Image SEO: 7 Tips to Optimize Images the Right Way

Image SEO
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Image SEO is a process of optimizing images in order for search engines to easily understand and rank them higher in the search results. If done correctly it would grow website engagement and organic traffic for webmasters.

Images make your articles look more professional and exciting. Informative & creative images help increase the average time a person spends on a webpage. In this post, we will learn everything about SEO optimizing images for better rankings and more visibility.

Why Optimization of Images is important?

A wise man once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. He was definitely right as the right image can bring life to any content and give it more value as well as help in connecting with the audience in a better way.

If you are not adding images to your page then I can assure you that you are losing big time. A recent case study proved that visitors spend more time on a web page that has images connecting to the page content. It was noticed that images help in describing the content in a far better manner as compared to just words.

Search engines also love images, after studying over a hundred thousand top-ranking web pages we saw they all had one thing in common i.e. they all had multiple images on the ranking page. A perfect example would be that of a recipe site that had the image of the finished dish as the featured image and also used images of the ingredients, utensils, and images of the cooking process placed perfect order in between the content.

Now, to make it clear, images alone cannot rank you higher in the SERPs as there are other factors involved however using images definitely seem to help in the process. As per Google, there are around 200+ ranking factors responsible for a site to rank higher in their search results some factors are good quality content, encouraging quality links, good on-page structure, indexable site links and more.

The tough part,

Now that we have established the importance of images lets talk about how to effectively get the maximum benefit out of your images or how to get your images rank higher in Google images.

We will cover:

  • Geotagging
  • Adding Exif data
  • Image Placement
  • Alt Text Optimization
  • Image Distribution
  • Link Building for Images
  • Web 2.0 Backlinks

  • Google did release a guideline on this subject that focuses on the basics of how webmasters can optimize the website images and get better results. You can find the Google guide here.

    Let’s look at some of the advanced Image SEO tactics being used by industry leaders to dominate their desired business niche.

    7 Image SEO Tips to Optimize Images the Right Way


    1. Geotag Images

    If you are a local business and looking to get some extra juice to push your rankings then GeoTagging your images is the best way to go.

    Add Geotagged images to the web page and when the page gets crawled it tells Google bots that the image has a location and it directly points to your business listing which adds extra authority for your website.

    If you are wondering how to go about it then here are the steps to follow.

  • Visit GeoImgr
  • Click upload and attach your JPG-images
  • If the image has an existing geotags it will be shown on the map
  • Set the marker or enter the latitude and longitude manually, paying customers can use Google Map search to automatically select their respective business listing and tag it
  • Add additional EXIF tags (optional but recommended)
  • Hit the button Write EXIF Tags
  • Download the geotagged image

  • GeoTag Images

    Now, upload the geo-tagged image to your respective website page.

  • Understanding Geo Tagged Image: An image that is tagged with geographical location metadata is called a geotagged image. This is done using geotagging tools which embed the longitude and latitude information into an image. Geotagging image is also known as GPS photo tagging.
  • Importance of Geo-Tagging: Geotagging helps associate an image with a specific location which makes it easier for search engine bots to associate the image with a geographical location. Example: A picture of a bakery shop near the Eiffel tower can be better identified by search engines out of all the other bakery shop images that are on the web if it is geotagged. This means search engines would know that the particular image is of a bakery shop near Eiffel tower and would also be able to get an exact location of it.

  • 2. Add keywords to EXIF Metadata

    EXIF stands of Exchangeable Image File Format and is a standard for putting away trade information in image files, particularly JPEG images.

    At the point when a picture is taken and saved as a JPEG file, the EXIF meta tag information is likewise recorded to the image file.

    Numerous digital camera proprietors study EXIF data to think about fruitful photos and utilize the information as a learning tool to help see how different camera settings influence photo attributes, for example, introduction, profundity of-field, and subject speed.

    exif metadata

    Using custom web-based tools you can change the EXIF Metadata to your desire and this would overwrite the camera’s default Metadata with that of yours. I always replace the Metadata with specific keywords and sometimes even LSI keywords.

    A good and open source platform to accomplish this task is TheXifer, the process is really simple just upload the image files right on the website and edit the EXIF data then download the updated images.

