The Webmaster's Guide to Advanced Image Optimization
Our Basic Image SEO recommendations from the first article in this series, How to Find and Choose the Best Images to Promote Your Site's Content are pretty cut and dried. It's clear those signals do impact image search ranking. However, there is of course, more to this than just those factors. What we discuss below falls into the more theoretical side based on our own experiments and observations, the ideas are not a "sure" thing to have an impact like those discussed in our previous article.
Google Image Search
To help understand how Google ranks images, you have to start by noting that Google does NOT care "who" owns the image, or "who" the first publisher was. Please let that sink in - it is very clear that Google places ZERO, ZILCH weight on who the owner of an image is or who published it first. What they do care about, is WHERE online the image is most popular.
Consider this example, as we have seen it occur very often...
You upload a great image to your Web site, one that was taken on your camera, uploaded to your Web site for display to your visitors. You take all the steps we've outlined to help it rank well. You've chosen the correct keyword file name, used the alt attribute and it's embedded above the fold on a page that is highly relevant and focused on your keyword phrase. Google indexes the page, and the image starts to rank in image search. All is good, it's bringing in traffic and you're getting rewarded for your efforts.
Two months later the traffic drops off and you start to investigate what happened. After close review, you realize your highly optimized image is still ranking at the top, but it's not linking to your Web site, it's been embedded in a forum post. The image is still hosted on your site, but someone decided to share it on a forum (or a blog, social site, whatever). Yes, it's enough to flat pis...