Image SEO: Effective Tips (For More Organic Traffic) Malkam Dior

Best Image SEO Practices Now At Your Fingertips —MalkamDior


Step 1: Fill in your alt tags.

Step 2: …?

There’s more to image SEO than writing a few alt tags—a lot more.

Some may even argue that with Google’s recent advances in machine learning, alt tags no longer matter. For example, here’s what happens when you upload a photo of a cat into Google’s Cloud Vision API—their machine-learning image identification tool:

Google can tell that this is a photo of a cat with near-perfect accuracy. That’s impressive.

I made sure to remove all metadata from this image. You can also see that the filename is a rather undescriptive 

So what’s even the point in adding alt tags if Google understands the content of images? Is image SEO dead? Not at all. 

In this post, I’ll run through 12 actionable image optimization tips for more organic traffic.

Here’s what Google says about image filenames:

[…] the filename can give Google clues about the subject matter of the image. For example, my-new-black-kitten.jpg is better than IMG00023.JPG.

This is SEO 101. Most people do this.

That’s likely because Google has been giving this same advice for years.

Proof that Google’s advice on the matter has remained consistent since 2013, via The Wayback Machine.

But once again, given Google’s recent advances in machine learning and their newfound ability to recognize images, how important is this, really?

Good question. I’m aware that cat example was pretty impressive. So let’s try another image.

Google is 91% sure that this is cheese. Google is wrong. It’s butter.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that butter looks similar to cheese, but the point still stands: Google isn’t perfect—you should do everything in your power to help them understand your images.

That doesn’t mean keyword stuffing. Keep your filenames descriptive and straightforward.

Good: dog.jpg
Bad: dog-puppy-pup-pups-puppies.jpg

It doesn’t take much effort to rename images to be more descriptive. So it’s worth doing.

2. Use descriptive alt text and captions

Alt text (alternative text) describes an image. It’s what the browser displays to users with screen readers. Browsers also display alt text if there’s a problem rendering images.

Here’s the HTML syntax:

<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="Dalmatian puppy playing fetch"/>

That example comes straight from Google’s official guidelines. It’s used to show what a well-written alt tag looks like. Here’s their general advice for writing these:

Google uses alt text along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject matter of the image. […] When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.

Matt Cutts gives some equally good advice for alt text in this old, yet still relevant video:

However, here’s a shortcut that almost always works perfectly—finish this sentence:

This is a(n) image/screenshot/photograph/drawing of __________.”

Remove any conjunctions or connections (e.g., a/an) from the resulting sentence and use the last part as your alt text. Here are a few examples:

This is a photograph of a chocolate cheesecake.“
<img src="chocolate-cheesecake.jpg" alt="Chocolate cheesecake"/>

This is a drawing of my cat, Mark, playing with his toys.“
<img src="mark-the-cat.jpg" alt="My cat, Mark, playing with his toys"/>

You may wish to deviate from this formula slightly when writing alt text for product images. For these, it can be useful to add the product or serial number, like so:

<img src="battery-tender.jpg" alt="Battery tender (022-0186G-DL-WH)"/>

In conclusion, Google has no official guidelines stating that you should do this. But it makes sense because Google clearly understands the relationships between product names and serial/product numbers. Want proof? Take a look at the related searches for this query:

Google knows what product we’re looking for based on a search for the product number alone. So incorporating this into your alt text may help Google to understand that it is, in fact, an image of a product.