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Google Publishes Image Search SEO Tips

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Roger Montti
Roger Montti SEJ STAFF
Google Publishes Image Search SEO Tips

Google has updated their Image Publishing Guidelines and it’s a vast improvement.

The new version offers actionable information that could make your images rank better, position them to appear in rich results, make them voice assistant friendly, and bring more traffic to your website.

This updated support page has a lot to offer.

Image Search SEO Tips

Google has provided useful image search SEO tips. Here are the actionable takeaways:

  1. Provide good context: Make sure images are contextually relevant because the text of the content is going to influence how Google interprets what the image is about.
  2. Optimize Image Placement: This means to place images so that text that is relevant to the image is nearby. The surrounding text will be picked up by Google to help it understand what the image is about. Adding a caption is an additional good way to do this. Adding an important image close to the top of the page is another tip.
  3. Create informative and High Quality Sites: Google considers the quality of the content as part of the image ranking process. The content is also used to generate a meaningful snippet for the content. So it helps for the page content to relate with the image content.
  4. Create Device-Friendly Sites: Google revealed that users search for images on mobile more than they do on desktop. This means it’s important to be mobile friendly in order to rank better and capitalize on the traffic.
  5. Create Good URL Structure for Your Images: This is an interesting SEO tip. Google revealed that they use the file path and the file name in order to better understand and rank images. This is an actual ranking factor Google is sharing. This is a very useful tip for ranking images. For example, if your images are of different kinds of products, instead of dumping them all into a generic “/assets/” or “/images/” folder, you could in theory create a more organized structure to organize the images into something more meaningful like, /mens/ and /womens/ in order to organize images of men’s and women’s clothing.

Technical SEO Tips for Image Search

The Google support page goes on and offers technical advice for achieving better ranking web pages and images. Here are further insights:

Check Your Page Title & Description

Google confirms that it uses the title element and the meta description as part of their image search algorithm.  This does not mean that they are ranking factors. The role is limited to generating a snippet which then can help users decide to click through or not.

While it was previously understood that title tags were important, it’s an interesting revelation that the meta description tag plays a role.  Here is what the new Google Image Search Support page says:

“Google Images automatically generates a title and snippet to best explain each result and how it relates to the user query… We use a number of different sources for this information, including descriptive information in the title, and meta tags “

Add Structured Data

This is a very interesting addition to the new support page. Structured data plays a role in rich results and although it’s not mentioned in this support page, we also know that structured data plays a role in voice assisted search, which is an important area of search. Google’s Voice Assistant is now embedded in over 5,000 devices including in automobiles.

Here is what Google’s support page states:

If you include structured data, Google Images can display your images as rich results, including a prominent badge, which gives users relevant information about your page and can drive better targeted traffic to your site.

From the Google Support Page about Badges:

“If you’re publishing recipes, add Recipe markup on your page, for products, add Product markup, and for videos, add Video markup.”

More SEO Advice for Image Search

Google ends the support page by highlighting the following SEO tips for image search:

  • Optimize image size for speed
  • Optimize photos for sharpness
  • Use descriptive titles, captions, descriptive alt text, file names, and surrounding text.
  • Use an XML Image Site Map
  • Safe Search SEO: Segregate adult content into it’s own image folder

The Google support pages Danny Sullivan is credited with feature a similar usefulness as this support page. The previous Image Publishing Guidelines didn’t have as many actionable SEO tips.

I don’t know if Sullivan had a hand in crafting this new image publishing guideline, but it needs to be noted that this is an excellent and useful page.  Read: Google’s new Image Publishing Guidelines.


Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author

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Roger Montti

Roger Montti is an SEO Consultant with nearly 20 years of experience. I specialize in Site Audits to help sites ... [Read full bio]

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