Google images helps searchers find images and web pages for a broad range of tasks. The Google image results show an image, attribution and a headline from the webpage. Users can then expand the preview to find out more about the image and the pages content, with a big call to action button to visit the website the image has been posted by.
Images can also be shown in the traditional search listings if they are relevant to the search query or representative of a webpage. When optimising images for SEO you should consider the following:
- Do people search visually for your content?
- If so, how might they be searching?
- What preview of your site’s content would they find compelling?
- Do your pages have an image that’s particularly relevant for that page?
It’s up to you to decide how and when you would like your content to be shown in Google, but at all times, relevancy is key. Here are Google’s recommendations for images:
- Provide good context – make sure the image is relevant to the topic of the page and adds value to the page. Use appropriate titles and headings to provide context and think about what search terms people might be using
- Optimise image placement – place the images near the relevant text and provide a caption close to the image. The most important image should be placed near the top of the page
- Ensure the text is on the page, not on the image – not all users and searchers can access text inside images and translation tools won’t work on images
- Use alt-text – this should describe what is in the image for users who can’t see the image (good for accessibility as well as search engines)
- Use high-quality images – these have more appeal than blurry, low resolution images and increase the likelihood of getting traffic from users
- Create a high-quality website – good content on your website is just as important as good images and Google considers page content quality when ranking images
- Make sure your website is mobile and desktop friendly – users search for images more on mobile than on desktop
- Use a good url structure for your image files – google uses the url path as well as the file name to understand your images (i.e. https://test.com/images/flowers.png Vs https://test.com/dsc12564.png)
- Consider large image previews – these are more likely to entice searchers to your website, providing they are high quality images
- Consider speed – images are the largest contributor to the overall web page size, which impacts page loading times. Optimise the image file size, use lazy-loading techniques and responsive images to provide high quality and fast user experiences
All of the above seems like a lot of work, but the whole process can be made easier using tools such as Google Search Console which will help you recognise potential problems and opportunities and give you insights into how your pages are showing in search results.