Images & Search Engines

Dec 6, 2006 - 11:05 am 5 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2006

Images & Search Engines

Regular search engines can't understand text trapped within images, and this session looks at strategies to combat this problem for the image-intensive site. It also examines how to generate traffic using your images via image-specific search engines.

Speakers: Shari Thurow,Webmaster/Marketing Director, Kakul Srivastava, Senior Product Manager, Flickr, Yahoo! Inc. Liana Evans, Search Marketing Manager, Commerce360 Vanessa Fox, Product Manager, Google, Inc. Chris Smith, Head, Technology & Advanced Development, Verizon Information Services

ST = Shari Thurow KS = Kakul Srivastava - Did not appear LE = Liana Evans VF = Vanessa Fox - Was present but was "not permitted" to make a presentation (I'm assuming by Google). Danny invited her to add comments and answer questions if she wished to. She said the new Google Image Label tool (application?) in BETA is popular. CS = Chris Smith

Note: This will be a brief recap of what was a very informative, interesting session with great speakers. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties with my laptop, I couldn't take notes. I did, however, record the entire session and Liana had previously sent me her presentation, so I will be able to compile an article at a later point. With Barry's permission, I can refer you to a fellow blogger, Lisa Barone, who is reporting for the Bruce Clay blog and was sitting next to me. I have no doubt she will provide a nice recap in their blog and we respectfully point you there, and to those others who are reporting SES, who may have sat in on this session.

Quick notes and observations from my head...Firstly, Danny Sullivan arrived as the "Emergency Moderator". Incredibly, he looked awake and ready to tackle Day 3. He warmly addressed the attendees and then presented a quick overview of the purpose of the session. It is about discovering the ways search engines find images. The first speaker was Shari Thurow.

Shari gave an overview of the nuts and bolts of optimizing web pages that contain images or are image intensive. If you have images on a page, there are specific ways in which you can still attract SE's, such as alt attributes (she refers to them as "alt text"). She showed an example of a web page that was image intensive and contained no alt attributes behind any of the images. It was essentially a blank page. This is what both SE's and those relying on screen readers will see. Shari was good at discussing and providing examples for where to place content on pages around and near images. She talked a bit about the information architecture (which is your navigation and organizational presentation), and the page layout and where you place keywords and natural descriptive text. This would include breadcrumb text navigation, anchor links, image captions, headings (heading tags), and title tag.

Liana Evans spoke on the value images are for retails sites and she was quite good at finding clear examples of where online retailers are not properly utilizing image searches. All of the major SE's now provide image search capabilties, but each has its own algorithm and way of presenting them to users. I saw good tie-in for basic conversions usability in the example she showed of a search for a product on a comparison search engine, that showed where some ecommerce sites didn't provide a thumbnail of a product vs. those who did. Obviously, the site that shows images is going to get the click. She showed how each SE displays images in their image search results to show differences. Do not block spiders from your images folder, else they won't find images to add to search. Li made a great point that people are visual and love to print out pictures of things they want to buy.

Chris made his debut talk. What stood out were the details he provided on how to optimize, using Flicker as the example, photo share apps. Photo enhancement is the way to go. There are lot of ways to add keywords in photo apps, such as comments, captions, links, groupings of images, file names, etc I'm not doing him justice here. He gave a highly actionable presentation with many, many good suggestions you can apply now, and easily. I hope someone posts more on his presentation.


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