Images have been published on web pages for nearly 20 years but the search engines have continued to give greater placement to images on the search engine results pages (SERPs). This may come from the fact that Facebook receives nearly 250 million picture uploads daily and Pinterest reaches 50 million blog post mentions.
Take these two examples from Bing and Google respectively:
As you can see below, these image blocks are listed among web page listings, paid ads, navigational links, shopping listings, maps listings to local ATV shops, and other media formats. When the search engines correctly anticipate user intent, by including images, these draw the users eye; and their clicks by nearly 200%.
So how do you give yourself the best probability of ranking images when the search engines decide to display images within the SERPs? Like all things in search engine optimization, there are several factors that play into your rankability. It's more difficult to encourage the search engines to include image blocks because user intent plays more into this than can be influenced from basic image optimization. Images that attract many links and/or embeds, or pins on Pinterest, as well as those displayed on highly credible sites have a great ranking advantage.
Image SEO Ranking Factors
- Keywords in filename
- Keywords in alt text
- Keywords in URL of image
- Keywords in content near image
- Strength of page(s) containing image
- Embeds (republished images)
- Color & image size
- CTR from SERPs
- Category & Tags
- Speed & consistency of interest
- Image sitemaps
Google allows for image sitemaps to be uploaded. It's still unclear whether Bing has this ability today but they're working on video sitemaps according to Bing Webmaster Tools. By submitting your images through a sitemap, you're telling the search engines exactly where to find your images as well as include meta data about each image as you can see below from Google.
Types of Images
Below is a short list of some different image types but there are countless images that attract interest including promotional materials and humorous memes.
- Cross promotions
- Screenshot (demo)
Obviously, product images have been online for nearly 20 years but most are not optimized in a way that gives the online store any visibility. Attributes most lacking on product images include photo quality, size, suggestions to link/share/embed, captions, promotional messaging, uniqueness, and images that are interesting.
Other popular images of late include statistics and infographics like the following example we posted on Small Business and Marketing.
As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration when it comes to getting your images to rank in the search engines. Do you have additional tips, suggestions? Leave them in the comments section below.
Also, feel free to download my slides on Image SEO Tips or view them below.