Image SEO Best Practices

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Picture with SEO wordsIn this text I address the question of image SEO best practices. This issue is frequently overlooked. However there are many details related to the image SEO which, when taken together and when done properly, may considerably increase your chances for a good ranking.

Images are important from esthetical point of view. Visually attractive (which typically implies pictures and videos) posts and pages are known to attract far more bookmarks. So this is already related to the SEO issues as you will have more backlinks pointing to your site. But there is even more to this, and this I describe in the text below.

There are 4 places and elements of the image where you can use your targeted keyword, or some of its variant or synonyms, and tags. Therefore use the opportunity to increase your chances for better ranking. The text in particular addresses:

  • The image title SEO.
  • The image Alt Text SEO.
  • The image names SEO.
  • The image size for SEO.

[J. S. Bach: Fantasia c-moll BWV 921]


Image title SEO

Practical aspects of the image title are described in my another text. Regarding the SEO the following tips will be useful:

  • The title is not for machines, this is for your visitors. They show when you hover over the image (if you have done it properly, see how to do it here).
  • If you have not used the targeted keyword elsewhere (image file name, Alt Text, figure description), then use it here. Otherwise use something else. It can be call for action as well.
  • Instead of the targeted keyword you can use different synonyms or tags in Alt Text and image title, and make them different in these two places, this can only be beneficial.
  • Make it relevant to the text, and catchy, just as you would do with the post title.

Image Alt Text SEO best practices

Alt Text is one of several details which you normally put into your picture. It is is used in the following ways:

  • By search engine crawlers. Namely this is practically the only information which they might get about your image, together with the image file name. Those search machines do not see the picture itself.
  • By people with visual handicaps, who also use help of some machines, screen readers. So in this case, obviously Alt Text is related to good user experience and Google will reward you if you provide an adequate information for your picture.
  • Sometimes images are turned off by users in case of a slow connection. But the Alt Text will remain and the user will still have some extra information related to the missing picture.

About Alt Text in WordPress and about all other necessary technical details which you need to know in order to properly add a picture to the post or page you can read in my separate text here with this site. This includes where to find free images, which image size to use, etc. In the present text however, I write only about Alt Text SEO. In other words, this is about how to use Alt Text for images for a better ranking.

Useful tips related to image Alt Text SEO:

  • Avoid keyword stuffing. If you have used the targeted keyword in the image file name or in the image title, then you will not use it in Alt Text.
  • Use some synonyms instead, some variant of the targeted keyword, some word from tags (if it is the matter of a post; nowadays pages in WordPress do not have tags). In other words, make it keyword reach without keyword stuffing.
  • Do not make a story here. Ideal number of words which Matt Cutts from Google recommends is 7, see the video below.

One more practical reason why not to miss Alt Text attribute

When you pin your images to Pinterest, your Alt Text appears there with the picture. So you need not typing anything extra, two jobs done at once, see the picture below left.

If you have missed to write Alt Text attribute, the image appears with the title of the post/page and the site title, see the picture above on the right. You will typically have several images and it would not be great to have the same text under each of them.


Images name SEO

There are some rules for names of image file. Here are some tips:

  • Make the name descriptive and relevant to the text and/or to the image.
  • Use dashes between the words. This helps machines to distinguish words, although Google is good at distinguishing them even without dashes. But why dashes? Well, Matt Cutts has repeatedly spoke about it, suggesting to use dashes (hyphens). This seems to be because Google used to treat hyphens as word separators, and underscores as part of the same word. For Yahoo dashes and underscores are both good.
  • Use the targeted keyword in the image file name if possible, similar to what you do in the post url.
  • If you do not use the targeted keyword, then use some of tags which you would normally associate with the given post. Or use some variant of the keyword.
  • If you use the targeted keyword in the image file name, then do not use it in the Alt Text, image title, or in image description. This would be keyword stuffing.

The image size for SEO

Yes, the image size matters for SEO. There are two separate issues:

  • actual size of the image within your text,
  • storage space required for the image.

1. Remember, nobody has time to wait for your great huge picture to download. Make it smaller, ideally well below 100 kB. This is easily done by using some optimizers that are available on the Internet.

So resize your image yourself.  If you make a mistake by defining only height and width which will be visible on the screen, without actually re-sizing the image, when a user click on it, it will be downloaded first and the browser will then resize it after that. So you realize, this may be painfully slow. You will lose your visitor for sure.

