How to Increase Traffic to Your Website With Images and Sitemaps
Our Blogging Delay Update
First off, if anyone who is a subscriber has been wondering why the news letter has been the same for about two months now, it has been because of being extremely busy. There has been an extensive amount of work being completed elsewhere for another company over the last few months. Secondly, behind the scenes programming has been at a slow for a few due to the complexity of programming and the other work being completed for another company.
Currently, programming is taking place to include tags and categories a long with a website search functionality. Most of the programming is completed, except for some minor details with the indexing of the pages and documents being searched. The project has been extended for several reasons and will be completed as time allows. Has definitely been more than I bargained for at this time.
This new search function and tagging system corresponds to a previous post about external or internal blogging platforms and of which type is better. Because of this, the transferring of the blog post is still not completed yet and is primarily due to the amount of web content and ongoing work being completed elsewhere. Sooner or later it will all be completed, but not holding my breath for it any time soon from this point.
“Now, to the main purpose of the article.”
XML and Image Sitemaps
After researching several areas of creating sitemaps for images and covering other areas of image optimization, it would appear that the use of images in sitemaps is extremely important when getting images indexed. I noticed that through the years images on sites without being in a sitemap seemed to get indexed anyway but were random and dependent on the names of the images, width and height inclusion, alt and title text and proper url formatting.
So figuring out the significance of placing images in a sitemap took a little thought and research. I suppose the most beneficial portion would be that placing these images on pages into a sitemap is beneficial because the images are for sure going to be indexed and not just by chance.
I learned a great deal about images being inserted into sitemaps and found some great resources while doing so. Most of the good sources I found required some kind of payment to actually get the images and pages properly formatted into a sitemap with no effort of coding.
I ended up creating my own sitemap from scratch to get the images for each page aligned/correlated to the specific pages without any additional cost. Although this was much more time-consuming to perform, the benefits are worth it since there were no out-of-pocket cost and the images are for sure going to be indexed.
Between the combination of images being inserted into a sitemap and providing specific instruction on not blocking certain image directories in the robots.txt file. My images are increasing in organic image results which overall more exposure. I also managed to insert a filter for GA to show the results of progress from the data in Google’s Analytic’s. This is leading to more success in results and brings more value to the sites at hand.
Image Optimization Tips
Name each image relevant to your page or image
How to Check Images are Being Indexed
To easily check on whether or not your images are being indexed on Google, try doing a site search with your domain name (site: yourdomain) in www.images.google.com Any relevant images that are indexed for your site will appear in the image search results. Try it, it works.
Creating Image XML in Your Current Sitemap
Option one to let the search engine know your images exists for indexing. This is a combination of the current sitemap being used with XML images information added to it.
<!–?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance“
<image:caption>My Image Caption</image:caption>
You are allowed to have up to 1,000 images per page for indexing purposes, so adding more will not matter to the search engines at all.
A Separate Image Sitemap
Option two to let the search engine know your images exists for indexing. This can be done by creating a sitemap for just images in a non-combined XML sitemap for images only.
<!–?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
The two look very much the same but there is one significant difference you may notice on the XML declaration. The declaration specifies namespace differently as you can see from the examples. This is the main factor when differentiating the two sitemaps. You can name the images sitemap as sitemap_images.xml and place it into your root directory for indexing. These sitemaps allow for more accessible and faster crawling by the search engine bots. Overall, it helps improve the efficiency of the crawl process and ensures all of the important pages and images are indexed.
Extending the Sitemap
The tag’s <image:image> and <image:loc> are both required tags for the images indexing to work properly. As for the addition of the <image:caption> it is not necessary but is an added feature that possibly could be used in the future by the search engines. Basically it could be worth it to add now instead of going back into the future and adding it later. There is also another tag <image:geo_location> which can be added as well along with the tag <image:title> or even an <image:license> for each and every image. For the full list see Google’s page on Image Sitemaps.
Sitemap Tools and Webmaster Guidelines
Plus, here is a list of tools which will generate a sitemap for you. If you run a WordPress site you can install a plugin (e.g. Google XML Sitemap for Images) which will create the specialized Image sitemap for you.
My overall experience by playing around has led to the correct path of adding images to a sitemap as one sitemap and not two separate sitemaps. This seems to be my preferred method of adding images to a sitemap, but could be different for you. So play around with what works best for you and then decide. Plus, images have always been a great way to get more traffic to your website, especially since the search engines have placed more emphasis through the recent years on image search.
“Image optimization adds value”.