Images, links and SEO problems

Posted on June 20, 2010

 

One of the things that some SEO experts have been saying for a long time is that the search engines can’t handle images. The search engines have countered this by developing technology to cope with image-based content, but they still lag too far behind to be reliable. No site owner wants a chunk of content on their page that can’t be properly read by the search engines, as that would render the content useless for ranking purposes – and would affect the website’s traffic.

An area in which using images is particularly frowned upon by traditional SEO is for links. For a time on the net, site owners were linking everything through images. It looked great, and it was exciting. Internet users could get a little thrill from finding hidden or unusual links. The trouble was the search engines didn’t see things so clearly. The use of an image for a link meant that the link was ‘blind’ for the search engines – there was no anchor text to tell the search engines what the link was about.

There are lots of professionals in the search engine optimisation community who still say that linking through images is a bad idea. However, there are some who say it’s perfectly fine. Who is right?

Technically, linking through images isn’t too bad. The search engines are smart enough to recognise a link when they see it. Unfortunately, in linking through an image rather than a piece of text, you lose a perfect opportunity to link your keyword into the link as well. This is one of the basic SEO techniques, and in choosing to link through images you lose a little of your edge.

Linking through images is fine, but if you want to make the most of your links, it’s always best to stick with text.

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