Friday, October 9th, 2009

How To Optimize for Google Images – 10 Tips


There are several billion images indexed in Google Images. Are yours there? If you’ve been wondering what it takes to get your images ranking, then this article is for you. Here are some tips to help you increase the exposure of your images, and with a little luck, have them appearing at the top of the regular web search results.

1. Image File Name
The first step towards having your images appear in image search is with the image file name. When naming images consider using a target word or phrase whenever it makes sense to do so. If you run a hotel, consider naming a photo of your building as “victoria-hotel.jpg”.

Use hyphens instead of underscores in file names. While these days underscores are supposedly being treated as word separators by Google, consider sticking with hyphens to play it safe.

2. Image Alt Text
Always have relevant image alt text on all photos and images. By using relevant alt text containing your target phrase (as long as it is relevant to the photo) you can increase your odds for rankings.

3. Image Title Attribute
Don’t forget about the “title” attribute. Be sure to add this and use it to describe the image accurately and briefly. (“title=”Victoria hotel photo”), This will help add a bit more relevance to the image and will also assist with usability for those using screen readers and other assisted browsing methods.

4. Surrounding Text
The textual content of the website immediately before and after the image will also impact its ability to rank well in Google image search. Be sure to include your target phrase within close proximity to the image in question for best results.

5. Optimize Your Website
Having the pages that your images reside on optimized for the particular terms will help in getting the images themselves ranked. Be sure that your content, page titles, meta description tags, etc, are all optimized.

6. Image Resolution
Higher resolution images are often given some priority in the results. I have seen many low-res images appear highly ranked as well as incorporated into the web search, so this is not entirely necessary, but can still help. That said, I would not recommend using HTML to resize a high-res image as this will have significant negative effects on your page load time. You can however link small images to full high resolution versions.

7. Image Specific Page
When linking to higher resolution images consider creating a very basic HTML page for the image. Optimize this page for the exact phrase you want the image to rank for, and include a small amount of highly targeted copy.

8. Image Link Anchor Text
If you are linking to a full size version of am image (whether it be a unique page, or just the image itself), use relevant anchor text. Rather then saying “enlarge” or “full size” consider incorporating the target word or phrase into the link text. “Large Victoria hotel photo” for example.

9. W3C compliant
In order for images to be W3C compliant your image will also require the height & width attributes to be present. Be sure to include these for a few extra points.

10. Google Image Labeler
This is not really a tip, but I do find it to be relevant for this article. If you are taking a break and looking to try a fun little game check out Google’s Image Labeler.

Google Image Labeler matches two players who then ad labels to random images. Once a label is matched, they are awarded points, and move onto the next image. While the game is not a regular pastime for me but it is fun to try a couple times at least. The idea is that by having people play this game it will assist Google in associating and matching images to search phrases.

Properly optimizing your images can help you drive a bit of extra traffic to your website. While you may not see any extensive spike in traffic from a top ranking within the image search, if your image finds its way to the regular web search for a popular term very good things will happen to your stats.

17 Responses to “How To Optimize for Google Images – 10 Tips”

  1. Gareth James

    Its worth doing these things. I have just been looking at one of my clients analytics and have been really suprised with the amount of traffic coming from the Google images.

  2. SEO

    This is a great list,Thanks so much for posting it.This article give us a great deal of information and to see all the suggestions and feedback make this blog post very valuable.All your tips are very helpful to me because I am new in SEO field..

  3. Ale Abby

    A very informative article… really help me in doing SEO for my website and other people who will come.

  4. Ajay Jain

    Thanks for these tips – will try these out. Cheers… Ajay (Travel Writer / Photographer covering India)

  5. Freelance SEO Consultant

    Great resource! So many people are either unaware of all the aspects of image optimisation that can be done or are just plain lazy. I’m still amazed today at the number of good websites that I see that don’t even have ALT text nevermind relevant titles or filenames.

  6. John Doom

    In general, in short, if you want your images to rank higher on Google images, you need to “surround” it with your keywords or keywords you think is the most popular and nearest to what your image is.

  7. Joshua

    I would really agree that there are some people who would miss out changing the filename of their image to something that can be crawled by Google. Default names would be like dsc002.jpg. If they wanted to have their images crawled and indexed by Google, they should change the name to something appreciate like lawyerattorneydir.jpg if the image is, say, the snapshot of his landing page.

  8. Sarah Jones

    Even if we’re talking images here, we can’t deny that in order to optimize your site, we really still need to write relevant articles even if it’s only ten sentences long or one sentence only. Keyword phrasing and proper naming of images should be emphasized.

  9. Lucas Patel

    Hyphens instead of underscores? Why? What will happen if we use underscores? Please explain in detail. Thanks.

  10. Kenneth Morin

    I agree with #1! Most of those who post their articles with images doesn’t care to change the image’s file name. They should and that’s + points for them on the eyes of Google!

  11. Ross Dunn

    Hi Lucas, that is quite an outdated article. Nowadays the only benefit would be usability based since hyphens show up in URLs versus looking like a space.

  12. Brian Johnson

    No matter what you do in terms of promoting your website and making sure it passes through Google and have it crawled and indexed, it’s always optimizing your website with the best SEO strategies and that’s the bottom line.

  13. Laura Hunter

    These tips really are very helpful! One tip that really got my attention is number 1. If we put images on our site or blog, we tend to ignore the important of the file name of that image.

  14. legal attorneys online

    Thanks for sharing these different tips on optimizing images for Google. I have never thought that there would be so much impact on the name of an image alone! Thank you!

  15. getting arrested for dui

    All of these can never be worth it unless you really optimize your website or do SEO on it!

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