Search Engine Optimization – Images

There are a lot of people out there that will tell you how to optimize your website for search engines. In fact, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become so popular that it’s spawned many of the usual product and service offerings to “ensure your success” or “guarantee a top page placement.” Do yourself a favor and don’t buy the hype, there is an abundance of free information out there to help. There are undoubtedly reputable publications which offer lots of helpful info at a price, and rightly so, people should be able to charge for the time and effort spent compiling all the good things you can do to optimize your site for search, it really is that important, but no one can guarantee your a particular page rank. There are just too many variables that you can’t control which get factored into the search algorithms.

However, you can do better and improve your standings which over time can have the same effect as compiled interest. It may not be much day-to-day but after a year or two it really adds up.

One of the big things a lot of people overlook is how they handle meta-data with respect to their images so here are a couple of helpful hints to improve your chances of being found through the pictures you use on your site:

  1. Don’t use names like IMG00279, give your image a REAL and MEANINGFUL name like
  2. Use the ALT tag and include a meaningful name or description. It might just be the name of the image again or something else but USE it.
  3. Use a “-” rather than in underscore “_” or blank space between words. To a search engine a “-” is a “white-space” character the others are special characters which means if you use a dash the search engine will read the name of the image as “telluride mountains”, but if you use an underscore it will be read as “telluride_mountains” (one word to a computer) and people aren’t likely to search for that. A good explanation (though somewhat technical) of why can be found here.
  4. Host your own images. I know it adds a little load and uses more space but image searches are common and you can use them to drive drive traffic to your site.

Do this for ALL images on your site. Don’t use names like “header-logo.jpg.” Use something like “Scott-Ellis-header.jpg.” Hmmm….. now that I think about it, I might have some cleaning up to do myself.


  1. Devon Young on June 3, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Nice tips. Makes me wonder if the TITLE attribute would work as well as the ALT. I’ll have to look into that now. I don’t like using ALT sometimes, as some images don’t need textual replacement. Maybe I should be using more TITLE’s on my images. You got me thinking now.

  2. Scott Ellis on June 3, 2008 at 1:01 pm


    Glad you like it. Using TITLE with links and other appropriate tags is a great idea (subject of a future post actually) and would have essentially the same effect. Since I was only focused on images here I only paid attention to the ALT attribute. TITLE doesn’t really apply to images though (at least I have never seen it).

    “Alternate text is not meant to be used as a tool tip, or more specifically, to provide additional information about an image. The title attribute, on the other hand, is meant to provide additional information about an element. That information is displayed as a tooltip by most graphical browsers, though manufacturers are free to render title text in other ways.” Good read on this at:

  3. photoblog on October 16, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    nice tips. will to implement at my blog 🙂

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