“Google Friendly” Solutions to Graphic-Intense Sites
Author: Robin Nobles
We all know that the search engines can't "see" or "read" the graphics on our pages. We also know that we need to provide text on a page, so the spiders will have something to crawl and index.
After all, we have to prove to the search engines without a shadow of a doubt that our pages are about what we say or claim they're about if we want to achieve top rankings. That's why I believe so strongly in focusing each page on one single keyword phrase only. As soon as a spider hits a page, I want the spider to know exactly what that page is about.
But, many sites out there are graphic intense, often by virtue of their very nature. The sites may sell prints, wallpaper, pictures, graphics, or posters. Or, the sites may sell hats, for example, so that each page is full of pictures of a particular type of hat.
Many Web site owners don't want to add text to those pages, because they want to highlight exactly what they're selling. They've created the site with their audience in mind, which is as it should be. After all, when visitors stop by a wallpaper site, they want to see loads of pictures of the different wallpaper samples. They don't want to read about them!
So, being careful to adhere to Google's Guidelines that prohibit hiding text, what options do we have with our graphic-intense site?
Let's look at some possible solutions.
1. Can you put visible text above or below the graphics on the page? If so, this is your best solution, because you're giving the engines some content to crawl.
Simply add a paragraph of content above the graphics, and then a paragraph or two of content below the graphics. Make sure the content focuses on your keyword phrase and that it describes the page accurately.
If you don't want to add a full paragraph of content above the graphics, try adding a heading tag containing your keyword phrase. Then, add content beneath the graphics.
The bottom line is: you want to start the page with text if at all possible, not graphics.
2. Be creative! Can you add descriptive text about each graphic under or beside the graphic? Can you add little "Tips" or "More Info" boxes on the page that contain valuable information for your users and keyword-containing text for the engines? Can you include testimonials from happy customers that will add valuable keyword-containing content to your page?
3. Leave your existing graphic-intense pages the way they are, and create some new text-based interior pages that are full of valuable content related to your graphics. Pull in traffic through those pages, and provide text links to your pages full of graphics. Be sure to use your important keyword phrase in the link text that links to the pages of graphics.
Keep in mind that these new pages are interior pages, which means that they should provide a link to other pages on your site, and your site should provide a link back to those pages. If you've done your homework right, these new pages are providing value to your users, therefore providing value to the search engines, so there's no reason why you wouldn't want to link to these new interior pages.
Can you use redirects from the text-based pages to the pages of graphics? I highly recommend not doing so. The engines have never been fond of redirects for one thing. But, even if your redirects aren't "sneaky" (as Google says in their Guidelines), if you don't use text links with the keyword phrase in the link text, you're missing out on one of the most valuable search engine optimization strategies available to you: using your keyword phrase in link text pointing to your pages.
4. You can leave your existing graphic-intense pages as they are, and instead concentrate on "off page" factors such as building link popularity to those pages and making sure that the pages linking to the graphics pages use link text that contains your important keyword phrase. In other words, you can work on your "link reputation."
After all, you can compete with the big boys using almost any strategy that is detrimental to search engine rankings if your link popularity and link reputation is strong enough, and if the sites linking to you describe your site using your important keyword phrase.
By "strong" enough, I mean that the links should be from popular, authoritative sites in your topic area. Sheer numbers aren't what we're after here. We're after links from popular and authoritative sites in our topic area. We're also after links that use our important keyword phrase in the link text describing our pages.
Though the best solution is to add text to your pages of graphics, sometimes you (or your client) won't want to go that route. They may want to keep the existing pages just as they are.
In those situations, it's important to have some "Google friendly" solutions that will give you the best chance at achieving top rankings for your pages, while making sure that you're following the guidelines as stated by Google.
About the author
Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine Workshops with John Alexander. They teach 2-day beginner, 3-day advanced, and 5-day all-inclusive "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. She also teaches online search engine marketing courses through http://www.onlinewebtraining.com, and she's a member of Wordtracker's official question support team. With partner John Alexander, she's co-authored a series of e-books called, "The Totally Non-Technical Guides to Having a Successful Web Site." And, they opened a networking community for search engine marketers called The World Resource Center for Search Engine Marketers.
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