For those who don't know me, I'm Grace Note, a Community Manager for Stack Exchange Inc. It's a pleasure to meet you.
Every two months into a beta site's lifetime, the Community Team receives a set of questions from that period of time, which is used as part of an evaluation of the site's progress and quality. One of the major focuses of this evaluation is how our answers are compared to what can be found elsewhere on the internet, and by extension how discoverable we as a site are.
A consistent element I noticed while performing the most recent reviews for the past four months, is that discoverability of this site appears to be very low. Now, as a Japanese language site that is on an English-speaking network, this is already a difficult place to break into - you have to deal with managing two separate languages and the key elements of search tend to be in Japanese. But there are still some points that could use some improvement.
Perhaps one of the major points is information in images but not in the body. This is one example, wherein the character names and not even the series name is mentioned - a lot of important context is stored within the image. Even though some of the Japanese text is in the body text, it won't show up when searching under the character's name or the series - only if you decide to search for pirates specifically. This is pretty bad.
Another example is this question. Now, I have sympathy for the asker since the kanji is slightly obscured, but it still ends that we have a question that can't be found with the specific info. The answer contains (some) of the text, but that apparently didn't improve searchability a lot - I had a lot of difficulty being able to find this one.
It's not just images, though (and in examples like this one, there's enough data in the body and the answers to find it in both the mistaken split version and the correct combined version). This question, in numerous searches explicitly for the very text that is being asked, I've barely seen our site. In fact, our own tweet of the question showed up higher on Google in one particular search. I can't explain why - it actually mystifies me, but it's still fact. This is one of but many questions where we were just not easy to find at all, when searching for the exact question.
I posted this for two reasons - I want to bring attention to the community that there is this issue, for people to be aware. The traffic to Japanese Language and Usage is actually on a decline, and I feel that this poor searchability is part of the blame of this. The second reason is that I'd like to see what the community thinks for taking steps to address this. An obvious suggestion would be to ensure more of the context that is necessary from images is contained in text. But again, images aren't the only issue - we're still being harmed either because of actual mechanical points (does the furigana hurt us in its current implementation, for example?) or from writings and styles of the question. Think on what could be done to improve the site's findability, post your findings and discuss among your friends what can be done to help this site forge its way into the internet.