How to Rank in Google Image Search in 2021

Howdy Business Owners! You’ve already optimized your website for Google. But have you ever focused on your images to improve your search results?

A research by Raven Tools shows that about 78% of SEO issues are related to images.

Do you stay awake all night wondering:

  • Why my product photos never show up in the Google image search?
  • Do I need to add “file name” to my website’s images?
  • Is it important to consider the images’ size to improve my website’s loading speed?

Well, you’ll get answers to all these questions and a lot more in this post.

Before I dive deep into the 7 key image optimization tips, let me explain you why you should still optimize your photos for SEO.

As the Google bots are getting smarter, the process of reaching the top of SERPs is becoming complicated.

There are several different factors which influence your rankings on search engines and one of those hidden secrets of SEO is image optimization.

The image SEO basics are important for on-page SEO of your website for improving the user engagement and  reducing bounce rate.

You can also use your website images as a great avenue for link reclamation.

So how can you effectively optimize your images in 2018?

optimize your images for google search

Photos, illustrations, infographics and other images are important for creating engaging, high-quality content online.

With image search, Google aims to provide the most effective and relevant search results to its users.

Here are some most valuable tips on how you can optimize images for SEO:

Choose the right Image  

Make sure the images you upload on the website are relevant to the page content around it. Along with image titles, alt tags and file name (which I’ll include in the next tips); Google uses the content around images to determine what the image is all about.

Choose the website images carefully so they:

  • Emphasize the same subject matter as your content
  • Highlight the point you are expressing
  • Improve the viewing/reading experience instead of disturbing it

Note: It’s recommended to use your own images. Tools like Freepik, Canva and Google Images can be used to find good quality images. To avoid copyright issues, you should choose “Labeled for reuse” in the usage rights under the Search tools.

Image File Name

Once you’ve created, or found the right image, it’s time to optimize it with the right filename. The filename signals the search engines about the subject of the specific image.

You should avoid using the default image file name, like “DSC00032.jpg”. Google recommends using detailed, precise file names such as:


Some other file name best practices to follow include:

  • Include Keywords: Rather than placing the images on website with absurd, random file names, you should go for a more keyword-focused filename. Using too many keywords, or keywords that aren’t relevant to the content, appear spam and harm your rankings.
  • Don’t use Underscores (_) as Word Separators: Google uses hyphens to split different words, but it doesn’t identify underscores in any way. This means it’ll recognize the “image_file_name.jpg” same as “imagefilename.jpg”.
  • Be Precise and Descriptive: Make sure your filename clearly describes the subject matter of the image. If search engines can’t find the appropriate page content, they will use the filename of the image as the page’s search snippet for the image search results. For instance, if you’re writing an article about bikes, include the model, make, color and year.

Title Tags ​and Alt Tags

Alt tags and image titles are attributes included in the image tag. An image tag with title tags and alt tags will look like this:

<img src=”image.jpg” alt=”alternative text” title =”image title”/>

Use image alt tags to provide more information about the picture that you weren’t able to include in the filename.

Google depends heavily on the alt text as it can’t really see an image.  Make sure your alt tag includes the target keyword and describes the image in a concise manner.

An example of optimized alt text for a web page about women’s footwear would look like this:

<img src=”womens-footwear.jpg” alt=”Italian Nike Women’s Shoes” />

Image titles provide additional context that wasn’t available in the alt text.  Make sure the image title tag is catchy, short and concise.

Image Captions

If your web page has an image not just meant for adornment; you should add an attention-grabbing, meaningful caption to the picture.

It attracts the attention of the readers and makes them read more of your content. Google will see how long users are staying on your website which thus, helps improve your SEO.

Image Size

Page loading time is a critical factor of website’s user experience. Study shows that 38% visitors abandon a website taking more than 3 seconds to load.

Maximize the loading time of your web page by scaling your images to the right size while maintaining their picture quality.

You can use “Save for the Web” in Adobe Photoshop to create and edit the images suitable for your web page. Also, tools like EXIF data, ImageOptim, JPEGmini and others can be used to compress the images without compromising its quality.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool helps you find your website’s unoptimized images slowing down the loading time.

Image Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a great way to optimize your images for SEO.

Add <image> tags to your typical sitemap after the <loc> tags.

An XML sitemap having images looking like this:



<image: image>

<image: loc></image:loc>

</image: image>


The following tags are not obligatory, but you can include as many as you can to provide Google all the details it needs about your website’s images:

  • <image: caption> – A short description for the image.
  • <image: geo_location> – The geographic location of the image (includes city, state or country).
  • <image: title> – The title for the image.
  • <image: license> – The license of your image.

Image File Types

Make sure you are using the right image file type to maintain the best picture quality within the smallest size.

  • JPEGs are used for complicated visuals on websites.
  • PNGs are used for the screenshots and graphics.
  • GIFs are used for the animations.

So why don’t you give these image optimization tips a go?

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If you spend hours creating the perfect website content, don’t miss out on the opportunity to do image optimization for SEO.

Implementing these tips shouldn’t take you longer than a few minutes, and you never know, it could prove to be an “icing on the cake.”

BTW, what is your favorite image optimization tip? Do let me know in the comments below!

Author Bio: Ishan Gupta is a chief SEO marketing strategist and the CEO of iMark Infotech Pvt. Ltd. Ishan believes in experimental SEO and spends most of his time optimizing onsite and link building strategies. 

2 thoughts on “How to Rank in Google Image Search in 2021”

  1. We have implemented image search engine optimization best practice but still traffic from images are very low and I think it is because of the reason people can download image without visiting a website.


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