10 Must-Know Tips For Optimizing Your Images For SEO

Do it. It’s easy. Don’t just upload images and leave them uncompressed, in random sizes, and with file numbers.

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Last updated on December 12, 2023

Google now bases much of its ranking algorithm on the user’s anticipated experience. If it believes that a searcher will get more from one site than another, it will rank that first site higher.

One of the main things that Google is now looking for as part of the enhanced search experience is images.

Your site must have good images on it to attract visitors.

However, using images on your site is much more than uploading a stock picture.

You must ensure those images not only engage the viewer but are also optimized for search.

Over 20% Of All Searches Now Are Conducted On Google Image

The importance of images is continuing to increase. More people than ever before are using Google Images to find what they are looking for online.

If you want to be found, you must optimize your images.

You need more than just uploading a picture from a stock photo site and posting it to your page.

You need to take several steps to ensure that the pictures you use not only engage the public but can also be found by search engines.

Regardless of how much work this may sound like, it is worth every minute of your time. The return on investment (ROI) for correctly optimizing your images is impressive.

Use the following tips to optimize your images. Once you learn all the steps for image optimization, it will be easier to do each time you load a new image.

Learn more about our On-Page SEO Service.

1. Avoid Using Stock Images If Possible

There are too many dull and unprofessional-looking websites. They all use stock photos. I get it – sometimes you need to stick a generic picture up there – no big deal, but it makes your site blend in with all of the other ones in your niche.

It does not set you apart for your viewers or distinguish your site when Google crawlers examine it for information.

Google has also stated that larger pictures are more apt to be featured on Google Discover. The specifications for large images from Google:

“Large images need to be at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview: large setting or by using AMP.”

Also, look out for copyright laws. If you pull a stock image and don’t have the authority to use it, you may face a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Purchase a license to use stock images and hand them to it in your files. If you don’t have that license, the owner of the image will notify you with a Removal Notice.

If you do not comply, you will be sued.

Avoid this problem altogether by using your unique images. Smile, point, shoot, tag, upload – done.

2. Use The Right Image Format

After you have found the right images for your website, you need to ensure you use the right file format.

Those little 3-4 letter combinations after your file… are format names. The most common image file types are:

  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • WebP

Each of these file types has its good and bad sides.

JPEG images can lose some quality once posted but are easily adjusted.

PNG images have a better quality of images, but the files are larger.

WebP images must be compressed to use but are the only ones accepted on Chrome and Firefox.

In most cases, PNG images and later converting them to WebP is the best solution for image files.

Use this to convert your files to WebP: https://cloudconvert.com/image-converter

3. Image Load Speed Is Crucial, So Compress Those Images

Regarding the facts, fast-loading sites will rank higher, get more visits, and convert better than slower ones.

What’s your first instinct if you click on a site and it takes forever to load??? To close the page and look at a different result.

Who the heck has time to sit around waiting for pages to load? The days of dial-up are long gone.

To ensure that your images load quickly, ensure these files are compressed.

You can use many different tools to compress the files before you upload them to your site.

I use this one: https://imagecompressor.com/

This gives you the advantage of not having to backtrack and ensure they load quickly.

You should also use the WordPress plugin Smush to compress and lazy load your images once they’re live on your website: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

Taking it to the next step would be using a CDN that does all kinds of cool stuff to speed up your image load time.

Try https://www.cloudflare.com/

Once you’ve taken these steps, pop your pages into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get your score.

You want to hit in the 90s! https://pagespeed.web.dev/

4. Write Unique Image File Names

When you are gathering images for your site, it is not unusual for them to have file names like IMG_0000123.

You have no clue what that image is until you look at the photo itself.

Funny enough, the Google bots say the same thing when they scan your page and come across an image file that is nothing but a number.

Since the bots cannot open the picture and determine what it is by themselves, they will overlook the image. This can affect how well you rank.

Creating descriptive titles with some keywords in there will improve your ranking.

Staying with the legal theme, you could label your images IMG_law1, IMG_law2, etc.

This might give you a basic understanding of what the image is about. (a law image as opposed to your son’s baseball game)

This does not, however, give the search bots an idea of what the image is about.

You need to be a little more descriptive.

