Chattanooga Web Design & SEO Company

Optimize for Googe Image Search

Optimizing your web pages and images for Google’s image search is, in my opinion, underused. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. It’s good if you are looking to gain more traffic to your site from image search, because competition may be low. It’s a bad thing if you are doing the searching and looking for images based on particular keywords. At Abraxas, we always consider image search optimization when we design websites or optimize for search engines in general.

I’ll admit, when the Google image search was first introduced, I didn’t really understand its power. When I first saw referrals from the Google image search in my logs, I set out to block the Google image bot from my sites. My belief was that the traffic generated from these searches was of low value and was wasting my bandwidth. I came to realize that these image searches were of good value, especially for image heavy web sites such as photography related sites.  You should consider whether or not image search has any value to you. If so, use these tips to make the most of optimizing for Google image search.

The Basics
General optimizing for Google image search will help bring your code in compliance with W3C standards, which is a good thing, but obviously, we’re really going for traffic. If you keep in mind that the Google Image bot can’t actually see the image and relies on the text describing the image and how it is related to the content, you are ahead of the game.  Of course, to make the most of these techniques, it’s a good idea to do to some keyword research. In order of importance, here are the things that you should be concerned with:

1.       Surrounding Text
2.       Alt Tag
3.       Image Size and Location
4.       Image Name
5.       Page Title
6.       Links

Surrounding Text – I believe that the most important element that Google looks at is the text that surrounds the image. Adding a keyword rich caption to you image is recommended. The idea is that words is close proximity to the image are mostly related to the image.

Alt Tag – This is one of the most basic things to consider, yet still one of the most important aspects. Please insure that you use the alt tag.

Image Size and Location – An image that is 600×400 pixels and is located “above the fold” near the top of the page will have a better chance of scoring well in the search results than an image that is 100×100 pixels located way down at the bottom of the page.

Image Name – You should name your image using keywords that are relevant. For example, an image with the name “kevin-bacon-breakfast.jpg” has a better chance of scoring a result for the search term “what does kevin bacon eat for breakfast” than does “img0002.jpg.”

Page Title – It does seem that the basic title tag has relevance not only to SEO in general, but to image search as well. Your image should be related to the subject of your page as should your title tag.

Link – There is evidence that suggest that a hypelink boosts the image’s credibility. For instance, linking a smaller 500×500 pixel image to the larger 1000×1000 pixel image or linking the image to a page that has more detail about the image or subject.

These are some basic techniques you should think about if you would like to optimize your images for Google image search and capitalize on that traffic source. These techniques work for blog posts, product pages, and most any type of page on a website. If you have never attempted to optimize your images for Google image search, this will give a head-start. Your mileage may vary, and I suggest that you try different techniques and see what works best for your specific content.

Category : SEO Tips | Filed Under: > >

42 Responses to “SEO TIP: Optimizing for Google Image Search”

Aaron November 10, 2010

I totally agree with you. Images are an under-utilized resource in SEO friendly web development. Two factors that I can see influencing this is the popularity of wordpress and Joomla sites that take more effort to incorporate SEO friendly images as well as the DIY revelation in web design which has flooded with web with mediocre web production.
Great article and good insight for up and coming SEO professionals.

miracleman12 November 10, 2010

It’s true. DIY-ers don’t think much about “image search”. All the better if you are looking to capture some of that traffic.

DiTesco November 11, 2010

You hit the nail right on its head here and I agree that in one way or the other, everyone should never neglect the power of optimizing on images. I have a website that is not a photography blog or anything like that and 80% of its visitors are all derived from image search. Obviously, the bounce rate is not ideal, but hey, traffic is traffic and if we know how to leverage on that, there is always something good to learn from it.
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Karen @ Blazing Minds November 11, 2010

It has to be said that every aspect of SEO is important these days and images shouldn’t be left out of the equation, as you say giving your images a keyword rich file name, will certainly help.
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miracleman12 November 11, 2010

@DiTesco Thanks for validating some of my thoughts. On an experimental site, I was receiving over 90% of the traffic from image search. You are right, the bounce rate was not ideal, but the experimental site made a profit. I don’t count on my experimental sites to be profitable — my accountant was thankful. More importantly, my clients have benefited greatly and I’m able to share some of that knowledge with the public at large.

