We all know that on-page optimization is very important for SEO. It is probably in the top 3 most important factors when it comes to ranking your website on the search engines and its probably one of the most important factors when you are just looking at the ones that you can legitimately influence.
Having a badly optimized page can really make your site struggle when it comes to ranking – because Google just wont understand what your page is about or what keywords to rank it for. And because we are talking about factors on the article or on your website you are free to make modifications without fear of breaching any of Google’s guidelines or any other search engine’s guidelines for that matter. Of course there are some rare exceptions to this – like if you decide to stuff your article with your main keyword over and over again. This would of course be frowned upon by Google, but assuming you are only making sensible changes then there is no problem.
Aside from the obvious factors such as making sure your content is well formatted, making good use of headings and other formatting features like lists, what are the most crucial changes you can make to optimize your article for the search engines?
What are the biggest on-page factors when it comes to SEO?
Well one of the big factors, and one that a lot of people overlook, is the use of images – not just the optimization of alt tags but the actual use of images in the first place. All to often people will write a massive long article – perhaps 1000 words or more and tehy might only include one image in that article – its like the token image so that you can add alt tags and make that page “fully optimized” in terms of SEO. No, no, no, it just doesnt work like that. The images themselves are important and in a 1000 word article you should have at least 3-4 images if not more.
Why are images so important for SEO?
I am going to say something now that will always frustrate people who are in SEO – and especially people who are into blackhat SEO. But this is only an introduction to my next point so dont worry. If you do everything with the aim of pleasing the visitor, the rest will follow naturally. Why does this annoy those in the blackhat SEO community? Because its almost like saying you cant do anything for SEO. You just have to build your site and hope for the best. However, thats not all I am saying. Here is the next part – if you want to understand the way that Google works then you need to think like a visitor and think about what is best for that visitor. Why? Because ultimately, Google are trying to do exactly the same thing.
What I mean by this is that all of the algorithms Google are producing to help them rank websites in their search engine are being produced to try and give the visitors exactly what they want. If a visitor searches for “Guide to SEO” Google (And the other search engines) wants to show that visitor the best, most comprehensive and most interesting article anywhere on the internet about SEO.
So that is why if you think about what your ideal visitor would be most pleased with then you are probably on exactly the right track for pleasing Google and thus giving your website and/or webpage the best chance of ranking.
So, back to images. If you have ever read an article that does not contain any images you will probably know that it is not much fun at all. Or you may not know but if you think about it now you probably lost interest far more quickly than you would reading an article with lots of images. Why is this? Its pretty simple – images break up the text, they stimulate your brain and in particular your sub-concious and as a great person once said an image can tell a thousand words – so they save the visitor time as well!!
Using images in your article is very much like using headings and lists and other rich formating – it just breaks the article up and makes it far easier to read. Images also give the reader time to pause and think – its like a virtual reststop that a visitor can sit down at whilst reading your article, just to contemplate the implications of what they have read so far.
To be honest even I am bad for this and you will see on bloggtech that there are not always many images in the articles that I publish. However, in this article I have made a point of including several images. Does it make it easier and more fun to read or what? I think so.
Where to get images
So if images are so important then you need a really good source for them dont you? Well, how about multiple sources – its really a good idea to have lots of sources for your images because that means firstly you can get lots of variation rather than using the same images all the time and secondly it means that you can always (Hopefully) find the exact image that you need.
Paid stock images
Not everyone has the luxury of a media budget that allows them to afford stock images but if you do then this is a great place to start. You tend to find that stock images will offer you the widest range of images to choose from and thus you can almost always find exactly what you want, rahter than having to settle for something close. One of the best, and most well known, premium stock media sites is istockphoto.com. These guys are experts in the field and with this site you can always find the image you need. In fact tehy also have vector graphics, illustrations and even videos. The price does vary depending on the type of image you want but you can reduce costs in several ways – whether that be purchasing a subscription or simply looking around for a discount before purchasing.
Royalty free stock media sites
This must be the second best source for images. Well actually its sources because there are lots of them, but the best one is Pixabay. Actually this site is amazing – you can browse through thousands of images and then you can download and use them free of charge thanks to their royalty free nature. The downside to this site and others similar to it is that the range of images is far smaller than those found on premium sites like istockphoto. However, if you are on a budget then they are pretty good.
Another great source and the third place to turn after premium and royalty free stock media sites. Google images, as many of you will be aware, allows you to search the entire web for images of all descriptions. When you want images to publish then you do need to remember one thing though – when you search, just click the search tools button, select the licence filter and change it to labelled for reuse. This will only show you images that you are free to publish and use – any images that fall outside of this filter could land you in trouble if you use them without permission.
Reaching out to image owners
This is the final option for finding great images to go in your well-optimized articles. It takes a little bit of work but it can be really beneficial. You can search for images on Google images, social media or other avenues and then reach out to the owner or original publisher of those images and ask their permission to republish them on your website. If you do get permission then it will normally come with a requirement to attribute the image to the owner but that is a small price to pay. The additional benefit here is that you will often get a mention from the image owner in return. For example if you publish a really interesting article and reference someone elses image (With their permission) they may like the article and want to mention it on their website or to their social media followers.