Optimise Your Website's Images For Search Engines

PUBLISHED August 11, 2014
UPDATED October 14, 2019

We spend so much time focusing on web search results, but what about image search results?

Recently, a client of ours expressed the importance of image searches to his business. He told us that people typically look for the image of the product they want first.

He was concerned because he wasn’t ranked number one for his images, even though he was in the top spot on the regular web search page.

This got us thinking about the factors that cause an image to rank number one. What are the important elements of image search?


Here is what we found after doing some research:
Things that search engines look at:

  1. Image type: Make sure it is BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP and SVG.
  2. Written copy on the page where the image was found as well as the page’s title and body.
  3. Anchor text pointing to the image.
  4. The image’s file name.
  5. Alt text.

Now that we have an understanding of what the search engines are crawling, what needs to be done to make sure that our images can be best optimised on social media?

Here are a few steps to take to ensure that you are doing all you can for optimal image results.

  1. Use Unique Images – If you are using a stock photo in your post, the likelihood that your image will show up in a Google search is diminished because there are so many duplicates. Not using stock photos and making sure that your image is unique will help.
  2. Pay Attention to Image Names – As opposed to naming your image file something like “wpd6785936.jpg” it should be more direct, something like “galvanized-weep-hole-plug.jpg.” When naming an image, use a hyphen to separate words, not an underscore.
  3. Make Sure You’ve Got Alt Tags – An alt tag can be up to 125 characters, but it’s recommended to keep your alt tag to six words or less. Describe the picture appropriately and it should help your image rankings. Be as descriptive as possible. Example: “dalmation puppy playing fetch” instead of “puppy.”
  4. Don’t Forget the Title Tags – This is the visual caption that’s created when you hover over an image. There is no proof that this helps your SEO but “it can’t hurt” if it’s being used to serve the visitor.
  5. Page Copy Helps Image Search, too- Google uses the content of the page as a whole in order to determine the relevancy of your image. Therefore, the more content that’s on the page, the better. If you don’t already have substantial content on your page, consider adding more text to describe the image or product. Add a paragraph of text that describes what the image is showing. Example "To the right, check out the gorgeous example of the pink paper crown that one of our customers made using our pink handmade paper." If you need help with developing content to help with your site's SEO, we can help with that too.

Whether your focus is images or just web pages, if you have a website it’s important to consider how people will organically find you.

Establishing a system for regular SEO updates is a very effective way to drive traffic to your website. Learn more about SEO by clicking the link above.

Do you have any other experience with ranking your images in search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing? Let us know in the comments below!

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