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3 min read How to optimize images for SEO

How to optimize images

Key Takeaways

  • Include your primary keyword in your image file names but don’t make the mistake of keyword stuffing them.
  • Reduce the size of your images without compromising on their quality.
  • You can help your images appear in Google’s Images tab by creating an image XML sitemap.

Opti­mize images on your web­site for bet­ter user expe­ri­ence and SEO. Find out how to do it suc­cess­ful­ly with a few sim­ple rules!

Reasons to optimize images in all blog articles

Images are an impor­tant part of every blog arti­cle. The atten­tion span of peo­ple brows­ing the inter­net is very short — Accord­ing to to the lat­est research, an aver­age atten­tion span lasts only 7 sec­onds. If you are unable to catch read­ers’ atten­tion fast, no mat­ter how good your arti­cle is, most of your vis­i­tors will click the back but­ton before actu­al­ly read­ing a sin­gle sentence.

Besides being very help­ful to catch read­ers’ atten­tion, images are neces­si­ty in every blog arti­cle for sev­er­al reasons:

  • Images make your con­tent more attractive
  • Blog arti­cles with images are much eas­i­er to read and understand
  • Images help in decreas­ing the bounce rate and increas­ing the time spent on page
  • Opti­mized images boost your SEO

Rules for optimizing images

Choose a keyword-based clear and descriptive file name

One of the rank­ing fac­tors Google takes into con­sid­er­a­tion is the image file name. Search engines crawl image files and search for keywords.

Instead of keep­ing gener­ic image file names like IMG_223.jpg, rename the file to fit the top­ic you are writ­ing about and include your key­word, like this:


Divide words using hyphens instead of under­scores, and leave stop-words out. It takes only a few sec­onds to change the file name and it can mean a big dif­fer­ence in SEO terms.

Reduce the image file size

Images can slow the load speed of your web­site, so it’s advis­able to opti­mize the size of every image before uploading.

To reduce the image file size, you can use Adobe Pho­to­shop and sim­i­lar tools or resize images online. We usu­al­ly use a com­bi­na­tion of these three tools:

Tinyjpg and Com­pres­so­rio reduce the image size loss­less, which means there are no vis­i­ble changes in qual­i­ty. How­ev­er, if the loss­less tech­nique isn’t suc­cess­ful enough, Opti­mizil­la can be very help­ful and bring sol­id results with only slight changes in quality.

Optimize your alt tags

Alt tag is sim­ply an alter­na­tive text, which means if a web brows­er can’t ren­der an image for any rea­son, alt tags will be dis­played instead. Using alt tags, the vis­i­tors will still know what was the image about.

Alt tags are one of the most impor­tant on-site rank­ing fac­tors and the prop­er use can mean a huge dif­fer­ence in how search engines inter­pret your con­tent. For this rea­son, nev­er miss using a key­word-rich and descrip­tive alt tags.

Match an image description and captions with the surrounding content

Cap­tions can be very use­ful as peo­ple tend to read them while quick­ly scan the arti­cle and decide whether it is worth of read­ing or not. Unlike alt tags, cap­tions are not infal­li­ble as they do not add any SEO val­ue, but if you decide to use them, write rel­e­vant and catchy captions.

The same is true for image descrip­tions; they are not nec­es­sary but can add extra details and rel­e­vance to the sur­round­ing content.

Use an image sitemap XML file

An image sitemap can help search engine bots index­ing your images and dis­play them in the Images tab in SERP.

Cre­ate an image XML sitemap and sub­mit it to your Google Search Con­sole account. In case you are using SEO Yoast plu­g­in you can find the gen­er­at­ed image sitemap on this link:


Do not over-optimize

Over-opti­miza­tion can, instead of help­ing, actu­al­ly harm your SEO.

Don’t use non-rel­e­vant key­words and too many key­words in image tags. Use cap­tions only if they make sense and help vis­i­tors. Pri­mar­i­ly, opti­mize images to increase the user expe­ri­ence, think about your vis­i­tors first and then search engines.

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