All aspects of your images impact SEO, from the origin of your image down to the format and image quality. With visual searches gaining traction online, images can actively increase traffic to your website. They can also help the viewers of your website, or readers of your blog post, to understand what you are trying to express more effectively and accurately.
There are many different aspects to image SEO. Exploring all options and harnessing all of the tools available to you will make all of the difference to drawing traffic to your images, and your website. Here we will explore these options and how they can benefit you.
It is better to use an original image that you have taken yourself or have had taken specifically for your use rather than stock images. If your image is original, it is unique and therefore traffic can only be drawn to your website through the image, whereas a regularly used stock image can lead users to the many different web pages that have used this image.
Illustrations may be an alternative to photo images. Paying an illustrator to produce bespoke imagery and branding for your website can be highly beneficial for establishing your individual brand identity, creating a recognisable pattern language and helping to raise awareness of your brand through your specifically commissioned style and designs.
If it is not possible for you to acquire your own unique images, there are many online image sourcing websites, such as Unsplash, or Flickr, which enable you to use a variety of images. Platforms such as Canva then further enable you to customise these images, making them your own and better fit to the overall style of your brand and website. Licensing and copyright information is a very important consideration if you choose to explore this avenue, however.
Copyright of an image is important to consider when selecting images online to use on your website. Confirming who owns the image or illustration you wish to use and gaining permission to use the image is vital. If you use an image without the owner’s consent, you open yourself up to legal issues. If you are obtaining your image from a stock photo website, whether this is free or paid for, you can check the licenses to ensure that you are permitted to use the image. For example, if an image is licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0), this means you can use, distribute and even modify the image for free. For SEO purposes, it is best to try to use an uncommon image, as it is would be more difficult to gain traffic to your website through an image used by many.
The name of the image file you choose is a crucial tool to your image SEO. Google uses the file name to establish the file content. Rather than using a generic file name such as “dog1234”, which does not help Google to establish the content of the image or illustration,a descriptive keyword-rich file name (for example “black-labrador-retriever-dog-2022”) provides Google with relevant information it can then use to benefit your image SEO.
File Size and Format
The ability to load an image is arguably one of the biggest priorities for any image you use on your website. Load times are critical for user experience and can have a negative impact on how users interact with your website, or how search engines index your page. This means that the size of your file is crucial. If your image is only intended to display at 200×100 pixels, uploading an image of 2000×1000 pixels is inefficient. Be sure to scale and compress your image appropriately.
Another important consideration is the file format. There is no set correct file format for images. However, do consider your priorities and requirements for the image. If you are aware that your website is often viewed on a specific browser or specific devices, it is best to check which file formats are supported for these browsers and devices.
Your images may be a focal point on your website, but the accompanying text is important to consider carefully. Keyword-rich descriptive text aids Google to understand and index your images accurately and effectively. As well as your general website text, there are other types of descriptive text to consider. For example, attributes (both title and alt text) are beneficial both for SEO and accessibility.
Alt-text is descriptive text that outlines the contents of an image if the image is unavailable to load for the webpage viewer. This “alternative” text could be required for multiple reasons, such as when a user has images turned off in their web browser, or if the user is visually impaired and uses a screen reader, the text ensures no information or functionality is lost to this user. Include keywords in the alt text to optimise your SEO, as Google actively uses Alt text to determine the content of an image and how this image relates to the surrounding text.
Title text is an attribute that shows as a tooltip when you hover over an element (such as an image). These only work for users who use a mouse (or similar devices), and for accessibility title tags are only relevant for <iframe> and <frame> tags. Title text is not always required, but if you wish to include relevant keyword text in your title text, consider also including this text somewhere else on your website so that no important information is lost in optimisation.
Including a caption can also be beneficial to aid viewers who briefly scan your website. It is important to only add captions where suitable; if it would seem out of place, it is better to omit, despite the potential SEO benefits. Similarly, images can make your webpage or blog piece more exciting, interesting and appealing, but do not overlook the importance of accompanying text.
Image Positioning and Relevance
How an image is positioned in relation to your website text, captions and other content is picked up by Google during the indexing process, making this a very important detail not to be overlooked with regards to your image’s SEO. If the image is illustrative, it may have a natural position requirement on your webpage. But if it is more for highlighting the overall theme of the article or for aesthetic benefit, try to consider the most appropriate positioning to highlight what you feel is important for Google to focus on. If the image is a priority rather than an enhancing feature, positioning the image further to the top of the webpage may be the best position for it as any user who opens the webpage is likely to view the image even if they do not continue to the bottom of the page.
Images should enhance your website, and help to establish what you are trying to convey to the reader. If you would like to get in contact to discuss how we can help you with your image SEO, we would be delighted to hear from you