    3. Place Image on the Relevant Page

    If you want that image to show up for the phrase “Baltimore DUI lawyer”, place the image on a page that has a relevant title, URL and content.

    Another example of this method, say you baked a cake and took a picture of it, if you add that image to a random location on your page it is unlikely that it would get much attention by the audience however if you place the image on-page that has the cake’s recipe and the exact method of how you baked it then it would definitely get some serious action around your image.

    I usually place the main image as the featured image and then supporting images are placed within the content of the article. Pay attention to image placement as it is vital in SEO for images.

    You can then promote the image itself by building links to the Image URL or even embed that image on to various other channels. We will talk about building links and off-page promotion as well however this small strategy ensures that search engines associate your image with a relevant source which definitely adds more authority to it.

    While adding images to the relevant page ensure that you have the following in place.

  • Enter Captions
  • Include Alt Text
  • Image schema markup
  • Compress images for file size and pixel
  • Place images on the right side of the page
  • Make images responsive for all devices

  • When you place your images using these metrics it would give it some extra juice and help in getting noticed faster.
  • Include Alt Text: We have discussed "alt text" in a much more detailed manner below however one piece of advice I would add is to never ignore alt text and always ensure all your images have alt text in them. Alt text is like the identity of your image in a text format which talks to search bots in a direct way.
  • Image Schema Markup: When I first heard that we can add schema markup to images, I was like astonished as we all want to ensure Google bots are able to understand our content in a better way and schema markups make this happen perfectly. If you are wondering how to add schema to images then read this.
  • Enter Captions to Images: Sometimes it is difficult to understand an image and captions help us solve this issue. For example, you have an image of 4 people standing together and you want to introduce these people to your audience thus adding captions is the best way to do this, you can simply add the caption saying Jim Morris - CEO of XYZ Inc. (extreme left), Tony Stark - Chairman (Second from Left) and so on.

  • It has also been noticed that images with captions get more eyes on as compared to images without them however you need to know when to avoid them and never overdo them on one article.

    Basically, schema markup is a mutual code that was created in collaboration with all search engines and its aim was to make sure they all understand a website’s content in a similar manner.

    You can add schema markup to all type of content such as.

    • Images
    • Articles/blog posts
    • Videos
    • News Articles
    • Location pages
    • Homepage

    • I also recommend reading Google guide on image structured data as it will enhance your knowledge on this topic.
    • Compress Images: If your page loads really slow then you might need to check your image file size and compress them. Bulky oversized images tend to choke the page and make it load really slow. You also need to ensure that the pixel size of your images is not too big nor too small.
    • Image Placement: Place your images on the right side of the page rather than on the left side. This is more of a psychological tactic as readers find it difficult to read the content that starts from the right side and then goes back to the left side of the screen. If you place your images to the right-hand side it keeps all the lines of the article in sync and inline.
    • Responsive Images: There are billions of devices in the world and all of them have various screen sizes thus as a webmaster you need to ensure that your images are responsive i.e. compatible with all devices. This grows your user experience and keeps them on your webpage for a longer period.

    • 4. Optimize Your Alt Text

      Alt text is also called “Alternate Text” and also “Alt Attribute”, it is an image tag that is added in the HTML format to an image.

      It is highly recommended by SEO professionals to add an ALT Text to all your images as this tells search bots about what kind of an image it is. We need to understand that search bots do not view your image as a human being does thus the Alt Text is the best way to tell them what it is all about.

      Add Alt Text to Images

      I also recommend changing the name of your image to something more relevant example say when you take a picture using your camera and then upload to your computer, you would notice that the name of the image appears in numbered format or even sometimes in an alphanumeric format such as 198262.jpg or dc_283674.jpg, etc. Now, this does not really make sense to anyone thus change the name of the image to what it exactly is, such as “Photo of Tulips” or “Raspberry Pie” this is more accurate and understandable by everyone.

      Now, when you upload the same to your website remember to add an Alt Text to it as this helps in various ways such as.

    • If the image does not load due to any reason, the alt text would tell the user what the image is all about.
    • It helps search engine bots to know what kind of image it is.
    • You would also be helping the visually impaired to understand what kind of image is placed on the site.
    • Alt text provides better indexability of the image.

