SEO for Google Images | Search Central Lightning Talks

 Google Images Best Practices

Google Images is a way to visually search for information on the web. Users can quickly view image information with more context thanks to new features such as image comments and prominent icons.


By adding more context around images, results can become more useful, which can improve the quality of traffic to your site. You can help the discovery process by making sure your photos and location are optimized for Google Images. Follow our guidelines to increase the likelihood of your content appearing in Google Images search results.


Create a Great User Experience

To improve your content's visibility in Google Images, focus on the user by giving them a great user experience: design pages for users first, not for search engines. Here are some tips:

  • Provide good context: Make sure your visual content matches the theme of the page. We suggest displaying images only where they add value to the page. We especially discourage pages on which neither images nor text are original content.
  • Optimize placement: place images next to relevant text whenever possible. When it makes sense, consider placing the most important image at the top of the page.
  • Don't insert important text into images. Avoid embedding text in images, especially important text elements such as page titles and menu items, as not all users can access them (and page translation tools won't work with images). To make your content as accessible as possible, save text as HTML, provide alt text for images.
  • Create informative and high-quality websites. Quality content on your web page is just as important as visual content for Google Images - it provides context and makes the result more actionable. Page content can be used to create a text snippet of an image, and Google considers the quality of page content when ranking images.
  • Build Device-Friendly Sites: Users are more likely to search for Google Images on mobile than on desktop. For this reason, it is important that you design your website for all types and sizes of devices. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test to check how well your pages perform on mobile devices and get feedback on what needs to be fixed.
  • Create a good URL structure for your images: Google uses the path of the URL as well as the filename to help it understand your images. Think about positioning the image in such a way that URLs build logically.

How Discover differs from Search

When searching, users enter a search term to find useful information related to their query, but Discover takes a different approach. Instead of showing results in response to a query, Discover displays content based primarily on what Google's automated systems consider to be a good match for the user's interests.

As a highly personalized channel, Discover actively tunes in to the user's interests and displays content that matches those interests. Content in Discover is automatically updated as new content is posted, however Discover is designed to display all types of useful content from the web, not just recently published content.

We are constantly improving Discover to provide users with personalized and useful content. Given the random nature of Discover, traffic from Discover is less predictable and reliable than search traffic and is considered additional to your search traffic. Our ongoing work to improve the Discover user experience means sites may see changes in their traffic that are not related to the quality or frequency of their content.

How content appears in Discover

Content may automatically appear on Discover if it is indexed by Google and complies with Discover's content policy. No special tags or structured data is required. Please note that eligibility for the Discover program is not a guarantee of appearance.

SEO for Google Images: Top Tips to Increase Your Blog's Traffic


Have you ever heard of SEO for Google Images?

Yes: Techniques for improving visual content to rank higher on search results pages. Do you know them?

If your answer is no, then it's time to change that. Especially after Google's changes, this can significantly increase traffic through images.

Since 1 out of every 3 web searches includes images, there is a high chance that web traffic could be generated by Google Images. If your site is equipped for this purpose, your results can be amazing.




Why Use SEO for Google Images on Your Blog or Company Website?

We can't lie: the job of optimizing your media for search engines is pretty stressful.

Is it worth it? Is SEO good for Google Images and will it benefit your content marketing strategy?

We think so, and we have 3 great arguments to convince you too!

This is an additional source of visits.

In 2013, Google announced a change to the Google Photos system by adding a "View Image" button.

If the user clicks here, they will be redirected to the URL of the corresponding image instead of the original site.

In the months following this change, the total number of visits to Google Photos dropped significantly. However, in February 2020, the company announced a new change that turned things around: there was no longer a "View Image" button, forcing users to navigate to sites to search for full-size media files.

effects? Overall increase in site visits through Google Images by 37%.

Impressive, isn't it?

With this new influx of people being directed to the sites, anyone who manages to stand out in Google Images can gain an additional source of traffic.

