Image optimisation is often overlooked when thinking about SEO. Images are known to be a crucial part of the decision making and purchase processes however, and image search is reported to account for around 20% of all searches conducted on Google. This means taking the time to carry out image SEO could create new opportunities for discovery and help you boost search engine visibility.
In the latest version of its Ask Google Webmasters video series, the search engine’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller tackled the question of image optimisation and how to go about it. Here’s what he said Google recommends you focus on when optimising your images for search:
- Think if you really need to optimise them
Not all images may warrant the time needed to optimise them so ask yourself what would be beneficial for your search presence. Which images would be most useful to you if they appeared higher up in image search? Might some higher value products be worthy of the initial effort, rather than very low cost products you stock?
- Have a post-image optimisation plan
Another great nugget of advice is to think about what to do after your image optimisation. This means selecting the pages on your site you want your improved image search visibility to lead to and have a plan in place for optimising them too.
- Ensure your images are high quality
Poor quality images will do you no favours in the image search stakes so before you even get started, ensure that you’re using the best quality images available to you. This may require you to experiment with different file formats, such as PNG or JPEG to find a happy mix of good quality and small file size.
- Think about where images are placed on the page
The location of your image within your web page is part of the ranking process for image search. This doesn’t mean you should place your pictures only at the top of the page or in the middle for example, it refers more to locating the image close to text that is contextually relevant to the picture. The text around the image helps the search engine to understand what the image shows, so surrounding it with meaningful and relevant text is vital.
- Use captions
Just as it’s important to place your image close to text that is associated with that picture, it’s also important to use captions. These give additional information to the search engine, again helping with indexing and rankings.
- Use descriptive file names
While you don’t need to use overly long file names, using a descriptive name can help Google to understand what the image shows.