SEO Techniques – A Guide To Optimizing Images For The Search Engines

SEO Techniques – A Guide to Optimizing Images for the Search Engines

Search engines cannot see photos. They have no idea whether you placed the photo of a lion even if your topic for a bullet point is about blackjack. 

However, there is a way to let them know. If you can optimize your blog posts for SEO, you can do the same for images.

Today, you will learn to do exactly just this. 

Why is Optimizing Images for the Search Engines Important?

In Google, the top area of the SERP has recommended images and videos. The search engine itself has an area where users can browse images only or videos only. 

If you are selling a product, or if your blog has a photo that matches the keyword, but it was not named properly to match the keyword, then your image will not show up on the SERP. And if it does not show up, you just lost potential web traffic.

Let us get started!

Name Your Image File with SEO in Mind

If you are writing about a red Ford Mustang and you have a photo of that, you must make sure that at the very least, the image is also called Red Ford Mustang. Most bloggers do not even change the name of their photos. They use what the camera assigned to these photos, like IMG12345.

No one in the world will search for IMG12345 in the search engines. What they will search for is “red ford mustang”. If you use the relevant keyword for the image, Google can understand the content of that image, and index that image accordingly. 

If someone looks for a photo of a Red Ford Mustang, your image will appear on top of the SERP and will get clicks from users. Name your files like you would name a blog post—like as if you are trying to rank for that keyword. If the word “Red Ford Mustang” is not enough, use the entire model name, like, “2012 Red Ford Mustang LX”.

Reduce Your Image File Size

Optimizing images for the search engines is more than just about naming the file correctly. You see, SEO encompasses not just keywords but user experience, too.

If your images are blurry, users will not like what they see. your blog is going to look unprofessional. If you cannot get your images to look crisp and clear, your site visitors will have strong doubts and think that your contents are not valuable. 

As such, they are likely to just scroll down your page and then leave without reading the content. The more blurry images there are, the less likely they get impressed. As your site visitors leave more often, your bounce rate is going to increase, too.

Over time, as Google begins to see that you have a high bounce rate, the algorithm will decide that your blog is not the best page to show to the users. If this happens, Google will no longer rank you high up in the SERPs, but lower.

You do not want this to happen. What you want is to get to the top of the search results pages. Even if images are appropriately titled, it won’t help that much if they are blurry. 

To correct this problem, use images that have really high resolution. Then, reduce the image size with tools like TINY PNG. Never ever upload the full high-resolution image to your blog. Also, you should not reduce the image size from the source code of your blog. 

If you do this, the image may show up as a small thumbnail, but the actual file size remains huge. This is going to drag your website speed and affect user experience

Optimize the Alt Text

The alternative text is not the name of the image. The ALT TEXT is something that you can only name inside your web-builder platform.

Sometimes, Google and other search engines fail to crawl the name of the image, and they need clues as to what the image is about. Search engines go through glitches. Sometimes, the images do not load at all and the search engines cannot read them. If this happens, they read the ALT TEXT or the ALT TAG.

The ALT TAG is also useful for the visually impaired. They have devices that can read out loud to them and say what the image is, and these devices rely on the ALT TAG to read the image.  

The ALT TAG is also a great way to boost your brand visibility in search engines. If your brand name is Black Panther, then you can use that text in the ALT TAG of all your product images. If you are operating a blog, use your blog’s name in the ALT TEXT. 

As always, avoid keyword stuffing, or Google will penalize you. Keep your ALT TEXT at a maximum of 15 words. This number should be enough to tell Google and the visually impaired what the image is all about.

Add a Link to Your Images

This is something that many bloggers forget. If you use an image, link it to something. Make it work as an anchor text. If you can link it to another post, do it. 

Another way to make use of links is to link the image to another website. Use it as an outbound link to tell Google that you are part of a community. Most readers will not click on an image unless you tell them to. 

This is a great way to use images because while you are fulfilling an seo strategy of using outbound links, you are not sending your site visitors away from your website.  

Avoid Decorative Images

Everything that is not a word is an image. What this means is that your website’s background, borders—everything that is not a photo or not a product image, is still an image. These things are called decorative images

Many bloggers go insane when designing their websites. They want lots of colors and they use various backgrounds on their pages. What they do not realize is that this has a negative impact on SEO. 

Backgrounds and borders impair your site’s speed. It does not help in your SEO. If you are a newbie blogger with no technical know-how, you must avoid these altogether. If you know how to code, use GIF and CSS to create your backgrounds and borders. Another option is to use PNG-8 as a file type. 

If you do not know how to do this but you still want to maintain the design, ask for the help of a web developer. There are many that you can find on freelance market websites to help you with this. 


Your images play a crucial role in your organic traffic performance. Most bloggers do not pay too much attention to images, not realizing that they are as equally important as the text itself. Make sure that all your image files are named appropriately, and that they are clear but not heavy.

Never use images that are not reduced in size. They will cause your website to lag. And if they do, your site visitors will bounce. Google will notice this and will rank down your pages.

Use basic SEO optimization techniques for your images. After implementing all these measures, you can start optimizing with more technical techniques, such as changing the image load size from your website’s hard code.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography, and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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