Image SEO is the act or methodology of optimizing your website’s images to increase your search rankings.
A lot of webmasters forget that optimizing your images is a important part of SEO.
Did you know that 78% of all on-page SEO issues are related to images. This means that images have a large impact on your website’s search engine rankings.
In this article, I am going to explain how to optimize your website images for better search engine rankings and better usability.
With some small changes to your website’s images, you can increase the chances of better rankings and better usability of your website.
Let’s go through the basic changes to optimize your images for SEO:
Images and User Experience
Using images that relate to the content is important for a better user experience (which increases SEO).
If your article or post is about dogs then you shouldn’t have pictures of cats on the page.
Images should be good quality, un-pixelated and large enough to be visible across all devices.
The best type of images to use are images you create yourself…
Try and stay away from free stock photo sites as they are often used by hundreds of other people.
Using images on your website can increase the user experience by separating content, creating a visual appeal and providing a smooth transition from one section to another.
Looking at the images below, which piece of content do you think looks better?
This example shows how a web page should have images to break up content and provide a visual release from text blocks.
The naming convention of your files is very important when optimizing your images.
Your filename should include descriptive, content-rich keywords about the image itself.
Google even says that:
The filename can give Google clues about the subject matter of the image. Try to make your filename a good description of the subject matter of the image.
So make sure that every image you upload has a keyword-focused description that explains the image and content.
This is our main image for this post that has the main post title separated by hyphens (I always use the post title as the main image filename).
Note: Google prefers dashes/hyphens instead of underscores according to Matt Cutts.
Changing the filename can be as easy as right-clicking on the image and choosing rename.
Alternatively, if you use Photoshop or another image editor, you can just save your images with the right filename so you don’t have to change them later.
<img src="image-seo-boost-rankings.jpg" />
- Every image should have a descriptive filename that explains the image
- Use dashes instead of underscores or spaces for filenames
- Use a few keywords of your page in filenames
The title attribute does not have any potential SEO benefits but it provides a good user experience by providing a text description of an image when you hover over it.
Ideally, all of your images should include the title tag.
If you are using WordPress then the title attribute will be automatically populated with the name of the image (minus the image extension).
Make sure you remove the hyphens or dashes from the Title field for a more friendly description.
<img src="image-seo-boost-rankings.jpg" alt="boost rankings with image SEO" title="Image SEO"/>
- Title attribute does not affect SEO
- Automatically populated from the filename in WordPress
- Shows when you hover over the image
- Do not use the same text as alt text
The most important tag on the image element is the alt tag. The alt tag stands for alternative text and is the text description of the image.
Search engines use this information to figure out what images are about on web pages since the crawlers are text-based and can’t see the images.
This is a great opportunity to use your page or post keywords to describe your image.
Alt text should be descriptive, concise and to the point but not spammy. Do not stuff a bunch of random keywords in your alt-text or you may get dinged by Google.
A great way to write alt-text is to pretend that you are explaining the image to someone who can’t see it.
<img src="image-seo-boost-rankings.jpg" alt="boost rankings with image SEO"/>
- Populate Alt Text for every image
- Alt text should describe the image
- Don’t stuff a bunch of keywords in the alt text
Captions & Descriptions
In WordPress, you have even more options for adding information to your images.
Captions don’t have any SEO benefit but they can help user experience by giving even more information about the image.
Captions show up underneath your image to describe or explain the image.
Simply add your caption underneath the title field in the ‘edit image’ screen.
The size of your images and how fast they load for your users have a strong impact on your website rankings.
When someone lands on your website and images don’t load, it’s likely they will leave fast, which will hurt your time-on-page and SEO.
So how can you make your images load faster?
- Crop images to the max length of your content area (for example if your website is 1028px wide, none of your images should be larger in width than 1028px)
- Reduce the quality of the image enough to reduce file size but keep a good quality photo
- Use .PNG when possible since they are smaller than JPEGs.
- Show thumbnails and link to the larger image.
You can also use free tools like PunnyPNG to compress your images making them smaller in size.
- Crop images to max width of the website
- reduce color depth but keep image quality
- Use .PNG file type when possible
- Show thumbnails and link to larger image
- Use an image compressor