Part 10: Images and SEO

Adding pictures to your website is a very easy way to make it much more visually appealing to your visitors. And, there’s the added bonus that it’s great for SEO too.

Images actually effect your website’s SEO efforts in two ways.

The parts of the image that Google and the other search engines read is direct. The way the images effect your visitors’ actions is indirect.

Direct Impact of Images on SEO

​Search engines cannot see the pictures you use on your posts and pages, at least not yet anyway.

The HTML in the source code of your website let’s them know that there are images. However, the search engines need a little help to get a better idea of what’s in the pictures.​

That help comes in the form of something called Alt Text.

Alt text , or alternative text, is actually text that you can place in the source code that hides behind the image. You can add it manually in the HTML, or with WordPress you can do it the easy way.​

When you upload an image to your site, it will be stored as media -​

wordpress media library

When you look for your image within media, you will see an box where you can add text:

wordpress alt text

Alternatively, you can click on the image within the body of your post like this:

image in wordpress body

Which will let you edit the alt text as well:

alternative text

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you add alt text, it’s just important that you do.

What alt text should I use?

The best practice is to accurately describe the picture.

That doesn’t mean use the same SEO optimized alt text in every picture on the page. However, you can strategically place the page or post’s target keywords within the alt text - just don't get spammy.

For Example:

If your keyword was pink kitten mittens, then you could use alt text in appropriate picture like -

  • kitten with pink mittens
  • black cat wearing pink kitten mittens
  • cute kitten wearing mittens

The great thing is that if the pictures are relevant to your content, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with relevant alt text.

Indirect Impact of Images on SEO

Time on site is believed to be a key aspect of Google’s ranking algorithm. Therefore, when someone lands on your website, it’s important to keep them there.

Just like how having good headings and website content ​helps keep readers from bouncing off your site quickly, images grab people’s attention. That’s great for SEO.

Enticing images can also direct people from the original page they landed on when entering your site to other pages or posts on your site.​

And guess what?

Giving your readers something else to click on helps you reduce bounce rate too.​

Just make sure your pictures are topical. Misleading your readers for a short-term boost to your website usage metrics is not going to win you any fans, nor will it help you long-term.​

on-page seo checklist

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Where Can I Get Images?

Now you know that it’s great to use images on your website. But, where do you get them?

First things first. Don't just grab whatever you find on Google image search and download it for your own usage.

​Some stock image companies have made it their business model to aggressively go after websites that used their art without paying for it. Apparently that has been more profitable for them than what they make actually selling the images.

Luckily, there are some great options out there for getting images for your site.

Buy stock images

If you have money and are short on time, you can always sign up for a stock image service. A place like Depositphotos ​offers on demand subscriptions for as little as 10 photos as well as monthly subscriptions for heavier users.

Take your own pictures

Smart phones have amazing cameras these days, and with certain types of sites, like a cooking site or a fitness site, personal pictures mean so much more to your readers than stock images.​

Use free image sites

Some sites offer free images. They don’t have nearly the amount of pictures that paid sites do. But, if you have lots of time to hunt and little money to spend, or you’re cheap like me, they’re awesome.​

Here’s some to get you started:

  • pixabay – This site lists tons of Creative Commons Zero, or CC0, images. Lots of the images on this very site come from pixabay.
  • Unsplash – This site gives away ten free beautiful high resolution CC0 photos every ten days.
  • Negative Space – Another CC0 site that offers weekly updates. I’m not sure if it’s still getting frequent updates, so it’s one to keep an eye on. Either way, there’s some great photos already there for free usage.
  • Gratisography – This site offers more CC0 photographs from Ryan McGuire. They’re free to download and use, but Ryan wouldn’t mind if you buy him a coffee via Paypal. Honestly, I like going to this site just to look at the pictures even if I don’t plan on downloading anything because they’re that good.
  • Life of Pix – This site offers totally free images as well, and dishes up new ones each week. Like the site above, you can easily get lost just browsing through the great photography.

I'm sure there are plenty more sites out there like the examples above.

Conclusion

​Images are a great way to enhance your website. From drawing readers in and keeping them engaged, to giving Google a little more useful information about what your site is about, images matter.

And, they’re a great way to let your personality shine through all that text.

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