SEO Image: Guideline and Image Audit Tool

Tati Khumairoh

Tati Khumairoh

Published at

Image cover: Illusration of Image SEO

Table Of Contents

    Images play a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal and user experience of a website. However, they also have a significant impact on SEO. Properly optimized images can attract organic traffic from image search results and can be beneficial for overall website performance.

    In this article, we will explore the key aspects of SEO image optimization and its significance in modern SEO practices.  From understanding image SEO ranking factors to implementing technical considerations, we will provide actionable insights to improve image visibility.

    What is SEO Image?

    SEO image optimization refers to the process of optimizing images on a website to improve their visibility and rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). It involves various techniques and best practices that enhance the relevance, accessibility, and loading speed of images. 

    Neglecting image optimization can lead to missed opportunities for driving relevant traffic and improving search rankings.

    The Role of Images in SEO and User Experience

    Image is not only used to visualize written text within pages, but it also provides relevant context. Thus, making it easier for users to understand complex concepts or processes. Relevant images also enable search engines to interpret the content's context more accurately and improve the chances of appearing in relevant search queries.

    High-quality and relevant images can instantly communicate a brand's message, evoke emotions, and encourage users to explore further. In the end, the website can increase user dwell time and reduce bounce rates, signaling to search engines that the content is valuable and relevant.

    How Search Engines Rank Images

    Search engines use sophisticated algorithms to interpret and rank images for search engine results pages (SERPs). Image ranking is essential as it determines the visibility of images in image search results and their potential to attract organic traffic. Here's how search engines interpret and rank images for SERP:

    • Image File Name and URL: Search engines analyze image file names and URLs to understand the context of the image.

    • Image Alt Tags (Alternative Text): Search engines use alt tags to comprehend the content of images since they cannot interpret visuals directly. Descriptive and keyword-rich alt tags help search engines accurately index images and display them in relevant search queries.

    • Image Relevance to Content: Search engines evaluate the relevance of images to the surrounding content. Images that align with the context of the webpage and complement the written content are considered more valuable.

    • Image Quality and Resolution: High-quality images are preferred by search engines as they enhance user experience. Search engines may consider the resolution and overall image quality when ranking images.

    • Image Size and Loading Speed: Images that are too large can slow down page loading times, leading to a negative impact on user engagement. Search engines prioritize websites with faster-loading images for better rankings.

    • Image Copyright and Licensing: Search engines may consider the copyright status and licensing of images. Thus, images with appropriate licensing and permissions are favored in image search results.

    • Image Placement and Surrounding Content: The placement of images within a webpage and their proximity to relevant content can influence their significance. Images placed near headings, subheadings, or within prominent sections are more likely to be considered important by search engines.

    Strategies for SEO Image Optimization

    After knowing the importance of SEO image and how complex the search engine ranking image is, here we present the strategies and image SEO best practices you can use to build a well-optimized image on a website. 

    Picture 1: Illustration of SEO image optimization and its impact on image visibility.

    Picture 1: Illustration of SEO image optimization and its impact on image visibility.

    1. Image Selection and Relevance

    First of all, you need to select the right image with high relevancy to the content. Select images that directly relate to the content of the webpage and align with your target keywords. Relevant images enhance user understanding and make the content visually appealing, increasing the likelihood of attracting organic traffic.

    If you wrongly select the images, you will confuse the users and can mislead them with the provided information. If your site has many relevant images, then the page ranking will be protected.

    2. Image Alt Tags and Descriptions

    Alt tags provide alternative text descriptions for images, making them accessible to visually impaired users and assistive technologies. Moreover, alt tags are valuable for SEO, as they help search engines understand the image content and context.

    Craft descriptive alt text that concisely describes the image's content while incorporating relevant target keywords. However, avoid keyword stuffing and maintain the alt text's readability and natural flow.

    3. File Naming and URL Structure

    Naming images for SEO is not that hard, you can use descriptive and keyword-rich file names for images. Consider using hyphens to separate words and avoid using generic names like "image001.jpg." Instead, you can name your image like this "speed-boat.jpg".

    It also applied to URL structure. When structuring image URLs, try to incorporate relevant keywords to signal the image's content to search engines. This way, URL structure can improve the image's visibility in search results.

    4. Image Compression and Loading Speed

    Image compression is often needed to make the image load faster without sacrificing quality. As per Google's guidance in its Advanced SEO reference, the best image size for SEO is advisable to have large images with a minimum width of 1200 pixels. These images should be enabled by either setting the max-image-preview to "large" or utilizing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) technology.

    Compression formats like JPEG and modern image formats like WebP can significantly decrease loading times, resulting in a better user experience and improved SEO.

    Faster-loading images contribute to better user experience and SEO rankings. Users are more likely to engage with pages that load quickly, while search engines prioritize websites with faster loading times.

    5. Image Sitemaps

    For technical consideration, you need to generate an image sitemap to provide search engines with a comprehensive list of images on your website. A well-structured image sitemap will facilitate efficient crawling and indexing so that it can be shown in the search results.

    6. Responsive Images for Mobile SEO

    Mobile SEO is no exception for SEO images. So, you need to have responsive images on all pages. Responsive images adapt to different screen sizes and devices, enhancing user experience on mobile devices.

    To do that, use CSS media queries and HTML attributes to serve appropriately sized images based on the user's device. This ensures that images load quickly and display correctly on all screen sizes.

    7. Image Audit

    The last strategy you need to have is to conduct an SEO image audit. This allows you to inspect any issue in every image you have on your website. Don’t worry, because we have a perfect tool you can use to inspect image issues.

    Sequence Stats, a comprehensive SEO tool is not only for tracking keywords, but it is also able to give you insightful reports about your site health through the Site Audit feature. The report is quite complex, ranging from content, indexation, CSS, Performance, and even images.

    If you want to audit your images, you can just audit your pages that contain images and let the system read the issue for you. The images issue that can be detected by this tool varies, including.

    • The image is broken.

    • The page has broken images.

    • The image file size is too large.

    • Missing alt text.

    • HTTPS page links to HTTP image.

    • Image redirect.

    • The page has redirected image.

    Picture 2: Image report in Sequence Stats Site Audit

    Picture 2: Image report in Sequence Stats Site Audit


    All in all, effective image SEO optimization are vital for enhancing website performance and user engagement. Staying updated with evolving SEO image trends is essential to adapt to algorithm changes, improve SEO performance, and gain a competitive edge over competitors. 

    Embrace image optimization as an ongoing process, and regularly analyze performance metrics to refine strategies and achieve sustained SEO success with Sequence Stats. A free trial is available!