Why would you want to optimize for image search and how do you do it? Here are some reasons for doing it:

Image search results are being increasingly used by the search engines in contextual search results to improve usability.

Google is serious about images. In October last year Google added an opt-in to Enhanced Image Search in Webmaster Tools. In conjunction with Image Labeler this allows Google to associate the images included in your site with labels that will improve indexing and search quality of those images.

If you search in Google or Yahoo for |pictures of diamond earrings|, |images of mowers|, |hammer image| or something similar, just above the organic listings you will get a row of relevant images. In Yahoo’s case sometimes the images are from Fliker rather than Yahoo image search, for example search Yahoo for |funny pictures|.

All three of the major search engines have a separate image search; Google image search, Yahoo image search and MSN image search.

Image search Statistics from Hitwise http://www.hitwise.com/ show image search is growing at 90% year on year and represents nearly 0.5% of all internet visits.

Traffic from image search can be targeted. It may not convert as well as organic search but it’s free!

Ok so how do you do it? The easiest way to explain is by example and I have created a new image for this page:


We will be optimizing this image for the term |image search| which currently has 5,660,000 results on Google Image Search.

  • Put the search term in the page url. In this case it’s http://www.seo-blog.com/images/image-search.php
  • Put the search term in the page title. In this case it’s <title>Image Search</title>
  • Use the search term in close proximity to the image. In this case the search term appears twice in the sentence immediately following the image.
  • Make sure the page topic corresponds to the search term. In this case the page topic is definitely image search!
  • Make sure the image size is non-standard. In this case it’s 304 x
    203 pixels.
  • Make the image in .jpg or .gif format. In this case it’s .jpg
  • Name the image with the search term. In this case it’s image-search.jpg
  • Use the search term in the alt attribute, the title attribute and make sure that you have included the width and height declarations. In this case we have <img src=”http://www.seo-blog.com/images/image-search.jpg” alt=”Image search” title=”Image Search graphic signed by Googlebot” width=”304″ height=”203″ />

I am not suggesting that you do all of the above for every image on your site but if you choose some key pages and optimize the image(s) (or create them specially and then optimize them) on those pages there will be a tangible benefit.

The search engines image databases are not updated all that frequently but when the image above ranks I will post an addendum here.