5 Steps to Optimize Images for Google Image Search

Optimize Images: Reduce the File Size

5 Steps to Optimize Images for Google Image Search

Google Analytics Displays Traffic from Image Search

Why Care About Image Search?

Optimizing your important images with file names and good alt tag descriptions is another easy way to let Google know the theme of your web pages, which in turn improves rankings.  The result: more visitors!

Here’s what you need to know.

Not all images are “search-worthy” (think: stock photography, icons, etc).  Our goal is to let searchers find the important graphics, charts, or graphics that drive visitors.

90% of marketers don't engage website visitors

The first three points are considered critical to improving image search rankings.

ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT ONE – Use a Descriptive File Name

The file name should always include keywords that are relevant to the image and are words you want to be found for.

A file name like DSC1232.jpg doesn’t tell Google anything useful about the image!  And use dashes or underscores in the file name to separate words so the Googlebot can easily parse it.

  • GOOD: high-quality-red-womans-shoe.gif
  • CONFUSING: highqualityredwomansshoe.gif

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ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT TWO – Add Alt Text That Describes the Image

The Alt Attribute text (sometimes erroneously described as an “alt tag”) should describe the image in a simple manner. Use the keywords that are relevant to the image description, and where possible, the text should include the keyword phrase the page is optimized for.

By that I mean the keyword is used in the Title tag, within page content, and is used in links pointing to the page. But don’t “stuff” the Alt Attribute text with keywords, just use one, two or three at the most.

While the Alt tag doesn’t contribute very much to ranking in Google’s main index, Google implies that it helps in image search ranking.

ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT THREE – Ensure Image Relevance Maps to the Page Content

It may go without saying but the image should be relevant to the text content on the page.  Where possible include descriptive text or captions on the page shown near the image, as that also helps Google understand what the image is about.

This descriptive text should contain the same keywords used in the Alt tag and file name.

It also helps when providing a link to a full-size image to do this:  “Click here for full size image of Polycom Speakerphone” — instead of “Click for full size” or “enlarge”.

ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT FOUR – “Harmonize” the Alt Text, Filename, and Page Text

It may seem obvious, but for maximum effectiveness use the same keywords in the Alt Attribute text, filename, and page text close to the image.

Check out Matt Cutts Video on Image Search

ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT FIVE – Include Image Properties

Because Google is now factoring in page download times as part of their ranking, images should be optimized for fast download times and the image height and width should be specified in pixels in the HTML (that helps the browser render the image more quickly).

ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT SIX – Don’t Block the Bots from Your Images Directory

Believe it or not some sites exclude search bots from indexing their images directory. Why? I don’t know. Be sure and allow engines to index your /images directory.

ToTheWeb Blue ArrowPOINT SEVEN – Optimize Images to be Fast-Loading

On mobile, page speed is critical. Images not optimized for fast downloading can hurt your website’s performance not only for visitors but also in its search ranking potential because Google now includes page speed as a ranking factor.

A page needs to load in 3 seconds or lessuse this tool to check your page’s download speed.

Learn how to optimize your images for speed by following the steps in this article on image size optimization.

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About the Author

Rosemary works with companies to turn their website into a sales generating tool by ensuring that the site achieves high visibility in the search engines.