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Best Image SEO Tips to Boost Your SEO Ranking on Google

By Danielle Christenson

August 16, 2022

Update September 22, 2022: Learn about Google’s Performance Max Campaigns here.

SEO is a big topic with so many different pieces that it can overwhelm most of us. One important component of search engine optimization is imagery. Ideally, your website’s images shouldn’t have many duplicates. It’s easier than you think to do this, and with these image optimization tips, you’ll know the best way to accomplish this. The following are the top image-related SEO tips you will want to keep in mind while optimizing your images on Google’s search engine results pages or for a Google Business Profile optimization.

Leverage Image File Names

Leveraging image file names is excellent way to improve your site’s rankings. Consider adding keywords to the file name to increase your rankings.

When properly optimized, image file names are seen by the search engine spiders. This is helpful because having relevant keywords in your images can increase your rankings.

Let’s say you are blogging about your company’s wonderful apples, and you have an image of a person eating one of your apples. Some might name the image file after the photograph file name with added dimensions such as DSC_5127740663_1280x960.jpg, while another might name the image photograph-of-older-person-taking-bite-out-of-red-apple.jpg. Neither of these naming conventions will really help with SEO; even though they may display correctly, they aren’t strategically adding keywords into the images. For the same image, if the keyword you are trying to rank for is “best red apples” or “juicy red apples,” then think of naming the image “best-red-apples.jpg” or “juicy-red-apples.jpg.” This will help search engines like Google understand what the image is about and emphasize the image and keyword connection.

Use SEO Informed Alt Tags

image alt attributes

Alt tags are HTML tags that tell search engines like Google and Bing what your images are. This is essential if you’re trying to rank highly on search engine rankings, because many ranking factors revolve around the visual content on your page.

ALT attributes can play an essential role in websites’ SEO strategies. When properly optimized, alt attributes can boost your SEO rankings by allowing you to gain keywords that you are already going after in your articles.

Bringing back the images we discussed before, “best-red-apples.jpg” and “juicy-red-apples.jpg,” the best option would be to match the image alts with the image names. So, image alt should equal ”best red apple” or “juicy red apple.” Again, emphasize what you want to rank for on the page.

NOTE: Never lie about what an image is. We never suggest using the alt attribute “cute kitten” when the image is definitely an “old dog.” Hopefully, this gives you enough information on this subject.

Optimize Your Image Sizes

We’ve done a lot of testing with image optimization and size regarding SEO. This has led us to discover a ton of interesting takeaways. Below are our tactics for optimizing image size for SEO ranking on Google.

Image Resizing

First, let me say that knowing how to resize an image for SEO is very important. There are many ways to resize an image, but you should aim for an image size that best matches the area where it will be displayed. You also want to make sure the image you are uploading is of good quality. 

In many cases, we have seen sites trying to display a huge image on the page just to have it resized by the browser. When this happens, the whole image (sometimes over 1MB in size) is loaded into a thumbnail on the webpage. When this happens, desktop viewers on high bandwidth connections usually don’t notice it. Still, those on mobile with slower speeds can see 10 seconds of delay added to the page load, and many people bounce before the entire page loads.

BEST PRACTICE: If an image is to be displayed on the website in a small fashion, never create the image to be 1.5 times the height or width that it will display. The best option is to match the image exactly if possible.

Image Compression

image compression

Image compression is the process of reducing image file size for faster transfer over the web and for saving disk space. In many cases, images can be compressed to best take advantage of web and browser settings. Images can be compressed to look good on high-resolution devices like smartphones, tablets or desktop monitors. Compressing images also helps in achieving search engine rankings by ensuring that web pages load faster due to images having less impact on the page load. You can reduce your page load time by ensuring that your website is being served up with smaller, crisper image files instead of bloated, higher resolution photos.

FAST FACT: Image compression, on average, decreases the overall image file size by 60-70% without affecting the perceived quality of the image.

Image File Types

Do you know which image file type to use for your website? You might, or you might not. Unfortunately, many marketers upload any random file type and continue on. Yes, almost any picture will indeed be displayed when you publish it on a blog or web page, but does that mean you should pick the first image from your stacks of photographs?

Using the correct file type is one of the most straightforward changes you can make to your site. So let’s run down the various image file types and discuss their pros, cons and where they should (and shouldn’t) be used.

  • JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group

              Pros – Good color details, satisfactory size/quality ratio, used by all browser types, supported by all cameras and printers

              Cons – No animation, sometimes looks smudged, no transparency

  • PNG – Portable Network Graphics

              Pros – Lossless compression, good transparency, allows animations

              Cons – Not the best for editing photos or artwork, larger file sizes, not as widely supported as other image types

  • GIF – Graphics Interchange Format

              Pros – Good compression, allows animation and transparency, best for images with few colors

              Cons – Only support 256 colors and other image types are a better overall option

  • WebP – Google Web Picture Files

              Pros – Good compression and good quality of images, allows transparency and animations, smaller file sizes than JPEG or PNG

              Cons – WebP 2 is coming but older browsers do not support the file type

  • SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics

              Pros – Performs well in all major browsers, is great for icons, animations, and illustrations do not lose clarity when scaled in size

              Cons – Not best for complex animations and can’t be used for photos

  • TIF – Tagged Image File Format

              Pros – Great for print, no data loss, high quality

              Cons – Not supported by most web browsers, and the image size is excessive
Now, these are not all image types. However, this list does encompass over 90% of all images on the web. Think about each image used on the site, and think about which type best matches your needs in that section. Do not make all images the same type; different types should be used in different areas of the site and on different web pages, based on the specific use cases.

You Can Rank Higher on Google by Doing These Three Things

As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is especially true for search engines like Google. Working in conjunction with the content you post on your website, using the correct image file names, image alt attributes, and image optimizations will assist in SEO rankings.

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