts. It’s also desirable to make connections with other users on those sites, and to interact with them in a genuine manner; this aspect takes some practice and is beyond the scope of this article.
7 Tips for Optimizing Images
Here are seven tips for optimizing images for local search via photo sharing sites.
- Be imaginative. Use your imagination in taking some photos to use for your optimization activities. Your business’s storefront doesn’t have to be your only subject, if it’s not particularly photogenic. Although if it is, you’ll definitely want it to be one of your prime subjects. You can also take photos of your products, employees performing services — be sure you get a signed photo release from any recognizable person appearing in your photos — close-ups of details of your work, and pictures of charity events or other happenings with which your company may be involved. Your photo sharing accounts don’t have to be boringly one-track, either. You can shoot subjects outside of your business too. Take photos involving your industry at large and significant local scenes from your neighborhood and city.
- Use descriptive names. Be certain to customize and differentiate the names of each photo you upload. Using good, descriptive names can help your photo to be interpreted properly by the search images.
- Include descriptions. Most sites allow you to add a description for each image uploaded, including URLs. When adding images about your business, include your business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL to a handful of your best pictures. This gives you a few links and citations from some very strong sources.
- Geotag your images. Geotagging used to be a technically challenging technique, involving getting the geo-coordinate numbers associated with your images on web pages, using properly formatted meta tags. It’s now no longer necessary to be a technical whiz kid to associate your images with locations, since many image sharing services help with the technical aspects. In Flickr, you can accomplish it by clicking on the map image to the right of uploaded pictures, where it says “Add this photo to your map!”, and then locate the place of the photo and zoom in as closely/precisely as possible before you drag the image icon pinpoint over the spot. In Facebook, you go to the photo’s page and click the button to “Add Location,” then search for your business’s listing and click to add it. Pinterest is still very new, and does not have any method for associating pictures with places yet.
- Organize by topic. Categorizing photos with particular themes can help them to be considered more relevant for various topics. In Flickr, this is particularly sophisticated. You can create “Sets” around topics, such as your city or neighborhood name, or create one named after your business category. Flickr also has “Groups” that are a sort of a public, shared photo album on a particular topic. So, create your own Sets in Flickr to collect photos sharing a theme, and search for Groups related to your industry or locality, and add your photos to them as well. In Pinterest you create “Boards” which can be open for others to add content, or set to only allow you to add pictures to them. Facebook allows you to create “Albums.”
- Tag your photos. Use related keywords and location names. Flickr allows keyword tagging. Facebook allows you to tag a photo with people or pages, whereby you can tag your photo with your business, and perhaps with the city name as well. Pinterest does not have keyword tagging capability. Some good tags would include your city name, business name, industry type, and other keywords relevant to the contents of the picture.
- Embed the photos on your site or blog. Using the embed feature in Flickr and Pinterest can help the search engines interpret the pictures as being more popular, and can help search engines finding and indexing the image pages.
Lastly, in Flickr, set your photos to use Creative Commons licensing to allow images to be shared in return for attribution. Generously sharing your images in return for having your business mentioned and linked-to, can get your citations distributed even further. I’ve obtained links from many news journalists and bloggers by employing this tactic.
Give image sharing a try and see if it doesn’t result in better rankings for your business over time. If you’re doing it right you’ll find it’s not just promotion work. It’s actually fun.