When local businesses look to beef up their SEO game, they’re often looking for some clever technical trick. But, one of the simplest and most elegant local SEO tactics is to optimize the site’s logo. Since many businesses are unaware of it, employing it will amount to a “stealth” tactic, giving an advantage over competitors.
I’ve written a number of times about SEO for images, and many sites and blogs do image SEO to one degree or another. The logo is one of the most important images associated with a website and with a company, so it should be the most consistently optimized image on websites — yet when I review local business websites, I commonly find the code around logos to be completely lacking basic attention.
If your local business website’s logo is not optimized, it could represent a considerable lost opportunity and potential. When I’ve optimized site logos on local sites that had neglected this area, I’ve seen significant ranking improvements on major search keyword phrases in numerous cases.
The main way this helps is through conveying anchor text for logos linked on every page of a site, all linked to the site’s homepage. If that text is strategically formulated, it punches up the homepage’s relevancy to the keyword phrase that’s used.
There are additional benefits possible in terms of visibility in search results and other properties as well.
Primary Logo Optimization: ALT Text
If you’re familiar with the classic elements of SEO, you’ll already know that the ALT attribute of IMG tags is a basic means for associating words with image content. I think many webmasters may have become a trifle complacent because search engines have improved their ability to interpret image content and associate keywords with images. Yet, this is still an imperfect science, so adding ALT text to the IMG tag shouts a strong signal to search engines. It reinforces what they may already know about the image, or it provides keywords if the algorithms haven’t already deduced them.
Here’s how the ALT attribute works, using the logo of a fictional patent attorney, “Acme LLP,” as an example:
<img src="http://example.com/images/logo.gif" alt="Acme LLP">
Image ALT text that merely conveys the formal business name is better than nothing. However, this could be even better. Search engines are already very good at ranking a company’s site for its own brand name(s) if the brand name is unique. You want the site to rank better for business category or product name keywords, and for the geographic location. Here’s ALT text that’s beefed-up:
<img src="http://example.com/images/logo.gif" alt="Acme LLP Patent Lawyers, Chicago, IL">
*Warning: ALT attribute text is an area where people have sometimes over-optimized by stuffing tons of keywords. The above example is perhaps borderline over the limit on how long a logo’s ALT text ought to be. There is a real risk around employing ALT text that is inaccurate or not representative of the content of the image described. Because of this, I suggest integrating descriptive text into the image. If the logo for “Acme LLP” only has the word “Acme” in the image, it might be best to redesign the logo to include the advantageous descriptive text “Patent Lawyers, Chicago, IL.” Or, introduce a motto or tagline that can contain keyword-rich text, such as “Experienced Patent Lawyers Serving Chicago, Illinois.” The tagline could be incorporated into the logo image or a combined logo/header image — by doing this, you remove the risk that search engines might consider the ALT text to be unrepresentative of the image.
Taking it a step further, the image file name is also influential for keyword associations. Since people searching for “logo” is not helpful to you, consider naming your site’s logo file advantageously. Ex:
<img src="http://example.com/images/acme-patent-lawyers.gif" alt="Acme LLP Patent Lawyers, Chicago, IL">
Link & Title Attribute
For the logo optimization to function ideally, the logo needs to be linked back to the homepage. Make sure the link is the homepage’s canonical link. It can be further optimized by adding a Title attribute to the link. A Title attribute could be added to the logo’s IMG tag, but I’d suggest adding it to the link if you’ve already got ALT text. The Title text should probably be the same or highly similar to the ALT text. For example:
<a href="http://example.com/" title="Acme Patent Lawyers, Chicago"> <img src="http://example.com/images/acme-patent-lawyers.gif" alt="Acme LLP Patent Lawyers, Chicago, IL"></a>
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Attorney"> <a itemprop="url" href="http://www.example.com/" title="Acme Patent Lawyers, Chicago"> <img itemprop="logo" src="http://www.example.com/acme-patent- lawyers.gif" alt="Acme LLP Patent Lawyers, Chicago, IL" /></a> </div>
It should be noted that the protocol provides for a number of types of organizations and local business categories, so you can customize your itemtype value by referring to Schema.org.
The Schema.org logo markup primarily increases the chances that Google will allow your logo to appear within the Knowledge Graph box if Google displays one for your brand/business name searches. This has some search ranking benefit, because taking up more real estate on the search results page and having your graphic elements appear to the right of and in the organic search results simultaneously will likely increase overall clickthrough rates. This increased CTR probably translates into greater ranking benefits over time.
Additional Logo Optimization Tips
- WordPress image replacement methods and themes that display the logo as a DIV background image and CSS sprites are undesirable logo coding options because they don’t allow one to specify ALT text nor use the Schema.org markup for organizations. Sure, some of those sophisticated methods for displaying the logo image may enable for slightly faster page speed. But, page speed is a weak ranking factor compared with the optimized logo image code, so this is a case where using the older IMG tag code as I described above will likely convey so much more benefit that it’s worth sacrificing some fraction of page speed and code elegance.
- Some logo images are particularly tricky because they are composed of only white and transparent areas in the image. These logos are only visible when displayed over colored backgrounds, posing a challenge to Google, since Google’s site design has white backgrounds. So, I’ve seen indication that if you attempt to tag a white/transparent image as your logo, Google’s system will decline to use it in Knowledge Graph because it would be invisible. To avoid this, your logo must have some colors beyond just white and transparent.
- Google and other search engines are reading some meta data elements out of images’ EXIF data, so it is possible to optimize the EXIF data of a logo, including adding a geolocation to the image.
- Be consistent with using the same logo image on Google+ and other social media sites, since this may further reinforce the image used to represent you in search. Upload your logo as your first image in Google+. The image on your site that is marked up with Schema.org code likely trumps your Google+ image.
- Hopefully, you may have already incorporated Facebook’s Open Graph code for your local site, because this also allows you to specify a thumbnail image to use to represent the page. If you associate your website with its own business/Facebook page this may also allow you to use the site’s logo image for your visibility in various display interfaces within Facebook.
- The author tag is the best SEO tactic this year, and I’d suggest incorporating that in addition to using the Schema.org markup for logos. While you may prefer to have your logo image appear next to your site’s listing in search results, there’s no way to choose this as of yet, so for many small businesses that have branding that’s nearly synonymous with their owner proprietors, the author’s photo icon will help provide more attention and trust for searchers.
Optimizing the logo may seem so basic that it’s just not as exciting as some other projects you may be interested in doing for your search marketing promotions, but when it’s done well it can provide a major advantage that your competitors might completely miss. So, don’t neglect this stealth SEO tactic – use it to push your local search rankings up to the next level if you’re not already on top!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.