Help spread your content

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It may not be true, but the visuals have the incredible power of spreading a virus.

For example, posts with images typically generate 650% more engagement than posts with only words.

The more engagement, the more opportunities to publish content and increase your reach online.

But for that, people have to find your photos on Google. This will only happen after optimization - and a lot of work.

Reduce your website loading time

Even if you're not interested in driving traffic with Google Images, you might find the tips in this article helpful.

We'll talk about this later, but one SEO technique for images is to reduce the file size.

By using lightweight images, your page loads faster, which improves the user experience and is rewarded by Google.

In other words: working with Google Images SEO helps your site rank better overall.

Now are you convinced? If so, keep reading this article to find out how to improve your photo rankings online!

How do you improve your photos to show up on Google?

Now that you understand the importance of working on SEO for Google Images on your website or blog, the big question is: how do I do it? What are the best practices for ensuring that your photos are correctly positioned?

Below, we'll show you the best tips for improving your photos' rankings based on the elements that Google sees. Check them out!

Image file name

The first element of putting photos on your computer starts before the photo is uploaded to your servers: the filename.

To improve your images for Google, we need to understand the limitations of crawlers.

It is great for understanding text and the importance of certain content using an algorithm and giving importance to keywords.

However, they are still learning to read pictures. In fact, think about this problem for a bit: how to pass the content of an image to a bot?

For example, imagine that the scanner reads the HTML code of your new article, which talks about the different types of bags available on the market.

You can choose a beautiful image of a handbag to illustrate an article explaining to the reader what a bag is.

However, the file name is “IMG448.png”. What the crawler will have access to is this:

  • <img src=”IMG448.png”/>
As you can see, this information is not very useful in explaining the content of the image you used in the article. Now see how the code would look if the file was better named:

  •  <img src=”brown_leather_handbag.png”/>
Even without seeing the image, we can imagine what it looks like with a name like that, right?



Image caption

Did you know that captions under images are read on average 300% more than the content of the text itself?

This means captions are a great opportunity to engage your readers. And so is Google.

The search engine itself admits that it uses captions to extract information to then try to understand the image.

Remember that the scanner cannot see the image? So any written element will help tell the AI ​​what that content contains.

This does not mean that you should place 100% of the image captions in your articles, but you should use this feature every time you are trying to rank a particular visual file.

The secret to writing a good signature is to include information that:

  • helps to understand the content of the image;
  • includes the keyword you want to rank for;
  • complements the content of the article.

Let's go back to our example with text about different bags. The same photo of a brown leather handbag can illustrate two types of filling: one with suitcases for work, and the other for tourists.

A good title for a travel tips article would be something like this:

"A traveler can carry a bag weighing up to 22 pounds onto the plane."

This title explains the content of the image (it's a bag), includes the keyword we want ("bag"), and complements the content of the article by indicating that it's a photo related to bags and tourism.


Alternative text

All images on the web have an ALT attribute that is used to describe their content.

This is the most important factor in SEO for Google Images.

Alternative text is used to describe the content of the image in question. This is useful because it helps people with visual impairments (and those who use screen readers) understand the content, but is also displayed when the user's browser is unable to load the image file for some reason.

This is another factor that Google uses to try and understand the image and its relevance to the user.

When writing the content of the alt attribute, it's important to objectively and concisely describe what's in the image, preferably using the keyword we want to rank for (but no frills). See example:
  • bad: <img src=”brown_leatherhandbag.png” alt=””/>
  • bad: <img src=”brown_leather_bag.png” alt=”brown leather handbag backpack best brands unmissable prices” />
  • good: <img src=”brown_leather_skin bag.png” alt=”brown leather handbag placed in the luggage compartment of an airplane” />

Image context

According to Google, one of the elements of SEO for Google Images is the context in which the image is used.

The picture should be added to your article in the part where it is most relevant.

This is because the Google algorithm uses the content of the paragraphs next to the image as context to understand its content.

So, if you're talking about "The Best Plants for an Apartment" for example, it's a good idea to put an image of one of those plants in context.

