Image SEO: Search Engine Optimization For Images

Learn in this guide how to improve image SEO and the most important search engine optimization tips for web images & alt tags

By Claudio Pires
Updated on July 16, 2023
Image SEO: Search Engine Optimization For Images

We’re living in an increasingly visual world. And in this world, the value of image optimization (SEO) can’t be overlooked because images make your webpages more appealing. More likely than not, there’s an image on every page of your website. Learn in this guide how to improve image SEO and the most important search engine optimization tips for web images.

However, you’re wasting a valuable SEO asset without the proper optimization. Plus, the larger the file size, the longer it takes your page to load, and the higher your bounce rate will be. So, in this article, we’ll show SEO expert optimization tips.

Image optimization creates many advantages for your image assets, including better user experience, faster page load times, and additional ranking opportunities, both within the traditional and image search results.

Although visual search technology has made great strides of late, search engine bots are unable to identify the content of an image; they rely on the text associated with the images to fully understand what the image is and how it relates to your content or the topic of your page.

But which factors are most important to ensure your images are findable and don’t slow down your site? Here are 14 important image optimization tips you need to know.

How To Find the Right Image For The SEO Optimization?

Using original images – those you have taken yourself – is always better than stock photos. Your team page needs pictures of your actual team. So, not this dude on the right or one of his stock photo friends. Off-topic: never mind, that dude needs a haircut.

Your article needs an image relevant to its subject. If you’re choosing a random photo just to get a green bullet in our SEO plugin’s content analysis, then you’re doing it wrong.

The image should reflect the topic of the post or have illustrative purposes within the article of course. Try to place the image near the relevant text. If you have the main image or an image that you’re trying to rank, try to keep that near the top of the page if it makes sense.

There is a simple image SEO reason for all of this: an image with related text ranks better for the keyword it is optimized for. There’s more about image SEO later.

Images Source Alternatives

If you don’t have any images of your own that you can use, there are other ways to find unique images and still avoid stock photos. is a nice image source for instance, as you can use Creative Commons images. Don’t forget to attribute the original photographer. I also like the images provided by sites like Pixaby, Visualmodo Shots, or images from Google.

Our blogger Caroline wrote an awesome overview of where to get great images. Steer clear of the obvious stock photos, picking the ones that look (ok, just a bit) more genuine. But whatever you use, it seems like images with people in them always look like stock photos, unless you took them yourself. In the end, that’s always the best idea. So, good tips on how to optimize web images for SEO.

Obvious alternatives for photos could be illustrations, which is what we use, or graphs. An honorable mention should go to animated GIFs, as they are incredibly popular these days. However, even though animated GIFs are popular, don’t go overboard. It’ll make your post harder to read, as the movement of the image distracts your readers’ attention. They can also slow down your page.

Settings Images For Your Usage

Once you have found the right image – whether an illustration, chart or photo – the next step is to optimize it for use on your website. There are several things you need to think about: Learn in this guide how to improve image SEO and the most important search engine optimization tips for web images & alt tags.

Right name For Image SEO

Image SEO starts with the file name. You want Google to know what the image is about without even looking at it, so use your focus keyphrase in the image file name. It’s simple: if your image shows a sunrise in Paris over Notre Dame Cathedral, the file name shouldn’t be DSC4536.jpg, but Notre-dame-Paris-sunrise.jpg.

The main keyphrase would be Notre Dame, as that is the photo’s main subject, which is why it’s at the beginning of the file name.

Select The Right Format: Search Engine Optimization For Images

For images, the right format doesn’t exist; it depends on the kind of image and how you want to use it. In short, we recommend: Use PNG if you want to preserve background transparency. Choose JPEG for larger photos or illustrations: it will give you good results in terms of colors and clarity with relatively small file size. WebP instead of JPEG and PNG.

It will produce high-quality results with smaller file sizes. You can use tools like Squoosh to convert your image into WebP. SVG for logos and icons. With the help of CSS or JavaScript, you can manage images in SVG format, for instance, resize them without loss of quality.

If you know a large part of your audience uses specific browsers or devices, you can check whether your preferred format is supported by those browsers on CanIuse. When you’ve got the right name and format, it’s time to resize and optimize your image!

Scale for image SEO

Loading times are important for UX and SEO. The faster the site, the easier it is to visit and index a page. Images can have a big impact on loading times, especially when you upload a huge image then display it small – for example, a 2500×1500 pixels image displayed at 250×150 pixels size – as the entire image still has to be loaded.

To resize the image to how you want it displayed. WordPress helps by automatically providing the image in multiple sizes after upload. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the file size is optimized as well, that’s just the image display size.

Use responsive images

This one is essential for SEO as well, and if you’re using WordPress it’s done for you since it was added by default from version 4.4. Images should have the attribute. Which makes it possible to serve a different image per screen width — especially useful for mobile devices. As a result, top tips on how to optimize web images for SEO.

Compress Image Size For SEO

The next step in image SEO should be to make sure that scaled image is compressed so it is served in the smallest file size possible. Of course, you could just export the image and experiment with quality percentages, but I prefer 100% quality images, especially given the popularity of retina and similar screens.

Search Engine Optimization For Images: Final Words

Image SEO is the sum of several elements. With Google getting better at recognizing elements in images every day, it makes sense to make sure the image and all its elements contribute to good user experience as well as SEO. It would be not very smart to try to kid Google. In conclusion, keep these things in mind when adding an image to your site:

  • Reduce file size for faster loading
  • Use a relevant image that matches your text
  • Use srcset if possible
  • Make sure image dimensions match the image size as displayed
  • Add a caption, if appropriate, for easier scanning of the page.
  • Pick a good file name for your image
  • Use image alt text. No need for a title text
  • Add structured data to your images.
  • Add OpenGraph and Twitter Card tags for the image.
  • Don’t break the left reading line with an image – align images right or center.
  • Use images in your XML sitemaps
  • Provide all the context you can!
Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.