Image SEO is essential for any eCommerce store to generate more traffic. Image can generate a lot of traffic from image-based search engines like Google. Many users explore Google Images for the products they’re looking for, making this platform a unique avenue to generate ready-to-buy, in-market traffic to your online store.
Today, we’d like to give you a basic understanding of image SEO for eCommerce. It will be well enough to get you started, make sure you’re sending all the right signals to Google, and set you up for SEO success.
What is eCommerce SEO?
eCommerce SEO is the process to make your online store more visible in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). When people search for products that you sell, you want to rank your product as high as possible to get more traffic.
You can get traffic from paid search, but SEO costs much less and it’s easier.
eCommerce SEO usually involves optimizing your product titles, product descriptions, meta data, internal link structure, and navigational structure for search and user experience. Each product you sell should have a dedicated page designed to draw more traffic from search engines.
However, you don’t want to forget about the static, non-product-oriented pages on your site, such as the following:
- About page
- F.A.Q. page
- Blog articles
- Help center answers
- Contact page
Create a list of focus keywords as well as related keywords for those pages. There are many tolls available to search for one long-tail keyword and find semantic keywords that go well with it.
Why SEO For eCommerce Matters
What do customers do when they need a product or service? Most of them perform Google searches. They’re looking for options, tips, comparisons, and other information to help them to make the decisions.
If your website/store doesn’t appear in the top page of SERPs, you will lose critical access to qualified and interested eCommerce customers. Your products might have a space on the web, but they are not searchable.
That’s where the importance of eCommerce SEO comes in. It provides you the right way to reach your target audience without paying for ads. Once you get visitors to your site, you can delight them with your high-quality products, intriguing copy, and motivating calls to action.
What is image SEO for eCommerce?
Image SEO is the process of optimizing your images to rank them better in
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It involves reducing image size while retaining acceptable quality (to increase the page speed), as well as adding additional markup to increase your image visibility in search engines results pages.
Why is image SEO important?
Google Image Search is very important.
There are a couple of reasons to discuss about image SEO.
Firstly, a lot of SEO experts dismissed Google Image Search as being too hard to get targeted traffic from that search.
Let’s see if that’s still the real case.
This is what Google Image search result looks like on a laptop computer:
From the above screenshot we can see that, it’s easier than ever to visit a website from Google Images. There’s a dedicated button for doing so or you can click on the large image. Other buttons like ‘visit’ ‘share’, ‘add to bookmarks’ and ‘add to collection’ are just the icing on the cake.
Now here’s how that search result looks like on mobile devices:
As you can see in the above image, the mobile experience is tailored towards browsing through products. Google displays a large image of the product and cleverly includes structured data markup to show price, brand, stock status etc. This makes Google Images a spellbinding starting point for online shopping.
Another difference between mobile and desktop image results is the “related images” on the mobile version. Even if your original product images don’t make it to the top of the image search result page, they can still be shown in the related block, driving more traffic to your store.
It’s clear that Google Image Search has huge image on eCommerce store. And it’s only going to get bigger and better with Visual Search.
Visual Search, is expected to become a huge sales driver in eCommerce store. It already drives hundreds of millions searches on Pinterest and after Google Lens is fully integrated into Google’s Image Search, the numbers are going to be astonishing.
Visual search would not be possible without machine learning and artificial intelligence. Let’s see how Google’s technology works.
How does Google Image Search work?
Google Cloud Vision is the main technology behind Google Image Search.
Like all the other image recognition platforms, it’s based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, but Google has added the capability to extract and analyze information from:
- The web page where the image was found;
- Other websites using the same or similar types of images;
- Image SEO data (structured markup, file names, image alt text, etc.).
You can try out the Cloud Vision by yourself.
How to check Google Image traffic
To measure the success of your effort, you must have a baseline to compare it. Here’s the way how to check the traffic you’re receiving from Google Image Search.
Just go to Google Search Console, open the performance report and switch the “Search Type” from “Search” to “Image”.
If you’d like to go deeper, you can analyze user behavior in Google Analytics, go to Aquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and look for google images / organic.
Make sure your images are accessible to search engines
A crucial part of image SEO is making sure that Google can easily crawl and index your images.
All your efforts can go to water if Google can’t access your images for some reason. It’s an obvious and very important part of Image SEO. Here’s eCommerce product image SEO checklist.
Check for broken image links and images blocked by robots.txt
An obvious place to look for broken image links is the coverage report in Google Search Console.
If your website does not happen to be in Google Search Console, you’ll need some special software like Screaming Frog SEO Spider. It is a really good one and for example purpose we’ve used it. It’s free to scan websites with less than 500 pages.
Now let’s check if your images are easily accessible by search engines or not.
- Open Screaming Frog SEO Spider program.
- Enter your store’s URL.
- Now, Click on “Start”.
- After the scan has finished, click on the “Response Codes” button.
