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Most bloggers focus on their rankings within Google search, and Google Blog search. In doing so, they miss the importance of potential traffic from Google Images. In this article we will look at the importance of using high quality photos in your blog design, and how to appropriately tag them for search engine optimization.

Why Photos?

Girl Typing on Laptop

Jami Garrison

Photos serve three important purposes for our blog articles. First, they break up the text.  People cruising through the Internet have short attention spans by definition. Many blog visitors who encounter a mass of text without breaks will click away rather than attempt to overcome the seemingly endless article. Photos give important break point to the article, allowing readers to “catch their breath.”

Secondly, a high quality photo adds visual appeal to our blog, adding to the the user experience. A poor quality photo speaks badly of our blog, and decreases the potential that our reader will subscribe and become a long term reader. Third, photos can be optimized for search engines and give our blogs another way to be found.

Which Photos to Use?

Bloggers should stick to affordable stock photos for many reasons. A vast amount of seemingly free images can be found through Google Images, but there is no way to know who has the copyright on these images in most cases, or what the licensing terms are. I’ve never considered the risk to reward of possible stiff fines for breaking copyright laws versus saving a dollar or two on a blog size photo to be worthwhile.

tropical island beach

Katrina Brown

Stock photos are screened by agencies like DreamsTime for quality, so you can be assured you will be getting images which are going to raise the visual appeal and appearance of your blog.Agencies also categorize their images and allow you to search for specific needs. So if you need travel images of a tropical island beach, or photos of people, they should be easy to find.

Most stock agencies also allow you to purchase images based on their size. Since there is no point in purchasing a resolution which exceeds the width of your blog’s content blog, you can often buy resolutions of 450 pixels on the long side for under $2.

Rename Photos for SEO

Once you have downloaded your stock images, you need to take the extra step of renaming the files. Search engines cannot identify what an image is unless you tell them about it. We start telling search engines about our images by giving them SEO friendly names.

File names are commonly incomprehensible to search engines. A file named “IMG1034.jpg” is not the least bit descriptive. However we can rename the photo to “smiling-beautiful-woman.jpg” to give the search engine three words to key off.

Notice that I used dashes, not underscores. Google does not recognize underscores and tends to concatenate the words. So “smiling_beautiful_woman” would be interpreted as “smilingbeautifulwoman”, which is not a recognizable word. However dashes signal Google that these are three separate words.

Tagging Photos for SEO

Tagging our images for the search engines is even more important than renaming their files. We want to use the image title and alt image fields to describe the image as best as we can. Whenever possible, it is good to use our blog post’s most important tags within the image tag fields. For instance if our blog post is about baseball catchers, we could tag an image as “Baseball Catcher Catching Pitch”. We don’t need dashes here. Spaces will work fine.

Baseball Catcher catching pitch

Steve Cukrov

Of course we don’t want to spam our tags with too many words. Stick to two to seven highly relevant key words. Try not to use small connecting words such as “with, the, and, of” and so on. Every extra word potentially lessens the SEO impact of the other words.

This isn’t a huge issue, but it is something to keep in mind when trying to optimize our image tags as much as possible.


Using high quality photos increases the visual appeal of our blog posts, and gives Google Images a way to find our articles. By optimizing the file names and tags of our photos, we greatly increase the potential for Google Images to find them and rank them highly.  For more useful articles please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on TwitterFacebook! If you appreciate our work, please share this article with your peers.

Posted by Daniel Padavona

Daniel Padavona is the founder of dpStockPhotos. Daniel is a photographer for several major stock agencies, and is an advocate for fair pay for artists. He lives in New York state with his wife and two children.

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