by Chris Reid

Image Optimization for SEO


Adding an image to a blog post or article can be a great way to not only engage human readers, but also improve the search engine optimization of your site. To make the most of your images, you need to follow these tips to make sure they are working hard to boost your site’s search rankings.


Use Unique Images


Just as original articles are better for SEO than content that has been scraped from another site, unique images are the gold standard when it comes to visual content. Wherever possible, create your own images to illustrate your blog or company website. Adding pictures of your own team to your site can create a more open, authentic appearance, which could help to build your reputation among your readers. If you can’t create your own images, use Flickr to search for creative commons images that are likely to be less widely used than those found on free stock photo sites. Remember – unique content is what will get you noticed online.


Add Image Alt Text


Google can’t just look at your images and know what they depict. Instead, it gets this information from the tags that are attached to each image. That’s why you should always set these tags, rather than leaving them blank. In particular, you should set the alt text attribute to be a keyword-rich description of the image. You can do this in HTML using the following format:


<img src=”” alt=”keyword-rich description”>


In general, you want to keep the alt text below 125 characters. Include keywords where relevant, but – as always – don’t stuff them. You only need to set the alt text for images that are relevant to your content; you should leave it blank for backgrounds and theme elements.


Optimize Image File Names


If the images on your website currently have generic names, such as IMG_210986_48678.jpg, then you could be missing out on an opportunity for optimization. Using file names for your images that describe what each one actually shows not only makes the files easier for you to handle, but could also improve SEO.


You should use keywords in your file names for two reasons. First, it lets Google know what your image depicts. Secondly, these file names are used in image URLs. All URLs on your site should be optimized, as they could influence search rankings.


Keep your file names as short as possible, so they don’t become unwieldy. If you need to separate words in the file name, SEO experts consider that using a hyphen between each word is best practice.


Choose the Right File Size


Image files that are too large take a long time to load, which could lead to users giving up and navigating away from your site. This activity will increase your bounce rate, which Google takes as a sign that your site should be moved down in the search engine results pages. Reduce the resolution of your image files until they are just large enough to display properly on a large desktop monitor. There are tools that can help you reduce an image file size while maintaining an acceptable level of quality, such as ImageOptim or JPEGMini.


Tag Your Images for Social Sharing


If you are buying content to use on your website, you want readers to share that unique content on social media and therefore increase the visibility of your brand. Adding an image tag to the header of a website page ensures that the correct image is displayed whenever that page is shared. Add the following HTML to the <head> section of the page:


<meta property=”og:image” content=””/>


This code causes the image “image.jpg” to be shown when the page is shared. Without this tag, it’s possible that an irrelevant image, such as part of the site template, could show instead.


Adding images to your blog is a great way to make it more engaging for human readers. If you follow the above tips, then your images could also become useful SEO elements of your site.