How to rank images in Google

How to rank images in Google

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You’ve probably heard that optimizing your images for Google Image Search is a good idea – find out why and how.

I know what you’re thinking: “Images don’t get much Google traffic. So why should I bother optimizing them for search engines?” Well, that’s the golden question.

According to Alexa, www.google.com accounts for 55% of web traffic. Images.google.com accounts for 10.1% of traffic. So, the ratio of Google image traffic to Google web search is pretty much a 1:5.5. (quora.com)

But hold your horses: well-optimized images can be a major source of traffic. According to Moz, a well-optimized image can account for 20-60% of all visits from Google. In fact, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. (moz.com)

So now you’re wondering what you can do to take advantage of this new form of valuable traffic. Well, stick around for a few minutes, and I’ll give you the rundown on how to optimize your images for better rankings.

Why Optimize Your Images for Google Image Search?

You’ve probably heard that optimizing your images for Google Image Search is a good idea, but you may not know why. Let’s explore the benefits of optimizing your images for Google Image Search and see how it can help you increase your traffic to your website.

More Awareness of Your Brand and Products

When people search for something online, they often rely on images to help them find the product or service that matches their needs. When images are optimized for search engines and for social media, they can help your brand get noticed in the crowd of competitors who are also vying for attention.

Increases Site’s Visibility In SERPs

It’s good for SEO because you’re prioritizing page speed and user experience (the two main factors that contribute to ranking). Search engines will love it! And the more search engines like your site, the higher it will rank in their results. This means more traffic and more sales.

Increases Click-Through Rate (CTR)

By optimizing your images, so Google’s algorithm easily identifies them, you can help increase the number of clicks they receive. This means more traffic and exposure—which translates into more sales!

Increase User Engagement 

Optimizing your images is one of the best ways to increase user engagement on your site.

The reason is simple: if you want people to spend more time on your site, they’re going to need something to look at—and what better way than an image?

By optimizing that image, you can make it easier for users to digest and understand what you’re trying to say.

Plus, since most people are visual learners, it’s good practice to give them something with which they can associate what you’re saying in the text.

Offers Faster-Loading Speed

Yes. Optimizing images increases loading speed.

Images are typically the largest files that load on your website, and they can make up to 90% of its size. If you optimize the images on your site, you will reduce their file size and therefore improve page load time. And that means more conversions and a better customer experience.

Free Link Building Opportunities  

If you’re looking for free link building opportunities, there are plenty of ways to get them. One way is by sharing optimized images on social media.

Sharing optimized images on social media is a great way to get links back to your site. Why? Because it’s easy for people to share them with their followers. And when those followers see the image in their newsfeed, they’ll be more likely to click through and read what it contains—which means more traffic for you!

Google Images Best Practices

This section will discuss some of the best practices for optimizing your images for Google Images search results.

Optimize page metadata (title and meta description)

You can optimize your images for ranking in Google by optimizing the page metadata. This includes the title and meta description of the page, which are the first things that searchers will see when they click on a search result.

The title should be descriptive of the image. But it should also be short enough to fit into a single line (about 50-60 characters). According to Moz, if you keep your title tag under 60 characters, there’s a 90% chance it will display properly in the SERPs.

Write a meta description that describes what the image is about and why people would want to click on it. Generally, the meta description should be about 150 characters long.

Note: Include keywords related to your topic in the title tag and meta description. However, don’t go overboard with keyword stuffing!

Create High-Quality Images

Make sure your photos are sharp, properly exposed, and well-composed. Use proper lighting levels and make sure there is contrast. Also, ensure to avoid clutter in the background and take pictures at the right angle.

Use Alt Text To Give The Image Context

Google uses computer vision to understand the content of an image. So adding text next to your images can give Google more context about what the image is showing.

The alt text attribute is a good place to provide this helpful information. It acts as a description of the image, helping Search understand what the image shows.

Creating alt text for the images on your website is not only an essential part of SEO. It’s also ADA compliant. It improves accessibility for users who can’t see images on web pages. This includes those that use assistive technology, such as screen readers. 

Also, don’t forget to use target keywords in your alt text. Adding relevant keywords to your alt text will increase Google’s chances of using those keywords when indexing the image. However, avoid keyword stuffing.

Use Images In The Right Context 

All other factors being equal, Google prefers images that have a natural relationship to the page’s topic. Therefore, show the image in the context of a relevant post or page. 

A page’s context is determined by the words surrounding the image. So the image is more likely to rank in Google Images when it appears on pages about its context.

For example, if you’re talking about cars, use a picture of a car. If you’re talking about dogs, use a picture of a dog. Don’t just slap an image onto your page and hope that it will attract people—make sure it’s appropriate!

Implement Structured Data

Structured data is a way to provide Google with more information about your content. Google Images displays your images as rich results when you use structured data and even includes a prominent badge.

To add structured data to your images, we recommend using Schema.org, as all major search engines support it. Types of structured data supported by Googe images are video, recipe, and product. 

Schema.org allows you to define the content of your image in an organized way that is easily understood by crawlers and search engines. So when someone searches for something related to your image, they’ll see relevant results from Google Images.

Note: To be eligible for rich results and badges, please ensure to include the image attributes.

Optimize for Speed

Google gives preference to optimized, fast-loading images. In fact, page speed is one of the key determining factors for Google’s algorithm. Optimize your image loading speeds so you can win more traffic from regular search results and image search alike. (nexcess.net)

The primary way to optimize images for speed is to make sure they are formatted and compressed properly. You can use tools like ImageOptim (for Mac users) and  TinyJPG to help with optimizing your images. You might also want to consider uploading your images in “progressive” format, which can render faster. 