- Click on “Blocked by Robots.txt” on the right-side panel.
You’ll get a list of pages that are blocked in robots.txt.
Check for broken image links
If you use Sirv, you can instantly identify broken image links in the Analytics section of your Sirv account. You can see what the exact image URL was and where it was requested from.
Alternatively, you can use Screaming Frog also.
Create an image sitemap
Image sitemaps make it easier for Google to find and index your product images.
You can either create a separate sitemap for your images or include image information in your existing image sitemap.
Image SEO for eCommerce: How to Rank your Product Images in Google Image Search
The process on how to rank your product image for SEO is relatively straightforward and can be distilled into four simple steps. The last step in adding structured data markup may require development knowledge, but all the steps leading up to that are easy for anyone to follow and execute.
Before we get started, note that the first step occurs before uploading any images to the site. So if you’re looking to optimize images that are already live on a site, we suggest you acquire the original version of the images and organize them neatly in a designated folder.
1. Image file naming
To best articulate the overall process, let’s continue with our stabilizer example and optimize an image for “Voltage Stabilizer.” This will be our primary keyword target as per the search data below.
However, we’ll also include the long-tail extension of that phrase “ac stabilizer” as well as “Regulator” to help improve SEO and keyword relevancy for the product page.
1. First, it’s important to make sure that the image is saved in a .jpg format. Unlike .png and .gif formats, Because, .jpg files allows you to edit the image properties, which we will get to in the following step.
2. Now we can re-name the image file according to our target keyword phrase. In this case, simply “voltage stabilizer-ac stabilizer-regulator.jpg” will do just fine.
3. If you have several similar images of the same product, you can add slight variations to the file name just to make sure they’re unique, like “
voltage stabilizer-ac stabilizer-regulator automatic.jpg” or “
voltage stabilizer-ac stabilizer-regulator manual.jpg,” if the image was for a manual post.
1 (b).Image META data
This next part we’ll consider with extra care because there is still some debate in the SEO community as to whether an image’s metadata actually translates to web browsers. However, based on our experience implementing this next step, it is worth doing.
Not only does it take less than one minute to execute, but in countless cases we have seen far greater search visibility with our images, both in Google Image Search and the organic search results as Image snippets.
1. Just go to the image folder, right click on the image file and select “Properties” if you’re using Windows and “Get Info” if you’re using macOS. Here we can populate specific information related to the image file. The default General tab already contain your SEO-friendly file name, which you can edit here if required.
2. Now click on the “Details” tab where we’ll include additional content to the Image Description section. We’ll give concentrate mainly on the image Title, Subject, Tags, and Comments. You can also rate the image as 5 or 4-stars and include an author, if applicable.
3. Using our target keyword phrase, complete the image file properties. Once done, click on “Apply,” “OK,” and proceed to uploading the image to the store.
2. Compress heavy images
If you’re using very large images with heavy file sizes (a good benchmark is about 250 kb or more per image), consider compressing them to the minimize the size. Because page load speed is an important ranking factor with SEO, compressing large images is critical to gain a competitive edge, especially when a page contains several high-resolution product images.
Fortunately, there are many free tools and WordPress plugins available to to compress heavy image files.
3. Populate the image title, description, and ALT text
This step isn’t too advanced for anyone familiar with standard SEO practices and optimizing image ALT tags. Once uploaded to the site, we’ll want to include the Image Title, Description, and ALT text – all to be aligned with our target keyword.
If you are using CMS platforms like WordPress, this option is available under the image’s settings, or immediately upon uploading. There’s really nothing to it; simply populate each of these fields to reflect the same keyword phrase we used earlier to optimize the image properties.
However, in many cases you will have several images that are very similar. In turn, you have to to vary your Titles, Descriptions, and ALT Text to specify certain characteristics or align with where the images is going.
You can also use image optimizer and image optimization tool available for SEO.
4. Implement structured data markup
The final step is to implement structured data to corresponding product page, specifically Product Schema. By adding structured data to your product pages, you can make the pages’ content more accessible by search engines, including product images for website.
Additionally, adding certain forms of Product schema (i.e. aggregate review rating), you can also trigger rich snippets to appear in the search results.
Although this step may seem technical, it’s really not all that difficult to execute.
By going the extra mile to execute this final step, not only you can improve the visibility of a product image in Google Image Search, but it also brings significantly more SEO value to the product page itself.
Image SEO for eCommerce: Final Words
Most specialty retailers and online stores face fierce competition when it comes to image SEO for eCommerce. And while many of these online retailers make creative use of social media and content marketing to reach their target audience, some are still generating qualified traffic via Google Search by using Image SEO for eCommerce.
With optimizing product SEO images, the simplest of measures can go a long way in crossing the gap against more authoritative competitors like Amazon or eBay. Not only these practices can help bring ready-to-buy traffic to your store’s product pages, but they require very little effort to implement.