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Just how much does imagery affect SEO?

By 14th December 2020January 24th, 2023No Comments

In the complicated world of SEO, there’s so much to think about. On the top level, we can break search engine optimisation down into three parts:

  • On-site SEO
  • Off-site SEO
  • Technical SEO

Then, within those, we have to consider keywords, metadata, website structure, link building, indexing and goodness knows what else.

So where does this leave us with images?

A few key facts on images for SEO

You might have thought that only written content would make your website jump up the rankings. However, when properly optimised, images can help you to rank. For example:

Images may be able to appear in ‘position zero’

This means that above all the other text results in Google, your website will appear with both text and an image of your product/service.

Images directly affect site speed

If your website is full of server-hogging image files that haven’t been compressed, it could be hindering your user experience. New Google updates have put user experience first, while page speed has always been a factor for SEO. Simply put, bad images could translate as bad rankings.

Images that illustrate a point may promote better rankings

If you’re using an illustration, for example, something from an infographic, then this may help your content to rank. It will make your site appear authoritative, particularly if you also add an external link to a reputable source. Don’t dismiss external linking – it shows you have done your research, which helps with Google’s Expertise, Authority and Trust.

Stock imagery is a touchy subject

In theory, Google wants all content to be totally unique, and above all, high quality. If we’re turning to stock imagery, then, surely, we are trying to game Google. Well, according to the experts, that’s not always the case.

Rather, just as we should quote reputable sources, our images should be relevant. Make sure you choose an image that accurately depicts what you’re discussing. If you really want to stand out, go beyond free stock image sites, and don’t just choose the first one in the results.

How to optimise images for SEO

So now we know how images can affect SEO, how can we make them work for us? Follow the guidelines from our digital marketing experts for long-term success.

Compress and modernise!

Your images may simply be taking up too much space. You can run a test through Google PageSpeed Insights to see how your site is doing for speed. It works on a traffic light system and may give you helpful tips, like upgrading to the latest image file format. You can also use plug-ins to automatically compress images, for example, Smush on WordPress.

Add relevant mark-up data

When you upload a file, you’ll be asked to add ‘alt text’. This essentially tells Google what’s in the image, and can also be helpful for visually impaired users. Add a strong description, and make sure the image filename contains the keywords for which you want to rank.

Add a separate sitemap just for images

This will help Google recognise image-only content, and can be done within Google Search Console. You can also use this for JavaScript galleries of image pop-ups.

Speak to our SEO experts in Chorley

Feel like you’re drowning in search engine jargon? You don’t have to! Our dedicated Lancashire SEO team will talk you through the basics and implement the changes for better image optimisation. Get in touch with Tall Zebra Designs today.


We are a specialist website design and digital marketing agency with two locations in Bolton and Chorley. We offer a complete package of services to become your in-house marketing support function to help drive sales growth and improve your online presence today.

Our services range from website design, graphic design, branding to digital marketing and analytics, PPC, SEO and much more. We identify the areas for improvement in your marketing strategy and offer the appropriate solutions to strengthen your proposition and drive your business forward.