Over the years, much has been said about optimizing images to help rank better in Google, and it’s mostly accurate. The key is that images will generally only help you rank better in Google Image Search, not in the main search results.
Google’s John Mueller laid it out pretty clearly in a recent SEO Office Hours (via SE Roundtable) when he said:
We basically use those images in image search. And that’s where we care what the content of the images are. But within web search we don’t really care if it’s a gray square or if it’s a picture of a beach.
That’s not to say you should just leave images off of your post. Not only can they rank in Google Image Search (which is better than nothing), images can really make for a better post. A better post is more likely to be read and shared, which is the goal.
If you’re going to add images to your page, though, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Use proper alt text. Not only is this good for Google, but it’s essential for users with disabilities and helping with accessibility. If you’re going to use images, put proper alt text on them.
- Size them properly. If done poorly, adding images to your page could actually make your page rank lower. Slow loading pages don’t tend to rank as well, and if you use bloated mis-sized images, that can hurt. Take time to size them properly and compress them to balance speed and quality.
Great images can make or break a site, but don’t expect a magic bonus from Google for using them. I include them on many of my posts when I feel they add value, and leave them off other posts (like this one) when they won’t be of much help to explain a concept.
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