Does Google Still Need Text To Understand My Site?

March 20, 2013 · 26 comments

in SEO

Does Google Still Need Text To Understand My Site?

"SEO"How Good Is Google’s
Image & Video Understanding?

Google’s head of the web-spam division, (and thus SEO), Matt Cutts, answers a common question we see about web design… 

“I have removed a lot of text from my site and replaced it with images. My bounce rate has dropped considerably, conversions and time on site are up. Will Google have an issue with the lack of textual content on the site? Does Google still need text? Daniel Weadley, Camberley, Surrey, UK”

 You can find the site he mentioned at: http://www.google.com/webfonts

As a side note, a move towards more images and less text almost always decreases the accessibility of your site for visitors who are vision impaired.  

It also can cause issues for mobile devices which may not be able to make the content of the image easy to read on the screen.

 ~ Kim ~
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew March 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Interesting; I’ve often thought about this question. I’ve often found Matt’s videos to be pretty helpful, even though he often doesn’t go into quite as much detail as many webmasters would like!

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Chery Schmidt March 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Very interesting Kim! I have never given this much thought but it sure does make sense especially the part about mobile devices most of the time all you get is the text. Thanks for sharing Chery :)
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Krishna Parmar March 21, 2013 at 5:55 am

Yes Kim, It is the right strategy to replace words with images. I have experimented with my site too and it does work. As far as Mobile devices are concerned we may opt for RWD [Responsive web design].

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Rachel Lavern March 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Wow, I just made a new commitment to create lots more videos and use some as my blog post…never considered that this would have an impact on SEO. I went over to look at the Google web fonts and had to jump off quickly before I entered into the ‘font vortex’.
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Marty Diamond March 22, 2013 at 12:46 am

We do quite a bit of A/B testing and one of the things we test are images and use of video vs. text. Results are mixed. For some sites more images & video are a plus and for others not so. Everyone’s audience is slightly different, always best to test it out.
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Gene Call March 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I had a video embedded on my site but had my webmaster take it down for just this reason. Thanks for posting this Kim so we know one way we can find what he refers to as “middle ground.”
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marquita herald March 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I agree with others, this is very interesting. Not being a techie person I’m a little hesitant to attempt to invest time learning about the Google font at this point when there are soooo many other things on my plate, but I’ve copied the URL for future reference. Thanks,
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Julieanne van Zyl March 23, 2013 at 1:58 am

Making the page pretty with different fonts would take a lot of time, and a lot of creativity as well. Not everyone can put together pretty fonts and different colors and have it look really good.

Has anyone tested to see how well the Pinterest community comes up in the google search engines? I just went off to Pinterest and picked out the phrase “”Errol Flynn in Dodge City”” typed it into Google, and it came up number 2 of 61,700 other pages with that phrase (in that order) written on the page. Flickr came up number 4. Interesting!
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Willena Flewelling March 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

I have to wonder, too, at the success of Seth Godin, who doesn’t use images or videos on his blog. I would love to have his success!!! Obviously graphics and videos alone are not the secret. But I’m a long way from where he is, as far as what he offers, so in the meantime I’ll continue using images and sometimes videos in my blog posts.

Willena

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William Amis March 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Kim, I have never used videos and will not in the near future. I like to give readers a chance to interact on my site with real content which came from my life of experiences related to creating exciting lifestyles and having a supportive role in peoples lives.

This is great based on my coaching people I always monitor their sites. I tell them less with videos which also slows alote of peoples systems down. Not everyone is equiped with that much to handle pop-ups and videos which are on lots of peoples sites. They do allot of self-promoting and that is hard to find usable content.

This is an eye opening article and I learned more which will give me a supportive resource to refer my people to, your engaged site.

Kim, your the number on person who I go to with tech problems and I have no pride. Nile is the second and I make sure that all my experience was used to resolve my challenges before I ask for support.

You are the best Kim!

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Steven Hughes March 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Interesting…I think the mobile situation is something that needs to be considered. If your creating problems for mobile if you go image crazy, it might not be the best route to go. People love images so not surprised about the improved results.

