Next to contextual search (i.e. just a plain 'regular' search on a search engine) Image Search is the fastest growing vertical search in the space. Compared to shopping, news, blogging, etc., image search has them beat by a mile. However, what's even more important about image search, is how Google's Universal Search, Ask's 3d Search and Yahoo's Blended Search are utilizing and incorporating images from each of their image search verticals into the 'regular' search results.

No longer are images appearing as just 3 images at the top of a results page, you'll see images incorporated in a lot of different ways. You'll see images coming up with the news one boxes, with descriptions of videos that aren't on Google Video or YouTube, a group of images could appear at the bottom of a page, as opposed to the top of the page. All of the search engines are striving to make the results more relevant and incorporating images into the results is definitely part of that strategy. So with that in mind, here's 5 tips to make sure you're optimizing your sites images for the search engines.
  1. Robots.txt file:
    Ensure that the folder you are storing your images in is not blocked by your robots.txt file. Prior to the rise in popularity of image search, it was common practice to block the folder images were stored in. Helpful hint: Store your navigational and "structural" type graphics in one folder, and block that from the spiders, store the pictures of products, events, or news related images in another folder and open that one to the spiders.
  2. Image File Names:
    Name your images in a way that describes what they are. Don't get carried away though. If it's a picture of a purple widget, name it purple-widget.jpg, rather than leaving it whatever your camera or photo editing software wants to name it. Helpful Hint: Use dashes between the words, rather than underscores.
  3. Use the Alt Attribute of the IMG tag:
    Make sure you are using the "alt" attribute of the image tag. Again, like the image name, don't over do it, but ensure that it describes the image you are trying to present to the user. The attribute should describe the image in a short "to the point" way that reads naturally to the viewer. Helpful Hint: Utilizing the alt attribute also helps visitors who do not run with images on, as well as visitors with disabilities that utilize screen readers to understand what the web page is about.
  4. Use a Caption By Your Image:
    Placing a small caption directly under, on top or on the side of your image will help queue the search engines what the image is about. Helpful Hint: With a caption, you can be a little more descriptive about the picture than with the alt attribute, but again, make it flow natural.
  5. Include Images With Articles, & Press Releases:
    If you are sending out an article or a press release, don't forget to include an image, or a url to an image that the news outlets can utilized for their version of your news. By supplying the link to the image, it can encourage them to link to the image itself straight from your own website. Helpful Hint: Adding images to articles and press releases makes them more appealing to the reader.

September 6, 2007

Liana "Li" Evans is the director of internet marketing at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing. She oversees all social media, online PR and word-of-mouth marketing efforts for a variety of clients within the company’s portfolio. Li also collaborates with the team on all SEO (Natural Search) optimization for clients. Since 1999 Liana has been active in the search marketing arena, becoming well versed in all avenues of search marketing but with particular focus on natural search, image search, and social media. She also has substantial experience in areas of the retail industry regulated by the FTC. Prior to Li’s tenure at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing, she helped to design, plan, and implement an Internet Retailer 500 company’s efforts into natural search optimization, successfully revamping outdated navigation and site architecture. Li is an accomplished programmer and database programmer/designer familiar with the demands of large-scale, dynamic retail sites.

Liana holds a B.A. in Information Systems with a minor in Public Relations from Susquehanna University, and an Associates Degree in Mass Communications/Public Relations from Pennsylvania College of Technology. She currently lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Limerick, PA and runs the search marketing blog Search Marketing Gurus.


Few other points of interested which were not listed:
- Give long description tags to your images. Example:
- Enable enhanced image search in Google Sitemaps. You will find this under Diagnostic > Tools > Enhanced Image Search

Nice tips. Was very helpful.... More clearly explained....


I am having a website related Free Downloads, Google Pack, and
PC Clinic Tips like
How to Break Password in XP, How to Lock your folder.. etc....

I want my website to be added in Search Engine like Google, Yahoo etc....

In Adsense, I am having an option called Robots.txt file, in that script I see a word as "Disallow".

Will it be a problem for me...?

Please help me...


The best place to get help for your issues is to go into the forums here at Search Engine Guide. The folks in the forums could help you out a little with your issues.


One key point about optimising images is having them result in increased traffic to your website and increased brand awareness so surely it makes sense to brand your images with your logo and domain name.

Many image search users are so adept at using image search that they very often dont even see your website when finding images which are then often used without concent. Branding and applying your logo is definately something that should be done to control this to some extent.

Hi Li,
Great tips. Hope you don't mind if I add a few more:

If you have photo gallery pages or other pages where the photos are the stars, give them page titles and meta-descriptions that will help the Search Engines know, such as: "Dallas Hotel Suite Photos" or "Photos of Destin Florida Beaches".

Create an photo site map page for your site. This will enable you to point to all the important images on your pages with good link text and also provide a clear path for the spiders to find them.

Submit important images to popular photo sharing sites, particularly to Google's YouTube and Yahoo's Flick'r. Take advantage of any opportunities for optimization which these types of sites offer - features like tagging, geo-tagging and attributes.

Consider the "oneness" of page optimization when optimizing your photos. If the page is optimized for "Miami Beach Nightlife", the photos on the page should be optimized for similar or supporting terms, like "South Beach Club", "Ocean Drive After Dark", etc.

Thanks, Mary

Great post. Short, informative, too the point. You had everything I was looking for. Thanks alot!


Bravo.. these comments are like secret weapon.. Cool!

I receive a few hits everyday from Google images but I believe the traffic is low quaity. I know every visit is a visit after all but still....should I focus on increasing traffic from google images or not?

Images enhance the visualization of readers in what we are endorsing or even writing, and its also recommended to pay enough attention with it for it's also a good marketing strategy.. by the way videos are also great too don't you think?

thanks for the tips. i don't even know about image optimization before. thanks for writing the great tips.

it is idealistic to add images to our entries, and this is a great way to entertain our visitors, and also most mistakes of a common person over exaggerating the image file name..

Thanks a lot for sharing this Li, i have done basic SEO with my blogs a few years back, yet i forgot to implement this with my new blog. I'm glad i've found this post, reminds me to implement it again.

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Search Engine Guide > Liana Evans > 5 Tips for Optimizing Images for Search Engines