Image SEO

Image SEO refers to that part of on-page search engine optimization which primarily relates to image files. The objective of image SEO is to increase the visibility of a website in addition to better placement in the Google Images search. Moreover, image SEO will improve the TF*IDF ratio. Images usually get optimized for searches, since Google has the world’s largest database of images.


A website is comprised of many different elements. Some of these are visible to users and others, such as the source code, are not. Images are the major visible components of a website next to the text. In the area of e-commerce, for example, the quality of product images and design have a decisive influence on the purchasing behavior of customers. Large stores, such as Zalando, routinely optimize their images. Visible and invisible factors play an equally important role in image optimization.

While the goal of the conventional search engine optimization is oriented toward a website, image SEO aims to achieve a good ranking for the image file.


Aspects of image SEO for search engines

Similar to on-page optimization for websites, image SEO has different levels, which can be worked on and optimized – the visible level, the meta level, and the image plane itself.

The following aspects apply to the optimization of the image itself:

  • File size: For an image to be included in the index more quickly and easily, it is advisable to work with moderate web-optimized file sizes. Thus, high-resolution images of exteriors with more than 10 megabytes should not be used.
  • Filename: This plays an important role for the subsequent ranking in the image search. It should accurately represent what is seen on the screen.

Example: An image of a fir tree. Filename: fir.jpg

Additional data is added with dashes.

Example: Image of a green tomato. Filename: Green-tomato.jpg

  • Image Size: It is commonly agreed upon in SEO circles that small images such as thumbnails or previews do not have much of a chance to rank well in the images search. A benchmark of a minimum 300 pixels has been established for at least one side of the image.
  • Image format: Images which are displayed in landscape or exact 4:3 format are clicked more often.
  • Source: The URL of the image plays a role in image SEO. It is advisable to use a thematically relevant folder structure.


If you want to promote the indexing of image files, you can save all image URLs in a separate XML sitemap and upload it to the Google Search Console.

The following aspects should be considered when embedding an image and relating meta data:

  • Content: the content surrounding an image is important for its ranking. The use of relevant keywords is especially a factor.
  • ALT attribute: The classic function of alt tags is to describe an image in case it cannot be displayed in the browser due to technical problems. Therefore, the alt tag should accurately reflect the content of the image and contain the main keyword.
  • Title tag: The meta title should also be used to fit in a relevant keyword.

Linking plays a role in SEO images as well. The following factors must be taken into account if you want to achieve a good ranking:

  • Strong internal linking: This can be done “hard” or indirectly via thumbnails. Again, moderation should be applied here.
  • Multiple uses: In this case, images SEO is complementary to content SEO, because the multiple use of an image with the same meta data will benefit ranking. This also applies to exact copies.
  • Backlinks: These do not affect the ranking directly, but nevertheless should be taken into consideration, because the more trust a website has, the more likely it is that their images rank well.

Another important factor in image optimization is that the subsequent ranking for a specific keyword or a group of keywords, of course also depends on the competition. It will consequently be more difficult to rank well with the image of a celebrity under their name if that image has been optimized for the term “la la la” in the image search.


The benefits of SEO images can be outlined in the following bullet points:

  • Strengthening of visibility
  • Indirect traffic boost by good ranking with images
  • Possibility of top rankings on universal search

Extended Benefits

Optimized image files do not support a website only in terms of search engine optimization. For example, adjusted file sizes reduce the loading time of a website and thereby affect the user experience positively. Optimized image data is also ideal in terms of accessibility, to give blind users the opportunity to learn all the content of a website, for example.

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