You’ve just written a post that exhaustively explores your topic and satisfies searcher intent. It’s engaging and informative, and you know readers and search spiders alike are going to love it. Awesome!
Now, how’s your image SEO for the post?
After putting in the work of crafting a killer post, you need to make sure that your visual game matches up. What does that mean?
Kissmetrics tells us that quality content isn’t enough. To maintain a solid ranking, you need to include rich media, such as images and videos, and they should reflect the same quality and voice as your post to help communicate its point. These graphics can include charts, graphs, screenshots, GIFs and photos. They’re are a big part of the overall perceived quality of your post, so it’s important that you get this right.
Combine quality content with optimized images to achieve and maintain solid rankings.
How Can Image SEO Help Your Site?
There’s no question about it — images that aren’t optimized can hurt your website. Photos that take a long time to load, for example, can send your rankings plummeting and your bounce rate skyrocketing. On the flip side, properly optimized images provide a better user experience, which might improve time on site, and they can broaden your site’s ranking opportunities via the SERPs and Google Images.
Google and other search engines have a large list of factors that determine search rankings (check out Search Engine Land’s table of ranking factors), and it’s important to understand what they are and which ones are relevant to the media on your site.
Include your targeted keyword in the media’s file name, but in a human, readable way. Readers and spiders should be able to get a good sense of what the subject of the image is based on the file name.
Adding relevant, descriptive alt text to each image ensures that readers who are using screen readers or have images disabled are able to understand what the image represents. Bonus points for including your target keyword, as this is a ranking factor and will impact both the post’s ranking as well as the image’s visibility within Image Search. According to Moz, industry best practice is to keep your alt text to 140 characters or less.
Image File Size
High-resolution images are necessary to give your site a professional look, but bloated file sizes can impact load times and your overall ranking. Use tools such as Optimizilla, TinyPNG or Kraken to compress your images to reduce their overall footprint.
Google is placing a greater emphasis on the mobile experience and are even making moves toward using a mobile-first index in the near future. If you want to rank well, you’ll need to make sure your site delivers a good mobile experience. A critical part of that is ensuring your graphics respond to mobile devices to show an appropriately scaled image. This isn’t just good for SEO; it also enhances the user experience.
Entice your readers to stick around and read more by giving your images “deep captions.” Image captions are one of the most-read elements on a web page after headlines, so make yours count. Deep captions are typically two to three sentences long, which is usually enough to engage readers so they stay on the page.
Creating graphics that engage users, offer some unique value or are just entertaining ups your chances that readers either link to the images in their own content or share them on social media. This can be a valuable source of backlinks for your post. If you’ve optimized the images as described above, it tells Google that your post is relevant for the keywords and topics you’re targeting.
You can get creative when using images, but high-quality photos, charts, graphics, GIFs, infographics and visual quotes all work well. If you do choose to use these types of images, make sure to include share buttons and/or embed code so you don’t miss out on getting some easy links.
Getting the Most Out Of Google Image Search
Roughly 22 percent of all searches in the U.S. are Google Image searches, giving properly optimized images a much broader reach. Google Images also frequently appear as featured snippets in many text search results where they can steal clicks away from text results. That’s a substantial amount of traffic that you can capitalize on if you put the time and effort into the images on your site.
The good news is — if you follow proper image SEO and take the time and effort to optimize, your pages will most likely rank well in image searches for the graphics already in your posts. Still, there are a few more things you can do to get even more out of image search:
- Use Google’s Search Console to see what images are ranking for in Image Search. To do this, visit Search Console > Search Traffic > Search Analytics, and then change Search Type to Image. You can then view the Clicks, Impressions, CTR and the Average Positions your images are ranking for. Keeping an eye on this can give you a good sense of whether your images are ranking for the terms you want them to. It will even help you identify high-value opportunities where you might want to try to get better rankings for your images.
- Benchmark against the competition. Once you’re able to see which search terms your images are ranking for, you might want to start comparing your on-site graphics (and possibly metadata) against your competitors. Look at things such as image quality, legibility, whether they’re offering unique info and whether they’re engaging. Try to improve your image SEO so image searchers would rather click on your image than competitor images.
- Brand it. Add your logo, web address or some text that will encourage someone viewing the image to visit the page the image lives on.
And now, for your reading pleasure, a well-placed graphic with full-blown image SEO: