Google recently launched the latest version of its Google Image Search with a press conference at the company's headquarters in San Francisco. Google vice president of search products Marissa Mayer said that the new version of Google Image Search would be even more powerful and leverage more tools to help users find the images they want.
However, one of the biggest changes might impact advertisers and not end-users. Part of the new version of Google Image Search is a new advertising model called Image Search Ads. When users do an image search, they'll no longer see the standard text ads involving related search terms that would appear above the image results. Instead they will see Image Ads which combine text and a small, thumbnail image.
As in the past, companies can target their ads to potential customers who are performing searches on Google. But with Images Ads, advertisers have the freedom to choose which images they want to display depending on the search term used. For example, a travel company might have a picture of a sandy beach and smiling vacationers with a link to deals to Hawaii if someone is doing an image search for "tropical vacations."
Google is sacrificing ad space by switching to Image Ads in the Google Image Search platform: they will only be able to run two image-enhanced ads per page versus the three text-only ads they were able to use in the past. However, Mayer said that Image Ads will be sold at a premium rate and that advertisers will be interested in buying enough to more than offset the loss of revenue by reducing the number of ads.
This move by Google is another acknowledgement of the power of images in search results. Not only are images powerful advertising tools which are becoming more common in search engine advertising campaigns, but smart companies understand how to optimize the images displayed in the blogs, articles and other online content to make it easier to be indexed by search engines and improve their overall rankings.
Search engines read text, not images. So if you have images on a web page, it's important to make sure the HTML coding explains what the image is to a search engine. Using an ALT tag to describe the image with the appropriate keywords will help your images rank higher in image searches (driving more traffic to your site) along with improving your overall ranking for that keyword in basic searches. This is the most basic thing that you can do to improve your search engine rankings with images.
Making your images search engine friendly extends beyond ALT tags. It's also a good idea to name image files in a simple manner - an image of a bicycle that is simply called "bicycle.jpg" is going to be easier to index than "RedBicycleModel#49472July2010.jpg." It's also important to make sure that the folder where the images are stored is not blocked by your robots.txt file.