Image SEO: Why It Matters and 7 Best Practices You Should Follow

When uploading images to your website, image SEO is probably something you’ve never really considered. Like most people, you probably just download your images from a stock photo site, upload them to your site, and then insert them into the relevant page. But, as any SEO expert will tell you, this isn’t going to make your content discoverable in image search results.

If you want your content to create additional ranking opportunities and reach new audiences, as well as improve the user experience and increase conversions, then it’s time to make image SEO your new best friend.

In this short guide, we’ll explain what image SEO is, why it matters, and the best practices you should follow to make sure your images are as well optimised as they possibly can be.

At Embryo, our dedicated team of digital marketing experts know what’s what when it comes to image SEO. This forms an integral part of our digital marketing strategy and helps our clients to achieve long-lasting results. For more information about how Embryo can help your business to grow, give us a call at 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected].

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What Is Image SEO?

Image SEO refers to the process of optimising the images on your website for search engine results pages (SERPs). This can be done by using appropriate captions, relevant alt text, correct file dimensions, and more (which we’ll discuss in more detail later on).

Image SEO makes your content easier for search engine crawlers to interpret. This can help to boost your SEO ranking on both search results pages and image results pages, making your site more discoverable.

Why Is Image SEO So Important?

Research has shown that nowadays, more than half of Google searches end without the user clicking through to any results. People want the information they’re searching for to be readily available to them on the SERP, saving them the effort of actually scrolling through pages of content.

For marketers, this means that the importance of understanding how visual images can be used as a powerful tool to reach new audiences on the SERPs cannot be understated. Image SEO can also help to improve the user experience by improving accessibility and loading times, which means visitors to your website are more likely to convert.

And the best part? Optimising your images for SEO is actually super straightforward once you know how to do it. Read on to discover the best practices you should follow to ensure your content is more discoverable in image search results.

What Image SEO Best Practices Should I Be Following?

To ensure your images are well-optimised, there are some best practices you should always aim to follow. If you stick to these guidelines, you’re more likely to see an increase in both page traffic and conversions.

1. Post Original Images

Google prioritises original content, so using your own unique images is vital if you want your images to rank on image results pages.

Too many websites are filled with the same generic stock photos, which prevents them from standing out to readers. Even the most perfectly optimised stock image won’t have the same potential SEO benefits as a high-quality original image.

Using original product images on your site is particularly important for ecommerce brands because 50% of shoppers use images to help them decide what to buy.

Consider creating your own unique images and infographics using accessible design tools such as Canva. This will make your images more shareable and help you to stand out on the search results pages.

2. Compress Your Images

Compressing your images helps to improve the load time of your web pages. This improves the user experience and can also help to boost your search engine rankings.

There are plenty of free online tools that will effectively compress your image for you, such as Compress JPEG or Squoosh.

A good image file size is typically less than 100KB, but be aware that Google looks at the total page size rather than each individual image size. This means that for files where image quality differences are less substantial, you might want to compress the file size to 30-50KB to make another more important image slightly larger.

3. Customise Your File Names before Uploading

Your file name can affect how easy it is for search engine crawlers to interpret your image, so it’s best to rename your file before uploading it to your site.

Typically, file names will look something like “IMG_8903”, but this doesn’t tell the search engine what your image is showing.

Try replacing the generic image name with relevant keywords that describe what’s in the image. This will improve where your image appears on the image search results page and increase traffic to your site.

4. Write Relevant and Accurate Alt Text

Alt text refers to the written copy that describes an image when a browser can’t properly render it.

Optimising your images with descriptive and accurate alt text is important for two main reasons:

  • Improving SEO ranking – Alt text helps search engine crawlers to index your website more effectively, which can improve your positioning on search results pages.
  • Accessibility – Alt text can be read by a screen reader to describe images to the visually impaired, and also helps to improve the user experience if a reader can’t see the image correctly on their device.

5. Use Captions to Describe the Image

Captions aren’t always necessary if the context of the page helps the reader to understand what the image is depicting. However, if your web page is very heavy on visual content, you should use captions to provide context for the image.

When readers are on a web page, they tend not to read the content in full, instead scanning for the most relevant pieces of information. Image captions can help the reader to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily without having to read through masses of text, which may increase conversions.

Use your best judgement when deciding if an image should have a caption or not. If you feel it will help readers and search engine crawlers to better discern the image, it might be a worthwhile addition to the page.

6. Make Your Images Mobile-Friendly

These days, it’s vital to ensure your pages are optimised for mobile to give you more ranking power and improve user experience. This can be done by creating responsive images.

A responsive image will automatically adjust to the size of the device that the reader is using so that the image is always easy to view and doesn’t disrupt the layout.

Some website hosting services will automatically make sure your images are responsive, but you can easily make an image responsive yourself by adding this code to your CSS:

.responsive {

width: 100%;

height: auto;


7. Add Images to Your Sitemap

Google recommends adding images to an existing sitemap, or creating a separate image sitemap, to help search engines discover your image.

This is particularly helpful for images that Google can’t find through crawling, like those accessed via JavaScript forms.

If you’re not sure how to add images to a sitemap manually, Embryo can help. Get in touch to find out more about our SEO services.

Image SEO Key Takeaways

Now that you know how to optimise your images for SEO, increasing your search engine ranking power should be a piece of cake. As long as your images are original, relevant, and use accurate descriptions, your website traffic will increase in no time.

We know that improving your image SEO can be a daunting task, especially if your website has lots of pages that all need optimising. If you need a hand with improving SEO across your website, get in touch with the digital marketing experts at Embryo and we’ll help you to come up with an effective SEO strategy.

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