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Formatting images for SEO

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of March 2005 Search Engine Optimization 0 Comments

One of the most commonly known Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips that go around has to do with the way you name and tag the images that you use on your site. Its fairly commonly accepted by most SEO experts that Google not only looks at the text on your blog in order to measure its worth but that Google’s spidering bots also take a look at the code you use in your image files.

Over the years SEO techniques have been developed to abuse this fact and webmasters have ‘stuffed’ their ‘alt tags’ with all kinds of keywords – however Google has found ways to combat this and treats such strategies as spamming their bots now – however it is still legitimate to put keywords in you image tags and I would recommend that you do (within reason).

If I’m writing on one of my technical blogs about a product and want to post a picture – I always make sure that the file name of the picture includes the name of the product (with-hyphens-between-words). The system I use (ecto) to publish my blog uploads photos automatically to set the file name as the ‘alt tags’ (which are the words that come up as your picture loads) and uploads the picture to its own URL with the file name in the actual URL. This ensures that when Google’s bot spiders through your site it sees your keywords an additional few times per picture.

For those that have no idea how to write an Alt Tag into your image – it will usually look something like this

<img src=”http://secure.cre8dserver.com/~problogger.net/wp-images/darren-rowse.jpg” alt=“these are the keywords I’m targeting” width=”75″ height=”100″/>

One last warning – don’t stuff your Alt Tags full of keywords – especially ones that don’t relate to the rest of your page as they run the risk of being seen as spam.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Any discernible difference between using hyphens and underscores?

  2. Do you know of any differences between alt tags and title tags?

  3. Underscore isn’t a word separator, that is to say : professional_blogger = professionalblogger which means nothing.
    On the contrary : professional-blogger = professional blogger.

    I don’t think the title attribute of the img tag is ignored, it might even have priority as it is the case for hyperlinks.

  4. Hyphens are better for SEO purposes.

  5. Michelle – there is debate over the underscore/hyphen thing but I think most people say that hyphens are best – thats what I tend to use these days.

    I guess no one really knows what is weighted as what…. but I tend to try to cover all bases where its not too much trouble to do so

  6. Thanks guys; I’ll try switching to hyphens. Can’t hurt.

  7. Where on earth does the expression ‘alt tag’ come from when it’s quite plainly an ‘alt attribute’?

    Anyone have any ideas about this?

  8. […] ut your title in heading tags it will kill two birds with one stone) – in image alt tags (here’s how) – in the general throughout the text of your post – bu […]

  9. […] many tutorials online about heading tags – here’s one.) Keywords in image alt tags (here’s how) Keywords in the general throughout the text of your p […]

  10. I just cummed all over myself.

  11. […] Keywords in image alt tags (here’s how) […]

  12. […] Keywords in image alt tags (Δείτε πως) […]

  13. Harvey says: 04/11/2007 at 10:50 pm

    Please put me right here. I thought an alt image tag was a metatag and that Google bots don’t read metatags. Happy to be wrong on this?

  14. […] is invalid and users who can’t view images won’t know what was supposed to be seen. The alt attribute is also useful as a bit of extra search engine optimisation, if your alt attribute describes the image and the image is relevant to your post, then there are […]

  15. Yes, even I have been practising this Alt tag for image since last 3 years and it shows results.

  16. […] this article on Problogger which states how google’s spidering bots also take a look at the code you use in your image files […]

  17. […] this article on Problogger which states how google’s spidering bots also take a look at the code you use in your image files […]

  18. […] image as addition to our post is that we can add more keyword to it. For further reading on it, Darren has write how to format image for seo. Now, back to your site and alter all your post to add image […]

  19. This is new knowledge for me. thanks for the tips. next time i’ll try to write it in my own language.

  20. I have heard of naming your images with keywords as well. Using alt tags is a good idea, thanks.

  21. Use your-best-product.gif and ALT tag’s on all images.
    This will give google some extra breadcrumbs.. And makes you a better pagestrength..

  22. […] Formatting Images for SEO […]

  23. Thanks for the tips man :)

  24. So, I understand that the ALT (alternate text) attribute serves as a textual placeholder for the image for browsers that either don’t support images (some mobile browsing platforms, for example) or have the image display option disabled (to speed up page loads, for example).

    And I know that the TITLE attribute serves as an image caption or tooltip (visible on mouseover) for your image. (I’ve read that browsers with accessibility features enabled can also verbally “speak” this info for those who are visually-impared.)

    So, my question is, does including the TITLE in your image code accomplish anything with regard to SEO? Certainly, I believe it has merit for the sake of giving your users a bit more info about the image – so I’ve made a habit of always adding this extra bit to my image code – but does it also give Google, MSN, & Yahoo! more to chew on or is that attribute simply ignored by search engines?

  25. So, keywords for images is also vital in SEO. Thanks for the tips, another good post from a great blogger.

  26. I think people need to bare in mind that ‘alt’ is used to screen readers as well. It is only knowledge but rather than stuff keywords into your alt tags, you should explain what the photo/image is, after all that is what the tags for?

  27. Hi

    I get the need to add alt tags to describe what a picture is about but should you rename the actual picture name as well i.e

    rather than DC0006.jpg then your alt text alt=” padlling a kayak”

    should i use

    kayak-paddling.jpg then alt=”paddling a kayak”

    is that right? or should the image name be exactly the same as the alt text? or do search engines etc not bother about what you name the actual pic?



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  29. There is another side to this and it is the approach that your viewers should always take priority over SEO. This is not to say that you should not concentrate on SEO, but when doing SEO always think about the end user. In my opinion this is simple because this is the way Google looks at it. They are always striving to provide the best search results to their users after all this is how they make Billions of dollars!
    To clarify this point in relation to images just think that the alt tags are designed for visually impaired web users. You can get software which will read the alt tags out so that the user knows what the image is without seeing it. So in the example used by Baz above, Use your keywords in the alt attribute but also use it to describe the picture to the user. For example. “paddling technique used to paddle a kayak”. This is totally natural and will not be interpreted by Google to be spam. You have also used a variation of paddling in the sentence.

    Hope this makes sense.


  30. I wrote a plugin to crop images to be used as thumbnails in WordPress entries. I’ve received quite a number of requests for auto generating ALT and TITLE attribute that contains the entered keywords in the tag. Its in the works for the next plugin upgrade.

  31. Hi,
    I think putting the keywords in image file name is excellent idea.
    It might help to certain extent, but what if we are using css for image. I am huge fan of DIV and css and most of the image i put on my site using css background property.
    Will your technique be helpful in this case also.
    Amit Patekar
    visit http://www.webworldguru.com for tutorial on PHP, Joomla, MySQL, CSS

  32. Thanks for this article on using image tags. It is exactly what I needed. Very useful to me, as my product review site uses lots of pictures.

  33. Thanks! I was wondering about this.. wasn’t sure if i needed to tuse the “title” tag or the “alt” tag… good post:)

  34. Thanks for this post! I am a food blogger so I use photos in every single post and I am just starting to learn about SEO – never knew the photo titles were important! I think I know how I am spending my long weekend ;-)

  35. Hi You used hyphen(-) to name darren-rowse.jpg instead of _(underscore). Is it a best thing to name the image files

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