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Image Optimization for SEO: 5 Must-Follow Tips

Images are an integral part of any website.

They can help to tell a story, create a mood, or provide visual information about your company and what you do.

But did you know that images also play a huge role in your SEO?

Search engines work by crawling through the text on your website, but they can’t crawl an image and understand what the visual content of the file is.

This means you need to provide text in some key areas to assist the search engine.

This article will cover 5 tips for optimizing your images for the best search engine results possible.

Tip #1: Use keywords in file names

Make sure to use your keyword in the file name.

For example, if we were talking about SEO for websites that sell whiskey online, the file name should be something like “whiskey-online.jpg” instead of just “image01.jpeg”.

In the example above, I have used the image from this article and ensured that the image, optimization, and SEO are in the actual file name.

You also want to make sure the title is not too long.

Moz recommends keeping the titles to no more than 60 characters because the search engine will cut off the title by adding an ellipsis (…).

Tip #2: Use the best file type

The Alexa blog provides this overview for choosing the best file types;

 • JPGs for photos

 • PNG for most custom graphics, screenshots, and logos (PNG files have a transparent background.)

 • SVG for custom graphics or logos that will be viewed in many different sizes (SVG files scale to a variety of sizes without losing quality.)

 • GIFs for animated or moving graphics

Tip #3: Add alt text

Alternative text, or alt text, is used in the page’s HTML code to describe the image that’s on the page.

It is used for those that are visually impaired and who use screen readers so that they have a better understanding of what’s in the image.

It is also helpful for search engine crawlers since they see only a file type (ex. image.jpeg), and not visual content of what’s in the image.

The alt text allows the search engine crawlers to understand the visual content of the image provided that you write an alt text when uploading the image.

Tip #4: Keep file sizes as small as possible while still maintaining the quality of the image

The loading speed of a webpage affects both the user’s ability to see the content faster and a search engine’s ability to index a page.

Choose an image that fits how you want it to be seen on the page, but make sure you reduce the file size so that it loads quickly and still maintains the image’s quality.

For my site, I use article images that are 1200×800 but ensure that I reduce the file size down.

You can do this with an image editor like PhotoShop, but you can also use WordPress’s built-in compressor or use a plug-in.

Tip #5: Descriptive Captions

The difference between Alt text and a Caption is that the Alt Text is not visible when looking at the webpage, and a Caption can appear underneath the image.

By adding a visible Caption for your photos, you are providing additional information for search engines to understand what the content of an image is.

You will have to determine if a caption is useful for your site or not.

For my site, most of my images are stock photos and I don’t want to add generic captions underneath each one for SEO purposes.

If I use my own photos that need some additional explanation, then I’ll opt for using a caption.


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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