I write for a financial blog. Apparently the guy who runs the blog thinks I'm an expert on scams. So be it. I don't write often about scams. The blog is mainly for an American audience and, as the resident Canadian, I try to explain the peculiarities of the Canadian system of government and taxation to the blog's readers. Back in January, Toronto's subway system (the TTC) raised its fare. There were many complaints about that. The Ontario government also lowered the marginal rates for middle- and low-income earners. I wrote a blog piece about how people were paying a lot of attention to the $10 a month fare increase but no one really noticed they were keeping an extra $20 a month in their pockets from taxes. People were still $10 a head.
Among the images I used to spice up a blog post about taxation was a JPG of the TTC subway's route map. I called it, oddly enough, ttc-map.jpg. About a week later the blog's owner emailed me wondering why this blog posting was getting hundreds of hits per day, far out pacing his own posts about TARP and hedge funds. Now I'd like to think my insights into Canadian taxation, marginal rates, and the psychology of tax reform are real barn burning stuff. But, I don't think even Canadians are eschewing the latest on Tiger Woods or Balloon Boy to read about tax.
I did some quick Google detective work and quickly figured out most people were coming to the blog post via Google Images. They were simply seeking a good image of the TTC route map. Google ranked my image #2. Most of the other image results further down the list had file names like s4.jpg or ryanssubwaymap.jpg. One well and fortuitously chosen image name brought a flood of traffic.
So, the point? Don't ignore your image names when optimizing your site. People aren't just googling for text. Many are googling for images. Frequently I just want to know what something looks like. My new girlfriend tells me a man who wears fisherman sandals is a deal killer. What the heck are those? I go to Google images and quickly discover what they look like and I breathe a sigh of relief that I don't have a pair in my closet. It's logical that google will ascribe an image called fishermansandals.jpg a higher rank than s4.jpg that has "fisherman sandals" as a caption.
Along the same line, give your image a good description in the ALT tag.
Oh. In case you're curious. These are fisherman sandals:
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