@Cheese gift baskets November 20, 2010

Hi miracleman12! Thanks for the information. I have never really put much thought about image search before until now. True, every aspect of SEO (even little details) is important since this has been a rat race to the top.

miracleman12 November 20, 2010

It is most definitely a rat race and every little advantage that you can gain is worth something. Try to have a little fun with it.

ME@Cyprus Property November 23, 2010

Its nice to be highly ranked on the image searches, but i find that the new interface makes it very difficult for the user to eventually land on your page.. another case of google taking traffic away from the hand that feeds it

alex @ seo stoke on trent November 26, 2010

Thanks for the tips. I always forget to optimise my images properly – I do get a lot of traffic from image search though, so I guess I should really focus more attention on it.
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Tim@SeductionTips December 2, 2010

HI miracleman12, i have a site that gets 200 visits a day just because of an image. I wasn’t entirely sure why but you have given credence to my thoughts many thanks, good article.

Tim recently posted a blog @ Seduction Tips
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Thank you for this awesome article been doing some research on image searches and this has been very informative.


Paul Yokota December 13, 2010

There is absolutely a value to the traffic that can be gained via Google image search. Increasing your traffic, and specifically your search traffic for relevant keywords can be powerful. However, it can be more valuable for some kinds of sites than others. Sites still need to be wary of the effect of optimizing for image search on other factors, such as your bounce rate.

Aside from optimizing, Backlinking is also a must in order for your website get higher rankings. Backlinks are definitely essential in the SEO world. Links are needed if you want your website to appear in Google organic search results as well as if you want to increase your site’s page rank. Search engines love backlinks. Search engines sends spiders to your website if they happen to see those links to your site. As a result, search engines index your site and place it on the organic search engines results.

Tom Howlett January 17, 2011

Good tips here. People usually skip over the optimisation of images, thinking it doesn’t matter. I do think that the traffic received through Google Image search will be varied, but if you had a blog and one post had an image, it could bring traffic which may be very interested in the topic.

Matt@ Chicago Web Design February 9, 2011

Nice blog, I was glad to see you mention using keywords in naming the image file name. Often overlooked, but it does help!

Sean Usher February 17, 2011

Hi all, I have never optimized my images to be honest, but after reading this blog I will be going back to my site to do this. Every little helps in very competitive market.

Thanks for the blog miracleman.
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Kirsty@shopping cart March 6, 2011

I hope I could rank well in Google images because that is already my long time goal and I am hoping that I will have a good traffic on that. This will help me earn more but I am hoping on really taking more original shots for my images.
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Tom Howlett April 7, 2011

Some good information here. It is the main thing that people forget to optimise for. There has been quite a few times where I have searched via the image search and ended up on a website.

Some people do not like to appear on Google Images because they do not want that people steal their images.

I actually do not care about that. You can find stolen images with reverse image search like and use the appropriate legal options…
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I’ve heard many different points on optimizing images, but my personal experiments don’t lie. I’ve had two new sites that I utilized images in and the images themselves were indexed before any pages or posts. Needless to say the pages and posts soon followed, and thus comes the lesson on helping in the early stages of getting new sites indexed.
I really appreciate the tip that a hypelink boosts the image’s credibility. In the context of my experiment above it should be noted that I removed the link from the image…
Great post! Thank you.

Scott@Liberty Web Marketing recently posted..Has The Recent Google Algorithm Update Backfired

I get most of my traffic on one site from google images. It’s kinda weird though because I’m noticing that the bounce rate of viewer that come from google images is high. Most of the time people just back out after they see the image the wanted.
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Great post!!!
I’ve always knew that there is a huge potential with image search. Too bad my knowledge about optimization is really just basic. I’ve always known about the significance of ALT tag but not about the surrounding text and page title. Thanks for this info.

