Photo SEO – images can help people find you

Photo SEO doesn't matter to this vintage Kodak Jiffy camera at Layland Museum of History Cleburne TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Vintage Kodak Jiffy 620 series folding camera at the Layland Museum of History in Cleburne, Texas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Let’s face it – the competition is fierce to rank on Page One of search engine results for many of the keywords that travelers use to find things.

One way to overcome that is to not only search engine optimize your text content, but also your photos, video, and audio. The search competition is less intense for non-text content, because many people don’t pay attention to SEO beyond text.

Remember – search engines will often serve up image and video results in response to queries.

Let’s talk specifically about photo SEO … search engine optimizing your photos and images.

Our advice applies to your original photos (the best option is always to take your own pics whenever possible,) to any photos that you purchase, and to those you download for free from sites like Pixabay or Unsplash.

Here is what to do:

1) Name the Photo File Itself

Do not upload raw photos – a file named something like “2019 – 05 – 04 19.09.05” – to your website or blog posts.

We guarantee that no one is Googling for 2019 – 05 – 04 19.09.05.

Instead, rename the file with what is in the photo.

No need to over-complicate things … what is it an image of, and where was it taken? Those are searchable keywords.

Naming your files also makes it SO much easier to find them months or even years later on your desktop or cloud-based photo storage system.

2) Resize Your Photos For the Web

Website speed is one of the ways that Google ranks your pages. Giant photos slow your site down and are slow to load, especially on mobile devices.

Resize your photos BEFORE you upload them to your website or blog. Aim for no larger than, say, 1200 by 800 pixels, and 800 by 600 would be even better in most cases.

The square photo of the camera at the top of this blog post is 696 by 696 pixels, for example. It displays well on desktop or mobile.

3) Add ALT Text to Your Photos

We learned from motivational speaker Glenda Watson Hyatt that paying attention to image ALT text (Alternative Text – descriptive text about an image) matters not only for search engines, but also for web accessibility.

“Remember, the bots are blind, too. When your ALT text explains what’s in a photo to a blind person using the internet, it also explains it to Google.”

When you upload your image file to whatever online publishing software you use to update your website or blog, boxes will usually come up to fill in the ALT text, image description, caption, and a link URL if needed.

Fill in those boxes; give Google something to crawl and index.

Seems simple, but many don’t take the time to do it, and they are missing a powerful photo SEO opportunity. Take advantage!

If you haven’t been doing this before, you should go back and add ALT text with keywords to all of your photos.

Yes, this can be a huge project.

To get started, look at your Google Analytics for your top 10-20 most popular pages and blog posts, and add ALT text to the images on those pages.

4) Bonus Search Engine: Consider Adding Your Photos to Pinterest

Pinterest for tourism makes sense because the platform has become a giant image-based search engine for travel inspiration.

IF it fits your overall strategy and marketing goals, consider setting up Boards that are tied to your website and blog structure/categories. You already have the photos, so why not get more use out of them by re-purposing on Pinterest?

When you pin images to your Boards, make sure you give them keyword-rich titles and descriptions, so they’re as searchable as possible.

Do you have questions, ideas, or tips about photo SEO? Tell us in the comments below….


At Tourism Currents, we help you and your tourism partners learn how to use social media and digital destination marketing to bring more visitors to town. Pick what works for you: our self-paced online course in social media for tourism, our coaching/consulting services, or our speaking and workshop services.

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