Before the invention of universal search we had vertical search. This is a way of segmenting search results to receive more closely related matches for your query. An example of this, as used by Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, would be if you were to search for fixing windows in your house. Due to the massive popularity of Microsoft Windows you may receive pages of results on how to fix this. This could cause some frustration sifting through pages of results looking for something helpful to your query. You may find that you have to visit the ‘News’ results to segment them into topic specific results. Vertical search engines exist to help solve this problem. Google have also offered vertical search as an option for years via the links at the top of the Google search homepage.


To really understand how large vertical search has become, below is a list of resources Google currently offer other than standard web search.

  1. Blog Search
  2. Image Search
  3. Local Search
  4. Product Search
  5. Video Search
  6. Book Search
  7. Patent Search
  8. News
  9. Scholar
  10. Finance

Google are now working to combat problems like the one described above by blending the results you receive in a standard web search using a mixture of vertical search and personalized search. You can see an example of this demonstrated below in a search for “coffee beans”.

I have already covered how to optimize for local search in a previous blog post. Now i’m going to explain how to optimize your site via another increasingly important vertical search.

Optimizing Images for Search

With the explosion of social sharing through websites like Digg and Pinterest there has never been a more important or valuable time to optimize the images on your website for search engines. Follow the steps below to ensure you are optimizing the images on your own website correctly.

Image Organization

It sounds obvious but firstly make sure that your images are stored in a separate search engine accessible folder on your server named ‘images’. Then check you have image search enabled in Google Webmaster here:

Webmaster Tools > Settings > Image Search > Include my site in Google image labeller

Another mistake people make is putting their ‘click to see larger image’ inside of a JavaScript link. When you do that, you are limiting search engines access to that image file.

Image Quality

It should go without saying if you have a quality website the quality of the images you use should also be good. If using thumbnails, high contrast is essential to keep your images looking their best. Original images are better. Even if you are a retailer and receive stock images from your suppliers you should try to take your own whenever possible. This allows you to present the product in the best possible way for your own audience. It also means you can present the features of the product in a different way to your competitors.

Image Format

Photographs should be saved as a JPEG. All other images should be saved as a GIF. Image editing software also allows you to reduce the size of your image files so your web pages load faster.

Image Name

Rename your image files to match the content. For instance a standard photograph file name would usually look something like this:

IMG7880_1000654_291.jpg

You should rename the file using image editing software, like Adobe Photoshop CS6, to include your keywords to something like:

coffee-beans.jpg

Image ALT Text

Alternative text is the text used to display to screen readers what is contained within the image. You can see this text in Internet Explorer when you hover your mouse over an image. You should name this in a similar way to your image filename. Do not be tempted to stuff the filename or image ALT text with keywords.

Optimizing Images for Social

The single most important thing when optimizing an image for Social is virality. Is your image shareworthy? Many hundreds of thousands of images are contributed to the web daily so it is natural that only the most compelling are shared on a mass scale. The Future Buzz have compiled a list of 50 viral images that spread like wildfire across the web. Notice how they all seem to fall into one or more of just three categories? Funny, ironic and informational.

 

The following two tabs change content below.

Hayley

Search Analyst at Silkstream
SEO, blogger and Google geek. Committed to helping small business thrive during economic austerity.