Google image search can be a useful way of gaining rankings outside of normal web search parameters. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.

Nelly@ERP Software August 9, 2011

I also think, that people who think that traffic from Google Image Search is not profitable are wrong. From my experience, I know that when you select an image using Google Image Search you not only see the image but the site it comes from . This creates an impression (or page view) which is counted in your CPM ads.

Shri@Interior Shutters August 13, 2011

Hey thanks for the advice. I will give it a try and see how it goes.

eqa August 23, 2011

This is something that most people who are new to SEO tend to overlook. They think that since it’s just a picture being added to their website, it does not have any bearing with the SERPS. Little did they know that it could be optimized so that it could appear on the first page of SERPS images as well.

Adi Young August 29, 2011

It nearly always slips my mind when creating images about where Im placing them on the page. Above the fold at a nice size with a link attached and an alt tag seems to be the way to go.

Make sure to watermark your images. This is one of the mistake we have in our company and now some of other competitors have our images and we are suing them.

Cyprus Villas for Sale September 5, 2011

Thanks for the info. It makes me realize I need to go back and look up how ways to link all of my photos. I’ve used alternate tags but have not done much linking with photos so I will have to do that.

Ana @ Que Es Un Ensayo September 19, 2011

I believe that image search is not something that we should forget when thinking about our SEO strategies. I always take special care when naming my images and I’m careful about the Alt tag. Wasn’t so sure about the image size and how Google treats it. Thank you for the info.

The thing that a lot of marketers forget is that image searches account for a fraction of their traffic volume. To tell you the truth I even forget about this too, but got reminded because of your post.

One of my sites isn’t even image based but for some reason I get maybe 30% of the traffic from images searches which is weird. I guess my competitors aren’t using images in their articles.

Fantastic post! its probably the best post on the subject that I have seen for ages. The image size and location was a new one for me and I will give that a go and check the results

I must say this is the kind of resource people tend to overlook. I’m an artist and an SEO, and I know that in the visual field people tend to look for pictures rather than text. They do that, using text – keywords that is, but they use the “Images” tab, instead of the “Web”. They end up on pages that serve the best images.
This applies to the visual field, but can also help if you’re selling any other product. Better picture=click.

Nastin@zen cart November 3, 2011

I think after new Google Panda appeared no one denies the importance of the Image Search.

Alex@Web Design Chicago November 9, 2011

Sometimes it is enough to get plenty of customers from getting higher ranking for your images that for your keywords. For niche like jewelry where product image is the key reason after purchase may get direct customers from getting higher rank for their images.

Rina As@TOOL.TL December 19, 2011

Title attribute is also a good influence on the optimization of the image. Is this the correct way?
Thank you for this helpful information

Although it does have it’s place, there is also the issue of CSS and the styling of images for speed. This has to be off-set against any gains that are to be made through image search optimisation. We’ve always opted for keyword search and the only traffic gains from image search have in the past came from competitors looking for images to furnish their new website with. Image search probably only works when selling a product and is certainly not necessary in B2B services.

Tümay Kılınç January 8, 2012

This is something i didn’t know, thanks for the share!

Jay@Freelance Designer January 19, 2012

Ah, the value of image search. Do it right and you can gain some great relevant traffic to your site. It’s definitely a gem which people tend to forget when optimising.

Bryan@Rift Guides February 9, 2012

I don’t quite follow on the “surrounding text.” What if we are using our images as the headers for articles (as many sites do, yours included)? Are you theorizing that they would not rank as well as if they were placed lower and in the actual content?

Benjamin@How to Do a Blog February 16, 2012

Thank you for this information! I never thought of Google image search as another source of search traffic.

This is great food for thought. I’d be interested to see more about the text surrounding the image… Agreed with @Bryan

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