Image SEO: Techniques for Optimizing Images to Improve Search Engine Rankings and Enhance User Experience

Image SEO has been a popular term for some time, but many people still find it confusing.

The good news is that image SEO is easy to understand and implement.

In this article, we will discuss the fundamentals of image optimization techniques, providing examples and templates to help you optimize images on your website.

Additionally, we will demonstrate how these techniques can improve your search engine results pages (SERPs).

Beyond Image Quality, Size, and Format

Image SEO is not solely about image quality, size, and format.

It involves optimizing images for both search engines and users.

Implementing image SEO can lead to higher search result rankings by ensuring that your images are properly indexed by Googlebot.

Furthermore, it enhances user experience by making your website more accessible and user-friendly.

To achieve these goals, you can follow these practices:

Optimize Images for Search Engines:

  • Use image optimization tools to ensure Google indexes your images.
  • Employ tools to check for broken images, optimize, and resize them.
  • Create a responsive website design that displays well on all devices.
  • Ensure your images are high quality and consider optimizing their file size.

Optimize Images for Users:

  • Add alternative text (alt text) and title attributes to your images.
  • Utilize schema markup to maximize the visibility of your images on Google Search.

Including Alternative Text for All Images

Alternative text, or alt text, is the descriptive text that appears when an image cannot be displayed.

It serves to describe images to visually impaired users and helps search engines understand their content.

When adding alt text, it is crucial to make it descriptive and accurate.

Avoid using keywords solely for their relevance to the image, as this would be a wasted effort.

It’s important to note that using exact match keywords in alt tags will not improve rankings and may even have a negative impact, as stated by Google.

To improve your rankings, focus on creating original, high-quality content.

Ensure that the alt text accurately describes the image, and if possible, use similar text in the image file name.

This practice helps search engines comprehend the image’s content.

Optimizing Image File Names with Keywords

To optimize your image file names, it’s essential to include relevant keywords.

The file name appears in image search results and on social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Follow these guidelines for effective file name optimization:

  • Use hyphens between words instead of spaces or underscores. 

Spaces can cause issues for users who struggle to read long strings of text on their devices, and underscores can be mistaken for hyperlinks on mobile devices or email clients that don’t handle HTML formatting well.

  • Avoid special characters like dollar signs, asterisks, and ampersands, as they may confuse users viewing the image description metadata fields in Google Images search results.
  • Use descriptive terms that users would search for to find your image. 

For example, use “blue and yellow flowers” instead of “my pet cat.” This helps users discover your content when browsing images by theme or color.

  • Describe what is happening in the image, such as “The sun rises over the ocean,” rather than just stating the colors. 

This provides users with context when they encounter your content in search results or on social media platforms.

Using Alt Attributes to Describe Images

Alt attributes play a vital role in describing images for users who rely on screen readers.

These attributes should be concise and relevant.

Avoid making them excessively long, as this can hinder readability for visually impaired individuals.

Furthermore, alt attributes should not include unrelated keywords or phrases.

Imagine describing the image to someone who cannot see it and ensuring the alt attribute makes sense in that context.

For example, instead of simply writing “cat,” you could write “a black cat sitting on top of a red sofa.”

Optimizing Long Text Images

Optimizing long text images follows a similar process to regular image optimization.

The key difference lies in ensuring the readability of the text within the image for both search engines and visitors.

To achieve this, consider the following:

  • Compress the image using tools like Photoshop or GIMP to reduce file size and improve loading speed without compromising quality.
  • Use a text editor like WordPad or Notepad++ for writing lengthy content such as blog posts or articles. This allows you to view the text at its actual size and prevents automatic scaling when printing from programs like Microsoft Word.
  • Utilize grammar-checking tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway App to catch any grammatical errors or typos that may have been overlooked during the editing process. This ensures your content is error-free and easily understandable by search engines, helping them better comprehend your page’s content.

Optimizing High-Resolution Images

When optimizing high-resolution images, it’s important to consider their impact on loading speed and bandwidth usage.

Follow these tips to optimize high-resolution images effectively:

  • Use high-resolution images, but be aware that larger file sizes can significantly slow down page loading times and consume more bandwidth.
  • Choose the appropriate image size based on the purpose:
    • For web use: Aim for a width of 1200px at 72dpi or higher, or 1400px wide at 72dpi or higher.
    • For print use: Opt for 300 dpi.
    • For social media use: Use a width of 600px at 72dpi or higher, or 1200px wide at 72dpi or higher.
    • For email use: Use a width of 800px at 72dpi or higher.
    • For mobile use: Aim for a width of 320px at 72dpi or higher. Ideally, keep the image size below 100KB.

Choosing the Right Image Format for Desired Effects

The choice of image format depends on the desired effect and purpose of the image.

Consider the following formats:


Best for photos, as it compresses data without significant quality loss. Keep in mind that JPG files are larger than PNGs, so consider bandwidth and storage limitations.


Ideal for high-quality documents and scanned files, offering lossless compression.


Suitable for animations due to its ability to display multiple frames sequentially. 

However, avoid using it for text-based content or logos lacking transparency features.


Supports both lossless and lossy compression methods, offering transparency options. 

Choose between lossless and lossy compression based on your needs.

Lossless compression removes redundant data while optimizing the file for the chosen format, preserving image quality.

This is crucial for photos where maintaining quality is paramount.

On the other hand, lossy compression discards unnecessary information for file size reduction, which works well for images where slight quality loss is acceptable.


Images have the power to boost search engine rankings, enhance user experience, and drive traffic to your site.

However, to harness their full potential as a marketing tool, it is crucial to optimize images correctly.

By implementing image SEO techniques, you can maximize the benefits they offer.

Focus on optimizing image quality, file names, alt attributes, and formats to improve search engine rankings, enhance user experience, and achieve your marketing goals.