Do photos of your hotel or tours generate love-at-first-sight bookings? Image search engine optimization is how you get found by travelers who search for hotels, vacation packages, and adventure tours using Google Image Search (or Bing Images Search if you prefer). Optimizing for image search is one more way to increase traffic and bookings by getting your travel and hospitality photos ranked by your name, destination, and activity. Plus learn how to get more clicks on your travel photos using the embedded text trick.
Web Search Versus Image Search for Travel
Searching for hotels and tours by keyword on Google returns a standard search results page. If you are like most travel marketers, you work hard to get your tourism business to rank high on your targeted name, destination, and vacation activity keywords. When searching for travel, Google includes other bits of information on the page such as sponsored links, maps, and even hotel prices with a “Book Now” button.
When you search by image using for example images.google.com (or your local country equivalent – results will vary), the search results page is entirely different. Instead of text links and other distracting elements that may direct traffic away from your website, a colorful array of photos appears. Google indexes photos in the same way they index text content. So that is why it is essential to optimize your hotel and tour photos to rank high for image search as part of your SEO strategy.
Probably the most common way that people conduct image searches for travel is indirectly. That means they’ll open up a browser and type in various search terms. Then after taking a quick glance at the list of pages that match, people may click the “Images” link to see the photo results page.
Switching to image results is done via the navigation header bar by clicking the “Images” button or hyperlink that appears on desktop and mobile. This causes the search results display to change to the photo results page for the same set of keywords, travel or otherwise.
Give it a try yourself using for example “Miami South Beach Hotel” or “Cape Cod B&B” or “Galapagos Tour” and view the image search results page. Can you see how this visual way of searching for accommodations and things to do on vacation is powerful and effective? Would your guests be highly influenced to book a place to stay or a package tour based on your photos?
Tour Image Search Results Example
Google image search is the prime example here. Clicking the images link changes to a stunning full-page view of travel photos to be inspired to book that next trip.
Clicking on the image of the people kayaking (for example) leads to a details box as in the screenshot below. Note that related images from the same website are automatically shown in addition to a button to visit the web page to go to the source for a travel photo.
B&B Image Search Results Example
The image search results in Bing has an added advantage. It includes a panel of suggested search terms that others have used to conduct similar travel searches.
So if the original search terms are not specific enough, one click is all it takes for that person to dig deeper into nearby places to stay and things to do on vacation.
How does Image Search Work?
So how does Google “see” every photo from your travel website to index it for search by relevant keyword? There’s no human involved. Google uses its massive server and storage infrastructure to analyze images, associate relevant keywords, and index them for inclusion in search results. It is just like the algorithm that is used to index the text content on your web pages with a few important modifications.