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An Image Can Sell a Thousand Cars

Author Benjamin Denis
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An Image Can Sell a Thousand Cars

People that are looking to buy a pre-owned luxury car are a great example of Google users who may prefer to use Google Images search rather than classic web search. If you were a luxury car dealership in the US, for example, it is likely that you could get a lot of visibility through being visible in Google Images with photos of cars you have in your inventory – or that have been in your inventory in the past.

Most car dealers probably already have a website, it is also quite probable that the website was built using WordPress and that someone in the car dealership adds new cars as they are added to the inventory. But what is the probability that the images used on that website are fully optimized for image SEO?

The probability is not zero, but a lot of car dealers can improve this one aspect of their SEO and gain a competitive advantage over competitors in Google, attracting more potential clients to their websites.

We like to illustrate SEO problems with fictive case studies. In this chapter we are going to imagine that Phil, a car dealer, has SEO problems and Betty, a photographer, is going to help solve them.

Phil’s Image SEO problems

Imagine that Phil has a luxury, pre-owned car dealership in Beverly Hills. For every car that he enters to his inventory, he asks a photographer to come and take 12 photos of the car and he then creates a dedicated page on his WordPress site. All 12 images are published on the page.

He is very frustrated that images from these pages are not featuring in Google Image Search results.

Phil is not ranking in Google Images
Phil is not ranking in Google Images

Discussing the problem with his photographer, Betty, he gives her the example of a yellow Porsche she recently took photographs of. He put the page and photos online 3 weeks ago and he can’t find them when he searches in Google Images for the model, “Porsche 718 Spyder”.

Luckily, Betty has been following an online training course about SEO and armed with recently gained knowledge she offers to help Phil improve his image SEO.

Betty’s rapid image SEO audit

A first thing that Betty can do is search for Phil’s photos in Google Images using the “site:” operator. Just to be sure that images from his site are being indexed by Google. If Phil’s website were, she would search with “site:”.

Example of a search in Google Images using “site:”
Example of a search in Google Images using “site:”

Let’s assume that this search reveals that all photos from the site appear to be correctly indexed and that Betty can see the photos she took of a yellow Porsche, clicking on these images in the results and then again in the preview brings her to the product page on Phil’s site.

The captions associated with the images gave Betty an early sign of one problem Phil has with SEO. Under the images she sees “A unique opportunity to own…”. Ideally, it should read “Porsche 718 Spyder” or a phrase containing this keyword.

Opening the page in WordPress, she can see the source of the problem. The title of the page is “A unique opportunity to own a Porsche!” The keyword that Phil wants to rank for – Porsche 718 Spyder – is under the title..

Screenshot of WordPress page – before Image SEO
Screenshot of WordPress page – before Image SEO

Unfortunately, this means that the TITLE and URL of the page are not optimized for the keyword Phil wants to target. Changing the title, SEO title and permalink of the page using the keyword “Porsche 718 Spyder” will improve the page’s ranking in Google for this keyword. It will also improve the images ranking for this keyword in Google Images. Phil is convinced that his future customers use Google Images more than Google web search.

Two other things that will help rank the images of the yellow Porsche in are the image filenames and the alternative text. Clicking on the images in the editor, she can see the alternative text fields are blank and the file names are phil-22-04-22-001.jpg, phil-22-04-22-002.jpg, etc.

Betty can accept partial responsibility for the image filenames, because she sent them like that to Phil. But she now knows better and promised that she will send files with optimized filenames in the future.

Improving image SEO on Phil’s site

After this rapid audit, Betty leaves Phil with a list of things to do on the page:

SEO optimization on images

  • Rename the 12 image files using “Porsche 718 Spyder” in their filenames
  • Replace the 12 images on the page with the renames images
  • Add a unique alternative text for each image

SEO optimization on the featured image

  • Add one image as the featured image of the page
  • Add an alternative text to the featured image starting with “Porsche 718 Spyder”

On-page SEO optimization

  • Change the page title to “Porsche 718 Spyder for sale”
  • Set the SEO Title using the SEOPress metabox to “Porsche 718 Spyder for sale – Phils Cars”
  • Add a Meta Description
  • Change the permalink of the page to “porsche-718-spyder”
  • Add a Product Schema using SEOPress PRO

Betty gets some news from Phil

When Phil gets a new car in to sell – this time an Aston Martin DB2 – Betty goes back to see him and after shooting some new photos, she checks on his SEO work.

He followed Betty’s check list on all the product pages on his site and he says it is an outstanding success (we do like happy endings in our fictive case studies). He can find his cars searching in Google Images including when he searches for “Porsche 718 Spyder” – one of his images is showing in the first line of photos. It is the one he chose as the featured image of the page.

Screenshot of WordPress page – after Image SEO
Screenshot of WordPress page – after Image SEO

He tells Betty “It was too late for that Porsche, though. I sold that to an old client. Nothing to do with Google. But then something incredible happened, I got contacted by a guy Las Vegas with exactly the same car and he said he found me searching for his car model on Google Images. I’ll have his car in for sale next week. If all the yellow Porsche owners find me in Google Images, that one image could sell a thousand cars!

By Benjamin Denis

CEO of SEOPress. 12 years of experience with WordPress. Founder of WP Admin UI & WP Cloudy plugins. Co-organizer of WP BootCamp.

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