The first thing that came to my mind after I read the article announcing Google’s support for specific XML sitemaps for images was: Why did nobody come with this years ago? Was it so obvious that nobody could imagine it?
Since Google first introduced Sitemaps in June 2005, MSN and Yahoo November 2006, and Ask.com in April 2007 becoming an standard, some new ones appeared like sitemaps for video, sitemaps for news and sitemaps for local search (KML).
Images are a nice resource for gaining organic traffic, and I guess a bulb finally lit in someone’s head and they decided to extend standard sitemaps for content with more image specific tags.
You can create a separate new xml file only for images or update the regular one.
Sitemaps XML structure
This is the structure you can implement:
<image:image> <image:loc>http://www.example.com/picture.png</image:loc> <image:caption>Caption of the image</image:caption> <image:title>Title of the image</image:title> <image:geo_location>Vancouver, Canada</image:geo_location> <image:license>Copyleft: Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada</image:license> </image:image>
The new element <image:image> will have to include two required tags, <image:image> itself and <image:loc>, the rest are optional.
<image:caption> and <image:title> won’t be new places for keyword stuffing, make rational use of then.
I imagine <image:geo_location> can help a bit for local search and I love they thought about to include <image:license> to make robots and users clear what is the legal status of the image.
What is next?
I’m left with two questions that I expect we’ll hear answers to soon:
How much time is it going to take for the rest of search engines to support this? and who is going to be the one creating a WordPress plugin for better image indexation and slower blogs?
In any case this little step represents quite a lot in the hands of a good SEO expert, especially for sites where images are important, though it means some extra work for web developers and one more headache for SEO consultants.