If you work with visual content and a DAM system, you’ve probably heard the term search engine optimization (SEO) mentioned more than once. And although you know it’s important, SEO can be hard to understand — let alone master.
Since the mastery part can take years, let’s focus our attention today on gaining a clear understanding of what SEO is, and how you can begin using it more productively within your digital asset management system — specifically with your visual content and embed codes. We’ll also debunk a couple of SEO myths, too.
What is SEO?
In a nutshell, SEO is a process that has the ability to improve the natural ranking of your website or blog in search results — leading to increased traffic, sales, customer engagement and overall growth.
SEO connects someone who is performing a search query on Google (or another search engine) with websites and/or blogs that contain relevant information related to their search.
For example, someone performs a search with the keyword, “plumber,” and Google looks for and delivers results that are relevant to this keyword phrase. This, in and of itself, is no big news. But the question is, how does Google decide which results to list? And why do some websites or blogs rank higher than others?
Search engine optimization is a BIG part of the answer to these questions. It plays a critical role in where a website or blog ranks in the natural (also referred to as “organic”) search results.
From a global view, there are three major pieces that contribute to successful SEO implementation: (1) keywords, (2) content, and (3) social media. Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at each of these pieces, and find out how they’re part of what I like to call …
The SEO pie
Feast your eyes on the SEO pie, which shows how the combination of keywords, content and social media can create a well-rounded SEO strategy.
Keywords are the most well-known part of the SEO pie. In fact, they’re still often perceived as the only part of SEO. Not true! Although they play a critical role in the SEO process, they only account for about 1/3 of the overall equation.
Keyword quality makes a big difference in how effective your keywords and keyword phrases actually are, and a lot of factors go into determining which ones are best to use on your website, blog and social media efforts. When it comes to your website and blog, things like site size and age, the number of individuals searching for a specific keyword phrase you’re considering, and how much competition that keyword faces, are just some of the factors that need to be examined when defining the quality of your keywords.
Not all keywords are created equal. And even once you’ve created a list of quality keywords, some are going to be better to use than others for use on your website pages and blog posts. Let’s start off with what I call the “keyword hierarchy.” This is something I’ve developed over the years to help identify optimal keyword (and keyword phrase) usage.
Primary, secondary and semantic keywords
Once you’ve created your list of keywords for a particular web page of blog post, you’ll need to decide which ones are primary, secondary and semantic, respectively.
- Primary keywords: the main keywords you’ll use in your content.
- Secondary keywords: used less often than primary keywords, secondary keywords play a supporting role in optimizing content.
- Semantic keywords: used only once or twice in content, semantic keywords also play a supportive, yet important role in “rounding out” content for solid SEO.
Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that are typically three or more words long. Very often, what makes a keyword phrase long tail is the fact that it’s got some “definers” or “qualifiers” in it, making it very specific.
For example, “Real Estate,” is a short-tail keyword phrase. If we add qualifiers to the phrase it could look like, “Real Estate Madison WI.” Now it’s a long-tail keyword. More specific, and in this case regionalized, a long tail keyword phrase is often accompanied by LOWER COMPETITION, which means when applied properly it has a better chance of helping you rank higher in search results.
Like it or not, Google is judging your content and determining if it’s “rich,” or boring and “thin.” In many ways, it perceives content much like an actual person would.
Rich content — which is packed with relevant, helpful information — helps web pages and blog posts gain authority in Google’s eyes, which can result in higher ranking in search results.
Thin content — which is devoid of relevant, useful information — accomplishes the opposite, and may lead your website or blog toward what I call “the black hole of Google Panda.”
The freshness factor …
When it comes to content, freshness is an important factor in how well your website ranks in natural search results on Google. But where you add that fresh content to your site is just as important as how rich, relevant and useful it is.
SEO MYTH BUSTER!
Many SEO practitioners will tell you that the best way to inject new content into your site is to “freshen up” your homepage and subpages with new copy and keywords — sometimes on a monthly basis.
Taking this approach on a well-optimized site will typically backfire.
This is because changing the SEO on your website pages is similar to changing your phone number every month — it’s a really bad idea. Your customers depend on your phone number to reach you, and Google is depending on your optimized content to find you and connect you with people who need you. Changing the SEO on a well-optimized page can often take your page authority back to square one.
So, then, where does fresh content come from?
