A photographer optimizing a camera for search.

The 5 Steps To Optimize Images For Search

Images are a great way to capture people’s attention enough to dive into a sea of words they would have otherwise just passed right by. But images aren’t just attention grabbers, they can also help you rank in SERPs. In this blog, I’ll show you what you need to do to optimize your images for search and viewers alike.

1) Choose the right image

Stay relevant – You want your images to enhance your content, not distract from it. Use images that have an intuitive connection to the written content. Need help making sure your images make since? Call in a coworker and see what they think. Also, having images that are relevant to the surrounding written content helps with SEO.

Keep it clear – make sure your images are crisp. Pixelation, distortion and other warping looks bad and reflects badly on your brand.

Steer clear of stock images – Stock images are a no-no for a couple of reasons: the look fake and they make you look fake, and they are probably in other places on the web. Need help finding free images? Check out this list: 17+ Free Ways To Create More Visual B2B Marketing Content. If you do use stock photos, make sure you customize them somewhat. If done tastefully, this can give the photo some spice and make it your own. Some easy ways to customize a stock photo are:

  • change the hue, brightness or color tone
  • add text
  • combine it with another photo

2) Create a good file name

Search engines can’t see images (yet), so they rely on written data around the image. The file name is one piece of data that helps search engines know what an image is. For this reason, it helps to provide a descriptive file name.

Most digital cameras automatically assign a numeric file name to each photo. If you are just uploading images with file names like “000142.jpg” you are breaking Google’s Image Publishing Guidelines where they ask publishers to amend file names before publishing.

Make sure your file name is descriptive and helpful. If you can get one of your company’s target keywords in then great, but don’t cram it in there if it doesn’t make sense.

3) Reduce the file size

If a page takes longer than 1 second to load, it can cause website visitors to abandon ship, killing your bounce rate and giving a red flag to search engines. Large images make a page load much slower. Make sure your images load as quickly as possible by reducing the file size. WordPress suggests that image files not exceed 128 kb. Even if you’re not using WordPress, this is a good rule of thumb.

Does it seem like you have to make your images tiny to get them that small? It’s probably because you’re not compressing them. The easiest way to compress files in Photoshop is to go to File > Save for Web. This will make your files much smaller.

4) Create a helpful title

The title is that string of words that pops up when someone hovers over an image. You don’t want this to be too long, or to be stuffed with keywords. Write this with the viewer in mind. Getting your keyword in here can help with ranking, but it is secondary to keeping your title short and to the point.

5) Create a helpful alt text

Between the image title, file name, surrounding written content and the alt text, search engines rely most on the alt text to determine the images content. Also, alt text can be used to replace images for the visually impaired, or for people with slow internet connection. Make sure you have a descriptive sentence in your alt text. Experts say that a good alt tag can be around 16 words long. Get a keyword or two in here, but make sure your alt text is descriptive and helpful.


Making sure your images meet these standards is time consuming, but the benefits are well worth it. Optimizing your images isn’t the only way to improve your search rankings. Check out this list of more tasks that can improve your rankings: The 2016 SEO Checklist.