“A picture is worth a thousand words”; when it comes to SEO and images this old adage is incredibly true. Increasingly, images and visuals are becoming the most consumed content on the internet. Whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, the latest BuzzFeed quiz or online shopping Internet traffic is flocking exponentially to websites that offer much more visual interest than just words on a page.

SEO Images and Lack of Relevant Advice

For a long time, SEO for Dummies and most SEO help have focused more attention on titles, headings, meta descriptions, backlinks, etc. as ways to increase search engine rankings. Most SEO services on images revolved around how to optimize images for web via quality, file type, size, etc. While these are still very important, not emphasizing steps on SEO-specific content surrounding website images as a way to optimize a website for SEO is increasingly becoming a big mistake and a failure of those resources to give relevant information.

The Future of the Internet: Images

For a long time, search engines could not recognize photos with text on them and had to rely exclusively on title tags, alt tags, and captions to know what an image showed. However, last year Google announced it was focusing more attention on visual search to address the trend towards more visual web usage. Already, Google has increased visual search ability by allowing a user to search picture by picture. While Google and other search engines are now increasing their technology to allow their crawlers to recognize and know what’s in an image, it has always been and remains wise to fill in picture tags, alt tags, and other content surrounding images to increase a web page’s SEO.

Top SEO Image Content Steps:

Image Title

This is the most common misstep in SEO images one sees. Often, web developers are so focused on making sure website images are the right file type, size, and quality resolution they don’t to change the image title from “IMG_1028.jpg” or some other common image file name. Just like a website title, this is a great way to add your focus keyword to an image and to call out what your image, and thus your website, is focusing on and related to.

Alt Tags

Originally, picture tags – or alt tags – allowed visually impaired users to still get a rich web experience by describing what an image showed. Today, alt tags are a prime image SEO tool to include additional areas for your webpage’s keywords. With more users searching photo to photo, this is how search engine crawlers are able to know an image’s content and helps the search engine know what other images and content to relate it to. Similarly, don’t forget to fill out an image caption to give more details (and keyword opportunities) to explain what your image in showing and to help search engine crawlers narrow down its theme.

The Four Best Cookie Recipes to Serve at Any Party or Event.
As an example, if this image was for a baking website a good SEO idea would be to optimize the page for the four best cookie recipes. To view this image’s example title and alt text, hover and right click then select “Inspect”.

Prioritize For Social Media

More and more web usage including shopping, browsing, news consumption and more is done through social media. In fact, the major players in social media are almost exclusively visual in nature. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest all rely heavily on videos and images. To ensure your content is shared, to increase your SEO and to optimize a website for Google search don’t forget to integrate social media content. Many platforms for ecommerce SEO and hosting include SEO services for images that have a default social media view. What this means is when your webpage is shared to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other sites, a description, title, your keywords and an image are automatically attached to the preview and click-through link. If you use WordPress optimize images with plug ins like Yoast that include these social media fill-ins.


By focusing more attention on SEO images, it will not only boost efforts focused on the traditional sources of website optimization but also give a website a boost to remaining relevant in the current and future dynamics of the web. To learn more tips, check out “Image SEO: Optimizing images for search engines” on Yoast or “10 Tips for Optimizing Your Images for SEO” on Moz.

Katie Jensen