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Optimize Images for Search

Summary

Images are a great way to generate traffic to your site. Learn more about Google's Image Publishing Guidelines here.

Process of Google Image Search

First it’s best to understand how Google finds and lists images:

  1. Discovering Images: Google finds references, <img src> tag or <a href> (a link) to an image
  2. Crawling and Classifying the Image: Google classifies images based on the following criteria: Is it a photo or not? Does it contain a face? Is it lineout or black/white? Is it unsavory and should therefore be in safe search? This helps provide images for user intent. 
  3. Indexing the Images: All aggregated data is deposited to the Google Index
  4. Similar or identical Images are clustered in favor of showing the best image that matches the user intent most accurately.
  5. Then it chooses ranking based on signals. These are explained in more depth below.

To illustrate #2 above, try searching for kitchen, then searching for kitchen with faces.

Relevance Signals

Title

This is inherited from the filename of the image you upload into the Photo Library. The title should be a good description of the subject matter of the image. This means that instead of adding an image with a title “file_1” you would want to name the file “german-chocolate-cake”. The more contextually relevant your title the better the image will perform in search rankings. The title of the image cannot be modified once it is uploaded so please be sure to name the image file before uploading it to Tempest.

Alt Text

The alt attribute is used to describe the contents of an image. It is important for two reasons:

  1. It provides search engines with useful information about the subject matter of the image. Search engines use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s query.
  2. Many people -- like those with visual impairments, or people using screen readers -- may not be able to see images on your page. Descriptive alt text fills in the gap for users who cannot see the image.

There are no clear rules on how long alt text can be or should be. The significance of this field is to be descriptive but not excessive. We would recommend that the alt text be no longer than 150 characters. That said, there is no evidence that you will be penalized for having an alt text that exceeds that length.

Please Note: If this field is left blank, Tempest will set the alt text as the image caption, and if there is no image caption, it will use the image title. This ensures the alt text is never blank on the front end. 

Attribution

Give credit where credit is due. Add a source name and URL -- if you want to link out to the source -- to properly credit your images. You only have to set the attribution once. This is automatically ported with the image whenever it is embedded into content.

Surrounding text

Google will also read the text around the image to see what the image is about. Keeping the image consistent with the topic of the article will help it rank in image search.

Captions

Captions are stronger relevance indicators than the general surrounding text. These should be optimized, but ideally not identical to the alt text or other relevance indicators.

Image Sitemap 

An image sitemap is submitted for all properties operating on Tempest in the Google Search console.

Managing Media

To learn more about managing media visit How To: Manage Media.

 
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