How to Rank Well in Google Image Search

With the widespread use of images, you could spread the cost of obtaining a photo by also making it rank well on Google Image Search.  This way, with just one image, you can have enhance your blog posts and social media updates and also have a better SEO ranking with image search engines.

The beauty of images is that it is relatively easier to optimize for image search engines than it is to get a page into the first page of a Google Web search.  Also, Google has been incorporating Google Image Search results into more and more Web search queries.  This would make your images show up higher than some organic search results.  In February 2012, Google announced that more queries on Google’s Web search would now include images.  This is to show relevant images to a larger number of searches than before.

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More than that, Google also announced that due to the Panda update, they are now capable of indexing new images faster than usual.  So new images show up in the index faster.

Images have always proved to be a good source of traffic to your content.  This is the reason why it is a good practice to include relevant images with your blog posts and Web pages.

So how do you make your images show up on and rank high on Google Image search?  Here are some of the best practices:

1. Use informative filenames.

Instead of using something generic such as DSC-000.jpg, change the filename to something descriptive such as Bright-Sunshine.jpg.  Google can get a lot of information about the photo just from the filename alone.  Google can also use file names as the snippet for the image file.

2. Use ALT text.

When you include an image to your blog posts or Web pages, be sure to fill in the alt attribute.  Google uses the alt attribute to know what the image is all about.  The alt attribute can also help people browsing your page know what the image is all about even when they do not load the images.

As usual, the more descriptive the alt text is, the better but do not stuff it with keywords.

For instance, a good alt attribute would be:

alt=”white siamese cat”

Keyword stuffed alt attributes:

alt=”white siamese cat kitten siamese kitten kitty pet food”>

3. Use anchor text

If you are linking to a page that displays your photos, it would be good to use a descriptive anchor text to link to that page.

4. Proximity counts.

If you are going to target keywords, remember that photos may be tied to particular keywords if they are near it.  For example, your keyword is Great Wall of China.  You images may rank well for Great Wall of China is you have that keyword written near it in the caption, or description of the photo.

5. Image relevance.

The image’s relevance to the page is also taken into account.  For example, do not use an image of a DSLR camera on a page that talks about lung cancer.

6. Protect your images.

Always protect your images.  Google frowns upon duplicate content and this includes images.  If your images are not original, you would have some difficulty getting into Image Search results.

A good practice is to allow people to use your photos, but be sure that they attribute it to you or provide an HTML code that they could use to display your images.  This will help you get more mileage from your images.

7. Think of human users too.

As with everything else, Google rewards those who take user experience into consideration.  Your images should be:

a. Of good quality.  Blurry images and photos that are not clear would turn off users and webmaster would not be reusing your photos for their pages.  Sharp images also look better in thumbnail versions that people see in search results.

b. Use the prime space for your images.  The prime space is that space of your page that can be seen by users without scrolling down.

c. Create a landing page for each image.  You can use this standalone landing page to put in the different information about the photo such as titles, captions, descriptions and other descriptive and identifying information.

d. Save the images in one directory.  No matter where you use the images, be it in your home page, your blog posts or other pages in your website, it is best to save all images in just one directory.  You could separate thumbnails from full sized images in their own directories too.

e. Be sure to put in the height and width of all images.  This can speed up the loading time for the page.


This guest post is brought to you by Chris Barnwell of SEO Inc.  Optimizing images for Google search can unfortunately get overlooked, but it's still an important component of your search engine optimization mix.

Post a Comment


  • avatar

    Hey. Good blog post you had written. In my sincere opinion, you have explained all the fundamental pointers and I’ve even write them down for future usage. Thanks and thank you for telling the stunning knowledge!

  • avatar
    Prashant saxena 


    Its really good article, i have optimized many of my blogs for image search results and get around 15% of my traffic from it..

  • avatar

    I actually do not see the use of getting an image of yours ranked unless you are an artist who needs exposure. When it comes to internet Marketing I am not sure how that will bring traffic to your site. Does the person get redirected to your site once they click your image and doesn’t your image have to be original before you can get some kind of traffic from it? You said above that one will have some difficulty ranking with duplicate content but isn’t the actual truth be that you will not rank at all? Google might even de-index that image just because of duplicate content.

  • avatar
    Rakesh Pherwani 


    Unlike stated in the posting, I have found that Flickr posted images show up in Google search almost immediately. Furthermore, they often rank very highly within the first couple of days and later settle in to their more natural ranking.

    I have not, as of yet, been able to get other popular photo sites (photobucket, etc) to show up as readily on Google search.

  • avatar
    Hosting Hrvatska 


    Very helpful information…Thanks

  • avatar

    As with everything else, Google rewards those who take user experience into consideration.

  • avatar

    Time also matters, so if you are the first to use a stock image it may be looked upon as the original and thus rank well in Google Images.

  • avatar

    Very informative. I never tried for image optimization. Will try it from now on with your valuable observation.

  • avatar

    Very nice article, however I still work out one of my blog page. It’s indexed on Google, but the nice photo doesn’t appear at all on google image search result. I’ve put alt tag on that photo and even use descriptive filename for that photo…hmmm..weird…any help mate??

  • avatar

    Great article Chris ! Some great tips to remember especially with Google Image becoming more and more popular :)

  • avatar
    Anirudh Bahadur 


    I have a lot of images that I use on my blog. I mean I own them as I clicked them. I also watermarked them. But I didn’t rename the files, they are still named as DSC099 etc. Also I never cared to use the ALT text. I guess I should be doing all this now. Thanks for the informative post.

  • avatar

    I thought one important tip, which you forget to mention is to use image wordrpress plugin.

  • avatar
    ashish gupta 


    Very helpful information…Thanks

  • avatar

    Hi, you can try Pocket Image Search for Android, is a cool widget for searching images.

  • avatar
    Geoffrey Hale 


    Ah, this is very helpful! I’ve been wondering why we get so much traffic from some of our images. Thank you!


  • avatar

    Quote: “Google frowns upon duplicate content and this includes images”. I constantly find copies of my images, used illegally and usually on junk blogs, appearing ahead of my originals in Google image search.

    Last week I reported two blogger sites to G that were using images illegally simply because the “stolen” pics were appearing in image search ahead of mine. Rec’d quick response from G that pages had been taken down, but I simply don’t have the time to send a DMCA notice every time I find my images being used illegally.

    End result is I’m losing a lot of traffic that used to find my site via images and doesn’t seem much I can do about it.

  • avatar

    Very good article.

    I all too often use image search to track down what I want, and they often take me to sites not shown on the main page.

    Is there any info on how much an image can be changed to get it as a unique result?

    Thinking of paid for content – if I stick my site name in a corner of the image will that include it as a separate file?
    If I scale it to 90% will google still view it as the same image?

    Although I guess if the same image is in the results I have a lower chance anyway of someone choosing mine!

    • avatar

      Those are some good questions. With regard to scaling the image, I think Google will likely consider it duplicate. You can test this by dragging and image into the Google Images dialog box. Not sure about your question regarding URLs, my guess would be no.

  • avatar
    Maureen McCabe 


    Outstanding content!

    #6 If images not original, difficulty getting into Image Search results. Is an example a stock art image that is purchased? Pictures we take ourselves are better?

    • avatar

      Google has the ability to recognize that an image is 100% unique or a duplicate. Stock images will fall into the latter category. Time also matters, so if you are the first to use a stock image it may be looked upon as the original and thus rank well in Google Images.


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