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SEO 8 min read July 18, 2018

How to Optimize Images For Better SEO

How to Optimize Images For Better SEO
How to Optimize Images For Better SEO 16261788115146
Elena K.
Editorial Head
Images have a positive impact on user experience. Pictures may help your users better understand your content, as well as they can verify your arguments. The unbroken wall of text is the last thing anybody wants to see while opening any webpage. Any content where no images are used seems endless and difficult to perceive.

In this article, I'll show you how to optimize images for search engines and human users.

Where to get the images?

The best variant is to create unique images on your own by hiring designer or illustrator, or if there's no need to create images regularly, you may cooperate with freelance illustrators. There are tons of websites where you can find the one with the style and price that are suitable for you.

When you create an "About Us" page, you need photos of your team, but please, your photos, never use such pictures as the one below. Don't use this pic even if you write about teamwork; make your own.
Stock photo that shouldn't be used
If you cannot use the images of your own, there are several ways you can get quite unique images, avoiding photo stocks ones:

#1: Google search

The simplest one is to use Google search by images. Note that Google shows images both with and without permission to use. To avoid issue of copyright filter the Google results to show only that images that are labeled for reuse. Here's how to set the filter:
How to filter Google results

#2: Get pictures from stock sites
and improve them with photo editors

Another way to get a unique image is to buy any you like on stock site (You can check out 24 Stellar Sites for Free Stock Photos by G2Crowd) and change it in easy-to-use photo editors like Canva. There are lots of layouts and elements, and some of them are even free. You can combine several images with these elements. Here's how we do this for our social media channels:
Working with Canva to create unique images

#3: Reddit

Reddit users agree with the public access to the content they share when publishing. Moreover, if using these images the chances to see the same ones on competitors' blogs/social media channels are quite low.
Install Reddit Enhancement Suite in your browser.
Go to this page and choose the suitable category.
Where to find images on Reddit
For example, you need some image of a cake, then go to the DessertPorn.
Choose the topic you need
Filter the results by popularity: all time/past hour/past 24 hours/past week/past month/ past year.
Look through the images available
Look through the images and choose the one you need. If you installed the Reddit Enhancement suite, you can see the full-size images without opening it in a new tab. Here is how it works:
See the images in full size without opening it in a new tab.

Image name

As search engine crawlers cannot understand the actual content of an image to tell what it is depicting yet, they analyze and use several indicators to get what this image is about. One of such indicators is file name of the image.

That's why the standard camera-applied filename like DSC1234.jpg is not the best solution. You should rename the images using the most relevant keywords to describe what this or that image is about.

Let's take the image below as an example. If you're running an online store and one of the pages is devoted to GoPro Hero 5. Here, the rule is the same as when optimizing the page itself: if the page is devoted to GoPro 5, you won't use just "GoPro" in the title tag; you'll add all relevant keywords there to make Google understand that this page is not about GoPro in general, but exactly about GoPro Hero 5 model. So the file name of this image shouldn't be just "go-pro.jpg" but "go-pro-hero-5-black-front.jpg".
go pro hero 5 black front

Alt text

Alt text (alternative text), also known as alt description or alt attribute, is an HTML attribute used to describe what's in the image. Alt text plays an essential part in image SEO optimization, and here's why:

  • If the image fails to load for any reason, the alternative text is shown to explain what the image is.
  • Screen readers use the alt tag to explain what's in the image to visually impaired users. According to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, you should "provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language".
  • Search engine crawlers use the alt text to index the image properly and then, based on this info, determine the best image to return for a user's query.
So now when you already know why alt text is crucial, let's dwell on how it should look like.

As the main goal of this text is to describe what's in the image, you should be descriptive and specific so that the person who doesn't see the image for any reason could understand what's there and imagine it.

Let's take this cake picture as an example. Hope you're not hungry now ;)
Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting decorated with berries and chocolate glaze
<img src="cake.png" alt="chocolate cake">


<img src="cake.png" alt="chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting decorated with berries and chocolate glaze">

Sure, the second one is correct.

You may already know that keyword stuffing is a bad practice in SEO, the same works for alt text as well. Thus this alt text is incorrect:

<img src="cake.png" alt="chocolate cake chocolate dessert cake top recipes cake recipe">

Reduce the file size

The file's size affects the loading speed of the page, while the loading speed affects SEO and user experience. Using lots of huge images on the page may significantly increase the page's loading time. There are lots of tools like tinypng or jpegmini that you can use to reduce the file size without significant loss in quality. But be always careful and compare the original and compressed one.
Example of using jpegmini

Image Sitemaps

Image sitemap is another way to optimize images for SEO. According to Google Help:
"Image sitemap information helps Google discover images that we might not otherwise find (such as images your site reaches with JavaScript code), and allows you to indicate images on your site that you want Google to crawl and index.You can use a separate sitemap to list images, or you can add image information to an existing sitemap".
There're two required tags to use:

<image:image> Encloses all information about a single image. Each <url> tag can contain up to 1,000 <image:image> tags.

and <image:loc> The URL of the image.

And several optional ones:

<image:caption> The caption of the image.

<image:geo_location> The geographic location of the image.,

<image:title> The title of the image.

<image:license> A URL to the license of the image.
Here are all tips I wanted to share with you. Hope this post was useful for you :)

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