Also, host your images where they’ll load as fast as possible. Switch to a different hosting platform if your current one is dragging you down. In addition, use content delivery networks (CDNs) to speed up the delivery of images. CDN is helpful, especially if you have visitors from around the world.

Run your site through a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your pages for speed.

Use Descriptive File Names

Basically, the filename of your images is a ranking signal. Image filenames give Google clues about the subject matter of the image.

A descriptive filename can also help Google determine what’s in an image and might help it show up for a related search query. Also, keep in mind that Keyword-rich filenames are essential for image optimization.

By default, most image editing tools will save images with generic names like IMG_0023. Well, the file name should identify what the image is.

If you’re writing a post about winter vacation destinations, don’t save the photo as IMG_0023.jpg when the photo actually shows ski slopes in Aspen, Colorado. Instead, use a descriptive file name like ski-slopes-aspen-colorado.jpg.

Don’t worry about creating filenames that are too long or “clunky.” Google can read long file names – so can your visitors.

Note: Use hyphens to separate words rather than underscores or spaces, or other characters in the filename (e.g., skiing-in-the-rockies.jpg instead of skiing_in_the_rockies.jpg or skiing in the rockies.jpg). Hyphens are interpreted as separators between words by search engines, whereas underscores and spaces aren’t interpreted as word separators by search engines.

Choose The Right File Format

Understanding file formats for images can help you know the best option for ranking your image in a Google search. BMP, JPEG, PNG, GIF, WebP, and SVG are the supported formats for Google images. (developers.google.com)

Choosing the right file format for your images can be tricky. There are guidelines for web images, print images, and image file formats.

Choose:

  • JPEGs for photographs
  • PNGs for screenshots
  • GIFs for infographics and icons
  • BMPs for logos
  • SVG for vector graphics

Note: WebP format is the most recommended as it’s tailored for the web and offers superior lossless and lossy compression.

Make Sure Your Image Is Working Across Devices

Google’s focus on mobile-first indexing means it’s important to make sure your images are working across all devices and browsers.  After all, mobile devices make up more than half of all Google searches

Put Your Images High Up On The Page

Try putting your most important image near the top of the page. This can be especially helpful when using a long-form article format or having a lot of content on one page (like an e-commerce site). 

This way, Google knows what’s most important right away and can give it a priority when it comes to how they rank your site.

Add A Descriptive Caption 

When you’re trying to rank images in Google, one of the most important things you can do is add a descriptive caption. The caption is essentially the text that appears below each image when it’s shared on social media or embedded in your website. You can use this part of the image to help searchers understand what they see and why they should click it.

So how do you make sure that your image captions are as descriptive as possible? Here are some tips:

  • Use keywords in the title tag for each individual post. This will allow Google to understand your post and show it in searches related to that keyword.
  • Make sure that each image has an alt attribute with descriptive text. This will allow search engines to find and index images even when they can’t see them.
  • Create a custom description field for each individual post, if possible. If this isn’t available, make sure that there is enough information about each picture so that users can get an idea of what it shows at first glance–even if they don’t read all of the text on the page itself!

Use Internal Linking on Your Images 

Internal links are a key ranking factor for web pages, but they’re also a great way to optimize your images. Search engines can’t crawl images or the content in images as it does with text. Search engines can only find content on pages by crawling the anchor text of internal links to those pages.

By manually linking images to other relevant pages of your site, you’re sending that internal link juice and allowing Google to understand what those images are about. Internal linking should be done manually, meaning the links aren’t inserted automatically by the CMS or server. This is so that only relevant links are created, and spammy internal linking isn’t done.

One common mistake people make is linking to images on other sites instead of linking internally to their own images. Linking to your own site (especially when it comes to images) helps improve your site’s overall domain authority, which in turn will help images rank better in Google Image search. And yes, Google does take domain authority into account when ranking pages for Image search results.

Use A Sitemap To Index All Images

A sitemap is essentially a blueprint of your website. By adding an image sitemap file, you’ll be able to tell Google the locations of all of your images on your site instead of only providing them with a list of URLs. This makes it easier for Googlebot to crawl through your website and index everything properly!

Add A Watermark To Secure Your Images

Adding a watermark will help prevent people from stealing your images by making them harder to copy or use without permission. This means that if someone tries to use your image without your permission and doesn’t want to pay you for it, they’ll have a harder time getting away with it. This is because there’s no way they can crop out the watermark.

Second, adding a watermark helps people recognize who created the image and where it came from when they see it on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. This could lead more people to visit your website or read more about what you do!

Finally, if someone does decide to steal your image anyway (despite having added a watermark), then at least you’ll have proof that they stole from you. So that you can take legal action against them if necessary (and hopefully get compensated for their actions).

SafeSearch

When optimizing your image, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that Google’s SafeSearch system can block any explicit content from appearing on its search engine results pages (SERPs). This means that if you want to be found by people looking for adult content, it’s important that those images don’t contain explicit content.

It’s especially true if you’re trying to rank for keywords related to adult content or nudity. You’ll need to make sure that any images you use as part of these campaigns don’t contain anything explicit (e.g., sexually suggestive poses or nudity).

Google often uses SafeSearch to determine whether or not images are appropriate for children or families.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You’ve now learned the steps you need to take in order to rank your images on Google.

Remember: Your SEO strategy shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to understand what makes your audience unique, and what their needs are. Once you have that information, it’s much easier to create an image that will resonate with them and help you achieve your goals.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks on how to improve your SEO, check out our other guides.

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