Optimising Images For SEO

Difficulty: Intermediate

Images are often disregarded for SEO, but they can really work with your text to help search engines understand the content on your page.

Not only that but images make pages more readable for your users. People don’t like being hit with a wall of text upon visiting a web page so adding in images can break it up.

Finding the perfect image

Finding images for your website can be a daunting task but fear not! There are a number of methods for you to find incredible photos.

Here are some great ways to get started on finding the perfect images.


The best and most recommended method is to pay a photographer to take photos of your world.

Whether that be a corporate office with photos of your employees, capturing the essence of your workplace or something completely different. It is different for every website, but you want to get photos that really convey your message and what you are about, as they will have the biggest impact on your users. Using a photographer to obtain these photos makes your website feel much more personal and easier to connect with. If you have someone in-house that has the equipment and the skills, perfect! Otherwise, you might have to go on the hunt for a professional photographer.

Using free photos

There are some incredible image resources on the web that are free to use.

My go-to image repository is Pexels, it has a large amount of really high-quality images. Some of the images do lean towards the stock photo style but there are plenty of great ones to choose from. If you are looking for something a bit more natural and photography based then Unsplash is definitely the best resource on the web. The photos are incredibly high-quality and visually stimulating, this repository does lack a large range of images in a lot of areas/industries which is its main downfall.

When using images from these websites you have to be very aware of the image you are using and the license attached to it. Follow their guidelines and you won’t have any issues in the future.

Some other great free resources are:

is generally our second go to website, as it has one of the biggest repositories and the images are mostly high quality. Although there is a high amount of stock photos there is also a wide variety of other photos to choose from.

has a large repository, often if you can’t find anything in your niche on the other websites you’ll find one on here. Unfortunately, the quality of these images are much lower, but it can definitely be useful for blog posts and the like.
Our recommendation is DO NOT use stock photos, it makes your business look cheap and impersonal. The images are also incredibly overpriced.

Image File Name/Title Tag

So you’ve found an incredible image for your website, now what?

There are a number of techniques that should be implemented to get the most SEO value out of the image you are using. Your title tag is very important and simple to optimise. As an example, I’ve got this incredible photo from Alberto Restifo on Unsplash’s repository. When downloading the image the filename is set to “wpmqwrjwpls-alberto-restifo.jpg”, this does not help your SEO cause at all. You would want to name this photo something like “sunset-monte-bregagno-italy.jpg” focusing on the keyword “Monte Bregagno”. Essentially you want your title tag to make sense and effectively describe the image. The reason for this is that search engines take filenames into consideration so name your file appropriately with a keyword integrated.

Image Size & File Size

The size of your images can have a profound effect on page loading speed which is bad for SEO.

As well as being an issue for search engines it also impacts UX, people don’t want to see slow loading images on your website. One of the main mistakes people make is they will use an image on their website that is much larger than the actual shown image. For example, they may have an image that is 4500x2800 pixels and then display the image on a page as a 450x280 pixels. This loads the main 4500x2800 image every time. It is much better to upload the image to your website as the size you are going to use it. WordPress has a resizing option for images but this does not reduce the image load size as explained above. There are a number of other methods for reducing file size - Google has a very detailed explanation.

Image Captions

Captions for your images compared to other points covered in this article doesn’t have such a large effect on SEO, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important!

Captions have been found to greatly increase user retention which in turn has a direct effect on bounce rate. As explained in this article people are naturally attracted to images then naturally move their eyesight down to captions so it’s a missed opportunity if you aren’t using them. In saying this you shouldn’t use captions for every image, only when it makes sense to.

Alt Tags

An alt tag is often disregarded but can be used effectively to enhance your On-Page SEO.

When applied to images, the alt text appears in its place if the image fails to render, thus giving a description of the image. Search engines are unable to crawl images and are therefore unable to determine what the image is or deliver it in search queries without alt text. In previous years SEOers used alt tags to stuff keywords but this has been harmful since the Google Panda update. However, it is still a very real strategy to use relevant keywords in your alt tags. This is an easy way to help them content on your page focusing on what you are trying to rank for. But of course, this should be done in moderation and naturally. If it doesn’t look or feel natural to write it as the alt text then don’t do it! You should be accurately describing what the image is, and in most cases, this will be related to what you are trying to rank for - great!


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