Optimizing images for search engines-Image SEO Basics | Local SEO Checklist Blog

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It’s starting to feel more and more like the content writers of today could not care less about Image SEO and how it can contribute to search rankings. While it might be a cumbersome task to add alt text and title tags to images, doing this has a lot of benefits from an SEO perspective and greatly improves a user’s experience on the webpage.

This article is written to dissect what Image SEO is, and listing out how one can successfully optimize their images for the best possible SEO and user experience results.

#1 Alt Text

What is it?

The alt text is probably the most important thing to focus on when you are optimizing your images for search engines. The alt text of a picture is essentially a brief description of the image.

How do I customize it?

If you’re designing the webpage using HTML, you can enter the title text in the code as follows:

<img src="local-seo-checklist.jpg" alt="image of printable local SEO checklist">

The text in the quotes following ‘alt’ is the alt text of the image. The best practice here is to write down a clear explanation of what the image depicts in less than 9 words (the lesser the better).

In the case of using CMS like WordPress, the alt text can be typed in the ‘Alt Text’ field while uploading/adding the image.

Why is it important?

Alt text is important for two major reasons:

  1. It helps you show up on image search results and improves search engine rankings. This is because search engine crawlers cannot process images, and they rely on the alt text to understand what the images are about. The presence of alt text helps search engines understand that the images that are present are relevant, and also helps in keyword optimization.
  2. The alt text helps describe the contents of an image to visually impaired, giving them more context about the images present in the blog. (Yes, this is a real thing! Browsers and even social media sites such as Twitter help visually impaired people go through the contents of a post better by doing this. Check out this viral tweet to see how you can do this for Twitter)

#2 Image Title

What is it?

Although it is not a “tag”, several people commonly refer to the title text in images as “image title tags”. The title text is the text that appears in a tooltip when someone hovers the mouse pointer over an image.

How do I customize it?

If you’re designing the webpage using HTML, you can enter the title text in the code as follows:

<img src="local-seo-checklist.jpg" title="This local SEO checklist that we have is printable!">

The text in the quotes following ‘title’ in the code above is the title text of that image. Whenever the mouse pointer is hovered over it, a small box saying ‘This local SEO checklist that we have is printable!’ will appear over it.

In the case of using CMS like WordPress, the title text can be typed in the ‘Title’ field while uploading/adding the image.

Why is it important?

The title text works as a cue for users to perform an action or infer more details from the image. Title text can be effective when used to say, ‘Right-click and click on ‘Save Image As’ to download this image’, or in other similar scenarios.

#3 Image Caption

What is it?

WordPress allows you to add a caption to your images to make users understand the context of the picture better or help point them to a particular thing.

How do I customize it?

In WordPress, click on the image, click on the ‘Edit’ button (pen icon) and enter the suitable caption in the ‘Caption’ field.

Why is it important?

The caption of an image helps give a description to the image and is especially useful when you want the user to look at a particular part of it.

For example, in a group photo where you want to single out a person, you can add a caption like ‘Sunil (bottom right) with his friends‘.

A picture of Sunil and his childhood friends
Sunil (bottom right) with his friends

#4 Image quality, file size and dimensions

Now, this might not be hardcore image SEO, but it contributes significantly to the SEO of the webpage and the experience you give to your users. First things first, make sure that the quality of the image that you’re uploading is good. Nobody wants to see a badly cropped or lossily compressed image, it genuinely wards people off. Make sure that the dimensions of the image you’re uploading is not too big or too small.

And most importantly, make sure that the file size of the image is not too big. File size is not restricted only to image SEO; Google gives weightage to page load speeds when it comes to search rankings, and heavier images means slower load speeds. It can be a little tricky at times to figure out a balance between all these things, but it’s absolutely essential that you do.

About the author

Harsha Annadurai

Harsha Annadurai works as an Inbound Marketer at Synup. His excessive love for music and football has led many to believe that he was a jukebox in a football stadium in his past life. You can follow him on Twitter @harshaannadurai.

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By Harsha Annadurai