I’ll not shoot you on Fifth Avenue (and get away with it) if you have never implemented image SEO tips. Bloggers typically direct all their SEO efforts on text optimization. This may involve many hours spent on keyword research, outlines, and drafts. Ignoring image SEO means denying your site traffic from image search. Making other image mistakes such as uploading unoptimized images can also slow down a website, throwing all SEO efforts to the trash. We’ll be covering all the SEO image mistakes along with the best practises for image optimization. The Google Search Team will be on hand with some of their best recommendations. So let’s get started.
Do images help SEO?SEO is all about being found easily. If some of your images can rank on the first page for a target keyword, they can drive traffic to your site. For instance, if I search for “Green Tea”, I get the following results on page one. The first image from the left is actually from an article titled “10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Green Tea.” It was published on Healthline. By appearances alone, it looks like a Stock Photo. It has been reused countless other times across the web. Most of its usage has been in similar health articles, including several on the benefits of consuming green tea. Let’s explode a common myth: It doesn’t matter if you’re using stock photos or original photos, you can still rank on Google search for the relevant keyword. That’s some pretty exciting news! Still need convincing that images are cool? Well… If you are a stats person, the following image statistics may put a big smile on your face:
- Content with images may receive up to 94 percent more views that plain content (Skyword)
- Tweets that contain images get up to 150 times more retweets. Buffer saw this trend with their tweets.
- 63% percent of searchers on Google Image end up navigating to the image source (Hoosh Technology and ISDIA).
- About 33% of all Google searches are for images (Moz).
- Image Search – Google Images and Bing images.
- Traditional Search Results – Image previews and rich media snippets.
- Content Discovery Platforms – Google Discover and Trending on Bing.
Tip 1: Use high-quality, relevant, and original imagesDon’t just set out to use images so that Google and Bing can show them in their search results. Choosing relevant images is particularly important if people visually search for your content. For instance, if you’re publishing pizza recipes, one of the top search terms is “Pinterest Pizza recipes”. That means people want to see photos. There is a likelihood of getting found if you go the extra mile to take pictures of your pizzas and upload them to your recipe pages. Using stock photography is fine in most cases. But you have the highest chances of standing out if you use original images. People can even reuse images that you have uploaded, and you can earn backlinks. The next piece of advice is using high-quality and appropriately sized images. Good-quality and sharper images are more appealing. They can increase engagement. And we saw in another post how important it is to help your WordPress featured image rank for SEO. Your blog previews may also appear on Discovery, social media, or image search. If the title does not catch the listener’s attention, maybe the image will. You can also increase the chances of featuring on Google Discovery, by uploading compelling, and large images. The widths should be at least 1200 px with max-image-preview:large enabled.
Tip 2: Give descriptive names to your imagesAfter downloading the following image from Unsplash… … it had the following file name: “daniel-ging-U7aTBp53R7E-unsplash” Assume that I’m writing an article on the “Top sites in England for a Day Visit.” It will not improve my SEO efforts if I upload the image without changing the file name. Google states that they check the file name and image URL to better grasp what the image is about. Similarly, I cannot label the image as “Tower”. Your file names need to be descriptive, for instance, “Palace of Westminster.” The URL should be logical, e.g. “example.com/palace-of-webminister.jpg” Not “example.com/U7aTBp53R7E”
Tip 3: “Maybe” it’s time to switch to next-generation file formatsIf you’re saving your images using JPEG or png, run an analysis on PageSpeed Insights for the particular URL. We ran this analysis for a previously published blog post on “What size should a blog post image be?”. PageSpeed Insights recommends that we should serve images in the next-gen formats such as:
- JPEG 2000
- JPEG XR
Tip 4: Use image context to improve image seoAvoid placing images out of place. Take this picture of a dog in a hoodie: Search engines actually look at the text and headings around the image to understand what it’s really about and to deliver accurate ranking. The surrounding content gives the image its context. For instance, we may never rank for the search phrase, “Miniature English Bulldogs” based on the context of this blog. So, consider using relevant images that add value to the page. You don’t want PageRank or Bing’s Machine Learning algorithm to index your page only to wonder, “What did they intend by using this image here?” This is a Hot Image SEO Tip: The text that surrounds your image can help it rank if it includes keywords or phrases that users use to search visually. For instance, If I’m publishing an article on pizza recipes, I may discover that it’s possible to rank for “Pinterest Pizza recipes.” When I upload my pizza recipe photos, the surrounding sentences should contain this keyword. The page should also include optimised metadata and titles. That’s because search engines generate a title and short description from the metadata and title when displaying the image preview in the search results.
Tip 5: Compress images so they can load quicklySquoosh and other popular image compression algorithms can help trim excess fat from your image. While compression results in a loss of information from an image file, compressed images can still look good. Squoosh has compressed the following image by up to 46%. As far as I can tell, the difference in quality is negligible. You should also use the right image sizes for your images. The general recommendation is that images should be the same width as your available content column width. If you want to upload retina-ready images (photos that still look good on superior-quality screens), then you should double this width by a factor of 2. Although, this may result in larger image file sizes.
Tip 6: Make sure to use alt-text, titles, & captionsWhen uploading images to WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or any other CMS, there is a request to fill in a couple of image attributes. So, what is important and what can you leave out?
- a. File Name | Priority: Very important
- b. Title | Priority: Low Importance
- c. Caption | Priority: Mildly important
- d. Description | Priority: Not recommended
- e. Alt-text | Priority: Very Very important
- Consider how users are visually searching for your content;
- Write an alt-text description that accurately describes the image to someone who cannot see it;
- Include at least on main keyword or LSI keywords in the descriptions, but don’t force them;
- Keep it short and sweet;
- Avoid words such as “this is an image or this is a picture of”