Fresh Content Comes from Your Blog
Your blog is the bearer of the fresh content Google and your viewers are looking for. Adding fresh, optimized content on your blog can up your website’s authority — as a whole — as long as you add a minimum of one blog post per week. Although this may sound daunting, it’s a proven fact that consistently blogging at least 1X per week can help you overtake your competition by helping increase the authority of your website.
Once you’re blogging regularly, you’ll have more content to share on social media, the third piece of the SEO pie. Just like on your website and blog, you’ll want to ensure each and every social media post you publish is optimized. This means incorporating relevant keywords and an optimized image into each post.
Where is the SEO value in social media?
Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help with business growth and relationship development. But it’s Google+ and Google My Business that hold the lion’s share of SEO value in the world of social media. Consistently publishing posts through your Google My Business/Google+ page can play a significant role in boosting your overall online authority. In addition, optimizing all of your social media pages — especially your Google My Business listing — also gives your online authority a boost.
The Keyword Report
Now that we’ve covered all of the pieces of the SEO pie, let’s jump back into a discussion about keywords. Specifically, how to create a killer keyword report that’s chock-full of highly relevant, usable keywords.
At Cuppa SEO, before we begin optimizing a website, we thoroughly research and test a very long list of relevant keywords and keyword phrases to see how much SEO value they have for our client. You should do the same (or hire someone to do it for you).
Your keyword report should be your handbook for SEO implementation into your website, blog and social media, so it’s got to be done right. Although we won’t be diving deep into keyword report creation here, just know that it’s the foundation for all of the SEO you perform in your DAM system. The two tips I will give you are as follows:
Choosing your initial list of keywords
To begin, you’ll need to create a list of “common sense keywords.” This entails making a list of keywords you think (or know) people use when searching for what you do. Next, review the content on your website (if you have one) and some competitor websites. When you find potential keyword phrases, add them to your list.
Using a robust app to perform keyword research
Next, you’ve got to take those keywords and research each and every one of them. This should include the use of an accurate keyword tool that has the ability to provide results by specific region — city, state and country — to be exact. Both KWFinder.com and KeywordTool.io do a good job of this.
How SEO works with visual content and your DAM system
Let’s take a look at how to effectively optimize your visual content (digital assets).
Proper creation of a digital asset name
Before we get started discussing best practices for optimizing the name (and alt image name) of your digital assets, let’s talk about what needs to happen before the asset gets named. There are a couple of paths you can follow here, and depending on the workflow of your organization, one may be more realistic than the other:
(1) Knowing where a digital asset will be used in advance of naming it is an ideal way to optimize the asset accurately so it doesn’t have to be renamed. For example, if you are a dental office and the asset is going on the orthodontics page, there’s a very good chance it will have a different set of keywords than if it were being placed on the root canal page. The DAM admin handling this project, who very well might be on the creative team, would need to be privy to this information in order to make good naming decisions.
They’d also need to be familiar with how to use your keyword report. But if a photo shoot results in 1,000 images, we don’t want the DAM admin optimizing them all, right? And if your organization winds up with hundreds of thousands of photos over time, you’ll need a more efficient way of optimizing the ones that will be applied online. That’s where option two comes into play …
(2) Getting all of the DAM metadata correctly entered, and waiting to create optimized image names might be a better course of action. If the 1,000 photos will eventually be reduced to 50, there’s no reason to name 950 photos that may never be used, or that may be used for another application.
In this scenario, the creative group can determine which images to use and where they want to use them — and then they can be optimized.
Once the destination of a piece of visual content is determined, you can then review your keyword report and decide what keywords you are going to use. Whoever’s handling your SEO efforts is probably the best person to name and optimize these digital assets, as they will have the deepest understanding of how they’re using SEO on each particular web page, blog post or social media post.
This will require a little additional work to rename the image — either by reloading with the optimized name, or versioning it (more on versioning below).
Name that image and alt image name!
Optimizing your image names and alt image names helps Google identify what your imagery is about, and also improves the SEO value of your website and blog.
“Logo.png,” or “Image12867.jpg” are meaningless to Google, so their algorithm just moves on and pays these files no mind. Instead, when naming an image, use a phrase that’s rich in one or more keywords that are relevant to the web page or blog post the image appears on. For example, the optimized image name for the Widen logo is, “Widen-Digital-Asset-Management-Reverse-Logo.png.” Here, “Digital Asset Management” is the long tail keyword phrase we’re using for SEO value.
How Does This Work with Embed Codes?