    • Here is the HTML code to manually add the alt text

      <img src=”sunflower.gif” alt=”Sunflower”>

      However, if you are a WordPress user then you can simply add the Alt Text right below the image name when you upload it as shown in the image above.

    • Importance of Alt Text: Alt text feature was launched in order to help the visually impaired people however later it was noticed that it also helps search engines to understand the image in a better way. Thus, adding an alt text to your images does both the tasks and is considered important.
    • Writing alt text: The best way to write alt text is to call it as you see it. If it is an image of a "rose flower" then the alt text should be "rose flower" or "red rose flower" and always ensure you do not keyword stuff the alt text as this is considered to be spammy and can get you into trouble with Google.

    • 5. Add to Image Hosting Sites

      Add your images to image hosting sites such as Photobucket, Imgur, and just about any other image hosting site you can think of. I like to optimize these albums and accounts to match the keywords I’m trying to rank for.

      Here is a list of image hosting sites I use the most.

      • Google Photos
      • Imgur
      • Dropbox
      • TinyPic
      • Flickr
      • SmugMug
      • imgbox
      • ImageVenue
      • ImageShack
      • PostImage
      • 500px

      • This would help you to spread your image further on the world wide web and gain more visibility. The list above is free to use and also has a ton of organic visitors every day.

        6. Build links to Your Image URL

        Build links for images

        Image link building is the most important and the most interesting process of Image optimization. If you are new to link building then you will definitely find this article helpful in understanding the basics as well the advanced methods.

        Building links to your images is what spinach was to Popeye i.e. ultimate power & strength.

        When it comes to link building for images the traditional link building strategies still work like a charm.

        I have personally noticed that embedding images on other sites and platform’s gave my images a good boost in rankings. I have embedded images on web 2.0 sites, guest post sites, blogs, PBN’s and every time I did this, it showed me a major hike in the SERPs for the respective image.

        I love to use a service from https://embed.ly/code to generate an embed code for my images as well as my articles, just enter the image URL and click embed.

        Now, copy the embed code and spread it around.

        7. Add to Web 2.0 Properties

        I’ve also added the image that I’d like to rank on other Web 2.0 properties and used hotlinking. Not sure if it’s helped a lot or not, but if you’re not very strong in your backlinking strategy, you might wanna try Web 2.0 properties.

        Link building is not really for everyone as it is an advanced SEO strategy and requires in-depth knowledge of the type of links. Some links are good and some are really bad so if one builds links without knowing it could harm your rankings. When it comes to Image SEO, building links using Web 2.0 sites is considered to be the safest route.

        I have compiled a list of top Web 2.0 sites that are completely free and can be used by you to spread your images, I recommend hiring a Virtual Assistant and get them to create free accounts on these sites and then embed your images in them.

        I have almost always used web 2.0 sites to promote my images especially my infographics and I have seen a tremendous boost in the search rankings as soon as they get indexed.

        Image SEO Checklist

        Promoting your website images is really important and is also the most underutilized SEO strategy hence if you are not utilizing this tactic then I can guarantee that you are definitely losing a lot of visibility towards your business.

        Utilize these image optimization tactics and I can personally assure that you will see more traffic and rank boost being organically delivered to your doorstep.

        To summarize, here’s the 7-point image SEO checklist for your website:

      • #1 Geotag Images
      • #2 Add keywords to EXIF Metadata
      • #3 Place Image on the Relevant Page
      • #4 Optimize Your Alt Text
      • #5 Add to Image Hosting Sites
      • #6 Build links to Your Image URL
      • #7 Add to Web 2.0 Properties

      • Conclusion

        I am sure that you are promoting your website and it’s pages using various tactics and I am sure that all your web pages have a couple of images on them so just imagine the value of also promoting your images for that particular page of your site. Most of the images on websites are not being promoted hence no juice is being passed using them and hopefully, this article will make you change that mindset and start doing something about it.


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        Posted on May 17, 2019 in Search Engine Optimization

        Author: Jobin John

        Jobin is the founder & CEO of Egochi, a United States digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and content marketing that helps businesses grow online. He is well known & respected for his expertise in the search engine optimization industry and has helped a huge number of local businesses grow their business.
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