How are image rankings calculated on the search engines?

The search engines love when your site provides a good user experience. What better way to improve user experience than to provide entertaining, informative and engaging images? Remember, don’t keep too many images and videos on your home page – this will slow down your page’s load speed – but a moderate amount can be beneficial to your site’s rankings in the SERPs.

How are image rankings calculated on the search engines?

Image rankings

The Google crawlers cannot understand images in themselves. In fact, the search engines rely on the data you input with the image to discern what it is. For example, the copy surrounding the image, the file name, alt text, and other “meta-data” are all factors that Google considers when encountering an image on your site. That being said, the more original and engaging the image, the better. Come up with creative names and descriptions (ideally that are complementary to the title of the surrounding copy) for your photos. For example, check out a screen-shot of a recent EverSpark blog post with an image:

How are image rankings calculated on the search engines?

As you can see in this screenshot from Everspark’s own blog, we name each of our photos for SEO. The information about the photo that Google’s crawlers see is also relevant to the copy around it.

Here are some tips that the Google Webmaster suggests about ranking images for more tips:

Your images should be of good quality (try to avoid blurriness) – remember, it’s about the user experience!

Make sure your important text about the image is in HTML so that everyone can see it.

Add the information about your image to a Sitemap.

Include as much information about your image as possible.

Title the file of your image with something informative about the picture that clues the Google bots into what the image is; For example, titling your image “My son’s soccer ball” rather than “Picture number 2” will help your image rank higher.

Create informative, specific alt text to describe the contents of the file containing the image because Google uses this information to decide what image to return for every query; however don’t keyword stuff your image descriptions!

How image rankings might be affected by schema.org

If you don’t know what schema.org is, see our earlier blog, “Why do we care about schema?”

The fact that Google uses the meta-data you input for your images to understand your images makes us wonder, will the new schema.org initiative affect the way the search engines rank images and videos? It is likely, we think, that if Google and the other search engines can better identify your images as you or as related to your content, the search engine will rank you higher. We’ll have to see how it goes in the coming months to know for sure. Keep checking back for more updates about schema.org and other trends in SEO!