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Search engines are generally very good at analyzing and understanding the text content on web pages. But they have more difficult time with other forms of content, like images, videos, and audio clips. Let's take a look at a few different ways we can go about optimizing these kinds of content for our target keywords. One simple best practice is to use the text surrounding the non-text elements to describe what it's all about. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. Having a paragraph of text describing a particular video right next to the video itself is a very common practice.
And images embedded in line with text often have text titles under them, and they're typically very relevant to the text on the page. Image slideshows or carousels often contain a textual title and description of each photo. And an audio clip typically has a description, and may even have a complete transcription as well. Search engines do analyze the text that is in close proximity to the non-text components, making the assumption that there is some topical correlation between those elements. On the Explore California homepage, we can see this in action.
The logo for Cycle California is an image, and even though those pixels are arranged in such a way that humans can quickly read 'Cycle California' and see that it's a logo, remember that search engines can't. So while the search engine will look at the image file name and the alt text, it will also look at the text nearby. And in this case, we can see that it's all about Cycle California, telling search engines a little more about that image. Aside from using the text that's near the non-text elements, there's also some code that we can use to help the search engines out.
We've already seen how we can use the image file name and alt text for an image tag. But another way we can optimize code for non-text elements is to use micro-formatting from schema.org. This allows us to mark up our code with some very relevant, very specific metadata, specific to a certain type of content. These are some of the properties that you can define for an image object, and there are microformat specifications for audio and video clips as well. Let's take the example of the video on the homepage of the Explore California website.
We can see that there's some code that embeds the video, and right now there's not much that can tell a search engine about the contents of that video. By adding in some special markup, we can provide search engines with all kinds of rich metadata, and this will help them really understand what this content is all about. Now, when a searcher types in something like Explore California Olive Oil, we've positioned ourselves for this page or even this video to pop up in the search results. Take a look through schema.org and you can see all of the different properties and elements that you can define for non-text data.
Making sure to provide as much information as you can to the search engines can only help your overall search engine visibility. For video content, you can also make use of a video site map file. XML site maps are just files that use a special syntax to provide search engines with a listing of all the pages and content found on your website, along with some attributes that describe the content. There are different formats for different types of content, and video site maps give us a way to inform search engines exactly where our video content is, along with what it's about, using things like title and description attributes.
Here's an example from Google Webmaster Tools support. And you can find all the specific supported elements and syntax here as well. Using a mix of content types in your pages can be a great way to engage with your visitors, and help them down the conversion path. And just because a piece of content doesn't use words, doesn't mean we can't help the search engine understand just what it's all about. Through surrounding text, some code elements, and site maps, you can open up all of your content to search engines, and be well on your way to attracting new traffic to your pages.
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