The same picture will not be very useful and will not have the same power if it is added next to the items about “types of pots” or “gardening tools”.

Image URL

Remember we mentioned the importance of getting your site's URL structure right in order to improve its Google rankings? The logic is the same when we talk about images.

That's why the tips we gave earlier are also helpful when we want to rank in Google Images.

It is important to organize a logical and concise URL for your media in order to quickly tell the search engine that this is an image and its content.

Image Interaction

Imagine you're searching for "baby backpacks" on Google Images. When you start browsing the results, the photo at the bottom of the list grabs your attention: it's a blue backpack with a funny sticker on it.

You click on the image, then go to the page where it is located to read the article.

A few weeks later, you do the same search, and surprisingly, the image that used to be at the bottom of the results is now at the top. What happened?

Basically, your click (and a lot of people's click) told Google that the image was relevant.

In this case, the funny sticker caught your attention and the attention of other users, resulting in more clicks and photo relevancy.

That's why it's important to use original and impressive images on your site and optimize them for rankings. These are the numbers that will lead to more engagement and better rankings.

Image dimensions

Check it out right now: open a new tab in your browser and search for the image on Google. It can be, for example, "puppies".

Have you noticed any patterns other than the fact that all the photos are very cute?

If you've been paying attention, you might have noticed that the vast majority of the images shown are more or less the same size.

Google prefers rectangular images with an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 4:3.

Because of this, sizes like 1366 x 768 (16:9) or 720 x 480 (4:3) rank better than images that fall completely outside the template (such as very horizontal or very vertical).

If these dimensions sound familiar to you, it's because they're equal: 16:9 and 4:3 are commonly used in video resolutions such as TVs, movies, and YouTube itself.

file size

You already know that page load time is an important factor in its ranking in Google. The slower, the worse the positioning.

The faster the better.

What you may not know yet is that images on a page are the main factor influencing page load time.

This means that light images rank better than large files, which creates the need to compress and reduce the size of the media file.

There are tools to help you get the job done. The most famous is Adobe Photoshop, but it is paid software.

Below is a list of free alternatives that do the same job:

Image metadata

Each image contains a certain amount of information stored within it, usually generated by the device that captured it.

A photo taken by the camera stores information such as exposure time, shutter aperture size, whether you used a flash or not, etc.

This information is called metadata and is useful for many things, but not very important unless we are talking about the technical aspects of photography.

That's why it's so important to clean up those metadata that are not so important to you, reduce their size and speed up loading.

You can do it very easily:
  • right-click the image file on your computer, choosing "Properties";
  • then go to the "Details" section. You will find an option to remove metadata from a file;
  • choose one by one or check them all at once and everything!

Image Sharing

A curious factor that boosts an image's rank is the number of times the media is played on other sites via an embed.

Embed is an HTML tag that allows you to embed a media file (photo, music, video) from one site to another page.

The more often this happens to an image, the more Google considers it relevant and the better it ranks.

This is extremely useful when we make infographics and other visuals. It is recommended to promote and encourage the embedding of these media files in other pages in order to increase their ranking in Google Images.

Position of the image on the page

We have already mentioned that the position of an image in the article it is inserted into is important for your Google ranking.

This is because the content of the paragraphs next to the image helps provide the search engine with context.

However, the other positioning element provides a better or worse ranking for the image, whether it is at the top of the page or not.

Google recommends placing your article's main image, which best complements your content, at the top of the page. So it will have the biggest impact on rankings and improve the keyword you want to highlight.

Texts inside an image

Google does not recommend putting a lot of text inside the image you want to rank. This happens for two reasons:

  1. search engine crawlers cannot read this content. This makes it "useless" in terms of ranking, as it is only available to the user;
  2. this text is not available to Google's machine translation tools, which can degrade accessibility and user experience, which affects page rank.
The search engine recommends that important text be in HTML format, accessible to the crawler and providing context for the images.

