Image SEO Basics to Keep in Mind for Your Website

SEO does not just apply to the text on your company’s website because you can also optimize the images you upload. Here’s how you can make your website’s images SEO-friendly.

By now, you’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how important it is to your company or brand’s online presence. In fact, the return on investment (ROI) of good SEO content can be as high as 12.2x your marketing spend.

This is why companies invest in their SEO by hiring specialists who focus solely on making sure websites and even social media accounts are optimized for search engines like Google. And while it may seem like optimizing a website or social media page is only limited to the text that can be read, that is actually not the case—especially since you can even optimize images for SEO.

Here’s how it works.

Image SEO, Explained

SEO, in layman’s terms, is making sure that your website or social media page has increased chances of making it to the first page of a search engine. This can be done through different optimization practices, which include image SEO. 

Image SEO is defined by HubSpot as “the practice of optimizing your images for search engines through thoughtful alt text, appropriate captions, good file dimensions, and more.” Simply put, optimizing your images adds a needed boost to your website or social media page’s SEO, which means that it is more likely to come out when people search for the keyword online. 

However, image SEO on its own is not enough to rank your website or social media page high on the results page. This is why you should remember to pair it with other SEO practices for a higher chance of being seen.

Image SEO Best Practices

So how do you make sure that the images uploaded on your website or social media pages are properly optimized for SEO? There are a couple of different best practices that are actually more practical and easy to do than you think. 

Use Original Images Over Stock Photos

Let’s say you have to choose from an original image and a stock photo to upload to your website. Which do you pick? 

While it is understandable that using stock photos is inevitable at times, original images rank better in terms of SEO. Always remember that it’s not only your audience who likes to see original images. So does Google. 

But what happens if you have no choice but to use a stock photo? You may want to consider making edits to the image that will differentiate it from the other websites that are using the same stock photo. Before you jump the gun, however, make sure to check if there are copyright restrictions that will prevent you from editing a stock photo as you please. Royalty-free images are usually the way to go.

Whichever you choose, make sure that you also pick a responsive image, which means it can be viewed on any type of device. Also, make sure your image is optimized for mobile, as images meant for desktops or wide screens will not look very presentable on mobile and vice versa. 

Choose the Right Format

Now, let’s say you’ve already picked an image that you want to upload. What you have to do next is to make sure that it’s in the right format. Keep in mind PNG and JPEG are the two most commonly used formats on the web, but they both have a disadvantage. PNG images tend to come in larger file sizes, while JPEG may compromise the quality of the image. 

You may opt to go for WebP instead—given that this format is actually supported by both browsers: Chrome and Firefox. It’s also the best of worlds, as WebP images are generally high quality but come in smaller file sizes. 

Give the Image the Right File Name

Keywording, or the practice of applying “keywords and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines” is the main foundation of a well-optimized SEO website. After all, this kind of website “speaks the same language” as its potential visitors, since these keywords help connect them to your site.

That being said, keywords do not only apply to the copy or text that can be read on your website or social media page. It also applies to the images you upload—specifically, the file name of your image.

What does this mean? Saving a generic file name full of words and numbers not related to what is seen in the photo is not good for your website’s SEO. 

Instead, use the appropriate keywords as your image’s file name, such as the subject of the photo and the name of your company or business. For example, let’s say the image you’re using shows Intramuros. You can include the words “Intramuros,” “Manila,” and “Tourist Spots” in your file name. 

Through this practice, you increase the chance of your image also appearing in the image search results of your chosen search engine, which will then lead visitors to your website.

Write SEO-Friendly Alt Text

The alt text is basically a descriptive text added to the image that is useful when the image cannot be displayed for whatever reason. In simpler terms, it describes what can be seen in the image. Not only does alt text help people with visual impairments or poor internet connection, but it actually also helps your website have a better chance of being indexed more effectively by search engines.

But what is indexing? Defined as “the process by which Google crawlers store and categorize information and content they find on websites,” indexing works by jumping from link to link to find new web pages through previous tracking data—which are used to locate content and information. And your job is to make it easier for these crawlers to find your website. How? Through SEO.

Just like giving your image the right kind of file names, try to add important keywords to your alt text. However, don’t forget that the alt text is meant to describe the image, so make sure to add descriptive words, such as those that refer to color and size, to your alt text.

Why Image SEO is Key

With the countless websites, pages, and social media accounts available online, reaching the right audience is often easier said than done. Following SEO practices will help your online content reach your target audience.

While much of the SEO practices are focused on the text and links you include in your content, such as keywords and internal links, images should not be disregarded when optimizing your website. This will further boost your website’s SEO rating and therefore increase its chances of ranking higher on search engines.