Get Found on Google Images
Have you ever wondered how those lucky website owners got their images on the Google Images search results? Well, you're about to find out and get the tips to do it yourself! Read on below to learn how Google Images works and how you can earn the best SEO ranks for your website images.
(The following content is primarily sourced from Google Webmasters' Image Publishing Guidelines article and video.)
How Google Images Works
Google matches images to searches based on two factors: how close the image is to the user's intent and how much the image will enhance the user's experience.
In the first part of their process, Google indexes or 'crawls' your website, downloading your website's html and assigning it an SEO rank for their web search engine, which is typical. While they're indexing your website, they also look for any image references for their Image Search tool. Image references come in one of two forms: either they're a linked image, where the actual image source is located on a different web page somewhere, or they're what's called an inline image, which is an image file that's been uploaded to your web page.
Once they find any images on your website, they begin their classification process. During this process, they categorize each image based on everything they can tell about it. Is the image a photograph or a vector image? Does it contain a face? Is it in color, or is it in black and white? Is it appropriate for all ages, or should it be placed under Safe Search? The more Google knows about your image, the better; their user experience is the most important thing to them when ranking.
And, images often require a lot of specifications for users. Besides Google matching images as specifically as they can to any query, they also usually offer a list of filters at the top of an image search results page, so that their users can further narrow down their given results.
How to Earn the Best Image Rank
You actually hold a lot of the power to Google's ultimate rank of your image. Remember, Google's main perogative is their users' satisfaction. As long as you do everything you can to make sure your website visitors have a positive experience while viewing your images, then you should see an increase in visibility relatively soon within Google Images.
Ask yourself the following questions regarding your website images:
Will Users See my Image IMMEDIATELY When Navigating to my Website?
Google recommends that you place your image above the fold on its respective web page. The 'fold' is the point to where a user can see on a page before having to scroll downward. Basically, you should have your image so that your user doesn't have to scroll down to find it.
Is my Image LARGE Enough?
Your images don't need to be fullscreen, and, except for special circumstances, having images larger than fullscreen could end up creating a negative user experience. Instead, Google recommends keeping your images around two-thirds the size of your screen.
This is still a large image, and it could potentially mess up the design of your web page OR increase your page's load time. Luckily, there's an easy way around this: you can easily link a smaller image on your web page to a larger version of it on a separate landing page. This way, your page doesn't carry the weight of the image's data, and it won't take up a large quanity of your 'above the fold' space on that page.
Is my Image High Enough in QUALITY?
Clear, sharp images always appeal more to users than blurry, pixelated ones do. High-quality images also look better as Google image thumbnails, which Google likes, and which means that more people will likely click on them in their search results.
In addition, other website owners are more likely to link to high-quality images than low-quality ones. Getting inbound links is a huge factor in achieving better SEO for your website and bringing in more traffic to your online presence.
Does my Image Have DESCRIPTIVE TEXT?
Having a caption or a descriptive paragraph for an image is a great benefit that Google looks out for during indexing. A very important thing to remember is, GOOGLE CANNOT DISTINGUISH TEXT IF IT'S ON AN IMAGE. If you have text on your image, it's safe to assume that Google will never know it's there. So, having text on your actual web page that's beside or beneath your image, that describes what your image is, what it's subject is, who posted it to your website, how it's relevant to your content, and when it was created is not only great for your user experience, but it's great for Google to quickly determine if the image should be included for a particular search.
Does my Image Have ALT TEXT?
Alt text is the text within your web page's code that describes the subject matter of your image. It's not necessary to have, but it's highly recommended. Alt text is necessary for people who can't see your image for whatever reason; maybe their browser doesn't support it, or they're using an eReader, or, possibly, they have too poor of a network connection to view it. When a user can't see your image, and it does have alt text associated with it, then they'll see that alt text in place of the image.
Alt text should be descriptive of your image's subject. "Landscape Photo of Dublin in Summer" is a much better alt text than "dublin-sm-03.jpg". Not only is the first example more descriptive, but it's also more professional if a viewer ends up only seeing your alt text.
Besides user satisfaction, alt text also helps Google more quickly determine the best images for a user's search query.
If you're a web programmer, you very likely already know how to use alt text. If you're a nontechnical website owner, and you're using a CMS (content management system) like Drupal, for example, then chances are that you have the option to enter alt text in an easy format for each of your posted images. Do not stuff your alt text with unnecessary keywords, or Google may write off your website as spam.
Are my Image's FILE NAME, URL, and ANCHOR TEXT Each Detailed and Informative?
Keep your image's file name, URL, and anchor text as clear and descriptive as you can without them being too long.
For an image's filename, "dublin-summer-landscape.jpg" is much more helpful than "IMG00083.JPG". For an image's URL, "yoursite.com/dublin-summer-landscape-image" is a lot better than "yoursite.com/IMG00083.JPG" (Google reads hyphens for these attributes as spaces). Anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a linked image, so Landscape Photo of Dublin in Summer would be the best bet there. The goal of keeping these three attributes clear and informative is that there's no question to your users where they're being directed. Also, Google uses this information in their image indexing as well.
Well, there you have it! You're ready to start raising your images' SEO all the way to the top. We'll see you on Google Images soon!