search engine optimization — basics

Optimize Images for SEO

Optimize Images for SEO

Images attract user attention and provide important visual information. Users can see and understand the content of an image. Search engine bots cannot; bots can only understand text. In order for bots to "understand" your images you need to use good SEO practices. 

The most important action to take with images is to use the <alt> tag. The <alt> tag is a brief text description that is displayed if the image cannot be displayed for any reason.

Optimize images for seo with the <alt> tag

This shows the alt tag text. Search engine bots can read this and add this information to the page index.  Note also that the file name, "2008-world-series-baseball.jpg," also helps the bot understand the "meaning" of the image. Good SEO uses both the file name and the alt tag to make the content of the image bot readable.

In many WordPress themes there is a field for image captions. This is another opportunity to use add useful text that will help readers and bots. For example a caption that includes the first and last names of the people in the photo, the location and the date will help that image be indexed and found during a user search.

Google has two good technical recommendations for your images. First, use standard formats for your images. Stick with .jpg, .png, and .gif images. Speed is an important factor in user experience so pay attention to optimizing your images for appearance and size displayed. The second technical recommendation from Google is to keep all your site images in a separate folder on your server to simplify paths to your images. Use a keyword in the directory name for your images.

Use descriptive file names for your photos. Bots read file names and this is one more way to inform search engines about your content.

If you have a great photo, include a link to a larger version. Make sure you include good keywords as your link text in the anchor tag.