Right from the outset of SEO, images have been a crucial part of the process.

Search engines always consider the quality of the images on a website to determine its position on the SERPs.

This is to ensure they deliver the best results – on all fronts – to their users.

If the images in your web design aren’t fully optimized, there’s a great chance you won’t make a good position on the SERPs.

So, what can you do to optimize your site images for the search? 

Let’s find out.

  • Optimize the image dimension and image file size

Image dimension refers to the resolution of an image (e.g., 1024 by 680 pixels), while the image file size refers to the amount of space an image eats on the server (e.g., 200 kilobytes).

For SEO purposes, Google and other search engines want your images to have two things.

  • A great visual quality (i.e., high resolution): So that they can appear well on the web
  • A very small/minimal size: so that your site can load fast. Heavy-sized images normally cause a site to load slowly. And today’s internet users are quite impatient. So, Google prevents slow loading sites from ranking high on the SERPs.

So, what do you do to meet these criteria?

Compress your images.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. 

When you compress an image too much, the file size becomes small (which is what you want), but the image quality becomes poor, too. 

On the other hand, when you use a low compression rate, the image quality remains high (which is good), but the file size remains huge, too.

So, to meet Google’s criteria, you have to find the right balance between image size and image dimension when compressing.

Luckily, Adobe Photoshop can help you.

It has a “save for the web” option, which automatically gives your images the right resolution and file size.

After optimizing your images, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your site speed to see if your site is loading as fast as Google wants it. 

Note: a perfect PageSpeed Insights score is 3 seconds.

  • Optimize the image file name

Unfortunately, Google’s algorithm doesn’t speak visual languages. It speaks textual languages. 

If you want your images to be recognized, you need to name them in a language the algorithm understands.

And that is using keywords.

When naming your image file, you need to add relevant, descriptive keywords, which help the algorithm understand what the image is about.

Which keywords should you use?

Same target keywords you have in mind for the article or web content. 

For example, if I’m adding an image to this post, some of the keywords to consider for my image file name would be “images-seo-tips,” “optimize-images-seo,” “optimize-images-search.” 

Noticed how we added hyphens to those keywords? That’s an expert recommendation from popular SEO guru Isaac Justesen. He tweeted,

  • Use alt tags

Besides file name, alternative text is another textual piece that helps search engines understand what an image is about.

When describing your text in your page back-end, you will have room for alt text description (or alt tag).

Take advantage of this section to give as much description to your image as possible. 

Yes, you can also mention the target keywords here, but make sure you avoid keyword stuffing. 

Just a couple of words (maybe 15 words at most) describing the image.

  • Use unique images

Have you ever wondered why search engines don’t rank duplicate content? 

Why they keep crying for website owners to avoid plagiarism, copying other people’s content, and replicating other people’s ideas.

It is because Google is so big on authenticity. They want to provide real, unique solutions to their users. 

Not a bunch of regurgitated or copycat ideas.

In the same way as textual content, Google wants unique images.

They don’t want you filling your pages with images you’ve stolen from another site.

Some people use stock images like photos from Getty Images, Shutterstock, Unsplash, and the likes. 

While this is not a bad practice, it’s actually not good for SEO. 

Why? Because other people may be using the same stock images as you, making you appear to Google as a copycat.

  • Match texts with images

It is important to have a strong correlation between the textual and visual content of a web page. Otherwise, you risk ruining one with the other.

For example, if the textual copy doesn’t say much about the image or isn’t relevant to it, you risk isolating the image.

This is why you need to always ensure you include images relevant to what you’re talking about.

  • Use site maps

Site maps are an important piece in the SEO puzzle of any site.

At its core, a site map tells Google about all the pages contained on your site. 

To ensure that Google’s crawlers notice all your image content – the memes, photos, infographics, video thumbnail, etc. – you need to include them in your site map.

When entering images’ details into the site map, ensure you provide all relevant information such as title, description, URL location, caption, etc. 

Also, do not forget to include the relevant target keywords in each case.