In the case of infographics, it is important to remember that they must be accompanied by articles that provide useful information and explain the content, providing the context that Google requests.

Responsive Images

For some time now, Google has been performing more searches on mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, than on desktop computers.

Mobile devices are no longer the "future of the Internet", but the present. And if your site is not responding to that, then you have a big ranking problem.

Sites that don't respond are penalized by Google and don't appear prominently in mobile search results. The same thing happens with images on Google Images.

If you are using a version of WordPress above 4.4 to manage your website or blog, this is not a problem for you as this version already formats images as responsive by default.

Image relevance

Advances in artificial intelligence for identifying image content are impressive, but its application in the market is still wavering. Today, only a few bots or algorithms can "read" photos.

With Google it's the same as we said. The difference is that Google's image algorithm can already perform a visual search to determine if an image is what the user is looking for.

The system is not very complex, but good enough not to show the image of a puppy (even with all possible SEO optimizations) in a search, for example, "Eiffel Tower".

So use the image you really want to use. If this is an article about selling cars, use a picture of the car, not just a photo of another item.

Structured data

Google Images uses a structured data system to create certain "famous stamps" to optimize the user experience.

It works like this: if you're making an article from one of the Google Stamp compatible themes, you can use structured data in your images.

This way they will receive a stamp and indicate to the user that this is exactly what he is looking for.

Google Images is compatible with three types of structured data:
  • video;
  • recipes;
  • products.
This means that if your image is related to one of these topics, you can use structured data to get a stamp and see if your image will rank better in Google Images.

For example: if you have a recipe site that specializes in chocolate, you can use structured data to have your images tagged as "recipe".

So if someone searches for "chocolate cake recipe" on Google Images, they are more likely to land on your site because the photo will show that this is what the person wants.

Open Graph and Twitter Card

Remember when we said that the more often your website image is used on other pages, the more relevant it is to Google?

Well, it is. If you create quality content, your readers will organically share it on social media.

This means that you can add your images over and over to these promotions.

To do this, you will need to properly set up the image meta tags for social networks through Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Card.

Image Sitemap

A sitemap is an important SEO tool for your page. It tells Google about the hierarchy on your site and how to prioritize content on your site.

You probably have one of these on your blog or website. But did you know that you can create a unique sitemap for your images?

Google recommends. The search engine encourages and teaches how to create an image sitemap to make it easier for search bots to find your media and, of course, rank your site higher.

Safe search

Every time an image or page is flagged as banned or blocked by a user, Google marks a "negative point" for the SEO of your site or the media in question.

Since there is practically everything on the Internet, parents often worry about what content their children have access to on the Internet.

To do this, Google created SafeSearch, which filters out inappropriate content from search results for children.

Therefore, if an image that is not suitable for minors is displayed on the SafeSearch device, such content will be marked as prohibited and blocked. And it will lower their overall rating.

So if you have images on your site that are not suitable for minors, you need to submit them to Google so you don't get fined.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to group all these media under one URL.

Image Format

Not all image formats can be captured by Google Images. So use the correct format if you want to get the right rating.

The following are accepted:

  • JPEG;
  • PNG;
  • PMB;
  • GIF;
  • Web site;
  • SVG;
  • embedded images.
For example, formats such as TIFF or Raw, which are most commonly used in professional photography, do not appear in Google Images.

The most commonly used format is JPEG because it has the highest compression ratio and can transfer small files. However, as a negative point, it doesn't work with transparency like GIF and PNG.

General Site Ranking Factors

So far, we have listed 20 exclusive SEO factors for Google Images. But what makes the Google algorithm so rich and efficient is that everything is contextualized.

This means that one element favors or harms the others, and ideally everything works together to get the best possible result.

That is: your site's overall ranking factors affect media performance in Google Images.

If your page is optimized for display on Google, you will earn points for image searches. Otherwise, you will have trouble getting consistent results with your media.

That's why it's ideal to do a complete job covering all the elements around your site.

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