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Do Images In Blog Posts Help SEO?

August 7, 2020

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A content marketing strategy has the potential of greatly improving your website SEO. High-quality content brings many opportunities to integrate high-value keywords and provide useful information to users, but as we all know, nobody wants to read a block of text on end.

So, what do we do? We break the text down using headings and add images that can help the users scan or read our piece of content easily. But when it comes to these images – are they doing anything for our SEO efforts?

Let’s find out.

How Search Engines Work

To answer this question, we first need to understand what search engines do, and how they do it. Google, Bing, and other search engines provide an essential role to global audiences, as they are often the place people go to find information, new websites, or even products to purchase.

When a user types in a search query, they will almost instantly access a list of potential search results in an order decided by the search algorithm of these search engines. The algorithm is not public knowledge, but we do know about certain elements search engines look for in a website:

  • Relevant content
  • Fast loading web pages
  • Intuitive design
  • Mobile-friendliness, etc.

Search engines use a web crawler to scan these websites and look at what they offer. But this web crawler is nothing more than a piece of code, and cannot read your content to the level that a person can. So, marketers need to leave certain clues behind to signal to the web crawler that their web page is relevant to the user query, and that topped with the other qualities of the page may earn it a top rank.

In the end, it’s all about which website can offer the best user experience.

Do Web Crawlers See Images?

Not by default, but you can make them see them, or rather signal that you have an image. When you’re adding an image to a blog post, you’re doing it to benefit your readers, as you’re giving them a visual to support the content or offer more information.

But, if you want web crawlers to read your content, you need to add an image alt text, which is like an image description that your users can’t necessarily see. If you leverage these descriptions to provide more information about the file, as well as integrate your important keywords, then your images become SEO support.

Images aren’t a ranking factor exactly, but they are a way to strengthen your use of keywords and show the search engines that your content is relevant to the user query. Plus, considering we also have the Google image search options, using alt tag image descriptions may get you more website visibility than just focusing on the text search tab.

How to Include Images in Your Content Right

If you want to include images in your blog content, you need to have a few things in mind. Like with all marketing approaches, it’s essential to make calculated moves and use these images to strengthen your SEO strategy, not complicate it.

Let’s look at some best practices of adding images to blog posts or other content on your website:

1. Think Quality and Relevance

Users have certain expectations when it comes to the website they visit, and while that list can be quite long, let’s focus just on images.

If you want to add pictures to your blog content, there are two main ways you should be able to describe that image. First, it needs to be relevant to the content, either because it proves your theory, supports the rest of your content, or you use it to make a point.

For instance, if you write a blog post about puppies, you’d obviously use pictures with puppies. A picture with a cat may only be relevant if a particular piece of content demands it, right? Choosing just any image may be confusing to users and distract them from your writing.

Then, your images should also be high-quality. Blurry pictures that are difficult to interpret don’t provide a good user experience at all. If you don’t have the resources to take good pictures yourself, you can use stock photos instead. Just take the time to find a good photo, as some stock photos can seem staged and unnatural.

2. Optimise Your Images

Image SEO involves a few extra steps you need to take to ensure your pictures fit into your web page seamlessly. There are a few different things to consider.

Page load times are ranking factors, and we know big images can drag page speed quite a lot. You also don’t want to add very small images to your page content in a way that makes it difficult for users to analyse the picture either.

Instead, you need to optimise your images to reduce their file size, without affecting the image quality.

Then, you should also use the right file type. When it comes to web images, you have three main choices:

  • JPEG – best for bright colours, portraits, landscapes, etc.
  • PNG – best for sharp transitions, such as in an infographic or screenshot of a website or app
  • GIF – small animations. However, GIFs are difficult to optimise, and you risk losing quality, so try to add them only when necessary.

Lastly, don’t neglect the alt tags for your images:

  • Choose a descriptive file name
  • Add an image description and use important keywords
  • Keep descriptions short, but not vague – some apps intended to help visually-impaired users, for instance, will read these descriptions out loud to help these users understand your content.
3. Pay Attention to Mobile

You should already be having a mobile-friendly design that is able to show images from the blog content without problems. Still, it never hurts to double-check and test how these images show on mobile devices.

You may need to rethink image placement or size. On a mobile phone, pictures could make scrolling through the content a lot harder if the image interferes with the flow of the text.

4. Create Image Sitemaps

Google image search is able to find images just through meta descriptions, but if you really want to guarantee your site makes it in those results you can create image sitemaps. This ensures every single image you host on your site gets indexed by Google, as sitemaps help crawlers scan pages fast.

5. Add Structured Data

With structured data, Google Images can show your pics as rich results, which makes you stand out and gain more traffic to your site. As it stands, Google Images supports these types of structured data:

  • Video
  • Product
  • Recipe

Structured data is a way to provide Google with more information about your page content, in this case, your images. For instance, if you have a product page, structured data allows Google to show extra information about your product in the search results, such as price, technical details, and descriptions.

There is no guarantee Google will show these rich results, however, as that’s still a matter of whether your link is relevant to the query.

Over to You

Though the addition of images isn’t a ranking factor, it’s still an important part of your on-page SEO that can help you improve user experience and gain better search result rankings. That is, if you also optimise your images to work together with your SEO strategy, not against it.

If you need help with your SEO efforts, book a free strategy session with a Search Engine Optimisation Expert at Australian Internet Advertising now! We can help you plan and implement a strategy that will grow your business.

Book in a free 30 minute strategy session
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