JTech Communications

Optimizing Your Site’s Imagery for Search Engines

by Mira Brody - April 20, 2018
Content MarketingWeb DesignSEOBest Practices
This article was originally published on the JTech Blog in April 2017 and was updated in April 2018 to reflect features in Google Image results that were rolled out last month.
All of the content on your website should be properly optimized so that search engines can easily understand who you are and what products and services you offer to customers searching for you. In addition to copy, these optimization efforts should include any imagery you upload. Google will look at the images on your site to determine what services and products you provide, and therefore how you rank in related search results. In a recent move, Google image search is now displaying image title tags in image results, where they will appear right under the image thumbnails — on mobile devices only. This will help provide searchers with additional context and help them find what they are looking for.

Although the image uploader in our content management system, My JTech, does most of the technical work for you, it is important to understand the importance of SEO image file optimization in the case that you are using a more primitive tool. To help you properly optimize your site’s images, our digital marketing team has put together a few tips and tricks so that you can achieve the best possible search engine ranking.

File name optimization.
Non-standard image file names can cause some issues, such as confusing the web browser and causing it to try loading your image from a non-existent location. Some best-practice naming rules to remember are:
  • Use only lower-case letters.
  • Instead of spaces, use a dash between words.
  • No numbers, underscores or punctuation.
  • No characters that are not letters.
fresh eggs
Your file names should also be short, comprehendible, and contain at least one keyword. Instead of “FRESH EGGS/YUMMY!!!.jpg,” your file name should be formatted as such: “fresh-eggs.jpg” Creating web-friendly file names means these files are search engine-friendly as well.

The code for this file name would look something like this: img src="fresh-eggs.jpg"

File size optimization.
For optimal site performance, the image file you upload should be properly sized and passed through an image file optimizer. We recommend ImageOptim, as it can often produce 80-90% savings. This takes bloat off of your page load, which not only improves user experience but also your ranking, since Google is known for penalizing sites with poor performance.
Optimize your image title text.
Title text is a description of the image. Title text is not significant to search engines, and is used as an accessibility tool — when you mouseover an image, a little window should appear that contains the image title text.

Image alt text.
Alt text, however, is recognized by Google for accessibility and is displayed in search results on mobile devices. To get the most out of your alt text, keep it short — a single sentence will do. Try to organically apply a primary keyword or two, but don’t overstuff, as this becomes unhelpful to users and Google will recognize it as spam.

In My JTech, on most image uploads, you’ll enter alt text in the field just below the image.

In the example, we’ve included the product and business name, as well as the location of the store to give a keyword boost to the page.

The code for your image alt text in this case would look something like this: img src=“chicken-harness.jpg” title=“Chicken Harness” alt=“Chicken harness from Bridger Animal Nutrition in Bozeman, MT”


Google sitemap.
Finally, you should upload a sitemap to Google search console. A sitemap is an XML document submitted to search engines that allows them to understand the structure of all content on your website — including images. This allows Google to more easily crawl your site and display you in relevant results. Submitting sitemaps is part of the service JTech provides when building or optimizing sites for our clients.

The importance of optimized images.
Any SEO effort to refine your site's content should include image optimization. This will ensure that you are positioned as a relevant result when people search for the products and services you offer. Due to Google’s update, your image titles will now help your visibility in image search results as well, driving potential customers to your site. If you’re a JTech customer, our content management system handles a lot of this work for you, requiring a user only to have to title each image – this the image title is automatically used as alt text. In a perfect world, all image managers would have this functionality, but it is good information to understand in the case that you find yourself using a less-sophisticated tool.

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