Matt Cutts Answers If Google Uses EXIF Data From Pictures As A Ranking Factor

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Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, answers a question about image search in his latest Webmaster Help video where a user writes in to ask:

Does Google use EXIF data from pictures as a ranking factor?

Before getting to Matt’s answer, let me explain a little bit about what EXIF data is. I’ll be the first to admit I had no idea what it was, so I had to do some research. I’m sure there’s many others who aren’t familiar with it, If you’re not an avid photographer you may not have heard of it.

I found this info via

EXIF is short for Exchangeable Image File. Almost all new digital cameras use the EXIF annotation to store information on the image such as shutter speed, exposure compensation, F number, what metering system was used, if a flash was used, ISO number, date and time the image was taken, whitebalance, auxiliary lenses that were used and resolution. Some cameras may even store GPS information so you can see where the images were taken!

Does Google use any of this information as a ranking factor? Matt says Google reserves the right to use EXIF data in order to help people find information about an image. In a previous version of image search, Google used to show this information in a sidebar when it was available.

Google reserves the right to use this information in rankings as well, Matt says, which sounds as though it’s not currently a ranking factor but could be in the future.

Matt suggests to embed EXIF data in your images if the option is available with the camera you’re using. If there’s a demand for people being able to search by EXIF data, such as camera type, it could be a useful source of information. Matt adds you shouldn’t worry about adding EXIF data if it’s not there already.

To hear Matt’s response in his own words, please see the video below:

Matt Southern
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides.
Matt Southern
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  • He should be careful with that target on his T-shirt! Seriously though, I think it is always a good idea to provide as much information about anything you put online to improve relevancy even if it is not a ranking factor. For example many of us stopped using meta descriptions and keywords a few years ago, when Google said they didn’t use them – but now we are all using them again! I think the problem here is that if Matt had said yes we do use EXIF data, somebody would have quickly brought out a EXIF spamming tool for $97/month and then the web is full of junk again.

  • thanks Matt Southern for explaining EXIF as i also don’t have much idea about it. So from now onwards i’ll be considering this data as well to optimize the image as it will surely help in future.

  • keeping the original image with the EXIF data can also help with copyright disputes, even if the resized web image does not have it embedded. I agree with Rick Lomas that its an invitation for EXIF spamming.