7 Tips for Better Image SEO

Travis Bliffen
by Travis Bliffen 29 Aug, 2016

For the longest time photos were an afterthought to bloggers and webmasters. To some, they were thought of as eye candy; something that makes your page look nicer, but really doing nothing to improve SEO rankings, site health, or the conversion rates of your page but that is no longer the case. 

From attracting shoppers searching Google images to cutting down the site load time, image optimization plays a critical role in setting up a successful marketing campaign. Spending just a little more time fine-tuning your image optimization process can turn your page from a piece of eye candy to a traffic magnet. Here are a few tips to get you started.


1. Using the Right Image


Finding just the right image that seamlessly fits with your content message and page mood is a great first step towards success. If you don't have your own custom-made images, there are plenty of platforms offering free stock images you can choose from. If you are selling a product online, investing in the services of a professional photographer to capture your product from multiple angles is a no-brainer. 


2. Using the Best File Format


After you have decided on which images you would like to use; it is time to think about the file format that will perfectly suit your needs. The three common formats are: GIF, JPEG and PNG. If you are not familiar with the three file types, here is a great comparison to help you decide which file type to use for each scenario you may encounter.


3. Optimize Image File Names


An average digital camera usually assigns numeric file names to each image as you take. So it is very likely that photos in your database still have names like "00007.jpg," which says nothing about how the photo will be used or what it contains. Search engines are currently not able to view an image and find out what it contains, so this means that they rely on surrounding text such a file name and tags to determine where the image should show in the search results. 


4. Stop Leaving "Alt Text" Empty


Alternate text is used by screen readers for the blind and in some cases when an image cannot be loaded. It is also viewed by search engines to determine what the photo is about. Even so, there are countless websites (ecommerce included) that are not taking the time to properly optimize this area. Like the file name, the alt text should be descriptive of the image and include terms related to your primary keyword. 


5. Add a Caption Under Your Photo


A study by KissMetrics found that the caption under an image gets read 300 percent more often than the body text. If you have a concise message that you want to convey to site visitors, this is a great place to add it. Other results from the study suggested that images reduce bounce rates and increase conversions so, add them and caption them when appropriate.


6. Create Image Sitemaps 


When you have a website with a lot of images and rich media like videos, it is important to create dedicated site maps to increase indexation. In addition to creating image site maps, you can also add Google Image extensions to provide additional information to them about your images.


7. Include Open Graph Tags


Since you have gone through all the work to get and optimize your images you may as well make sure they are easy to share. Adding Open Graph Tags makes it easy to share properly formatted images. This in turn increases click-through-rates and engagement on your posts, ultimately drawing more users to your site. 


Bonus Tip


Don't forget, images have a unique URL just like pages on your website. Building links to your images can help you appear higher in image search and in local search results as well.