Google Image Search Optimization - Paris Hilton Pics

DaveN points at a screenshot of a Google search result with Paris Hilton giving.... well nevermind. ;)

I did a search on the same phrase and saw someone was putting thier URL in a top ranked image. Pretty smart marketing there, and no doubt one of the cheapest ways to tap into popular culture.

I bet eventually many non profit groups and others sites which have significant authority and limited funds will start making their voice heard in the search results far more, especially on image searches, where they may put the names of people they feel caused problems (and/or other messages) on horrific images of piss poor humanity in action.

I haven't done much on the image optimization front, but there can only be a limited number of factors for images:

  • file name

  • image alt text
  • image title
  • text near the image
  • image age
  • click streams
  • trust of site image is on
  • links referencing the image
Published: April 14, 2006 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


April 16, 2006 - 10:50am

I've tended to find that image traffic is looking for images, not text, so ads tend not to work very well.

However, it's nice to see it when people hotlink the images from their sites. According to DaveN, this provides a ranking benefit in Google, so I'll take his word for it and keep happy with it. :)

August 24, 2006 - 8:41pm

Due to an old issue with a client's website I designed several years ago, I've found that the words before/after an image are almost exclusively used to "tag" the image for search terms, and not the images title or alt tags.

However, I do think website ranking and to/from links play into Google's ranking of said image.

Example still live:
A webpage I created listing staff bios & pics, .

Now search in Google Images for "Shannon Jowett" and you'll get the picture that's directly previous to the page text "Shannon Jowett". The same thing happens when searching other names on the page, though website rankings and not-so-rare names make them harder to find on google images.

June 6, 2006 - 4:00am

A couple of other ranking factors are H tags, page Title, PR, and image size (larger the better).

I've looked at text surrounding an image, and it seems text stops having an effect beyond 7~10 words below and above an IMG tag in the source code (with a few weird exceptions).

The url of the page an image is on seems to be irrelevant; only keywords in the image url matters. Words in urls obviously need to be separated by - or '.'

April 14, 2006 - 10:49pm

I've got two things to say about this. First, if you are ranking on Google Images for a popular term you will see that image spread around the internet. I've had pics on some of my sites literly be spread to thousands of sites. At that point C&D letters don't even make sense. If you want your image to be exclusive to your site you may actually want to use counter-optimization to prevent Google Images from picking it up.

Second, Google Image traffic can be profitable, but it is significantly less profitable than straight SERP traffic from either Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.

That being said, Google Images is a nice tool if you want to spread an image virally.

April 15, 2006 - 1:06am

Aren't we just talking about sexy pictures that sell the content they're next too.

Or, if I see a sexy Paris Hilton Photo next to an electric shaver ...I might be more in the mood to buy one, esp from that website right next to the picture.

April 15, 2006 - 1:19am

Aren't we just talking about sexy pictures that sell the content they're next too.

No. They can also sell WAYS OF THINKING or NEW MENTAL ASSOCIATIONS that cause you to think of and / or experience any person / product / brand / company in a new way.

It may be good or it may be bad. It may be selling or it may be anti-selling. And if you do it well you may be able to add in a viral element that causes it to spread fast.

April 15, 2006 - 1:35am

I remember reading an experiment someone did within the last year to see how images were associated with search terms, and the conclusion was that it was the text immediately before and after the image in the HTML that was important, not the text in the links or the ALT attribute. If I can remember where I saw that, I'll dig it up...

April 15, 2006 - 1:38am

Good point Eric...I will add that to the short list.

Based on Froogle miscategorization and how some images rank it is clear that they do care about surrounding text.

April 15, 2006 - 2:03am

"Pretty smart marketing there, and no doubt one of the cheapest ways to tap into popular culture."

Then again, could be extremely expensive... I bet Paris could out lawyer them in a lawsuit if it so moved her, or her lawyers.

April 15, 2006 - 4:04am

But if the act was done by a non profit aiming to cause good change the legal expenses could be zero dollars (I was offered better lawyers than money when I got sued...and then they sorta backed out when they realized the site was quite commercial, but they still gave me amazing free advice before they stepped out) and the lawsuit could go mainstream to get them tons of coverage

April 20, 2006 - 7:35am

Note that image search optimization involves optimizing for multiple image search utilities provided by each of the major engines. While ALT text may not be used for ranking images by keyword in Google, it could very well be a ranking factor in the other SEs.

Also, another aspect of image search optimization to consider might be loading your images into Flickr and other photo sharing sites and optimizing those images as well -- including linking them back to your site/pages.

Images which are flagged as "interesting" in Flickr can typically send a lot of eyes to the page hosting that image in Flickr, and you can add links into the descriptions below the photo on that page which can then bring traffic to your site.

Traffic enhancement through image optimizations does not happen solely for sexy pics or photos of celebrities. There are a lot of reasons why people search for images. For instance, when people really love a particular product, they will look up images of it online. If your page is associated with the top best images for a product, it can result in some more traffic for you.

November 27, 2006 - 12:46pm

anyone got an idea when google is putting images in the orgnaic serps and when not? can't see a system.
almost make me think that google is trying to push the first postition adwords results and trying to avoid people clicking on organic results.

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