Basic SEO Tips For Images You Should Know

I’m sure you know of SEO tips you can use on your site. We have previously published an ultimate guide to Web Optimization (Tips & Best Practices) as well as a mini-series for a Beginner’s Guide to SEO (check out Part 2 and Part 3 as well).

If you want to optimize SEO for your images, there is Jake’s ultimate guide to JPEG optimization for the Web and of course plenty of tools you can use to help you check your site performance and speeds. If however you want to check out how to create an SEO-friendly image portfolio for your site, here are 7 quick tips you can manipulate to help make your images more SEO-friendly.

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1. Image Sitemaps

A not-so-frequently used tactic is creating an Image Sitemap to list all the images on your site, in a nice, neat XML fashion. The main reason behind this is image discoverability, especially for images which are accessed through scripts.

The practice is simple and future search engine algorithm updates will take this trick into account more and more. You can just add an image sitemap to your current sitemap.

Here’s an article from Google giving details on third-party tools to help you.

2. Giving Credit

Always link back to the creator of the image when you present images which aren’t of your own doing or owned by you. Make sure it’s do-follow, not no-follow. It’s a best practice that comes from the King of Search, Google. Your image search engine results will be glad you did, and it’s going to save you a lot of trouble from angry image creators.

3. Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets containing photos are great. If you have an online business, find a single image that best represents you. Here’s a great article from Google on how to implement this (even listing a tool for testing). Doing this will lower your bounce rates and increase your click-through rates while helping the main image rank better.

rich snippets

4. Backlinking To Images

This works exactly like normal on-page or off-page SEO backlinking. Try to link to your own site’s images from within, with descriptive, long-tail keywords. If you can get other high PR sites to link back to a specific image, that’s great! Oh, and don’t spam the anchor text with too many keywords. A 4-word anchor text is long enough.

And if you want to optimize your images for local SERPs, use long-tail keywords containing the name of the city or desired area in the anchor text.

5. EXIF Data

The EXIF information is usually pre-compiled data, created by devices you take pictures on. The information is embedded in the photo. But get this, you can alter it to contain your desired keywords, your site’s name and any other information. The amount of detail which goes into this is amazing.

You can meddle with the date, hour, height, author, device type and about 20 other things categorized as image data in the exchangeable image file format (e.g. EXIF).

6. Captions

Having captions for each and every image presented on your site can do wonders for your bounce rates, and that in turn can increase your rankings. While this technique isn’t listed as a best practice, it’s obvious that photos are "helped" by captions. Your captions should be fun though. Humor decreases blood pressure and is good for SEO.

7. Other Bounce Rate Tricks

Bounce Rates play a huge role in SEO. It makes sense. SERPs take into account if a visitor hits the back button too soon. That can mean he wasn’t interested in that page (or didn’t even mean to click in at all). You want each visitor to stay on your image page as much as possible. Here are a few tips:

  • An image should never be without text next to it. Not only captions. Have some text wrapped around the actual photo. Make sure it’s relevant both in human and robotic eyes (e.g. long-tail keywords).
  • No pixelated photos allowed. Have a balance between file size and quality.
  • Standardized image sizes. If you’re presenting a bunch of images, make sure they’re similar in width and height.