Assume your page is 720 pixels wide, then you definitely do not need an image 1000 pixels wide. There may be exceptions to this. In my site about mountains I use a plugin to enlarge my photos when clicked on, so they become full-screen size. So I frequently go to 1200 pixels. But I keep my photos typically below 100 kB, rarely above this size, and practically always below 200 kB. Yes, I did some mistakes in the beginning. But you do not have to do this, you have these instructions in front of you.
2. Too many images per page/post may increase its load time. But sometimes this cannot be avoided. Then try to make them small and do not forget to compress them.
3. Regarding the actual size of the picture on the screen, use common sense, find a balance. See how other successful bloggers deal with it. Pictures describe a lot and they can replace many words, but this is all the matter of context. For Google spiders a picture is an empty space, remember this.

Image description for SEO

Do not miss to add description whenever possible. There are some claims on the Internet that they considerably decrease bounce rate. In other words, visitors tend to stay on the page if they see description under the picture.

I can not claim with certainty that this is indeed so, but think always on ‘good user’s experience’. Google will reward you for this. As you can see, I have included descriptions in the two pictures below.


How this all looks in practice

Here is the code for one of the images below:

<img class=”wp-image-2000 size-full” src=”https://justmythinking.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Image-SEO-Best-Practices-my-images-on-Google.jpg” alt=”Image SEO in practice: my images top ranked on Google.” width=”550″ height=”227″ />

-the image file name contains the keyword + some extra information, hence a bit long:

Image-SEO-Best-Practices-my-images-on-Google.jpg

-the Alt Text is without targeted keyword, but it contains its variation ‘Image SEO’:

Image SEO in practice: my images top ranked on Google.


A practical demonstration of image SEO benefits

I shall demonstrate you the good side and importance of image SEO by showing one practical and recent example of my own text. After it was published it was ranked on the Google first page within 48 hours. I guess this was my record, at least for this site.

Now, 4 days later it is still there and climbing up, presently on the position 7. I used all I knew from SEO, including the image SEO described in the present text.

So when I searched for the keyword ‘stay on Google first page’, I realized that 2 of my pictures were on the top position on Google page 1. You can see them here:

Image SEO in practice: my images top ranked on Google.
Two pictures from my page on how to stay on Google first page, ranked on the top position on Google page 1. They contained the keyword of my page.

 

When I click on one of them, see what I get – my page title, and a few lines from the text, from the first paragraph:

The information with the image when clicked on.
This is what a visitor sees after clicking on one of my top-ranked images: information about my page and a button to enter the site.

 

As you see, there is option to ‘Visit page’ as well, quite enough information for a potential visitor to come to my site. Not bad at all, I am sure you will agree with that.

I have many examples of this kind, in particular in the case of my site about mountains, where I indeed have hundreds of my own photos. Practically all of them contain the corresponding keyword in any form, and with that my presence on the net is widespread. As a result, in the moment of writing this text, I have around 40 of my pages and posts (out of 70) from the site Mountains for Everybody ranked on the Google first page.


Here is an addition a few days later.  I published another text in my another site about mountains and my page as ranked on the first page on Google within 1 hour. In addition to this my 2 photos were also on the top page of Google, similar to the example shown in the present text. You may read about it in my blog at Wealthy Affiliate where I reported about it.


But what if you have been doing it all wrong so far. Well, I have been doing such mistakes myself. Do not panic, going back and re-doing the stuff is not the best option. Remember these rules and use them in future.

I hope this was useful. Remember, you can get in touch with me at my hosting platform Wealthy Affiliate.  Do not hesitate to do this.

Please leave some comments in the box below. I shall be happy to read them and answer your questions.

If you want to know how to build your own site in a couple of days and to start an online business then please have a look in these texts from my other pages here within the site:

See here some extras:


Here is Matt Cutts YouTube video on image SEO:

   


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8 comments

  1. wow what an amazing post!! thank you so much. I knew the importance of SEO for images but I had no idea about using dashes between the words.
    I always use keywords for all the visuals on my websites but never used dashes… does it matter much or can I leave it that way?
    Thanks
    Sarah

  2. Your article is so much powerful and helpful especially for those who are struggling with SEO problem. You give a exact information which is really powerful and if anyone give a try of these tools that you mentioned then they will be see success and great result in their life. I really appreciate your work, we really lacking good information. Thank you for giving good information.

  3. Hey, Jovo

    Thank you very much for teaching me more about image SEO practices 🙂

    I have been adding keywords to images within my posts, but I just didn’t know how effective it was until I started to search for images using my keywords within Google, and I was quite surprised by what I found.

    I will certainly be following your best practices from now on, as I move forward with my website images.

    Thank You!
    Neil

    1. Great to read your comment Neil. I myself have been making mistakes with images in the beginning, there are many details to take care about, and clearly it is worth doing this.

  4. Hello there!
    This was a very useful post. I had no idea that it is that important for images to be SEO friendly. I will follow your tips and optimize my images from now on and even do that with the images in my older posts. I can’t believe i haven’t done that earlier.
    Thank you so much for this helpful info!

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