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Bradley Anderson March 24, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I’ve been noticing a lot of my posts with nothing but a Youtube video on them have been showing up in the search engines for some reason, although they weren’t before. In fact, I’ve even added a PR. I can’t PROVE that was what caused the increase, but it was within a very short timeframe.
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Kyle Nelson March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

This is great Kim. Thanks for sharing about the importance of Google Fonts. I am for sure going to head over and take a look and see how I can better utilize them. I think having a good balance of videos, photos, and text is optimal for SEO and always try my best to keep it consistent through my site.

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DeAnna Troupe March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

This was good information. I usually try to use a good mix of text, images, and video on my site. I try to always include a text synopsis of videos when I post videos on my blog.
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David Merrill 101 March 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm

This is an interesting topic for all bloggers and website controllers, Kim.

While I really like to mix images and video along with text, my blog posts tend to be mostly text based. I think I will try to do some more audio and visual content along with text.

Then, I’ll take Marty Diamond’s comment (above) to heart and test, test, test. My visitors will be the ultimate judge in my court.
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Joe Hart March 26, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Images are more convenient for visitors who like to quickly scan for information..Look at the success and popularity of Infographics..They are great for reducing the bounce rate and conversions..But i doubt if they are strong enough to top the search results by competing with text-rich pages.

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Steve Borgman March 27, 2013 at 7:13 am

I’ve noticed, quite a bit, the success people have had with posting unique images with text on Facebook. Marc and Angel Hack Life is one example of beautiful, inspirational images that drive a huge amount of interaction. Like Marquita Herald and others have said, my plate’s a bit full right now, but it’s something I need to explore in the future.

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Paul Lee March 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I enjoy sites with images but I try to consider those who are visually impaired. I always considered search engines catching my site a bonus. For those on mobile phones, the website switches so there is no problem there.

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Nikki March 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Because I’m a writer at heart, I don’t think I could ever see myself replacing too much text with visual content. My words are my babies!

I’m getting into inbound video marketing though. A PDF transcript along with the video appeals to my readers who still prefer text to images/videos/infographics (and any other types of media presentation for short attention spans).

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Shelley Alexander March 30, 2013 at 12:41 am

Hi Kim,

The video and info you shared was helpful. I do have alot of pictures on my site because of it being a food blog so I’m glad to know that it can work to my advantage. Thanks for sharing!
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Lee March 31, 2013 at 9:03 am

Hi
I don’t know if images are helping my site in googles eyes or not but I find images help me in anything I am writing about and help me have something to write around. As most people don’t read a whole post anyway I hope images are influential as I will only use them more.

Great post thanks lee

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Michael Shook April 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

The internet runs on words. Even with videos and images it runs on descriptions of those things and gets contextual clues from the words around the images and videos.

And on YouTube, it is still accepted (as far as I know today) to write long descriptions and use a good amount of tags. And tot tile your videos appropriately so that people can read to see what they are about.

Words are not going anywhere. I like lots of images and I like some videos, many are not so good, but those are still accents to words.

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Jupiter Jim April 6, 2013 at 1:20 am

Kimberly,

Thanks for always providing these great videos. Google Web fonts. Good to be reminded of them although I have not used them on any site yet.

And you are so correct when you remind everyone to be cognizant of the fact that images are NOT good for seeing impaired web surfers and the images don’t always look so good on mobile and might not resize properly giving someone a bad mobile experience.

Thanks again for sharing!

~ Jupiter Jim
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Chris April 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

Interesting question and answer video. I wasn’t aware of Google webfonts. That does seem like a decent middle ground. It is good to have more images to decrease bounce rate and interaction, along with alt tags and throwing in Google webfonts can probably only help add to the experience as well. Thanks for posting!

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Beverly Knox April 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Hi Kim am still learning details in using video’s. Reading this posting has made realize that there is a lot more research I need to do. Thanks

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Sarah Arrow April 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Good point about the mobile aspect Kim, I’ll not be changing to all visuals and video any time soon ;)
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