Image SEO: Optimising Your Visual Content for Search Success

Capturing and maintaining the attention of online users has become increasingly challenging. With people’s attention spans dwindling and their affinity for visual content soaring, it has become crucial to leverage the power of images to enhance your online presence. This is where Image SEO comes into play. A powerful optimisation technique that ensures your images are effectively crawled, indexed, and displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries.

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What is Image SEO?

Image SEO refers to a set of best practices aimed at optimising images to improve their visibility and search engine rankings. While image SEO initially focused on optimising images for Google Image Search, search engines now also display images on web search results pages.

Therefore, incorporating image SEO strategies is essential not only for ranking higher on search engines but also for increasing conversion rates, especially for e-commerce websites.

Importance of Adding Images for search engines

Humans are naturally drawn to visual stimuli, and the strategic use of images can greatly enhance user engagement and retention.

By breaking the monotony of text-heavy content, images effectively capture the attention of users, compelling them to stay on your website longer.

For instance, when presenting complex data, such as a financial report, using graphs or charts instead of plain numbers can significantly improve comprehension and encourage users to continue reading.

It is important to note that adding relevant images & relevant text is key.

Irrelevant or excessive use of images can be counterproductive and lead to a high bounce rate on your web page/blog post. Therefore, image relevance plays a crucial role in keeping users engaged and satisfied, both from a user experience and search engine perspective.

How Google Image Search Works

Google Image Search employs sophisticated algorithms to retrieve and display images that are relevant to a user’s search query.

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Google Images utilises two primary methods:

Image Search by Context

When searching for images, Google tries to identify pictures with surrounding text that aligns with the user’s search intent. By providing informative and understandable context, you increase the chances of your images ranking higher on search results.

To achieve this, consider the following factors:

Contextual and Original Image:

Ensure that the image you use is 100% relevant to the main topic of the page. Originality is crucial, as non-original or scraped images are less likely to rank well.

Right Placement:

Place your images strategically, particularly near the most critical information on your page. Images placed below vital content have lower chances of ranking higher.

Authority of the Site:

Establishing expertise in a specific niche improves the likelihood of your content and associated images ranking well. Building a reputation in your field enhances image rankings and overall page/site quality.


With Google's mobile-first indexing, having a responsive website is essential. Non-responsive images result in a poor user experience, negatively impacting image rankings.

Proper Image File Name:

Optimise image file names to provide context to search engines. Avoid using generic or numeric file names that offer no clues about the image content.

Use Alt Tags

Viewers may understand the image, but search engine spiders need clues. Without alternative text, search engines can't index your image content accurately. A good alt tag provides context and helps visually impaired users too. But avoid keyword stuffing.

Meta Title Optimisation:

Optimise your page's meta title, as it closely correlates with image search results. A well-optimised title with relevant keywords enhances the visibility of your images.

Use of Structured Data:

Implement structured data, such as Product, Recipe, or Video schemas, to improve image search visibility. This can lead to higher organic traffic and the possibility of image snippets in web search results.

Image Quality:

High-quality images are essential for Google Image Search. Avoid pixelated or low-resolution images, as Google prioritises visual quality.

Optimise Image Size & Image Compression:

Your image file size is very important! Big image sizes that slow down page loading speed can negatively impact rankings. Compress and optimise all the images for the web to maintain optimal page performance. Consider utilising AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for faster image loading from Google's cache.

Reverse Image Search

Google’s Reverse Image Search allows users to upload images or enter its URL to find visually similar images.

This method focuses on the similarities between the uploaded image and images within Google’s database.

While image SEO strategies can contribute to better visibility in Reverse Image Search results, the emphasis is on image matching rather than optimisation.

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How Google Search By Images Works

Google’s Search By Image analyses distinctive features such as colours, points, lines, and textures within an image to generate a query. This query is then matched against billions of images in Google’s database. The results are displayed based on the similarities between the uploaded image and the existing images.

Yes, image SEO can significantly impact your website’s conversion rate. Engaging and relevant images can capture users’ attention, increase their time on site, and enhance their overall experience, leading to higher conversion rates.

To improve your images’ rankings on Google Image Search, focus on optimising factors such as image relevance, context, placement, the authority of your site, mobile-friendliness, proper image file names, meta title optimisation, structured data, image quality, and size optimisation.

Yes, Google values original images. Using unique and original images enhances the chances of your images ranking higher on search results compared to using scraped or non-original images.

Mobile-friendliness is critical for image SEO, as Google prioritises mobile-first indexing. Ensuring your website is responsive and your images are optimised for mobile devices enhances the user experience.

Image sitemaps can contain URLs from other domains, which means you can host your images on a Content Delivery Network. You can create an image sitemap manually or with a sitemap generator. To ensure that search engine crawlers notice every image – an infographic, meme, photo, video thumbnail, etc, you need to include them in your site map.