Why Image Optimization Matters For Search

For the past 4-5 years I have discussed image optimization as part of a basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) effort with my clients.  And for the most part, my clients have ignored this part of their optimization program.

Top Reasons Image Search is Ignored in SEO Efforts:

  1. It’s time consuming to optimize the images
  2. It’s not as important as writing meta data and on-page content
  3. My website platform doesn’t make it easy for me to manage my images
  4. I don’t get traffic from image search anyway
  5. SEO isn’t important since Google is monetizing every aspect of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

The list can go on and on, but there are many reasons to care and the first one is that almost 27% of web searches are image searches in Google!

How Does This Relate to Traffic to Your Website?

I took a look at the Google Search Console data for the past 6 months, comparing Web vs Image searches for some clients that we work with and noted some interesting findings:

1. For the 2 retailers below…

  • Approximately 50% of total search impressions were seen in image searches
  • Between 10% & 14% of total clicks came from image searches
  • The click-through % on image search is very low versus the click-through % on a typical web search

Apparel Retailer Results

B2B Retailer Results

2. For the home builder below…

  • Approximately ¼ of total impressions came from image search
  • The builder had the same issue with a very low click through rate
Large Regional Home Builder

Some more evidence that image search is important is the fact that Google has been working to monetize image search in the same way that they have monetized everything else.  Look at the example below on a search for “Softball Screens”. The top row of images is “Sponsored”, but there are a lot of results in the “Organic” listings of companies selling these products.

For our builder clients, a search for “New Homes for Sale in Colorado Springs” demonstrates that Google isn’t monetizing this area yet, but there are opportunities to brand your business and put your homes and communities front and center.


The last thing to think about is how image search is evolving for the future.  It is not uncommon for people to take photos with their phones and then ask their digital assistants (either mobile or Alexa/Google Home) to find “something like this picture” as part of a search query.  Imagine searching for prom dresses for your daughter and she finds one that she really likes, but you (as the parent) hate the price.  You take a snapshot of the dress and then ask Siri or Alexa or Google Home to find dresses like the one you just took the picture of and suddenly you have a variety of dresses similar to the one you found to choose from and at potentially better prices.  Wow…that’s powerful and this concept can be applied to all types of searches from new homes, to grocery items, to filters for your refrigerator and so on.

If you don’t believe me…read this article on how Snapchat is trying to patent object recognition technology to drive advertising.



Image search IS an important element of your SEO program and provides great opportunity for you to gain more traffic and sales.  The best time to focus on optimizing your images is when you create them, but you can devise a strategy to update your existing images on your website as well.  Contact us for some ideas on how to start this effort.

mila Sorenson
MILA SORENSON, SR. DIRECTOR of MARKETING & CLIENT SERVICESWith over 25 years of marketing experience, Mila specializes in helping clients formulate marketing plans to capture more leads, sales and ROI through services such as SEO, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Social Media, Geofencing, and Website Design.


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