This is part of a continuing series on blog design and search engine optimization.
I used to wonder why most of the traffic my sites generate was based on keyword searches, when I include photography in the vast majority of my posts. I have since learned a few techniques to get Google, Yahoo, and the rest of the major search engines to list my sites in searches, and the purpose of this post is to pass along that knowledge to my fellow bloggers.
1. Images directly uploaded to Blogger get ignored. Sorry, but that's how it is, Bubba. There are theories about why search engines ignore Blogger-uploaded images, but the bottom line is you need to be using an external image host - such as Flickr or ImageShack - and then take the image's static URL from the host. Enter this URL instead of uploading the image from your computer.
2. Always, always, always use the ALT tag. If you look at the code produced by Blogger, you will see the letters "ALT," and in between the quotation marks that immediately follow this tag you can enter text. Be sure to use as much unique and wordy information as possible; "George W. Bush eating a Maine lobster with a napkin around his neck" will generate much more attention than a bland "GWB."
3. Tell Google your site has worthy images. You need to sign up with Google and list your sites, which you can do under Webmaster Tools. There is also a "Enhanced Image Search" function that is critical: be sure to check the box marked "I would like to enable enhanced image search on my site and am authorized to opt into this advanced service." Immediately after doing this I saw a jump of about 100 visitors a day.
4. Upload and link to the largest photos you can get away with. Bigger is not always better, but I have noticed that the first page of image results tends to show a preference toward larger images. Thus, that 400x400 pixel image is ranked higher than an identical image of 100x100 pixels.
More later on this topic, but in the meantime just open up a couple of folding tables and sell some lemonade to the tons of traffic your site will generate by following these tips.