Image Optimization: An Image Is Worth 1/1000th of a Word

Image Optimization for SEO

Whether you use stock photos or create images yourself, each blog post should include at least one image. An image is worth 1,000 words, right? But equally important is image optimization, i.e. all the words associated the image. (Thought you could get by with just the image, huh? Think again!)

Why is Image Optimization Important?

First and foremost, every site should be designed with the end user in mind. Images make the site visually appealing, capture interest quickly, and allow people to immediately understand what an article is about.

You must also optimized your site for SEO if you want to drive any organic search traffic to it. This means including all the relevant text/meta data/etc. for image optimization.

And it’s also important to be sure your site is accessible, meaning it renders well for those with disabilities and/or those who have images turned off.

How to Optimize Images for SEO

Alt Text
Within the image tag, you’ll want to specify alt text. If you use a CMS (like WordPress), there is usually a field you can enter this in. Otherwise you can add the code directly to your img tag.

Example: <img src=”image-name.jpg” alt=”Alternate Image Text”>

The alt text is the alternate text you want displayed in case someone has images turned off or if images aren’t displaying for them (like if they’re viewing your site on a slow internet connection and images haven’t loaded yet.) This text should describe the image, but it’s also a good opportunity to add a few relevant keywords. Any text you enter here will help search engines understand what your image is about.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post about caring for puppies and have a photo of a puppy in the bath, the alt text could be: “Caring for Puppies: How to Give Your Puppy a Bath.” Now you have “caring,” “puppy,” and “bath” as keywords.

Title Text
Another meta tag you should specify for each image is the title tag. Again, if you’re using a CMS, there’s usually a field where you can enter this text. Otherwise you can enter it in the code for your img tag. The title text is what a user will see if he hovers over your image. It’s also another place you can put a few keywords, which helps search engines understand what your image is about.

Example: <img src=”image-name.jpg” alt=”Alternate Image Text” title=”Descriptive Title”>

The title text should be slightly different from the alt text, because (a) users don’t need to read the same thing twice and (b) it gives you a chance to use different keywords when telling search engines what your image is about. For example, on your puppy image the title could be “Bath Time Tips for Your New Dog.”

Your image’s filename is another opportunity for image optimization. Here, you can explain to users what they are seeing and clarify for search engines what your image is about. While most people won’t see the image’s actual filename, it can’t hurt to optimize it.

For your image of a puppy taking a bath, you could name it puppy-bathing-tips.jpg (descriptive, optimized) as opposed to 23he98hu.jpg (not descriptive or optimized at all).

File Size
While you want your image to be high resolution enough to look good on all screens, you don’t want a large file size to slow down your page, which can affect both the user experience and your search engine ranking. It’s tough to give an exact file size to aim for since page speed depends on how many other images you have on your page (among other factors), but in general you’ll want the smallest file size that still looks good. You can use Photoshop’s built-in compression tool or a tool like Tiny Jpg to compress an image’s file size while still retaining quality resolution.

Image Caching
If you want to get really fancy, you can adjust your image caching settings so that site visitors view a cached version of your images instead of having to reload each time, which slows load speed. This article has a great explanation of the benefits and the how-to’s of adjusting your image caching settings.


While an image is worth a thousand words, the words we use to describe an image can be just as important. Focus on users first, then SEO (e.g. never jam your meta data full of keywords) and you’ll see the best results. And if all this image optimization sounds like too much work, we can help with search engine optimization.

Categories:Digital Marketing Web Design

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