There are three main things you need to remember about ranking in image search:
- Google Image search is harder to predict now: With infamous Google image search, it’s harder to tell now how Google ranks images and which of those criteria are under our control. There are some interesting experiments to check though.
- That traffic is often useless. Maybe I wasn’t lucky enough ranking the wrong sites in Google image search but most of people coming from it come and go. It is a must to monitor for reputation management though.
- People are always looking to steal images for their own use. The majority of searches and traffic seems (to me) to be for this reason, which eliminates their efficacy in the context of an ecommerce site, product or general branding.
This probably won’t always be the case. Google is constantly changing, and they have come up with newer solutions to what used be big problems caused by their algorithms. Just look at Google Authorship – hopefully it’s only a matter of time before they address the issue of parasitic image searches and date versus traffic problems.
Making Google Image Search Work
As I stated above, I am no expert in using Google Images for search traffic and getting any positive results. However, over the course of researching other people’s opinions on the matter, I came across two helpful resources.
The first is a post by Anthony Pensabene done while guesting for Green Lane SEO. He went into quite a bit of detail about how he had managed to both see the value in searching images for finding otherwise obscure web results, and to optimize images for his own site. Two fantastic results that are making me change my tune a bit on the issue.
Second, we have a post by Emma Tomlinson on No Passive Income. She starts out by saying that it is quality content and strategically placed keywords that will drive most search results. But she goes on to show four ways of using image searches to improve your traffic. It is all very basic, but she breaks down why it works and shows how the common sense tips are usually the best ones.
How good is Google’s Image Search traffic? It’s hard to say, as you have to factor in the reasoning behind the traffic that is referred from the image. I would recommend it be a part of your overall strategy (mostly because image optimization helps overall page SEO), but as an addition to the main focus of the quality of your overall content.
In other words, it can’t hurt, but don’t expect that much help.
Image Credit: Birds on a stave.