Image SEO – How Search Engines See Visual Content

Jan 5, 2017SEO0 comments


Picture this – one single image driving tons of viewers to your website. YES, it does happen and YES, it’s fairly simple once you know how it works.

Learning how to optimize your images will generate the kind of response you need from each of your web pages. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about image SEO:

Alt Text –

How would you describe an image to someone who isn’t able to see it? How many words would you use? Alt text is simply a few words tied to an image, meant as an alternative way of providing information to those who may not be able to see the image, for whatever reason.

Google’s search engine bots don’t recognize the image like humans do. When we see a picture, we automatically process that information and understand what’s going on based on what we see. We even add words and meaning to that image. When we see an image of Princess Leia accompanied by stormtroopers, we quickly associate the image with words like, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘Darth Vader’ or ‘The Force.’


Google’s bots recognize and process images through text, and that’s why alt text on images is so important. They don’t recognize what Katy Perry or her shark dancers look like. Alt text helps give Google a two to three word idea of what is being seen on the image, so it is indexed correctly and efficiently. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

HTML code may be foreign and intimidating to some, but as long as you know the formula for alt text you can easily go in and add words to any image on your website. When you find the image tag in HTML, (i.e. <img src=”YourImage.jpg”/>) just add your alt text in this formula: alt=”AltTextGoesHere.”  Don’t worry, WordPress is very user-friendly with adding text to images. Remember: if you tag it, they will come.

(Example: An image of Princess Leia from Star Wars would read something like,



However, don’t stuff too many keywords in the alt text – Google looks at this and will penalize you for it. You’re not doing yourself any favors by describing an image of men’s shoes as, “Shoes Mens Shoes Male Mens Shoes.” Instead, an image description like, “Mens Red Puma Shoes” is more exact and efficient. Keep it short and simple, yet specific.

SUMMARY: Help search engine bots recognize your image by giving it a brief description with alt text.

Image Size –

Have you ever gone to a website to find the images still loading and left the site as a result? Google recognizes this and uses page loading time as an aspect in ranking algorithms. The file size of your image plays a big role in how long it takes your web page to load.

The average consumer will wait about 3-5 seconds for a website to load before leaving.  If it takes longer for yours to load, you risk losing viewers.  If you can decrease the size of the images as much as possible, you’ll increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site. To avoid losing traffic to your website due to slow loading time, keep all file sizes (preferably .JPG or .PNG files) under 500 px (pixels) and 70 kb (kilobytes).

SUMMARY: Having a large image hurts your SEO.

Scaled Image –

You should size your image to the size you want it to be on the webpage before uploading. You do not want to make the “browser” resize or scale it — you get “dinged” for this, and it also causes a longer load time.

Image Name –

What’s in a name? Search engine rankings.

Have you ever gone through your camera’s image folder and seen image names like, ‘DC12985.jpg?’ It’s tough to differentiate ‘DC12985.jpg’ from ‘DC12986.jpg’ without looking at the images yourself.  If you can’t tell the difference between images due to their names, how can you expect Google to do it?

Imagine you’re a Google bot coming across an image with a file name like, ‘ice-cream-cone.jpg.’ Chances are that image contains an ice cream cone, especially if the content on the page from where you found the image is about ice cream. The more clues you give Google about your image, the better its likelihood of being ranked and viewed.

Keep in mind your alt text for that image, as you’ll want to have a similar image name.

SUMMARY: Naming your image file helps it to be indexed better. It helps search engine bots to better identify and index your content.



For more information and a FREE SEO analysis, contact our Denver SEO company.


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