"Google Friendly" Solutions to Graphic-Intense Sites
by Robin Nobles

We all know that the search engines can't "see" or "read" the
graphics on our pages. We also know that we need to provide text
on a page, so the spiders will have something to crawl and index.

After all, we have to prove to the search engines without a
shadow of a doubt that our pages are about what we say or claim
they're about if we want to achieve top rankings. That's why I
believe so strongly in focusing each page on one single keyword
phrase only. As soon as a spider hits a page, I want the spider
to know exactly what that page is about.

But, many sites out there are graphic intense, often by virtue 
of their very nature. The sites may sell prints, wallpaper,
pictures, graphics, or posters. Or, the sites may sell hats, for
example, so that each page is full of pictures of a particular
type of hat.

Many Web site owners don't want to add text to those pages,
because they want to highlight exactly what they're selling.
They've created the site with their audience in mind, which is 
as it should be. After all, when visitors stop by a wallpaper 
site, they want to see loads of pictures of the different 
wallpaper samples. They don't want to read about them!

So, being careful to adhere to Google's Guidelines
(http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html) that prohibit
hiding text, what options do we have with our graphic-intense

Let's look at some possible solutions

1. Can you put visible text above or below the graphics on the
page? If so, this is your best solution, because you're giving
the engines some content to crawl.

Simply add a paragraph of content above the graphics, and then 
a paragraph or two of content below the graphics. Make sure the
content focuses on your keyword phrase and that it describes the
page accurately.

If you don't want to add a full paragraph of content above 
the graphics, try adding a heading tag containing your keyword
phrase. Then, add content beneath the graphics.

The bottom line is: you want to start the page with text if at
all possible, not graphics.

2. Be creative! Can you add descriptive text about each graphic
under or beside the graphic? Can you add little "Tips" or "More
Info" boxes on the page that contain valuable information for
your users and keyword-containing text for the engines? Can you
include testimonials from happy customers that will add valuable
keyword-containing content to your page?

3. Leave your existing graphic-intense pages the way they are,
and create some new text-based interior pages that are full of
valuable content related to your graphics. Pull in traffic
through those pages, and provide text links to your pages full 
of graphics. Be sure to use your important keyword phrase in the
link text that links to the pages of graphics.

Keep in mind that these new pages are interior pages, which means
that they should provide a link to other pages on your site, and
your site should provide a link back to those pages. If you've
done your homework right, these new pages are providing value to
your users, therefore providing value to the search engines, so
there's no reason why you wouldn't want to link to these new
interior pages.

Can you use redirects from the text-based pages to the pages of
graphics? I highly recommend not doing so. The engines have never
been fond of redirects for one thing. But, even if your redirects
aren't "sneaky" (as Google says in their Guidelines), if you
don't use text links with the keyword phrase in the link text,
you're missing out on one of the most valuable search engine
optimization strategies available to you: using your keyword
phrase in link text pointing to your pages.

4. You can leave your existing graphic-intense pages as they
are, and instead concentrate on "off page" factors such as
building link popularity to those pages and making sure that the
pages linking to the graphics pages use link text that contains
your important keyword phrase. In other words, you can work on
your "link reputation."

After all, you can compete with the big boys using almost any
strategy that is detrimental to search engine rankings if your
link popularity and link reputation is strong enough, and if the
sites linking to you describe your site using your important
keyword phrase.

By "strong" enough, I mean that the links should be from 
popular, authoritative sites in your topic area. Sheer numbers 
aren't what we're after here. We're after links from popular 
and authoritative sites in our topic area. We're also after 
links that use our important keyword phrase in the link text 
describing our pages.

In Conclusion

Though the best solution is to add text to your pages of
graphics, sometimes you (or your client) won't want to go that
route. They may want to keep the existing pages just as they 

In those situations, it's important to have some "Google
friendly" solutions that will give you the best chance at
achieving top rankings for your pages, while making sure that
you're following the guidelines as stated by Google.

Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine
Workshops (http://www.searchengineworkshops.com) with John
Alexander. They teach 2-day beginner, 3-day advanced, and 5-day
all-inclusive "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in
locations across the globe. She also teaches online search engine
marketing courses through http://www.onlinewebtraining.com, and
she's a member of Wordtracker's
(http://www.wordtracker.com/moreinfo.html) official question
support team.