Try these:

  • car-accident-case-NJ
  • injury-victim-to-do-list
  • how-to-prove-negligence-in-NJ

As you can see, these descriptive titles will not only help you catalog your images better, but they will also allow the search bots to determine the purpose of the image, and you could get some traffic from keyword-rich image searches.

5. Make Your Alt-Text SEO Friendly

Alt-text, or alternative text, is the written description of an image that will pop up if the image cannot load on the browser.

The image’s description will appear in the left-hand corner of the image box and provide viewers with a description of the image.

While this does not happen much anymore, having the alt-text in place is still very important.


Google places significant importance on having descriptive alt-text associated with your images.

This text helps Google determine the image’s relevance and adds to the relevance of the page it’s on, which will help it rank for your keywords.

It can also help your images get found in the Google Image section of the search engine.

An example of a basic alt-text would look like this:

<img src=”courtroom-1.jpg” alt=”courtroom”/>

A descriptive one would look like this:

<img src=”courtroom-1.jpg” alt=”Miami-Dade-County-Courtroom”/>

Another great point for using alt-text with your photos is that it enables you to use the photo as an anchor text to different pages within your site. Ah ha!

It’s a great way to create internal links if the image is relevant to additional content on your website.

6. Make Sure Your Images Are Mobile Friendly

Most Internet searches are now conducted on hand-held devices, so your images must be mobile-friendly.

To ensure that your images will be compatible with mobile devices, you must make sure that they will scale to size based on the device accessing the site.

This can be a challenge, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how this works.

Here’s a quick example of what it needs to look like:

<img alt=”car-accident-lawyer-at-desk.” srcset=”
lawyer-s.jpg 300w,
lawyer-m.jpg 600w,
lawyer-l.jpg 1200w,
lawyer-xl.jpg 2000w

It’s the same image. We’re just providing more info so the browser can adapt based on pixel density and layout size.

Mozilla has a comprehensive guide on creating images of different values so that the browser can access the right image for the right device.

Check that out here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn/HTML/Multimedia_and_embedding/Responsive_images

7. Add Dimensions To Prevent Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

When you define the size of your image as part of the code, browsers will be able to distinguish the right size and shape for your image.

If the browser doesn’t know your image’s size and exact placement, it guesses.

Sometimes it is spot-on. Other times you have an image that is not where it is supposed to be or is too big or small for the page, which could cause Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) https://web.dev/cls/ and interfere with your Core Web Vitals optimization.

What happens next? Your visitor moves on.

There is a very small time frame that your site has to catch your visitor’s attention.

If they see a layout that is all shifted around when they open the page, they will move on to a “more professional” site for their information or purchase.

8. Ensure Your Images Make It Into Your Sitemap

You have a choice. You can either add your images to your current sitemap or create a sitemap dedicated to your images.

When crawlers search your site, they can categorize your images more easily when they find the information in the sitemap.

This means higher rankings for you and a better chance of being featured in Google Images.

9. Structured Data Is Beneficial

Use structured data markup to get better visual results from Google.

Mark up elements on your website pages so Google can understand your page more clearly and present it in new ways in Google Search.

Check this out to help you create schema markup.

Structured Data Markup Helper

In many cases, Google will overlook its algorithm and use the structured data to rank the image and your overall site.

10. Handle All On-page SEO Components

When smoking a brisket, you have to get all the ingredients and steps right or you’ll be serving rubber to your friends.

The same applies to your web pages. If you go through all of the trouble of optimizing your images but neglect your title tag, H tags, and internal linking, your site will be a flat tire.

Combining your SEO work with optimized images gives you a high-quality page that will do well in search results.

Quick Image Bang For Your Buck Overview

Optimizing your images has become a very important part of SEO.

Do it. It’s easy. Don’t just upload images and leave them uncompressed, in random sizes, and with file numbers.

Google is all about the user’s intent and the overall search experience. You need to meet these expectations with your site, or you risk dropping dramatically in search results.

When you optimize your images, ensure that you include all of the steps in this tutorial.

Each step has a specific function for optimal SEO.

When you are done optimizing your images, ensure that the rest of your SEO practices for the page are also at peak performance.

When you combine content and image SEO practices, you create a page that Google will rank high in search.

Some advice: Get Your Technical SEO Together Before Investing in Backlinks

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