Did you know that looking for pictures is the second most popular way that people search online (after searching for keywords)? That’s why, if you want your business to get noticed on the Internet, you need to leverage the magnetic power of photos, logos and other visual elements.

In tech-speak, photos are important for search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing. In addition to making your business website and social media pages more attractive, images drive visitors to your sites — and keep them coming back for more.

Use images for SEO

Using photos can give you a leg-up in the complex world of search engine optimization. Although search engines can’t “see” image content, you can capture the attention of Google, Bing and other search engines by creating relevant captions and HTML descriptions for the photographs on your website and social media pages. Then, the search engines can find and display your photos in image search results. Let’s learn how to optimize images for the web.

Create image captions.

When you read a newspaper, you usually check out the photo captions, right? Online photo captions are just as popular with web viewers. Captions are one of the most-read pieces of information on websites, and are a great way to give visitors and search engines more information about your products and/or services, by way of the images you choose to represent them. Although captions aren’t directly linked to an image, they give search engines an idea of what the picture looks like. Make your captions descriptive and relevant.

Use file names and Image ALT Text.

The Image ALT Text and file name give photos a text description so search engines can “read” the image and know what it’s about. Here’s an example of a proper HTML tag for a picture of a bus:

Big Yellow School Bus

The image’s file name (yellow-bus.jpg) and Image ALT Text (Big Yellow School Bus) are descriptive, relevant keywords that help search engines rank your image in search results.

Pro tip: To further improve your image’s ranking, avoid file names like “DSC_00001345.jpg” by simply renaming your image before uploading it to your site. If the file name consists of two or more words, use hyphens to separate each word, and avoid underscores, spaces, or closed spaces.

Use images for social media marketing

When you post engaging, valuable and frequent images to your social media profiles, you extend the reach and visibility of your image content, and attract new visitors/followers to your site.

Post images on multiple social networking sites.

When you upload your images to multiple sites, you boost their chances of being seen and shared—thus increasing your business’s social circle. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are great platforms for building a social presence. By posting engaging visual content, you encourage your followers to revisit or “follow” your profiles, share your content with their own followers, and visit your website.

Upload your own images.

When a customer stumbles upon an image they like, they’ll often track the image’s link back to its original source (site) to see if there are other similar or equally awesome pictures. That’s why it’s important that all of your photos, logos and other images link back to your business’s website. If one of your social followers likes, shares, or comments on an image you’ve uploaded, you’ll rest assured knowing they’ll find your site if they want more.