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SEO 3.0: Image Use and the Very Visual Future of Optimization

Posted on 6.17.2013

Google’s Matt Cutts indicated in his most recent video that using stock images on web pages does not have an effect on SEO – either negative or positive. Glad we have that cleared up!

While images may not directly influence rankings, it’s not too much of a stretch to see how really valuable (descriptive, attractive, compelling) images play a role in encouraging others to link to your content. So, in a roundabout way, the use of images may eventually be seen as really important by the search engines and the SEO community.

Cutts himself (in the video below) even indicated that Google may look into using the unique value of an image as part of the ranking algorithm or at least as a signal in the ranking algorithm. If that does happen, all that social media optimization you’ve been engaged in could pay off.

Essentially, it’s possible that the more likes, retweets shares and +1’s an image receives, the more value Google could assign it, improving the rank of the original hosting page as a result. That’s total speculation, but it could happen.

Startups like Olapic already see the potential in leveraging user-generated photos when it comes to social media optimization. The company allows brands (including Lululemon, Threadless, Coach, Steve Madden and others) to collect photos from services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and display them on their websites. If Google or other search engines can find a way to connect the virtual dots so to speak, understand how engagement of this nature indicates relevance and popularity, you might just begin to see the emergence of SEO 3.0.

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