Google Images allows people to visually locate websites for all kinds of tasks. People are able to find recipes, DIY instructions, beauty tips, interior design pointers, and many other things by searching for them on Google Images. The pictures that users are shown can give people a direct peek at what they’re looking for, sometimes dramatically improving the efficiency of someone’s searching.
Search results in Google Images each have a preview image, a page headline, and image attribution. Clicking on a preview image enlarges it. More information about the page content becomes available as well. Image licensing opportunities are typically displayed when it makes sense to do so. Importantly, a link to visit the page that contains the preview image you clicked on is also present.
Results from Google Images are sometimes shown to users who’ve submitted a standard search.
Before you begin trying to hone the images on your site for SEO, there are a number of questions to ask yourself. First of all, is your content even something that people would visually search for? Secondly, if your content passes the first check, ask yourself how someone might go about searching for such pictures. Next, is it possible to determine a preview of your site that users seeking images would find compelling? Finally, do your web pages have images that are especially pertinent to the content on them?
Taking those four questions into consideration from the beginning can be useful. The answers to those questions can guide you to include your pictures in a way that is constructive to your site’s goals.
Let’s say one of your pages is an essay on the political future of native peoples in the age of multinational corporations. Studding that page with clip art wouldn’t be particularly useful if you’re hoping that your images will drive traffic. It’s incredibly unlikely that someone would be searching for those images in order to read your thoughts on indigenous self-determination. Conversely, if you’re an artist and you regularly illustrate images, your creations might indeed be genuine search queries.
You know your audience and the objectives of your site better than anyone else. Those are two more things to take into account when selecting or creating images for your site.
Google has a number of suggestions for images if you’d like them to perform well in visual searches. The first one is to provide some context. Your pages’ visual components should always be applicable to the page content. Incorporate images that add value. Your page’s title and headings should bolster the context of your images. Always have someone searching for your page’s content in the back of your mind– what search terms might they use?
Optimizing the placement of your images is Google’s next recommendation. Assuming that your images tie in to your content, the best thing you can do is place them by the text that is most relevant to any given image. If your image has a caption, make sure it’s close to the image. That may seem like it goes without saying, but there are millions of images that Google has indexed whose captions are far flung on the pages they appear on. Finally, unless the page content truly demands otherwise, a best practice is to place the most prominent image of any given page near the top.
Another thing to be sure of is not to have text overlapping your images. Make sure there’s a clear delineation of blank space between images and text. Any text over an image is bad, but, in particular, you really don’t want to have page menu items or page headings on top of images.
Google also encourages the use of alt-attributes. Alt-attributes are something that could be a blog post in and of themselves. On a very basic level, they are a way to provide information about an image to someone who is unable to see it. This helps with both search engines and overall accessibility.
High quality images will always outperform lower quality images in Google search results. They’re more appealing than unclear, blurry, low resolution images. This increased clarity will translate into a better preview image in search results, which in turn increases the likelihood of any given user clicking on your image and continuing on to your page.
The context of your images matters. Make sure that your site is information dense and high quality. The text content of the page that your images appear on matters just as much to Google as the quality of your visual content.
There are other things that factor in as well. Your site needs to perform well for both mobile and desktop users for your images to truly shine in search results. Your site also requires good, stable, descriptive URLs. You should also have relevant, structured data. If your images can be licensed, there are markups you can use to indicate that to Google, and Google can then make those opportunities available to users of their search engines.
Lastly, consider speed. You want your image file sizes to be optimized. Use lazy-loading techniques whenever possible. You also want to use responsive images. If you have familiarity with AMP, that should always be a consideration.
The previous two paragraphs packed a lot of information into a small amount of text. Not to worry. Our upcoming blog posts will go over almost all of those concepts. For now, though, if these concepts are foreign to you, just make sure you get the basics right.