SEO 101: How to Optimize your Images and Boost Your Website’s Rankings

Blog posts and other written content aren’t the only way to get your pages ranked- optimizing your images can also drive traffic to your website and improve your ranking. If your brand thrives on quality photography and imagery, you should make sure you are doing everything you can to get your images found.

Choose your Image

The first consideration to have is what kind of imagery you will use. Are they photoshopped graphics? Are they professional photographs? Screenshots? The answer depends on your reader, brand, and the kind of information you need to convey.

If in fact, you do need to use photography, you need to decide whether you will use stock imagery, hire a professional photographer, or do it yourself. There are pros and cons to both: stock imagery can come across tacky if not chosen well, and a professional photographer can become expensive. Check similar brands to yours and see which one is the norm.

Check your License

Regardless of whether you purchase photography or hire a professional, you’ll want to ensure you have the license for distribution, or rights to edit if you plan on doing so. Read more on Fair Use, which images can be re-shared if it’s not for profit or promotion.

Here are a few free stock photo websites:

Optimize your Image

Now comes the heavy lifting. Once you have created or purchased the photo of your choice, you should now prepare it to rank as high as possible. Here’s how:

Image/ File Size.

Some images, such as professional photographs or purchased stock photos, can be as big as 3000px x 3000px. Unless you plan on using the photograph in a printed publication, no image you use online needs to be that big. In fact, most blog widths only allow images up to 900 px wide, and anything larger risks messing up the page layout or will end up getting resized down anyway (while keeping the file size the same).

Make sure your images are big enough to be visible, yet small enough so it loads quickly. The bigger your image, the longer it takes to load, and the lower your website will rank. You can use Apple Preview or MS Paint to resize images.

File Name

There are conflicting opinions online about whether the image’s file name makes a difference in SEO. Either way, it’s generally a good idea to label your image properly instead of the default “IMG_1234.jpg” naming convention for the sake of Google’s consideration. Label it something relevant, separated by dashes. If, for example, your image is of the new iPhone, label it something like “Apple-iPhone-8.jpg”. If Google reads your file names, the dashes will separate each keyword as its own.


Perhaps the most important ranking factor for your image is the alternative text, more commonly known as Alt-text. Since Google cannot visualize your imagery, you need to spell out what the image is. This is an awesome opportunity to add target keywords. If your image is a stock photo of people huddled around a computer, you can write “a group of people huddled around a computer” as the alt-text. The best way to approach it: how would you describe the image to someone who cannot see it?

Description/ Caption

These sections aren’t as important as alt-text, but are worth filling in just for completeness and posterity. The description form entry allows you to include additional notes, such as how the photo was taken or where it was from. The caption is a line of text that will show up underneath the blog image. Make sure that if you do use a caption, include relevant descriptions or credit the original source.

Getting your image out there

You should now have an image fully optimized, scaled, and titled. Now you’re ready to set it out in the wild. Of course, nobody just shares images alone (unless it’s of a meme or an infographic), so think about the kind of post that would complement or give context to your imagery. Then, distribute that content on multiple channels: your website, your blog, your social platforms, and your email campaigns.

Remember- there are more ways than one to rank your website higher than just content, and imagery falls under that. Always optimize each image before hitting the publish button, and you may just find your website going up in rank with minimal effort.
For more information on optimizing your website for SEO best practices, follow Arcalea’s blog today.

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