Image Optimisation Tips

Image optimisation is one of the most overlooked aspects of on-page SEO. Use these simple tips to get your images working for you in the search engines as well as making your website look pretty!

1. Find the right images

Finding the right image is actually a lot more important than many people realise. Great images can add another dimension to an article or page and they can encourage people to share your content – and as you should know by now this helps to create some great backlinks for free! Research has shown that while text is still the first thing we see on the page, the image is what sells the page.

Here are some of the best places to actually find images:

  • Flickr – Probably the de facto service for finding free images. They have a really useful creative commons search as well.
  • stock.xchng – Weird name, but a ton of royalty-free stock images.
  • iStockPhoto – Large selection of stock photos that you can buy.

You can also use Google Images to find images for your site, as long as you search for images with the proper licensing. (They allow you to search Creative Commons and other public licenses.) But you have to be very careful when using images, because if you don’t have the owners permission to reuse it then they can (and will!), take legal action against you.

The general rule of thumb here is this: if the image isn’t Creative Common licensed or you didn’t buy or create it, don’t post it.

2. Use the keyword(s) in the file name

Just like keywords in post urls and page content, having your keywords in the your images is vital for good search engine rankings, especially if you have an image-rich site. Using keyword in your image file name is important for helping the search engines to determine relevancy. For example, the image above was originally named “iStock_000004221245XSmall.jpg” which doesn’t add much information about this web page. It has been renamed to “image-optimization.jpg”. Of course, most images that are not simply decorative like the one above are literal and connected to the content of the page such as a photo of a product.  If the above image were used in an article about eye color, then the file name should reflect that.

Google suggests that you should place your images in one folder on your site, versus placing them in random folders throughout the site. Another suggestion from Google related to file names or URLs of images is to make sure you use common image filetypes such as JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.

3. Create descriptive alt text

Alt text or tags are another way that search engines help determine what your image is about. Unlike traditional web content, search engines can’t determine the text content of an image. (Search spiders are pretty smart, but as far as I know they haven’t developed eyes yet.) As a result, search engines need to rely on captions around the image, alt text, file names and other surrounding text. Adding descriptive text in the alt tag helps the search engines determine what the content of the image is.

If an image is used as navigation, ie as a link to another page, be sure to use alt text that is meaningful to the content of the page being linked to.


4. The right anchor text


Anchor text is another important factor in image SEO. If you decide to link to images with text, your anchor text can play a role in how your image is ranked for keywords. Use descriptive anchor text that describes the image.  For example, linking to an image using a generic term like “image” or “photo” or a file name that doesn’t use keywords doesn’t give search engines much meaningful information on what the image is about. Linking to an image with keywords is helpful to search engines as well as people visiting your site.


5. Make sure the image matches the content


The content surrounding the image should be related to all of the things that you’ve optimized thus far: anchor tags, image url, alt tags. When these things align, it helps search engines confirm that you’re not spamming and that the image is of higher quality and relevant.


6. Don’t stuff


This goes for all kinds of SEO, but we’ll say it again just for clarity: don’t keyword stuff when filling out things like image alt text. Your alt text, captions and file names should be short and descriptive, not a long list of keywords. Remember to optimize images for your website visitors. Image SEO is as much about user experience as it is about achieving better search engine rankings.


Categories: On-Page SEO

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