Using images to boost your SEO in Vietnam

The benefits of using images on your website whether you are a Vietnamese online retailer or a food blogger is indubitable: providing visual content to your prospects, which can result in more engagement. But what if we tell you that images also have an extremely important role in your Search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? Perhaps you wonder how can your images actually boost your search engine rankings beside generating engagement from your users? There are so many benefits you can gain from using images on your site and we will explain to you how to obtain those, but first let’s look at some research.

How users interact with images

The search Engine Journal (2014) and MDG Advertising (2012) made some quite valuable research on how do users interact with pictures on search engine results pages (SERPs) and here is a summary of their findings:

Now you know that your visitors do use Google Image Search or other search engines and do click through to your website, but traffic is not the only perk of using images.

Why you should use images on your website

There are 4 main reasons why your website should have pictures relevant to your content or products and services. First is obviously the traffic they generate (if you follow the correct steps to get your images to be indexed by search engines). Once your images are uploaded and have been optimized (and we will tell you how to do that), you will get relevant, organic traffic coming to your website.

You can also improve your rankings through your images by optimizing those using keywords relevant to the content of the page they are appearing in. This will help search engines identify your page as being relevant with the terms that users are searching for. Let’s look at an example through one of our clients, the Vietnamese Online retailer Luxury Furniture Vietnam. We have optimized their website in both English and Vietnamese for the keywords related to their business, furniture made in Vietnam:

As you can see from this screenshot above this business ranks first on Google Vietnam in english for the keyword “buy furniture in Vietnam”. Now let’s do an image search with the same long tail keyword:

Luxury Furniture Vietnam also ranks first on image searches and even ranks before the online giant Alibaba, as the first 4 pictures belong to our client and the fifth one on the top row belong the Chinese e-commerce site. Note the eleventh picture also belongs to our client.

Images can help boosting your sales online: According to MDG Advertising (2012) 67% of consumers think that the quality of a product’s images is “very important” in choosing and buying a products on e-commerce websites. Consumers also think that the quality of images is even more important than product information, description, reviews and ratings! As online marketers in Vietnam, we have seen numerous Vietnamese e-commerce websites flooded with poor quality, amateur pictures which can only hurt sales rather than improve them.

Finally good images can help your social media strategy as you will have excellent quality content ready to be shared and as always, visual content is better than classic text!

Now you know the benefits of using quality images on your website, so let’s see how you can optimize them to achieve these.

How to optimize images on your Vietnamese e-commerce website

First and we should not even have to say that: get quality pictures, sharp, eye-catching with good resolution. Again there is a countless number of Vietnamese e-commerce sites with poor resolution pictures which are just simply not attracting the buyer’s attention and will not provide a positive user experience.

Secondly ensure that the images you use are relevant to your content. You do not want decorative pictures (memes for instance if you’re an online furniture retailer) to rank and bring the wrong kind of traffic to your website.

Another recommendation is to change the file name of the images to be relevant to said image and to the content of your website and particularly the page the image appears on. A large number of websites in Vietnam and around the world simply upload images in bulk with their original name IMG_XXX. This is completely useless for SEO purposes and these images will never be correctly indexed or displayed by search engines.

Finally Alt Text which provides information to search engine about your images must include the keywords you would like to rank for. This simple trick will definitely improve your rankings and bring a significant amount of traffic through Google Image searches.

Every good SEO strategy should include images as they grab the attention of both your customers if you are an online retailer, but also the attention of search engines through improved rankings. Using and optimizing images will boost your traffic and your sales, yet it has been ignored by so many Vietnamese  and international online retailers that it is something that you can easily implement to get an upper hand on your competitors.

Update 11/12/2014

There has been some quite interesting discussion for this post on the Linkin Vietnam LinkedIn group. One comment we received was to include examples regarding Vietnamese keywords as it could illustrate the critical importance of using  images for online marketing in Vietnam.

Following up our example with our client Luxury Furniture Vietnam, we decided this time to take a look at a vietnamese keyword: “mua đồ nội thất ở Vietnam” which literally translates to buying interior furniture in Vietnam.

Again, the first picture shown on the search engine result page belongs to our client, as well as the second, the fourth and the fifth. Note that the tenth and eleventh pictures are showing cars, topic which is probably not related to the current search, buying furniture in Vietnam.

Vogel L 2014, ‘What Is The Value of Images on Google? Insights on Image Search Behavior’, Search Engine Journal, 20 November, Viewed 24 November 2014, http://www.searchenginejournal.com/value-images-google-insights-image-search-behavior/119781/.

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