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Are the images on your website an element of search engine optimization? Or are they solely a feature of web design? If you’ve read many of my previous posts, I hope you’d hesitate to say it’s the latter.

I’ve routinely tried to emphasize the value of an integrated strategy for site owners who are trying to grow their audience. Web design and search engine optimization rarely operate in isolation. Social media management and overall marketing strategies also enjoy close relations with these other web services.

The selection and presentation of images on your website can be a powerful outlet for all these overlapping services. It’s obvious that images convey a marketing message and that they have to be built into your website in a thoughtful way. It may be less obvious that they have a role in search engine optimization.

But as with many website features, that role is actually growing. While today’s search engine optimization tactics can get swallowed up by overall design and marketing concepts, they also exert influence in unexpected ways.

If the question in the first paragraph prompted you to connect images with SEO at all, you were probably thinking about titles, tags, and meta-data. These are all important, and they help to convey a site’s keyword-relevance without slapping visitors in the face with those words. But as search engines get smarter, the images also grow more important to ranking all on their own.

One major part of this trend is the ongoing rise of reverse image search. It’s not yet a feature of everyone’s daily online experience, but it could still become as commonplace as actual typed queries. And when that day comes, “related image” search engine optimization will be especially important for e-commerce product sales.

By carefully selecting product images for your site, a web services provider can maximize the first-glance impact that the product has on web users who’ve expressed interest in something that looks similar. And by combining effective photography, editing, and design with the best search engine optimization practices, those same professionals can help a client to exploit an up-and-coming trend of purely visual web searches.

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