To consider the importance of visual search in 2021, let’s start with an example.
The other day, I Googled “how to conduct a vlookup in Excel”. I skimmed a few articles but still felt dissatisfied — I didn’t want to read about vlookups, I wanted to see it.
Enter: The power of images.
Once I clicked on “Images”, I found what I needed quickly:
In 2021 and beyond, it’s critical marketers begin paying attention to the importance of visual images as a powerful opportunity to reach new audiences on the SERPs.
Plus, as HubSpot’s Marketing Manager Kristen Baker told me, “After running an image experiment on the HubSpot Blog, I discovered that ranking in Google’s image packs increases impressions and clicks to our content.”
But … easier said than done, right?
Here, let’s explore what image SEO is, and the best practices you’ll want to follow to make your webpages more discoverable in image search results.
Alt-text plays two critical roles in SEO.
First, alt text — also known as alt tags, or alt descriptions — helps search engine crawlers index your website more effectively, which has a positive effect on search results.
Second, alt text improves the user experience. Alt text can describe an image to a visually impaired reader, and also helps if a reader can’t load or see the image correctly on their device.
Captions aren’t typically necessary if the context of the page can help readers understand what the image is depicting — for instance, in this blog post I haven’t used any captions because I’ve used text to introduce each image I’ve shown.
Use good judgment when it comes to adding captions, but if you feel it can help readers (and bots) better discern an image, then it might be a worthwhile addition to a page.
Compressing images is a vital component of any good website optimization strategy.
Typically, less than 100 KB is ideal in terms of good file size.
However, it’s important to note — Google doesn’t look at each individual image size. Instead, it looks at total page size.
So, if you have a small image where quality differences are less substantial, then you might try compressing that image to 30-50 KB … which gives you extra room to keep another image 30 KB bigger, particularly if that image loses quality after compression.
Ultimately, Google (and readers) prioritize original content — which means, if you’re hoping your images will rank on image results pages, it’s vital you use original, unique images.
If your image doesn’t accurately demonstrate your product, it will get buried under better, higher-quality images from competitors.
Your file name can impact how easy it is for search engine crawlers to interpret your image, so it’s helpful to rename your file before uploading it onto your webpage.
Rather than keeping the name a generic “IMG_0883”, try using relevant keywords to describe what’s in the image, similar to your alt text. This can also help ensure your image appears on the image search results page, which will increase traffic to your site.
If your images aren’t responsive, the page won’t appear as clean on mobile as it does on desktop — which negatively affects SEO, as well as your reader’s perception of your brand.
Fortunately, some website hosting services, including HubSpot, automatically ensure your images are responsive.
However, if need be, you can make your images responsive by using quick code. For instance, you can add this code to your HTML:
<img src=”nature.jpg” alt=”Nature” class=”responsive”>
Or this code to your CSS:
Creating high-quality, unique, original images isn’t just great for your own website — it’s also a fantastic opportunity to earn backlinks when other websites use your image for their own pages.
For instance, consider the following graph created by Broadband Search:
The image currently ranks in the first spot on the image search results page for the keywords, “how many people use mobile to search”.
If you create high-quality images, other companies may want to showcase those images on their own sites — with links back to your business. This means, ultimately, images can have a direct impact on the amount of traffic, leads, and customers you get for your business through your marketing efforts.
Hopefully, you can use these best practices to level up and earn new traffic through search image results pages. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words … so just imagine the value of an SEO-optimized picture.