If you read another image SEO tutorial before this one, you could believe that image SEO is as simple as adding alt tags to pictures and calling it a day.
The fact is that picture SEO is much more than alt tags and file names.
Indeed, Google’s recent breakthroughs in machine learning – as seen by the efficacy of their cloud vision API offering – suggest they’re already capable of determining the contents of photos without depending on alt tags.
So, when it comes to photos on your website, what should you focus on? Is it still possible to optimize pictures for search?
Why Are Images So Important?
Nobody likes to read a long essay that is devoid of any visuals. Content is mediocre and uninteresting without pictures. Using charts, graphics, and other material visual aids in your content helps it stand out, just like website design in general. They play a critical role in converting, sharing, and linking material.
So, the easiest way to say it is to add graphics to all of your material where appropriate to help it stand out if you have the capacity (time/resources) to do so. Consider what you’d expect to find if you clicked on an article about the subject you’re writing about.
For example, despite the fact that a piece on image SEO isn’t exactly one where incorporating photos is natural – without it, your chances of making it to the finish are minimal to none.
What Is Image SEO?
The practice of optimizing visual material on websites for search — as part of an effort to make websites and individual webpages more attractive – is known as image SEO (both to search engines and, in turn, also readers).
Google famously deleted the see picture button from Google Image Search in February of 2018. This was the consequence of Getty Images, a well-known firm, launching an antitrust complaint against Google in the European Union.
The complaint was brought under the premise that Google was stealing their photos for its search engine without providing due acknowledgment to the original owners. And it’s understandable if this behavior was costing them millions in license costs.
Then, on February 9th, Google and Getty Pictures reached an agreement to settle the issue, enabling Google to utilize images and removing the see image option, which was believed to encourage image theft. They then proceeded to dismiss the allegations against them.
And, thankfully for all of us, as a result of this, websites have begun to observe an increase in traffic from picture searches, with some claiming a 37 percent rise in traffic from image searches.
So, without further ado, let’s look at how you may optimize your pictures to increase search traffic.
Name All Image Files Appropriately
Google’s advice on picture file names has been consistent, with the company saying that file names can provide Google with information about the image’s subject matter. It’s worth mentioning that a title like my-new-black-kitten.jpg is far superior to IMG00023.jpg.
As a result, it is highly advised to avoid importing or copying, and pasting pictures from word documents (since this results in a title like word-image-1.jpg), which is obviously undesirable given Google’s suggestion.
With Google’s cloud vision API’s recent improvements, the significance of utilizing descriptive file names has been called into doubt. Even with high-resolution and what we consider to be crystal clear images that anybody can discern, there is still a significant amount of doubt — with just 53% (just barely the majority) conviction that the image below is a cookie.
And because the above findings were obtained using a high-quality, clear image, you can imagine what this means when it comes to photos that are less likely to have been seen before. Overall, it appears that Google’s advice still holds true: do whatever you can to assist them in doing their job better (particularly when it’s something simple to achieve).
Note: Do not include keywords in picture file names. For example, the above image may be called chocolate-chip-cookie.jpg. However, naming it chocolate-chip-cookie-cookies-baking.jpg merely to get more keywords in there is poor practice, and we would advise against it.
Use Descriptive Image Alt Text & Captions
What Is the Difference Between Alt Tags and Alt Text?
Alternative text (also known as alt tags) is a type of text that is used to explain a picture on a website. Although it is viewable in the HTML source of a page, it is not meant to be seen on the page where the picture is shown.
It has a variety of uses, the most important of which is to assist screen-reading software in describing visuals to your visually impaired reader. Search engines, of course, utilize it to crawl and comprehend web pages better.
The following is an example of HTML syntax for alt text from Google’s official guidelines:
<img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=” Dalmatian puppy playing fetch”/>
They further claim that Google combines alt text with computer vision algorithms and the page’s content to determine the image’s subject matter. Furthermore, when deciding what alt text to use for any pictures on your site, their suggestion is to always write valuable, information-rich material that employs keywords appropriately within the context of the pages they’re on.
In brief, follow the same guidelines as for picture file names, avoiding keyword overuse and misuse, which may lead your website’s content to be perceived as spam.
Fortunately, Rank Math allows you to automate the alt text creation procedure. Missing alt attributes can be inserted automatically using a variety of variables, including their filename (which, as previously discussed, should be manually changed to something appropriate anyhow), and so on.
Furthermore, adjusting the picture alt text value on the frontend of your website (i.e. without modifying the value that is saved) so that you may update the alt text and set anything manually at a later time.
The same goes for image captions:
Important Note: The subtitles for the photos are constantly added. That is to say, Rank Math adds the caption to the photos after the page has loaded, not before. In other words, you won’t see the captions added to your photos in the WordPress media gallery, but you will find them on posts, pages, and other places.
Simply choose your caption format, and let Rank Math do the heavy-lifting…
How To Optimize Image Alt Text (Alt Tags) for Better Image SEO
It’s easy to get caught up in debating the right alt text for every single image on your website and waste a lot of time doing so. When, in actuality, alt text only needs to do the following:
- Be timely, accurate, and user-friendly while writing (and SEO)
- Be detailed and descriptive
- Make yourself useful
To make this process go faster, anytime you’re creating the alt text, just glance at a picture and describe what’s in it (i.e. This is an image/photograph of…). This will naturally push you to write something that is both relevant and keyword-driven, while the appropriate keywords will organically form a part of the alt text for all of your photos when applicable.
Product photography and images are the only significant exceptions. Including the product serial number/unique identifier (if it’s something people would search for to discover the product) is important, even if it’s not something you’d normally mention when explaining what’s in the image.
While this isn’t based on a Google public guideline, it’s a good way to emphasize the link between your product pages and photos and the searches that people are doing based on related searches for a query:
So, here are some samples of alt text that we may use for a couple of images:
Our suggestion is to carefully consider the context of the more decorative pictures you include in your material. The image below is completely unrelated to this article’s content. In the context of this piece, for example, this photo taken by a member of our staff in London over a year ago has no meaningful place other than as an illustration.
So, using the picture file name London-eye-photograph-example.jpg and the alt text London Eye Photograph Example, we may upload it.
Simply because the observation wheel on the left is known as the London Eye, and it is an arbitrary image sample in the context of this article. Although you wouldn’t be able to link this to having an influence on the ranking of this article, it is still a component of picture SEO since we want to make it easier for both the visually handicapped and search engines.
Standardizing eCommerce product pictures, on the other hand, is a much simpler procedure. And here is where tools like Ahrefs and Semrush come in handy for figuring out what to include. Because you may not be aware of all the methods in which people are already searching for the goods you offer on your website…
Assume you own a jewelry store in the United Kingdom and sell a certain brand, such as Clogau, which Semrush reports has a high demand in search:
As a result, providing that unique identification whenever feasible can aid Google (and users) in better understanding the photos on your website.
In other words, for the product image (as seen below), we propose calling the file clogau-celebration-pendant-3smp5.jpg and matching the image alt text: 3SMP5 Clogau Celebration Pendant