Optimising images for better visibility in image search results

By Agata Bowden | 19 Aug 2019

Image optimisation can positively influence your SEO efforts, and is becoming an ever-increasing traffic source for many businesses. But only by optimising your images properly can you appear in image search results.

One of the easiest and often overlooked optimisation opportunities is the actual image file names themselves. File names should use a few carefully chosen keywords that the image could rank for.

Image alt text and title attributes (the <img> HTML tag) are also simple settings that not only help images rank higher in search, but also build up a page’s relevancy and improve user experience, both of which are ranking factors. Implementing alt text is also important in cases where an image is used to link to a page (internally or externally), as the text in the ‘alt’ attribute becomes the anchor text of the link.

There are also more technical factors which need to be considered for image optimisation, such as the right image formats, size and dimensions, or image hosting and setting of images, caching times and loading. These are the usual suspects when it comes to your website’s performance and can significantly influence your page speed.

The importance of image search

Although there aren’t official numbers, Google has stated that hundreds of millions of people use Google Images every day to discover and explore content on the web visually. In 2019, both John Mueller and Gary Illyes from Google were telling webmasters and SEOs that image search is something they should be paying more attention to.

A year earlier the search giant updated the “View Image” button in image search to include a direct link to the hosting website. As a result, analytics platforms began recording an increase in sessions specifically driven from image search, and content visibility for the host pages increased.

Often overlooked and underestimated, images on the web have been getting more attention lately and their importance is growing for a variety of reasons, ranging from purely supporting user experience and content to enabling users to find more products directly from image search itself. Humans are visual creatures and most of us process information based on what we see. According to the Social Science Research Network 65% of us are visual learners, so there are strong arguments for gaining presence on Google’s image search.