Image SEO: How to Optimize Images for Search Results 2021

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I know till now you might be thinking that image SEO is just all about adding alt tags on your images and you’re good to go. Sorry for busting your bubble but there’s more to image SEO than just alt tags & naming your images.

Google’s recent advances in machine learning indicates that they’re already able to determine the contents of images without relying on alt tags at all.

That known, now the big question is what is it you have to focus on when it comes to image SEO? Is it even possible to optimize images for search at all?!

In this guide, we’ll be covering just that & much more.

What is image SEO?

This is the process of optimizing visual content on your site for search results to make it stand out for both search engines and your audience. Based on how SEO-friendly your images are, the better SEO results in terms of web and image search you have.

Just as your content should match the idea of your site, attached images should as well be related. If the visual usage performed by your website doesn’t match with SEO’s expectations, you will get a lower SEO ranking.

Why is image SEO important?

Google shows more images in web search results than ever before. What was previously allocated to two or three images has now expanded to five or more. With this in mind, it’s time for you to focus more on image SEO and its impact on your brand marketing and appeal.

Industry monitors tracking Google results have reported a significant spike in image results. In fact, the image search result box is now popping up for 1/3rd of all search queries. This has seen images in the Top 10 soar from 24% occurrence to a 34% occurrence. This sudden spike in image search started around April 13 2019 and continues to dominate searches in May.

How to optimize images for search results.

1. Name images appropriately.

This a pretty easy step that many don’t do.

You should take your time to customize the filename before adding it to your site. Change it to something that’s relevant to the image and, if possible, includes one of your target keywords for the page.

Most of your site visitors will never see the filename, but it gives you a way to provide the search engines a little more information about what’s on the page and the best keywords to associate with it.

2. Use alt txt.

This is also a part of the webpage that most visitors won’t see, but search engine crawlers do. Try & provide an alt txt for every image on your site this way, it’ll show up in place of you image if a browser has trouble loading it.

Always update the alt text for your images. Include your primary keyword for the page and something descriptive of the image itself.

add alt tags -image seo

Alt text just needs to:

  • Be relevant, accurate, and write for user accessibility (and SEO)
  • Be descriptive and specific
  • Be relevant 

3. Use quality relevant images.

This is important for the user experience side of SEO. An image that’s unrelated to the content on the page will be confusing for the use. Ensure that every image you use has a clear relationship to what’s on the page and looks good.

Try as much to be careful not to use any images that you don’t have the rights to, but you can find lots of resources online that provide free images businesses can use. And DIY design tools like Canva now make creating original graphics affordable, fast, and easy, even for non-designers.

4. Decrease image size to for faster loading of your site.

You have created images for your site now it’s time to load it to your site. Not quiet yet though.

File size of an image is much larger than it needs to be for the size it will show up on your website. Taking a few seconds before you load it to reduce the file size can ensure it won’t slow your website down.

There are a number of open-source/free tools to help with this, including: 

After resizing, you can still make your image file size smaller without sacrificing quality by compressing them. Check out tools like TinyPNG and JPEGmini to make this process easy.

5. Create image sitemap to get them indexed faster.

Google encourages website owners to submit a sitemap to them to help them better crawl your pages and get them added to the index. They also allow you to include images in your sitemap or alternately, create a separate image sitemap to submit. Sitemaps make it easier for search engines to crawl content.

If you use WordPress with Rank Math SEO – images will be automatically added to your sitemap, as per your sitemap configuration

6. Use content delivery network(CDN) to serve images.

The origin server that hosts all of the data & content making it possible to serve visitors complete web pages are often not always very close to every single one of your visitors. This is where content delivery networks (CDNs) come in.

A content delivery network refers to a globally distributed network of servers that work together to serve content to visitors regardless of where they are faster. 

Here are some of the options:

  • Cloudflare
  • Amazon CloudFront
  • Google Cloud CDN

7. Use schema for products , recipes, where relevant.

Schema markup is one more tool you have for telling Google what’s on a page.

Google uses the Schema Markup types that are present on pages where images are present to display a relevant badge in Google Image Search (especially on mobile). 

To be eligible for these, simply:

8. Use lazy load.

Lazy loading is a technique that can increase your website loading speed by having your website wait to load the images lower on the page last.

If you use WordPress, the easiest way to implement lazy loading is with a plugin. Lazy loading is one of many features included in the JetPack plugin.

What is image SEO?

Image SEO is the process of optimizing the images on your website so they are easy for search engines to “read” and find, consequently improving the visibility and rankings of your content in Google and other search engines.

How does image SEO work?

9 Steps to Optimize Images for SEO
Resize your images. Image size and file size are not the same thing.
Optimize image file names.
Use alt tags.
Optimize the image title.
Include captions.
Use unique images.
Ensure that your text complements the images.
Add image structured data.

How do you rank higher on Google Images?

How to Rank in Google Image Search?
Upload high-quality, unique images that are optimized for the web.
Use descriptive file names.
Place the images on the first fold of your content/product pages.
Add contextual images in the middle of the content/product pages.
Add valid Image Alt Text and image description.

How do I optimize images for Google?

Image SEO: summary
Use a relevant image that matches your text.
Pick a good file name for your image.
Make sure image dimensions match the image size as displayed.
Use srcset if possible.
Reduce file size for faster loading.
Add a caption, if appropriate, for easier scanning of the page.
Use image alt text.


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