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5 Keys to Image SEO


In a marketplace that’s becoming increasingly cluttered and crowded with content, marketers are turning to images to differentiate their content from the masses. This is a trend we’ve written about before and is proving to be a strategy that can deliver real results for marketers.

However, visual content has an added value beyond attracting views that can be just as valuable. Like all other content on your site, images are extremely valuable and an important part of optimizing your site for SEO. Each piece of content on your site tailored to your particular niche makes your site look more relevant and desirable to search engines.

So before you upload your next image, take sixty seconds to make sure you are doing the little things that matter to optimize your images for SEO. Those little things could wind up going a long way.

Name the File with Keywords

The name of your image file tells search engines how relevant that image is to a given search term. Default file names like “istock_4383739.jpeg” tell search engines nothing about the relevance of your image. The image used above was named “image_optimization_SEO” to let search engines know that it correlates with those terms. Google prefers hyphens or underscores between terms.

Use Relevant Alt Text

Almost every content management service provides you the opportunity to describe your image with alt text. No, WordPress is not just doing this to waste your time. This is another valuable opportunity to tell search engines about your image. Similar to the filename, you should use the alt text to provide a short list of relevant keywords.

Upload in the Right Format

Always double check the format of the image you are uploading. Make sure you are sticking to the most common filetypes: JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. JPEGs are by far the most common format. If in doubt, use this filetype since it’s a format that all search engines are familiar with.

Bring It All Together

The last piece of the puzzle for search engines is the content surrounding the image. If the blog post surrounding your image is rich in keywords that match up with your filename and alt text, it has a synergistic effect on the perceived relevance of the entire page.

Don’t Overdo It

A word of caution before you set out optimizing all of your images: do not keyword stuff. When it comes to SEO, you can certainly have too much of a good thing. Visitors and search engine spiders alike do not appreciate a long list of keywords where there should be helpful guiding text.

That’s it! Pretty easy, right? With the way visual content is growing, these little tweaks can easily have a big impact on your search engine rankings. Looking for some more SEO ideas? Check our our SEO Field Guide (registration required).