I always like to include a good quote or two in my blog posts, so let’s cut to the chase:
“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.
Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.”
― Vashti Quiroz-Vega
Words have power and can be used by the forces of good, evil, and Google. The search engine places an enormous amount of emphasis on the importance of content, and the context that it is presented to the audience. It’s not just about the words we choose, it’s the way we use we use them that matters too. For that reason, content is king.
But what about digital content such as videos and image files? Naturally, digital content falls in the King’s realm/umbrella of content, but the way that we use and optimize this type of content can turn images and video from a frog to a handsome prince in the eyes of Google.
How do we take a sow’s ear and turn it into a silk purse? There’s actually a few really easy, and commonly overlooked ways to take digital content you already have published and make it better for Google and users. Here are some best image and video publishing practices to follow.
Let the world know as much as you can about the image. The easiest (and so obvious it hurts) way to do this is to give your images detailed, informative filenames. A filename should indicate the subject matter of the image. For example, kitten-playing-keyboard.jpg is a lot more informative than IMG01121jpg.
Make sure your images can be indexed by Google by using appropriate file types. If you’re using file types that are unindexable (is that a word?) then they won’t show up in search. Google can index the following common image types:
But that’s not all, click here to see the other supported graphic formats.
Tip: Text that is part of a graphic is not indexed. Only file names and metadata are indexed.
An old Chinese proverb says, “One picture is worth ten thousand words,” but in the case of Alt Text, it’s probably less than ten words.
- What: An attribute to describe the image file content
- Why: Alt text provides that information (content of the image file) to users with visual impairments or other users who may not be able to see an image on a web page. Oh and it also helps Google determine the image’s subject matter for search purposes. To hear the importance of Alt Tags straight from the horse’s mouth, check out this video from Matt Cutts.
- Where: Via HTML, but most CMS’ have an Alt Text form or prompt when you upload an image
- How: So it would seem pretty simple to just describe what’s happening in an image, but not always. Check out these versions of Alt Text for the following image:
When you don’t even try: <img src=”kitten-playing-keyboard.jpg” alt=””/>
You put in the minimum effort: <img src=”kitten-playing-keyboard.jpg” alt=”kitten”/>
You hit the nail on the head: <img src=”kitten-playing-keyboard.jpg” alt=”calico kitten playing a keyboard”>
Overkill you keyword stuffer: <img src=” kitten-playing-keyboard.jpg” alt=”kitten cat baby cat kitty calico kitten calico cat playing kitty playing kitten playing keyboard”/>
Tip: K.I.S.S. don’t keyword stuff but be descriptive in the simplest way.
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A video sitemap is an XML sitemap that contains information on the content of your video. Here’s the information you’ll need to include in your video sitemap (and it must match exactly what’s on the webpage):
- Title: matches page title
- Description: exactly matching the meta description of your page.
- Play page URL: the canonical URL of the page your video appears.
- Thumbnail URL: a high resolution image up to 1920×1080.
- Raw video location: this is the embed src link noted from above pointing at the clip.
At times it can take Google a while to find and index your video. But you can shave some time off of your wait by submitting a video sitemap. Also, once the video is indexed and shows up in SERPS, Google will direct users to your website instead of YouTube, Vimeo, or similar platforms.
If your videos are hosted on Vimeo or YouTube then check out this guide for creating a video sitemap. If you don’t want to create your own and run your site off of WordPress then you can use a plugin or sitemap generator tool.
Think of these tips as a way to turn your frog into a handsome prince. Do the simple things well, choose your words carefully and choose them for your audience.