• SMX Session Notes: Tapping Into Image Search


    Feb 11 2009

    Tapping Into Image Search – Images aren’t just worth a thousands words. They could be worth thousands of visitors! This session looks at ways to turn your images into traffic, with a special look at Flickr.

    Moderator: Matt McGee, Assignment Editor, Search Engine Land


    Eric Enge, President, Stone Temple Consulting Corporation
    Kaushal Kurapati, Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Search
    Peter Linsley, Product Manager, Google Inc.
    Matt Siltala, SEO and Owner, Dream Systems Media
    Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategy, KeyRelevance


    Eric Enge, President, Stone Temple Consulting Corporation

    Eric Enge Speaking at SMX

    Eric Enge Speaking at SMX

    Topic: Image Search Volume

    Showed image if eye track results showing standard top left focus from heat map.  The pattern totally changes when you have a blended search result.  The image map shows that peoples eyes will be pulled to your image, even when not in the #1 position.

    Case Study on VisualDX Health:

    1. Primary product is pictures of health problems and deceases.
    2. Site is image centric.
    3. Site is informative for users to learn about their health problems so they can discuss them with a doctor.

    Site was getting about 1,400 visits a day, 49 image search visitors a day.  Site was optimized in 3 steps.

    1. Eliminated URL parameters to make SEF URLs.  Moved image parameters into cookie.
    2. Eliminated a major duplicate content issue that was hurting the site.
    3. Made each HTML page represented by one URL.
    4. Added ALT attribute to all images.


    1. Traffic to 4,700 uniques a day, image search up to 200 per day within a month or so.
    2. Up to 12k uniques a day, 3,000 a day on image search within month after.


    1. Always include the word “image” or “picture” in the alt as people search using that.

    Kaushal Kurapati, Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Search
    Topic: Yahoo Image Search

    Kaushal Karupati, Yahoo!, Speaking at SMX

    Kaushal Karupati, Yahoo!, Speaking at SMX

    Image search is the 2nd biggest search property for Yahoo.  Gets shown in multiple networks, Flickr.  Offers unique features such as visual search assistant and users go deeper than traditional web search when looking at images.  “Users tend to go very deep.  I have seen users going 30 pages deep to find the right image they are looking for.” Kaushal Kurapati.

    Yahoo has offered a few new features of search recently, including explore related concepts in the same lateral that is offered at the bottom of Yahoo Image Search.


    1. Hundreds of million of images on Flickr.
    2. Regular feed from Flickr into Y!
    3. Traffic flows back and forth.
    4. Private data not indexed.
    5. Offers no preferential treatment to an images in search.

    To help images get indexed in Y! you should make sure to include page meta data: titles, tags, anchor text, etc. related to keywords of image.  You should also use a descriptive caption with surrounding text related to keywords.  Also use a time-date stamp and remember that IMAGE QUALITY MATTERS!

    Peter Linsley, Product Manager, Google Inc.
    Topic: Google Image Search

    Peter Linsley, Google, Speaking at SMX

    Peter Linsley, Google, Speaking at SMX

    Image Searchers search quickly and they search deeply.  They have a unique search behaviour and offer broad exposure to searches.

    How does image search work:

    1. Discovered from web pages.
    2. Crawled, Classified, Indexed.
      1. Take into consideration the page text and text around the image when ranking.
    3. Duplicates and Referring pages.
    4. Ranked based on many signals.

    Best Practices:

    1. Focus on the user.
      1. Think about clarity, size, domain on images, cut, image shape, background, comments, etc.
    2. Place the image above the fold on the page.
    3. Use high quality images.

    Use the following resources: Google web search help forums and official Google blog.

    Matt Siltala, SEO and Owner, Dream Systems Media
    Topic: How to Make and Image Worth $1000.00

    Matt Siltala, Dream Systems Media, Speaking at SMX

    Matt Siltala, Dream Systems Media, Speaking at SMX

    Remember the Janet Jackson football half-time image of her “outfit problem.”  Mat was able to turn that into a very interesting case-study.  He found that thousands and thousands visitors were hitting the page when he posted the image just after the super bowl.

    How to get image indexed and ranked:

    1. Name images with keywords.
      1. Use the proper tags in title, alt, meta, etc.  The file name is really important as well; name something related like: keyword-name.jpg.
    2. Describe the photo in Flickr so there is something for Yahoo and Google to get information about your images from.  This will help rankings in related searches.
    3. Wrap your images within text that is relates.  You want to totally surround the image in related text.
    4. Use image captions as a way to load with images with keywords that you are targeting.  WordPress offers a new features to insert a caption when uploading the image.

    Where to use your images:

    1. Squidoo.
    2. Within blog posts.
    3. StumbleUpon.
    4. Twitter / Twitpic

    Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategy, KeyRelevance

    Chris Silver Smith Speaking at SMX

    Chris Silver Smith Speaking at SMX

    Topic: Search Suggestions for Best Image Engines and Value for SEO and SMO Sharing Sites

    Flickr is by far the most beneficial image sharing website on the internet.  Next in line is Photobucket, PBase, Webshots, 23, Fotki, MySpace, Facebook (in that order).

    How to optimize images within Flickr:

    1. Title
    2. H1
    3. Captions
    4. Tagging
    5. Cross-grouping
    7. Sharing
    8. Alt Text
    9. Optimal linking hierarchies
    10. Date taken and page views displayed
    11. Interestingness algorithm

    You also want to make sure you have good quality images to use.  The better the image, the more views it will get, and this helps it get ranked higher, etc.

    Once you have a great image then you want to share it with others, as many as you can.  Allow bloggers, journalists, etc. to use them, as long as they credit you and link to your image.  This not only helps your image rank, but build lots of links for your website.  Chris recommends adding a Digg note to your image and to Digg the image yourself.

    Companies using Flickr:

    1. Ford
    2. Whole Foods
    3. Nikon as a paid partner
    4. Make Magazine
    5. Urban Outfitters

    End of Notes for Speakers.

    Question and Answer Session:

    Q: What makes an image high quality or good?
    A: Image size, user views, image resolution.

    • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

      Thanks for the live blogging Andy – This was a fun panel with an amazing group of guys! I appreciated the opportunity to be able to speak on the panel and look forward to more!

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