How To Optimize Images for Google Image Search
In the Internet age, you only have eight seconds to capture the attention of your potential viewers, readers, and customers. They don’t say “A picture’s worth a thousand words” for nothing. Internet browsers are looking for visual content more than ever before, and with search engines scanning millions of images every second, it’s important to be sure your images are at their best.
How Image SEO Works
Image SEO involves making sure that all the visual content on your page is easy to crawl, index, and display when a user looks for a particular keyword or phrase. Having an image appear alongside your search result listing has been proven to increase click-through rates, and, in the case of e-commerce websites, can even lead to a jump in conversion rates. By following the practices outlined here, you can be sure that your site is ranking consistently, and ranking well.
Why You Need Images at All
As mentioned, the average person browsing the internet will pay attention to any given piece of information for about eight seconds before deciding whether or not they want to continue giving it their time. That’s where images come in. Images can help turn otherwise boring walls of text into interesting, scannable content that draws readers in and lets them linger. More read time means lower bounce rates, which makes search engines very happy.
The key is relevance; you want images that directly relate to and enhance the content you’re offering without detracting from it by appearing spammy and like useless filler. So how do you keep images relevant? You develop a good image SEO strategy.
Image SEO Basics
When you type something into Google, the AI sorts through every indexed page, looking for relevant terms and authority so that it can show you the best results. The same is true for images; engines will search through images to find relevant resources to the searcher. Unfortunately, search engines can’t see like people can – they have to rely on meta data to understand images, including things like image names, alt text, tags, and descriptions.
Search engines will also look at the context, or the text next to which it appears. If the text is relevant to the query, the image is more credible, and more likely to show up. To rank for context, you need:
An original image that’s highly relevant (i.e., a picture of a dog on a groomer’s website)
High quality images (not blurry or pixelated)
Correctly placed images (the most important image, or feature image, should go at the top of the content)
Correctly applied meta data (accurate alt text, an image title and description, etc.)
A mobile-friendly format (images that aren’t too large, that will show up quickly on a mobile screen)
Google also has a Reverse Image Search function, which can be much more difficult to account for. This function searches the database for visually similar images, relying on measurements and color palettes more than meta data. As of now, there isn’t much you can do to optimize for this other than making sure your images are of a high quality.
Tips to Get Started with Image SEO
Here are some final tips to get you started with image SEO.
Make sure to research keywords. This means looking into competitiveness, search frequency, and related long-tail keywords. Having a pre-established list to work toward will help you narrow down your strategy.
Don’t keyword stuff. Make sure each image is only targeted toward one or two keywords, and that you’re not using too many images to rank for a single keyword. This can come across as spam.
Upload in an internet-friendly format, such as JPEG, PNG, or WebP. GIFs can be good if used sparingly, but are large images that can make load times slower.
Use a good structure for your images’ URLs. Use specific, simple wording to describe your image in a short URL slug.
Always include alt text. Not only is this good for search engines, it’s an accessibility feature for those with visual disabilities.
What Google’s Algorithm is Looking for in Images
Google’s AI can now crawl multiple pages in parallel, creating an index for them quickly which is then used in their search function. This means it’s more important than ever to have good image SEO practices in place. By using highly-relevant, high quality images and providing clear, detailed meta data, you can use images to boost your SEO rankings quickly.