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Image SEO: 7 Best Practices to Optimize Images

Similar to content, images also impact the ranking of your web page within the SERPs. In the US alone, 20% of searches happen in Google Image. However, simply adding any random picture to your webpage will ruin your existing content marketing strategy. Ultimately, you will miss out on a significant percentage of potential visitors.

According to Google: You can aid by making sure that your images and your site are optimized for Google Images. It further said to adapt their guidelines to improve the chances of ranking higher in Google Images search results.

But the question is how to prepare images for SEO? How can you make sure to stand out amid millions of other businesses?

Google Image Search considers the following factors when ranking your images on SERPs:

1. Compress Your Photos to Reduce File Size

Website loading speed is an important SEO ranking factor. Maile Ohye discusses website loading speed in Google Webmaster video and says, "2 seconds is the benchmark for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we shoot for under a half-second."
And you should too for an edge over your competitors!

But did you know that images make up a considerable portion of your website's weight? The large size will slow down the page loading time and frustrate the users, who will eventually move on to other web pages. This will increase your site's bounce rate, a prime measure of your credibility in the eyes of Google.

To prevent this issue, your visuals need to load fast.

The best way to reduce your image file size is by compressing them before uploading. With compression, you will be decreasing the weight without changing the picture's dimensions, quality, or visual appearance.

You can take help from SEO plugins like WP Smush to lighten the weight of your files. After optimizing your images, go to Google's PageSpeed Insights tool and do a speed test to see the site's load time.

2. SEO-Friendly Alt Text for Images

The alt text in your images helps Google understand what the picture is about and whether it is relevant to the search term. They are also helpful for visually impaired users as screen readers will read them aloud.

Google emphasizes alt text optimization and suggests that it is essential "to understand the image's subject matter."

For instance, Google shows an example of what a bad and good alt text looks like:

SEO Friendly Alt Text for images

Alt-text is also an opportunity to subtly add keywords, so you can gradually gain traction in Google Image Search results. However, avoid stuffing keywords within your alt text, as Google strongly condemns this practice.

3. Use Relevant File Names

The file name is another factor search engine algorithms consider when determining how relevant your page is to a specific keyword.

The best way of doing this is by using the subject's name as the file name.

Many marketers disregard this element and leave the file name set to a default title. However, Google gets confused when your images are named something generic like 'IMG1234.jpg.'

So, instead of using a random label, change the file name to a relevant term. This will make it easy for Google bots to read and understand your file names.

As a general rule of thumb, file names should ideally be between 1-5 words. Google also suggests that images "should be named descriptively" for easy identification. It means that if your site features pants, you can name your photos something like 'Blue-Trousers.jpg' or 'Black-Pants.jpg.'

Specifying the file name helps Google better understand your content and will help you rank higher in Google Image Search results.

4. Ensure Your Images are of High Quality

When it comes to visuals, quality is critical. People love looking at beautiful images and will click on them if they are intrigued. Well, Google loves it too and will rank you higher if your pictures boast good quality.

But the thing is: not every business can invest in photographers to create appealing imagery. In that case, turn towards stock pictures for a great and affordable option. Several sites offer budget-friendly stock photos in multiple niches to suit your brand's requirements.

The point here is to use high-quality visuals to provide a great user experience to your customers. This will help you get more clicks and signal Google's algorithm about your relevancy to the particular keyword.

5. Avoid Getting Sued

This is the most critical part of your image optimization strategy. You may go through all efforts to ensure your pictures are suitable for Google, but if you use images that are copyrighted without permission, you will get sued.

For instance, a postal service was sued for $3.5 million for a copyright lawsuit when they used the visuals owned by some other brand. The brand claimed its right, and as a result, DCMA issued a notice to the postal service.

The same incident can happen to your website as well if you use pictures that you don't have permission to use. So, when you use a photo - even a stock image, make sure you are aligned to the terms and conditions.

If you get caught using copyright content, you will get a penalty from Google and risk your brand's reputation by getting sued.

6. Devise an Image Sitemap

Sitemaps are generally reserved for web pages. However, they are essential for the picture files too. If you have a lot of images on your site, consider making an image sitemap and submit it to Google using the Google Search Console. WordPress will automatically create one for you through its plugins.

Sitemaps basically help Google crawl your site more efficiently. If you have many images that are difficult to crawl, sitemaps can aid Google with crawling your site.

Moreover, users searching for an image will quickly find the right one as it's directly linked from Google's Image Search results.

7. Make Images Mobile-friendly

If you think of mobile-friendliness, it's usually about page speed and design. But images should also be made responsive, so they load with optimal resolution on different devices.

If you are using WordPress, the system is entirely responsive. It ensures your content loads seamlessly regardless of the screen size.

However, if you are using a different CMS, you have to give a new value to the width property. When you integrate the code, the images will automatically adjust to fit the size of the screen.


To conclude, optimizing images can help your website get indexed faster by Google and rank better on the results page. Image optimization is a trending topic for SEO and UX. Hence, you should know what it takes to get your images indexed faster while keeping the experience suitable for users. Follow the above guidelines and make it easier for your site to gain visibility.

Author Bio:

Amos StruckAmos Struck has a passion for digital marketing and visual imagery. He is an entrepreneur and stock imagery expert. Amos has been associated with the marketing industry for many years and strives to share his knowledge with others.