SEO and Visual Content: Improve search results through visual media and video

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Visual content grabs attention quicker than text alone, and our brains are even wired to remember images better. In fact, as of 2022, audiences spent an average of 19 hours a week watching videos online. So how can content marketers and business owners harness the power of video and visual content to increase the SEO ranking of their websites and improve search results? It’s important to understand not only how to strategically develop visual content but also the technical specifics that can impact your Google search ranking the most.

Why visual content?

With visual content of all types, organizations can better promote brand awareness by creating images, videos, infographics, etc., that demonstrate the visual identity of a brand and the feelings the brand invokes. With visual media, stories can be told quickly and compellingly. Viewers are more likely to engage with their emotions when a product or service is shown with images instead of described with words. Studies have shown that visual content helps audiences to remember what they have seen and retain that information longer. And when you create visual content for your website, it is easy for others to share with their networks, whether you provide a five-minute video or bite-size statistics images.

Types of Visual Content

Video certainly reigns supreme in the visual content space, but you can harness various media for SEO improvement and audience engagement.

  1. Images. The most basic form of visual content, images make browsing a website a more pleasant experience, which is important for getting visitors to stay on your site longer. But they can also be used further to convey information — highlighting data, research stats or impactful quotes.
  2. Infographics. Infographics combine text and images to convey a larger thought or longer concept. This is especially useful in providing thought leadership on a specific or complex topic in a way that is easily digestible and shareable.
  3. GIFs. In essence, GIFs are short 1-2 second videos that play automatically on a website. GIFS can be used to show a “how-to” of your product or service, or they can be used to add visual interest and make your content stand out.
  4. Slide Decks. Another opportunity to show thought leadership, slide decks allow space for a deeper dive on a topic, product or service. Whether you use slides as a visual white paper or a how-to for your service, slide decks give viewers quality information and can position a business or company as a thought leader in their field.
  5. Video. Since 2012, mobile video consumption has increased 17 fold. This astounding statistic emphasizes the direction of content marketing, website content and user preference. Videos can go a long way to help you perform better on search engines if used properly.
editing video to improve search results

How Visual Content Impacts Search Engine Optimization

Incorporating visual content is an excellent strategy to help your pages move up in Google’s search results. Visual content can help your website rank higher in a few ways:

Rank higher organically with video.

In the search results, Google shows thumbnails of relevant video at the top of the search results page giving organic visibility. If you provide the videos that answer a searcher’s query, you have a better chance of landing higher in the search rankings.

Keep visitors on your site longer.

Visual content keeps users on your website pages longer — a key metric for Google search rankings. The visual elements not only make the page more user-friendly, encouraging a longer stay on your page, but visual content, particularly video, creates a natural engagement that leads to longer page views.

Educate and build trust with your audience.

Videos and visual content give experts their time to shine. Whether video interviews, in-depth infographics or visual statistics, marketers have more space with visual content to show their position as an expert in the field. With Google’s people-first update, it’s more important than ever to show that you are a website that provides valuable resources to searchers.

Create natural backlink opportunities.

If other sites are linking to your content, it’s another sign to Google’s algorithms that your site is providing the value searchers are looking for. Visual content creates a natural opportunity for other websites to link to your content because you are providing succinct, expert content for them to share with their audiences.

Visual Content to Optimize Google Search Results

Adding visual content alone is not going to give a boost in SEO. You need to make sure that search engines can properly index your visual content so that it’s ready to be served up as an answer to a query. Follow these principles to make sure your visual content is search engine friendly.

Start with SEO best practices.

Just because this is visual content, doesn’t mean that SEO best practices go out the window. Understand your audience and what they are searching for. Provide high-quality content — not just any visual content will give you an SEO boost. If you’re looking for how to improve search results on Google, consider the keywords you are using for SEO and build your visual content around them.

Minimize your file size.

Images in particular can be massive when hosted on your website and drag your website’s loading speed down, which is penalized by search engines. Compress your files prior to uploading them to ensure that large photos don’t slow your site and push you down in the search results. Videos don’t have the same impact on website speeds if hosted on a site like YouTube or Vimeo.

Optimize the image for search.

Search engines can’t read images, so it’s important to communicate to Google exactly what the image portrays to make it searchable. The alt text tag (shown in your HTML code) needs to describe the image in plain words and use the keywords you are targeting. In the name of the image file itself, use keywords if you can. While Google has yet to confirm if they use image metadata in their algorithms, click here for an in-depth tutorial on how to add metadata to the photos on your website. Captions for your images are yet another opportunity to incorporate keywords for which you are trying to rank.

Include a transcript.

If you use video on your website, include a transcript of the video as well. Search engines can find transcripts more easily, and they are more accessible to all types of users. Plus they allow another opportunity to include the keywords you target.

Don’t forget about on-page content.

It’s never about visual content alone. For people to stay on your site, the on-page content surrounding the video, image, GIF or infographic needs to complement the visual content and provide value and quality. The visual content should fit seamlessly with the page it’s on and be included where it makes the most sense on your website.

Harness Visual Content for Your Website

Whether it’s visual content as simple as a website image or as complex as a deep-dive video, don’t miss the opportunity for this content to work for you in your journey to higher rankings in the search results. With a few steps, you can make sure that your visual content is ready to be delivered to searchers and play a key role in your overall SEO strategy.

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