Growth Marketer Academy: Episode 17 – 8 Proven Image SEO Optimization Secrets To Boost Your Page Rank

We have 8 proven image SEO optimization secrets to boost your page rank.

In a sea of words and text, we are naturally drawn to images online.

The old adage, a picture’s worth 1,000 words is definitely true in digital marketing…

Provided those images are relevant, well presented and optimized for SEO.

How To Optimize Images For User Experience (4 steps)

Nobody wants to tackle a page full of text.

When you’re online, it’s all about getting the info you want quickly.

When you stumble upon a text-dense page you probably just move on, right?

Who has time to read?!?

Backlinko analyzed 1 million Google search results.

Found that:


Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images.

Adding additional images didn’t influence rankings.

Search engines reward sites that improve user experience (UX).

If your image does the opposite, you’re actually hurting your SEO.

Here’s what you should watch out for:

1. Select Photos That Fit

Don’t add an image to a page just to have one

The image needs to be relevant to your page.  

Out-of-context images:

Find professional-looking images relevant to your content


  1. Flickr and 500px.

Image databases

Wide selection of high-quality photos

You can even filter by license to find images you can use legally.


  1. Canva and PicMonkey


These tools let you create graphics and images.


Avoid using obvious stock photos.

It’s better to not include an image at all than use a cheesy stock photo

Here’s an example of an image that wouldn’t add any value to your site:

example of bad stock image

2. Reduce File Size

Any site that takes longer than 2 seconds to load is at risk for being demoted in rankings.

Take a look at average load speed of the top ranked pages:

page load speed graph

Image files can substantially slow your page load speed.

Reduce the size of your images without compromising their quality.

Here’s how:


Compress your images before uploading them.

Use online tools like Image Optimizer and CompressJPEG

Check the finished page to ensure image still appears crisp


Using WordPress?

Use plugins like Kraken Image Optimizer and WP Smush

They let you shave off an additional few KBs from your image.


3. Include Social Sharing Options

People are more likely to share a relevant, engaging image than a link to an article alone.

Go-Gulf, a Dubai-based web design company found that the bulk of shared content on social networks is images.

what people share on social media graphic

Include social sharing options directly on your images

Particularly if they are social media friendly like infographics.

Designboom places social sharing buttons conspicuously, making it nearly impossible to miss this option.

designboom website

Encouraging users to spread your image will:

An image also increases the likelihood that your post will get wider distribution.

Mashable found that Tweets using are 94% more likely to get re-tweeted than those without an image.


Mashable tweet

4. Host images on your own servers

Image sharing communities such as Imgur and Postimage have become super popular.


About 1.5 million images are added to these image hosting sites each day


It’s enticing to host your images on these platforms:


BUT beware.

It’s risky.

It puts your images at the mercy of another site’s priorities.


If Imgur or Postimage servers become overloaded, images may take a long time to download, resulting in slow page load times.


Worse, your image may be deleted without warning.

Leading to a broken link on your page where the image was


If you’re serious about ranking, use your own servers to host images.

How to Optimize Images For Search Crawling (4 steps)

Search engines spiders can only read the text on a page.

BUT this doesn’t mean your images are invisible to them.

Spiders look for text-based descriptions to make sense of your images.

This helps search engines like Google to better understand your page.

It also allows your images to show up on searches made using the Google Images tab.

1. Include Keywords in Image Names

Name your image when you include it in the post

This helps crawlers understand what they’re looking at.

Google’s image publishing guideline tells you to be as descriptive as possible when naming your images.

Why dashes over underscores?

Matt Cutts offers some details in his blog:

If you have a URL like word1_word2, Google will only return to that page if the user searches for word1_word2 (which almost never happens).

If you have a URL like word1-word2, that page can be returned for the searches word1, word2, and even “word1 word2”.

Example: an image of a sleeping labrador puppy

“labrador-sleeping-puppy” = good

“img002299”  = bad


2. Pay Close Attention To Your Alt Text

In addition to the filename, spiders look at alt text to determine which images to show in image search queries.

Use alt text to give more detail

Tie to what phrase a searcher might actually use if looking for your image


You have an image of a 2012 Ford Mustang, saved and tagged appropriately.

Sample alt text for that image:

image alt text example

Key = use your keyword and be descriptive.

In the show notes, we will include an image with some alt text for our sleeping puppy example:

examples of good and bad alt text

The best description is short but informative.

Avoid keyword stuffing.

It makes your image look like spam.

Note: Alt text will show when the image can’t or doesn’t load

Could happen if site visitor has a slow Internet connection.

unloaded image

Also add a title tag to the image.

Won’t have a direct impact on your SEO


Title tags improve user experience

Lets them hover over an image & see more information about it.  

3. Add Captions To Images

A caption is a short bit of text

Generally shows right below an image.

People tend to scan a page rather than read it

Captions help readers ‘scan’ images quickly

They don’t have to stop and make sense of what they are looking at.

According to kissmetrics:

On average, captions are 300% more likely to be read than the copy of your main body.

Captions help convince visitors to stay on your page = SEO boost:

Google factors time spent on page and bounce rate into its ranking algorithm


Warning: don’t get carried away.

Only add captions if they add value:

A caption for every image may look odd.

Page visitors read captions to get a quick overview of the points you find important enough to warrant an image.

Too many words or a deluge of images: adverse effect

4. Create Image Sitemaps

A sitemap is a file in which you list all the pages that make up your website.

Google uses the sitemap when it crawls your site

Helps crawlers understand your page(s)

Helps you organize your site and make it more user-friendly.

Here’s how your sitemap might look:


Sitemaps don’t only explain the structure of your site.

You can create a separate XML sitemap just for your images.

Image sitemaps let you ‘talk’ to search engines and tell them exactly what you want to be indexed.

Increases the likelihood of your images being found

Particularly those that otherwise may have been “lost” such as

Example: images loaded by JavaScript code.

Take a look at this sample XML sitemap:

XMLL sitemap

Creating a sitemap isn’t as hard as it sounds/looks.

If you can’t code, use a tool!

XML Sitemap Generator – its free!

Straightforward, easy to use.

If your site is built on a CMS like WordPress, check out plugins

Example: Yoast SEO

will automatically add your image data into an XML sitemap.

Some last notes to keep in mind

Images have so many benefits:


According to Raven Tools, 78% of all SEO issues stem from images

That’s huge!

Overlooking image SEO is a mistake.

Every image you add should have a definitive purpose AND improve the user experience.

Then make sure search engine crawlers understand exactly what they’re looking at.

Only by optimizing for both the user and search engine crawlers will you gain the maximum SEO boost from your images.