Businesses easily pay thousands each month to marketers and copywriters to make sure they pop up on the first page, so it can be pretty difficult to compete with larger companies for top search engine rankings. Even targeting your niche by focusing on counties and cities can still be challenging. So what can you do if you’re a small dog still trying to get your foot in the door? You can understand how your consumer thinks. We’re a visual society. Images and videos are where it’s at. Consumers also don’t like plowing through search engine results; they don’t like being data analyzers. Google understood this and acted accordingly under their image directory. They started including one row of image results in their web results page and often include a vertical column of other image results (usually e-commerce related) on the right hand side of the webpage. By understanding how consumers search for products based on images, it’s clear image searching can be almost equally as powerful as how high up you pop up in the search result page. Making Image Searches Work Alternate Text – Consumers don’t just rely on first page images under web results. A lot of us go straight to the image results flowing with hundreds of pictures that cater to our visual palette. Often, it’s much simpler to find directly what we need off of an image rather than clicking through sites and their subpages to find what we need.Though Google allows you to submit your site URLs, unfortunately you can’t do the same for images. This is where you take can take advantage of the “alternate text” your uploading server allows you to include for every picture. Google crawls through your website and analyzes the image “alt tag” and the name of the image to include in their image database. Your alternate text should always include keywords that will attract Google crawlers and make your image more relevant. Inspiration Boards – Used primarily by creative types, inspiration boards are popping up in just about every web-based business. Think of a collage and you’ve got a good idea of what an inspiration board is; it can be a collection of photos exclusively or photos paired with text to convey a theme or idea. Inspiration blogs are a great blogging asset that lets you blog with rich visuals that appeal to the eye. People like seeing options clustered together in one board or larger image – allowing them access to more info and content with less work on their part. These entries translate brilliantly across social media sites like Facebook, where links with great visuals will always get clicked on with higher rates than those without image appeal. You can use inspiration boards for photographs, e-commerce items, swatches, etc. You can showcase new items, any collaboration you have had with others, highlight customers wearing your products, or brainstorm ideas. The possibilities are endless. In addition to plugging inspiration boards on your website/blog and using the keyword-rich alternate (alt) text to boost visibility, you should also be plugging these on social media and in email newsletters. Editorial Photos – When using images, make sure you’re using high pixel, saturated, stunning photos that scream editorial and not dated. They should also be relevant to your content. The better the image quality, the higher the visual appeal, the better the chances your image will get clicked on in a search – even if it isn’t exactly what someone was looking for. If you can’t use your own photos, make sure you give proper credit to the source/photographer. You can also use copyright-free photo libraries and Flickr Creative Commons. If you use stock photography, make sure the photos don’t come across as clinical, which is usually the case if it includes people/models. Rule of thumb: it’s always best to create your own photos.