Years ago, when someone searched for an image on Google and clicked on it, they would be directed to the website where the image was hosted. Now, when someone clicks on an image, Google serves up a full sized version of the visual and will mention which website it is from. Often times, the image is enough information and the searcher will never visit your website. In addition, there is no current data that captures how often your images are being served on Google and the number of impressions that they are receiving.

With that being said, is it worth it to try and rank well for images and graphics? Considering that one-third of all Google searches are for images, yes, it is. If you need a second reason, the fact that 12.5% of search engine results pages show image pack results, it is an important part of search engine marketing that shouldn’t be overlooked.

If you need some help to get started with optimizing your images and visuals, here is our list of top questions and answers for SEO image best practices:

Does it need to be original content?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. Unlike web page results, image duplicates are not negatively viewed by Google. Provided you have the proper permissions, you can use stock images and licensed visual content. Even better is that Google does not reward the original source of the image more favorably – meaning if you properly use Image Search SEO, it’s a great opportunity to rank well and gain traffic.

What are the factors that make an image rank?

The ranking factors for images is more simple than web results as Google is basically concerned with two factors – relevance and serving the user’s best interest.

How do I optimize images?

There are a few internet marketing steps to follow in order to properly optimize your online images. When as many factors of this checklist are combined, the opportunity for your image to rank increases. Follow these key steps:

Size and Dimensions: Google will generally overlook very small or large images but they also factor dimensions in. Go for square dimensions such as 4 x 3 or 16 x 9.

Popularity: Google rewards clicks and engagement. The better quality your images are, interesting and relevant, the more searchers will click and the higher Google will display your visuals in their search results.

File Name: The filename of your image should be related to your page subject and keywords. For example, if you were a local SEO company, instead of stockphoto123.jpg, rename the file to SEO-Services-Toronto.jpg.

Title and ALT attribute: In addition to accessibility reasons, this helps tell Google what the image is related to and helps boost Image Search rankings.

Captions: Can really help with image rankings. Include a caption that incorporates your page keywords or other focus keywords you wish to rank for in image results.

Page URL: When your image tags and captions are related to your page URL, it is favorable for ranking. Consider this – an online gallery with hundred of photos will generally not rank for a particular niche topic, but if your page URL is www.example.com/SEO-Services-Toronto and your image keyword is relevant to the page’s content, it will.

To begin optimizing your images, create a target list of keywords that Google serves image blocks for, which is a sign that these words receive a high volume of searches. Once you have your list, you can select an image and create content based on it or incorporate it into a page that has relevant subject matter. Also, make sure anyone that is creating and publishing your content (such as uploading a new blog post) is aware of the image SEO checklist and can optimize accordingly.

Optimizing images is not time-consuming and is an affordable SEO method. Spend some time auditing keywords and finding the best image block opportunities and create a list of content goals and new opportunities to rank for. To learn more about what you can do to get the most out of your SEO, click here to get a free SEO analysis.