How to Optimize Images for SEO

One of the pieces of content that’s frequently overlooked are images. In my post,Are Attractive Images Turning Your Website into a Wallflower? , I reviewed how search engines work and the impact of having too many images as well as the fact that there’s an opportunity to optimize your pictures to help with SEO.

There are hundreds of factors that are taken into consideration when Google is ‘deciding’ which URL’s to display on the first page of search results. In a nutshell those hundreds of factors all boil down to one word, relevancy. A major part of establishing the relevancy of a page has to do with how/if the content within the page has been optimized for search engines.

When search engines crawl the pages of a website, they take into consideration various elements of the page which includes:

  • Title – the most important element of a page and is the text link displayed in search results
  • Meta Data – descriptive information that tells the search engine what the page is about – it is not part of the content that displays on the page itself.
  • Headlines – html (the language web pages are written in) allows for a descending hierarchy of tags that indicate a “headline.” They are H1 – H6 in descending order of importance.  Generally H1 and H2 are the only tags that are viewed as having impact.  Important note:  use one and only one H1 tag on your page.
  • Pictures and Videos – visual elements on a page – (be sure to wrap content around your images)
  • Picture captions and labels – text that describes an image but isn’t part of the image
  • Links  – clickable text or images that connect pages on the internet
  • Body Content – the text within the body of the page


How to Optimize Images for SEO

  1. Alt Tags:  The alt tag is the text that displays in your browser when you hover over an image.  Alt tags are used to describe the image and it’s intended purpose is to help people who can’t see the images on the web page.  It’s important to use it for its intended purpose, but it can also be used to incorporate keywords. Alt tags should be kept short and to the point.
  2. Long Description:  In many content management systems such as WordPress there is the ability to add a long description.  This is an opportunity to expand on the content in the alt tag, just keep in mind that it needs to make sense and be relevant to what is in the image.
  3. File Name: utilize your keyword in the structure of your file name – here’s a great article on how to create an SEO Friendly URL struture from Kevin Vertommen in the webdesign tuts+ blog.
  4. File Size: site speed is important to Google so having well optimized images is important.

How to optimize images for SEO, Dog with sunglasses and cameraYou took a lot of time to select images for your web pages, maybe you even took them yourself (doubtful a dog took them, but I thought the picture was cute), now you want to take the few extra minutes it takes to make sure that Google can “see” your images clearly by adding text based content to the image.

Originally I was going to include specific examples, but I found a post by Neil Patel on the Quick Sprout blog that gave such great examples on how to do each of these I thought it best to direct you to his post, How to optimize images for better search engine rankings.  In addition to the basics, he also includes some more advanced tips such as GEO location.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to optimize your website for SEO, check out the following articles:


Which tip are you going to start using to optimize your images?