How Can Search Engines Identify Image on a Website?

January 4, 2023

How Can Search Engines Identify Image on a Website? | AIA Book in a free 30 minute strategy session

What do you aim for when you’re building a website for your brand, business, or personal use? Of course, you want people to find your site, navigate it, and take action, whether it’s subscribing to your blog or buying your products.

And, for that to happen, one of the first things you should have in mind is the user experience – will your audience like what they see?

A lot of business owners pay careful attention to the content they put on their website. And, that’s a very good thing as high-quality content is one of the ranking factors Google uses. But, we do live in a visual world and the images you put on your website can have a great impact too.

When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation, how will your carefully curated images perform? In this article, we will focus on how search engines identify, index, and prioritise images on websites. This will help you optimise your images and get a higher search engine ranking.

Why Should You Optimise the Images on Your Website for SEO?

Let’s say your website does not necessarily rely on images to deliver its message across. Even if written content is your main “weapon”, it doesn’t mean that images are fruitless.

Images can be a source of traffic by themselves, even if you added them just to bring some aesthetic to your written content. According to Moz, about 27% of all searches in the top 10 US Web properties belong to Google Images. This result comes second to the main Google page, where images have been included more and more in the past years.

In other words, the visual content on a website matters more than you think. Google Images can be a fantastic source of visitors. Make those visits relevant by adding the right images to your content AND by making them visible to search engines.

How Do Search Engines Identify Images on Your Website?

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Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines rely on robots that “crawl” the internet in search of the most relevant content for the search terms input by their users. These crawlers, also called spiders, have become pretty smart in the last decade. They are programmed to evaluate your website based on several indicators.

But how do they identify the images on your website and then evaluate them?

Crawlers can only see the text that’s embedded in your web pages. Not only the content that you display for your users but also hidden text that is meant to explain your site’s structure clearly for search engines. For images, these elements are alt text, image titles, file names.

How to Optimise Your Images for SEO?

Alt text is the most relevant element for web crawlers checking your images. It’s a label used to provide information to visually impaired people, as well as web crawlers, about what your image contains. If, for some reason, your images fail to load from the beginning, your visitors can still see the alt text.

Image titles and descriptions (the metadata) are the texts that will appear in the search engine’s “View Picture” window, and the browser’s top bar. They should be edited to fit the image and its context accurately.

Image file names are also included in Google’s indexing process. When uploading an image to the server, replace the often meaningless image title given by your computer or camera with something descriptive.

Optimising your images for SEO is seeing them through the eyes of a search engine crawler.

Optimise the text behind them as you would do with the rest of your written content:
  • Include relevant keywords; if you are a retailer, include information about the product (brand, size, colour, etc.), since many users look for very specific products;
  • Keep the description concise and avoid keyword stuffing;
  • Use engaging formulations;
  • Include structured data on your website;
  • Describe the image keeping the top search queries in mind. Include the images in the data map;
  • Submit a sitemap of your images;
  • Add captions to your pictures; remember that they will be seen by your visitors, so they should be an integrated part of your content marketing efforts;
  • Use geotagging in your picture, wherever possible to increase your local SEO performance. Adding precise geotags to your pics, along with the proper metadata, will put you on Google’s map.

Editing each one of your image information is important for SEO, and it’s simple for websites that are more focused on text content. But a store with thousands of products, let’s say, will have the gargantuan task of editing everything. Luckily, there is software that can add the tags you need and help you build SEO.

How to Choose Images for Your Website

Seeing how Google ties the information it finds in alt elements of your image content, it’s clear that you should deliver relevant visuals. Choosing images that don’t relate to the text they are complementing is a mistake that can lead to higher bounce rates and a lower rank in results pages.

For smaller businesses, it’s hard to create original visual content, as it usually involves investing in proper equipment and services. You don’t have to use your own images, as long as you don’t break copyright infringements. You can easily buy stock images, but make sure they are high quality and preferably in an agreeable format for Google: (JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, etc.).

To prevent images from slowing down your website, don’t upload big files. Keep your images compact, but still viewable.

If you operate an eCommerce business, it’s crucial to have high-quality images that comply with Google’s best practices. Make sure to have a clear picture of the product, without distracting graphics or colors. You should also ensure that the size can be deducted from the picture ratio or through other methods and you are showing the most relevant angle.

A popular type of image that brings quite a lot of traffic and helps with link building is the infographic. Create a comprehensive infographic that is shareable and engaging. Don’t forget to add metadata to it too since it gets it higher in the Google search results.

What Does the Future Hold for Visual Search?

If visual search results today are still encrypted based on meta text attached to them, it’s not going to be like that forever. Search engines are developing ways of interpreting an image and offering it the purpose it was intended for.

The most recent news in terms of image searching was Google Lens, Google Shopping, and other rich features, especially targeted toward eCommerce. The near future is very promising for visual search, as it seems to become the new best thing in SEO.

Google Lens was a big step toward a highly interactive experience achievable with mobile devices. You can now search what you can see on your camera. Google recognises the object you are showing it and moves on to personalise it. Also, we will see much more of the Knowledge Graph, a feature that enriches visual searches with related bits from the same topic.

Need a Hand With Optimising Your Images?

As image search becomes more frequent, you can use it as an opportunity to bring more visitors to your website. Our digital content marketers can perform an audit of your page and identify the punctual actions you can take to be at the top of search engine results pages.

Contact Australian Internet Advertising for your SEO needs and start performing better for both your customers and the search engines. Your images will truly bring your website to life and contribute to better SEO performance overall.

Billy P.

About The Author

William Polson founded Australian Internet Advertising in 2013 and has over 12 years of experience immersed in Digital Marketing.

With an in-depth level of digital marketing knowledge, William has been sort after by and worked for, many large national brands including Subaru, Blooms The Chemist, and Nova 96.9.

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