4 minute read

Image SEO is an often overlooked but useful on-page SEO strategy.

Find out what you might be missing if you aren’t optimizing your images, and learn how to create SEO-friendly images for your pages and posts.

What is Image SEO?

Image SEO refers to the optimization of graphics on a website to make the page more appealing to search engine crawlers. Image SEO provides additional information about a graphic to search engines, which helps them understand the content and can lead to a boost in search rankings and visibility. It also can lead to an image appearing in Google’s image search.

image SEO search results

Image search has become increasingly important in the past year. In February 2018, Google removed the “view image” button in its image search results, which led more people to go to the website to view the image.

With this small change, websites started to notice an increase in traffic through image search. Some pages saw a 37% increase in the number of site visitors.

Image SEO can drive more traffic to your site through image search and help your pages rank. So how do you name images for SEO and optimize your graphics?

Image SEO can drive more traffic to your site through image search and by helping your pages rank. Click To Tweet

8 Image SEO Best Practices

Follow these steps to learn how to add SEO-friendly images to your site.

1) Add at least one image

As a best practice for SEO, always include at least one image or graphic on a page. An image shows search engines that the page is valuable and engaging and will, therefore, be useful to searchers. Plus, images benefit readers as they make content both easier to scan and understand.

2) Use high-quality images

Images will be more engaging and interesting to your audience if they are high quality. If possible, create custom graphics that are unique to your pages. This will help you stand out in image search.

Don’t forget: More users are clicking through images they find in search to view the image on the webpage. So publishing SEO content with unique, optimized images could result in higher website traffic for your site.

image SEO link to site

If you can’t create custom graphics, include graphics that don’t look like stock photos that have been reproduced on dozens of sites. Be sure to use images you have purchased and/or have license to use to avoid copyright infringement.

3) Choose the best file type

Image file types can affect the way a graphic loads or appears on a webpage. So when you add a graphic, choose the best file type for the intended use.

Primarily use:

  • JPGs for photos
  • PNG for most custom graphics, screenshots, and logos (PNG files have a transparent background.)
  • SVG for custom graphics or logos that will be viewed in many different sizes (SVG files scale to a variety of sizes without losing quality.)
  • GIFs for animated or moving graphics

4) Use appropriate image file sizes

Images that are large can slow down website load times. Slow load times lead to bad user experiences and poor long-term SEO results. So use image SEO best practices for sizing. Resize image files (not just the display image size) to the intended display size, and compress large files before you upload them to your site.

5) Add and optimize the image alt tag

Do image alt tags help SEO? The answer is yes. Search crawlers can read and understand words, but they can’t see images. Alt tags, otherwise known as “alt attributes” and “alt descriptions” help them process an image without seeing it by telling the search engine what the graphic is.

In addition to helping with SEO, image alt tags also help internet users. Some people have image displays turned off, their browsers can’t load graphics because of a weak web connection, or they are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment. In these cases, the image alt tag tells the reader what the graphic is. So adding image alt tags can improve both user and search crawler experiences.

image seo alt tags example

How to Write SEO-Friendly Alt Text for Your Images

  • Include the page’s target keyword in at least one image alt tag.
  • Keep your alt text short.
  • Differentiate the alt text on each image on your page.
  • Create alt text with your reader in mind, not just search crawlers.
Do image alt tags help SEO? The answer is yes. Click To Tweet

6) Add the target keyword to the image title

Another way to create SEO-friendly images is by incorporating the target keyword in the image title. The image title is another tag that identifies and describes the graphic. It is not as important as the alt tag, but it is still relevant and should be used. For image SEO best practices, use the same phrasing for your image alt tag and image title.

7) Add the target keyword to the image file name

The file name is another tag or label connected to an image. This is the name of the image file that is uploaded to a website. This label should also include the page’s target keyword and match the format of the image alt tag to help with keyword optimization.

naming images for SEO

8) Add image-structured data

Structured data, also referred to as schema markup, are another way to add backend details to an image to help search engines understand it. Structured data also increase the chances that an image can show up as a rich result on SERPs, so add it to important images.

image structured data example

Example of Image Structured Data via Schema.org

For a guide on how to add structured data to your images, check out this post: Schema Markup 101: How to Create Rich Results and Boost SEO

Optimize Your Image SEO and Improve Search Performance

Image SEO is just one part of on-page SEO. Image SEO, keyword optimization, and other SEO copywriting best practices must work together for optimal performance.

To find out if a page is fully optimized, use Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker. It checks image SEO elements like alt-tags and filenames, and identifies other on-page SEO opportunities that can help you improve a page’s SEO.

check image SEO using Alexa

As you write, you can also use an on-page SEO checklist to ensure your pages include all the important elements.

Once you’re confident your on-page and image SEO are in good shape, look at the bigger SEO picture. Be sure your site is optimized for all other types of SEO to achieve the best results from search. Use Alexa’s Site Audit and other SEO tools to ensure your pages follow best practices for on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

Start optimizing your site today. Sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan to run a full on-page and technical SEO audit on your content.

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