Affiliate Marketing & Programs

Google SEO for Images: The Basics


Google Image Search is widely used to find images, gifs, infographics, and more. There have been many changes to the layout and image quality throughout the year but one thing has remained the same: people use image search as a tool for website discovery.

As a website owner, you frequently use images throughout your website copy to add engagement; these images are indexed in Google Image Search which attaches your content to the picture. Generally, individuals would need to select ‘View Source’ in order to see the page which doesn’t make it the most important factor in SEO but can certainly give you a trickle of site traffic which may lead to an affiliate sale.

SEO principles can be applied to images to increase their “ranking” in the image search; if you happen to brand and tag your images than you could, in practice, build brand exposure (not just traffic).

The following is a list of to-do items to ensure your images rank well within the image search listing and a few additional tips to convert those image seekers into full site readers.

The SEO Factors that Matter (for Images)

SEO, for images, follow many of the same principles that you’d conduct when applying the strategies to a Web page in the sense that it comes down to proper keyword usage to help search engines identify the content of the image (since, after all, they’re just computers).

  • File Name Structure – The file name is where you’d utilize keywords, the most, so take the time to write specific descriptions of the image. For example: if it is a picture of a red rose in a vase than the file name could be red-rose-in-vase.jpg.

  • File Extension – There are many file extensions and formats for images including .jpg, .png, .gif – - all are perfectly fine to use but do keep in mind that some individuals may seek certain formats for their image needs.

  • File Description/Details – If you truly want to go the extra mile than fill in all of the image information by accessing its ‘details’ properties; do this by right clicking an image, select the ‘properties’ option, open the ‘details’ tab, and proceed to fill in any and all information such as ‘date taken’, ‘subject’, ‘camera’ details, and even ‘rating’; this may add a lot of extra time to the image SEO but some of these can play an important factor in copyright and ownership of your images.

  • Image Size – The bigger, the better. Remember that there isn’t much value to someone if they’re seeking a detailed look at a product but it’s the size of a thumbnail. If you can afford the server load (or tools to improve site speed) than go with very large images or at least link to the full size image from within the description/link.

  • Context – It’s equally important to fit your image within the right context of your Web copy. Place your images in appropriate areas of your site where relevant keywords are used such as under headings, next to lists, or within specific areas of the topic – - doing so will help search engines understand how the image relates to the Web copy.

Learn more: Optimizing Images for SEO & 6 Tips for Image SEO.

Converting the Image Seekers

The use of Google Image Search as a means for regular web traffic is truly just a flip of the coin (you can’t expect it to be a reliable source). There is, however, a smart way to get the most from images and that’s through branding.

  • Infographics are a great choice for branding because they can be themed and tagged with your logo, website URL, and overall marketing message. People seeking these types of images may then visit your full website if you provide quality information. Likewise, fellow website owners may seek these infographics for their content creation which may lead to an attribution link back to your website which gives you better traction in the organic Google search.

  • Animated Gifs are very popular these days due to the explosive rise of image macros and memes; you could consider taking some time to create (or commission) custom/unique animated gifs that many individuals may find entertaining or helpful. Then you’ll gain the same opportunities as mentioned with the infographics.

  • Pricing may also aid in converting image seekers especially if they are trying to find large images of products they wish to purchase; a bit of branding, pricing, and shipping options is much like a full page ad you’d find in magazines – - the helpfulness of having all of the product information right in the image saves the individual time from having to further explore and research their buying options.

Overall, SEO for images really comes down to taking a few extra moments to add the proper information and using the images in appropriate places in your web copy. As noted, it may not be an incredible source of traffic but the small effort certainly does trickle visitors to your site, and going the extra mile to create unique images can certainly turn the image seekers into buyers.

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