man sitting in front of his laptop which is displaying a healthcare website that utilizes various medical images

Making Images Search-Engine Friendly for your Medical Website

Marketing websites for medical practices take constant vigilance when it comes to maintaining content and staying on top of trends. One of the most important things you can do to boost your digital medical marketing efforts is to ensure the images you use are optimized for search engines.

What are search engine spiders?

 

Spider in digital background / Concept of web crawler or web indexing

 

Search engine spiders are little crawlers that are sent throughout websites to inspect the content of a website. Once these spiders understand what is on a website, they use that information along with a search engine’s algorithm to determine how to rank the page. Search engine spiders are particularly good at discerning written content, however, images are not as easy to read. This is why it’s important to use proper tagging on images so that spiders can understand what an image is depicting.

Why use images?

You may be wondering why you should bother using images if search engine spiders can’t determine what the picture is of without additional help. The answer is quite simply all about your users. People are motivated by images. They’re more likely to take interest in an article if relevant and engaging images are used. When a person enjoys an image used in an article, they’re more likely to share the article, click through to other articles, and engage with it. This increase in engagement, along with improved backlinking tells search engines that your website is worth ranking. Ultimately, this results in a higher search engine ranking.

Choosing the Right Image

Choosing the right images takes a lot of thought and consideration. In addition to needing an image that’s relevant to what the article or web page is about, you also want to make sure the colors in it share the tone of your article. For example, if you’re writing about a happy or exciting time at your medical practice, you don’t want to use a picture that’s dark and has sad undertones to it. Similarly, any image you choose should be one you have copyrights to. There are many free stock photo websites out there that offer images with varying licenses.

The imagery in your medical website design should reflect your medical practice in a positive, encouraging light. It should also complement the desired effect of a written/verbal explanation of a procedure. If your page is discussing root canal therapy, then you’ll want to include illustrations or images of the procedure. And, you’ll want to make sure that as you optimize it your alt tags and captions clearly communicate what the image is of, while including keywords.

Making Images SEO Friendly

 

Diverse group of young adults sitting against a wall that features the wording SEO' surrounded by various icons associated with SEO

 

  1. Choose the right file name. This is where optimizing images begins. You’ll want to include a keyword in the image’s file name. For example, if the image is of a root canal, name it root-canal.jpg, as opposed to image989.jpg. Your main keyword should be at the beginning of the file name.
  2. Crop and size the image. The load time for images and websites is taken into account by search engines as a ranking factor. When images are uploaded at their maximum size and displayed at a small size, you still have to load the original larger image. Instead, crop the image to the size you want using a photo editing software like Adobe PhotoShop.
  3. Make images responsive. Your images must be able to load on a mobile device and display properly. If they don’t, and text and headings lose alignment, the unpleasant viewing experience could result in a high bounce rate, which decreases engagement and causes search engines to look at your website negatively.
  4. Keep file sizes small. Using a tool like PhotoShop, you should be able to reduce file size without losing quality. This allows images to load quickly, yet still displays a high-quality picture for large screens and retina displays.
  5. Use captions. Captions are the text that appears below the image itself on a website. This text is read 300% more than body copy itself. Including captions help to increase your engagement and can make or break how useful your website is to an individual. Not all images require a caption, however, if you’re using an image specifically for SEO or believe a caption would make sense include it.
  6. Alt text and title text. Alt text is a tag attached to an image that described what it is. If an image isn’t available to the reader or they’re visually impaired and using a screen reader, alt texts will be displayed and read to them so they know what the image is of. Alt text should clearly describe what an image is of. For example, images that reflect medical practice or procedure being introduced should describe the procedure. So if an image shows gutta percha being used during a root canal, the alt tag might read: gutta percha being used in a root canal. Title text can be written to read similar to the alt text. This is a way of providing non-essential information and sometimes can be left blank.
  7. Align your images in a way that makes reading easy. While it might look fun and artsy to align images in various positions, aligning your images consistently helps readers know what to expect and also makes reading easier. Because we read English left to right, we suggest left-justifying images. This allows readers to see the image and connect it to what their reading, without ruining the flow.
  8. Sharing images and text. Web pages and blog posts on your website should have sharing images attached to them so that when they’re shared there’s an engaging image attracts people to click the link. Additionally, a description that clearly details what the page is about and includes a call-to-action to get people to click through can help increase your engagement rate.

Optimizing images for your medical website takes some effort, but the payoff is valuable. It can help increase your ranking in search engines, reach patients who might have accessibility needs, and provides visitors with engaging content. Additionally, a well laid out web page with optimized images is more likely to be shared, thus increasing its organic reach.

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