Quick Guide: How to Make Images SEO Friendly

How to make images SEO friendly?

Alt text?

File name?


Big NO.

Then what?

Well in this article I’m going to cover how you can optimize your images for SEO and which eventually helps you to get image search traffic which is 26.4% of search queries on Google.

To reach there first we need to understand:

That, the search engines algorithms are getting every day intelligent and smarter and that makes SEO more complex.

Now, it is much more difficult to rank a keyword then in 2010.

The strategies that used to work before, don’t work now. Google makes several changes in its algorithms every week. 

In fact, Google has made some 3234 improvements to Google Search in 2018 alone. 

screenshot: Google-improved-3234-to-search-engine

So, how will we drive traffic to our site in 2020?

Well, I can give you a hint:

Back in 2014, the MIT stated that our brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. 

Yes, exactly with the Google Images and the objective of this whole article to improve your image ranking in the Google Image searches.


What is Google Image SEO?

In simple terms, practising of optimizing your unique images for the Google image search results is what we call Google Image SEO.


Do Images Help SEO?

Today, it’s very hard to find the content without any images and people understand SEO is all about text, keywords and backlinks, but images have a role to play as well and that is important.

Google Image search traffic is the untapped market for many many marketers. 

Consider this way:

If you are reading content which doesn’t have any visuals then probably you will bounce back from it or even if you read the content after 2-3 days you will not remember what you have read.

There is one called a dwell time factor which Google search algorithm considers in their ranking signal for a website.

Basically, dwell time is the time, search algorithms count once a user lands up on your website and spends time to read content and engage with other contents on the website.

So, Images play a vital role in the user experience and which indirectly induced ranking.

Google image SEO best practices:

There’s a whole list of factors that will influence your images ranking:

Choose the Best Image File Format

Choosing the right web-based format is the first step towards image optimization. 

There are different file formats available on the web alike JPEG, GIF, PNG, SVG, WebP, and the list will go on…

JPEG and PNG are the two most popular file formats which are heavily used on web pages. These all web formats use different compression methods. 

While JPEG is the most used image file format worldwide, it’s best used for the lesser image file size and best suits for the images which don’t include text on them and also like PNG, JPEG doesn’t have any support for the transparent background.

Similarly like JPEG, PNG is heavily used across the world and yes it does have the capability to support a transparent background. PNG can even be best for the images which include a little text over them but this file format has a larger file size than the JPEG.

Keep the Image in PNG, if having a graphic-rich image. We better can understand it by the following example:

Compress Images:

Page load time is crucial for every website.

Our task is to choose the best image file format across the available file format and keeping the image file size as low as possible without sacrificing the image quality.

There a plethora of options available on the internet for compressing the images

The two which are quite popular for compressing images are TinyPNG or compressor.io

comparison between JPEG and PNg

Unique Images:

Find and choose the right type of Images for your website to get in the higher rank of Google image search.

Putting a relevant and original image is much necessary for your content and I prefer you to use the images that are taken by your camera instead of stock images just for the sake to get your image in Google image search.

Note: Even if you download the free image, always do read the copyright issues and instructions on how to use the free image in your content. 

Best practice of using free images in your content to always give the attribution link to the original owner of the image or to the website from where you downloaded.  

These are some free stock images website from where you can get the images(I don’t prefer): 

  • Unsplash
  • Pixels
  • Freepik
  • Pixabay
  • Canva
  • StockSnap.io
  • SplitShire

SEO Image Naming Convention

Well, this is the foremost thing you need to do once start optimizing your Image.

Giving a proper image file name tells Google bots what the image is about without even looking at them.

It’s been practising to give our main focus keyword into the filename of our images.

If you are forcing your main keyword into the filename then you are doing it wrong.

Let’s understand this with Google itself.

Subject matters most:

screenshoot: image naming convention

Always put relevant image respective of your content 

For example,

If your content is about sunrise view from Antarctica then instead of giving your filename as SVA3426.jpg give Antarctica-sunrise-view

So the image fulfils your subject and your keyword is too in the filename. 

Add Alt Text to Images :

It’s what the browser displays when your image couldn’t download because of internet slow or if the image is broken.

SEO image alt text length shouldn’t be more than 125 characters.

Here’s the alt text syntax in HTML5

<img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”Dalmatian puppy playing fetch”/> 


Alt is a descriptive text which improves accessibility for people who can’t see images on the web pages.

Let’s check out what officially Google have to say about it:

screenshot: Alt text definition

Responsive Images:

Web page loading time indirectly affects ranking and that can hurt your conversions.

And off course loading time is essential for user experience.

What Akamai has to say about it: 

A 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7 per cent.

screenshoot of Akamai facts about conversions

Let’s say

You uploaded a 1920px-wide image to your site.

Your page visitors which are coming from mobile devices let’s say they have a 400px widescreen.

Yes, the browser will auto adjust your wide image to 400px wide

but the cache here:

Browsers will still render initially the 1920px wide image which turns to result in slowing down your webpage. That’s n’t good for SEO.

The solution is to properly use srcset.

Secret serves a different image per screen width. 

Use a CDN:

Let’s understand how CDN can play a huge role while serving your images:

Consider your website is hosted over a server in the USA. 

It wouldn’t be a problem if a user from the USA lands upon your web page. As it will not take much time to travel your content and images from your website hosting server to the user computer. 


Now if a user from Russia lands up on your web page then the requests for retrieving the content and images have to travel all from Russia to the USA.

Which definitely takes the times. 

To overcome this situation CDN comes to rescue:   

CDN stands for content delivery Networks. It basically caches your files across the global networks of servers. 

Now, whenever a request is sent from the user computer, it will basically retrieve the images and content from the nearest available server. Which drastically reduces the image loading time on the visitor system and enhances the user experience.

Here are a few best CDN available.

  • Cloudflare 
  • Google Cloud CDN
  • KeyCDN
  • Amazon CloudFront

Image Sitemap:

Well, If you want to get more of your Images to find out on Google image search more then:

Image sitemap is just for you.

Sitemaps improve your chances of having your images appear in the Google image search. 

To get more search through Google image search you either add your images to your existing sitemap(if not, you can easily create the sitemap from xml-sitemaps.com), or you can create a fresh new image sitemap from the above same URL

If needed to create just specifically an image sitemap freely then go for ScreamingFrog.

NOTE: Additionally, you can even make use of Google image extension for sitemaps to give more information to Google.



That’s all right now on the guide – How to make images SEO friendly.

I recommend you to read a guide on automating image optimization by Google developers. 

Few! It’s complex and we will continue to dig more to understand the image SEO.

Might be in the future, I will write more on the Google image SEO. What are your suggestions?

An easy hack to index your web pages images on Google image search is to keep really good quality images and with relevant content around it, it should help to picturize users what content may be around it and make an effort to make the user experience great.

Further Reading: What is SEO in Simple Plain Language? [Here’s the Answer]