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I'm looking for opinions on whether it makes marketing sense to allow Googlebot-Image (or any other image search engines) to index your website's images directory. I disallowed bots from my images directory in robots.txt years ago, probably without really considering the implications. My current thinking is that most people who do a Google Images search are looking to quickly find an image to flog for some trivial use, and are not likely to be looking to purchase prints or licence an image for publication. What do you think?
This depends on a couple of factors. If your analytics data tells you that people do not find you or buy your work based on keyword-specific searches, Google Images is probably a non-starter. However, if you are getting site traffic based on relevant searches from target keywords, this is something to consider. Additionally, if you blog, optimized images can appear in Google's Universal search results even for small blogs. For this to occur, both the image(s) and containing page(s) would need to be well optimized, as follows:
1. Make your image file name keyword rich – include the keywords you want to rank high in the file name and make the folder accessible to robots. 2. Alt tags should have keywords – Alt tags are designed to provide alternative text when images cannot be displayed. They should describe what the image is about. 3. Put your keywords in the image title tag – It is shown when the user hovers over the image. 4. Add target keywords in the text close to the image -Surround your image with related text for robots to give high ranking. 5. Optimize your page for the keywords – Include the keywords in the title tags, meta tags and header tags. It is important that you have a high keyword density on the page that the image is on. 7. Make your images large and hi-res – many people search large size images when they use google images.
A final consideration is hotlinking. Content farms will sometimes hotlink to images on other sites as a way to save on bandwidth. When you find a hotlinked image, there are fairly easy-to-implement .htaccess solutions that you can find with a Google search or two. That's the bad part. If a site does hotlink to your image, if it includes the page or image URL in the hotlink, you get the benefits of that link. If the image has a keyword-rich filename or the site linking to it has relevant authority, there's a potential SEO benefit.
If you feel like the images are optimized and you receive visitation through targeted keywords, it would be worth testing Google Images. If possible, open up a specific portion of your directory as a way to both limit your exposure and concentrate the test into a selection of images, which will make measuring results easier.
In my experience, it's difficult to optimize for Google Images, and particularly so with a dynamic site, but perhaps still worthwhile. Google images seems to have improved markedly over the last couple of years, and I'm sure gets much more traffic than it used to. That said, if I were a photo buyer, I'd rarely use it. The results are still too sketchy.
I'd agree with Wesley's comments above; with one caveat .. "testing it" will take a long time. Results on google images seem to be driven almost as much by history of a file as anything else.
Neil, Carl's spot on -- history has a lot to do with it. The longer an image has been indexed (and optimized for specific terms) the higher its likelihood of appearing in GI search results. The same is true of your domain and its ability to appear in standard SERPs.
That said, what takes a while is the accumulation of enough data to state definitively whether traffic from Google Images is worth anything. If you have Google Analytics or some other analytics package implemented, Google Images will show up as a referrer. If you profile those results, you can then measure goals or events that you have on your site against it.
..That said, what takes a while is the accumulation of enough data to state definitively whether traffic from Google Images is worth anything. If you have Google Analytics or some other analytics package implemented, Google Images will show up as a referrer. If you profile those results, you can then measure goals or events that you have on your site against it.
I do, and I will. Thanks. My domain ranks fairly well in general searches. Think I'll open up my images directory, set up some new goals and see what Analytics can tell.