In the world of digital asset management (DAM), embed codes are an unsung hero of sorts. While your DAM system is storing, organizing, managing, tracking and analyzing your digital assets, it’s the embed codes that makes sharing these assets a piece of cake — or pie if you prefer.
Embed codes make it possible for you to share your digital assets, also referred to as visual content, across all platforms easily and seamlessly. In a nutshell, embed codes work by serving your master file anywhere that the embed code has been implemented. And, if you update the master asset, the embed code updates every single place that asset appears — whether it’s just once on your blog, or 100 times on a syndicated post!
So, if you’re using embed codes, can you still optimize your assets (images)? In other words, can you still implement relevant keywords into your image names?
Absolutely! But before we learn how, let’s examine another …
SEO MYTH BUSTER!
Optimizing Image Names and Alt Image Text in Embed Codes
Often times, there’s a misconception that having one’s business name prominently placed in an embed code adds SEO value. Typically, this is untrue. Sure, if you’re Brooks, the makers of running shoes and sports apparel, there’s a chance someone might search for “Brooks” when they’re shopping for running shoes.
But here’s the thing — your company name is probably already in every single URL for every single web page and blog post. If someone searches for “Brooks,” the website is going to come up regardless of whether or not you “optimize” an image and alt image name with the company name in it. In other words, in most cases, there’s low or no SEO value in this practice.
Plus, when someone is searching for a Brooks product, they’re probably going to be more specific than just entering “Brooks” into the search box. Think about it, if I wanted to buy the latest iPhone online, would I do a search for “Apple?” Probably not. Or, if I wanted to buy a stove from Sears, would I search, “Sears?” you get the idea.
Instead, if I have a selling page on the Brooks website for a specific product —thermal socks for example — and I have an image of the product on that page, I can use a keyword phrase like “thermal socks” (which 2,900 people in the USA search for every month) to help up the SEO value of that particular product page.
Now, I’m optimizing the image with a relevant keyword phrase that’s specific to that particular product page. This adds SEO value to the page, giving it a better chance of getting found when someone searches for thermal socks.
How to properly implement SEO into an embed code image name
Ok, so now that you know the proper strategy to optimize an embed code for an image, here’s an example of how to implement an optimized image name right into an embed code …
Original (non-optimized) embed code
The part of the embed code that can be affected with an optimized image name is in bold:
<img alt="High-Ed-Web-Montreal-University" src="http://embed.widencdn.net/img/widen/cnxfop1ohz/exact/High Ed Web Montreal University.jpeg?u=mcuc7i">
Updated (optimized) embed code
Here is where you’d manually place your optimized image name (also in bold):
<img alt="High-Ed-Web-Montreal-University" src="http://embed.widencdn.net/img/widen/cnxfop1ohz/exact/Optimized-Image-Name-Goes-Here.jpeg?u=mcuc7i">
Optimizing Alt Image Text in Embed Codes
Regarding optimizing the alt image text (also referred to as an alt image tag), the good news is that if you’re using embed codes you don’t need to do anything extra because alt text is automatically created from the image name. Once the image name is optimized, so is your alt image text!
Of course, videos are digital assets, too! And in turn, the names of your videos can be optimized with relevant keywords from your keyword report.
Versioning digital assets
Versioning is a great way to get more mileage out of an asset, and it’s also a necessity when dealing with different media outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest that all have different best practices for image size and/or quality. You may also need to version digital assets for your website, blog, newsletter, print ads, catalogs, etc.
Versioning is a wonderful way to handle asset variations while keeping your assets organized in your DAM, and keeping the integrity of your metadata intact. It’s not advisable to version an image if all you’re changing is the file name (this could be confusing). If that’s all you need to do, it’s typically a better decision to re-upload the asset with the optimized name.
Additional places to implement SEO
In addition to optimizing visual content like images, infographics and logos, keywords also need to be implemented into:
- Title tags
- Primary headlines (H1s)
- Secondary headlines (H2s, H3s)
- Content (all of the copy on your page)
- Alternate Image Text
- Descriptive Links (text links)
I hope this article has added clarity to exactly what SEO is, and how to begin using it to your advantage in your DAM system. Although there are many more nuances to the SEO process, having a foundational understanding of how it works can help you make good decisions going forward — from the creation of your keyword report, to how you implement optimal keywords into your your website, blog and social media efforts.
About the author
Joey Donovan Guido is the owner of Cuppa SEO, a search engine optimization and web design firm based in Madison, WI. For more learnings about SEO, web design, user experience (UX) and conversion (CV), visit the Cuppa SEO blog.
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