I had the opportunity to interview my fellow panelists on the Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference session, Images & Optimization, taking place on December 7th at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago.
Why Images are Important to Search Engine Optimization.
Very simply put, search results are increasingly including much more than just text links. "The search engines are constantly looking for ways to deliver the most relevant results to the person who typed the query - whether it is general search, image search, news search, local search or blog search." Says panelist Liana Evans, Director of Social Media for Serengeti Communications, and veteran SES conference speaker.
"In fact, Google just again stated in its Webmaster Central blog on November 24, 2009, that sometimes a text link to a site isn't always the best result." Liana adds. "Sometimes it's video, photos, maps," or other images and multimedia.
I asked each of the panelists to provide a overview of what they will be focusing on for our session:
Joshua Palau - Image search affects purchase decisions
Our moderator, Joshua Palau, VP of Search for Razorfish, will be talking about the importance of images and how they tie into the purchase cycle for consumers. "I want to elevate the conversation above searching for funny images, and instead talk about how marketers can use images to push products" he says.
Some prep for our audience: Don't presume this session to be a Google love-fest - far from it. Razorfish's own Technology blog mentions that image search features on Microsoft's own Search Engine, Bing, can be preferential to Google's.
"Image search has never been so good [on Bing]. Every single query provides with an option to pick an image and do 'find similar.' Additionally the in-browser searching and navigation of the images is absolutely next generation thinking." Blogs Razorfish's VP of Technology, Salim Hemdani.
Liana Evans - The Social is increasingly important
Liana has been one of the veteran panelists on the Images & Optimization session at SES conferences throughout North American and Europe. Liana will be presenting on how social media is greatly affecting image search behavior. Some examples from Liana will include Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Google Panaramio, and Local Search.
"It's not just about the images you load to your website anymore; social media is playing a huge role in what is returned in the searches." Based on what Liana is saying, it naturally follows that the images you featuring in social media sites are increasing important to your own search optimization activities.
The first step of course is simply submitting your images to social media sites and tagging them - be them in Facebook's photo albums, Flickr's sets and collections, or using them supplement a local listing on a local listing site such as Google has. "Knowing how to optimize these type of digital assets is becoming vital, as more and more people want the "visual" result, and not just text anymore." Says Liana.
Mat Siltala - Image Optimization in Viral Content
Matt is the founder of the SEO/Viral Marketing/Reputation Management/Press Marketing firm Dream Systems Media, and a panelist on one of the very first session of the day, Mixed Media SERPs. Matt plans to present on image optimization in regards to 'viral' graphics (info graphics, etc.), and images used in viral content. He will demonstrate how images can optimized on a number of popular site networks such as posterous, meme, delicious, StumbleUpon - along with how to properly set them up on your both your text-based content (blogs, articles, etcetera), and other types of content.
Grant Crowell - Video Thumbnails is the overlooked Image SEO opportunity
My own presentation will showcase what may be another first for this session: Optimizing image thumbnails for your video image content, with examples right from Google's blended search results. As a high-level overview, you'll get to see:
- Why Image SEO specialists and SEO specialists in general should pay attention to video image thumbnails in blended search results,
- How my own publication has been successful with image optimization of video thumbnails, and;
- Tips for how SEO professionals can get started with optimizing their own video content for image search results (and blended search results featuring images).
Mark the date and time on your calendar: December 7th, 1:45 - 2:45 pm, in the Blended Search Results Track. See you all there!
Grant Crowell is the Senior Media Analyst for ReelSEO.com, a news publication and consulting firm on digital video news and marketing solutions for professionals. He is also the host of ReelSEO's podcast and videocast series, now available on iTunes.