Visual discovery with image SEO

Visual discovery with image SEO


Visual content is dominating our attention with online search habits. The evolution of visual search technology is changing how we find information, but image SEO remains an important aspect in boosting the visibility of your website. In short, its the process of making sure the images on your website are all optimised with the correct signals to be easily found by search engines.

Despite often being overlooked, there are a number of basic principles that can be applied to images to help your visual discovery. Crucial elements such as file type, size and careful optimisation of file names and alt tags shouldn’t be ignored. This checklist will describe the best way to optimise images for search to gain increased organic traffic.

Images are returned for 19% of search queries on Google

Not so long ago Google Images introduced a new preview box. This feature allowed users to compare images by displaying a quick look at further details and attribution source. Making a clearer to call-to-action and therefore increasing click through rates.

google image search preview box

Before taking steps to optimise your images, first you’ll need to find the appropriate shots to use. If you’re looking to take authority of a subject, ideally you’d have your own imagery at your disposal. This isn’t always going to be possible however, and while obvious stock photos should be avoided – Flickr is a great source of free-for-commerical use photos under Creative Commons license – providing you give appropriate credit. Unsplash is another good alternative, where accreditation is not necessary.

Use this bitesize guide to make a huge impact on your image SEO in just a few actions:

Reduce image size before uploading

You can compress the size of your images before uploading to make great savings in reducing the file size. There are several free, and easy to use compression tools such as TinyPNG that will bring the file size down without any noticeable loss in image quality. A quicker page loading time will result in higher SEO rankings!

Serve images in next-gen formats

In 2020 we’re likely to see more digital marketers using JPEG 2000, JPG XR and WebP. If you’re not familiar with these file extensions, you’re not alone. Thankfully there are online convertors you can use for this if you’re not sure.

use pagespeed insights for improved image SEO

Scale image dimensions to the correct size

Resize your images to the exact dimensions of the display area before uploading them to your website. It’s worth keeping on top of this as page speed does effect SEO as an important ranking factor.

Make PageSpeed Insights a regular part of your website analysis. Here you’ll get a very detailed report highlighting significant issues with the performance of images and what you can do to improve it.

Use authentic image content

The advice from Google for effective SEO often includes reference to images. Above all, the consensus is to create content that is valuable for your audience. This means using images that will help users get the best experience possible from your pages.

Optimise image file names for SEO

Best practice for naming your image is to describe what is in the image in up to 5 words. Try to include your target keywords towards the start and use hyphens to separate each word. Avoid using stop words like ‘the’, ‘at, ‘and’. When is comes to writing descriptive ALT text, be specific, include your focus keyword or phrase and keep it fewer than 125 characters.

Make your images standout on social media

To gain real traction from your content pages, your image needs to display correctly on social media. This could be the difference between creating a post that sinks or swims. Delivering website traffic back to your website can all hinge on the way the image and text snippets display, so the importance shouldn’t be underestimated. This does require Open Graph tags being added to your website’s source code.

Don’t cut corners with image SEO

We’re moving closer to a digital world where visual search is being used by customers more widely to discover products. Tech giants such as Google (with Google Lens), Amazon and Pinterest have already developed visual search apps that are starting to gain momentum.

As our digital habits continue to evolve and align with more visual search, image search will carry the same the trend in becoming considered the norm. With the relatively simple steps we’ve provided, you shouldn’t be allowing poor use of image SEO to work against you. If you’d like to discuss more advanced SEO options contact our Search Engine Optimisation team.

The future of search will be about pictures rather than keywords.
Pinterest CEO, Ben Silbermann