Google Image Search

According to empirical surveys, there are increasing signs that Google is giving image search more weight. The Image Search Box now appears in about one third of all search queries. The numbers are based on the analyses of various tool providers, who regularly examine Google search results.


The Image Search Box is prominently displayed in the main search result pages. (Image example with the keyword ‘Image SEO’)

Example for the display of the Google Image Search Box in search result pages

The trend is consistent with statements made by John Mueller (Google) earlier this year that “it is time to rethink image search and image search will be a bigger issue in 2019 as users increasingly use it for transactional, learning or search-related tasks”.

As always, it can be assumed that Google will respond to identified changing user needs and gradually test the impact of different forms of offerings.

What does this mean for SEO and website operators?

2019 is a good moment to recapitulate the decisive factors for successful Image SEO as it is time to focus more on users’ search intentions. Uncertainties in the procurement of information or inconclusive purchase intentions are typical situations in which users can be approached with highly accurate image results.

How to use images correctly for your SEO strategy

Images, whether illustrations or photos, are an underestimated yet great resource to support communication or illustrate complex content. They are a high-quality content element as they can increase attractiveness and, ideally, also the user’s average session duration on a website.

If images do not serve as a decorative element or background, they should be considered as an editorial component of the website’s content and deserve just as much attention as text content.

Once you have decided on a subject, the image file should meet the following criteria:

  • suitable size and resolution (technical SEO – page load speed, responsive/mobile)
  • appropriate format (technical SEO – page load speed, responsive/mobile)
  • descriptive file name for the image (file names are SEO-effective)

Finally, the file gets a short identifying text, which is called Alt-Tag, Alt-Attribute or Alternative Text and is required by search engines to recognize the image data and to index it.

Ideally, the main keyword of the page or at least for the relevant text section is used for the alternative text (images without contextual meaning are provided with an empty alt attribute).

Examples Source Code (editorial and non-editorial)

  • <img src=”/image-seo.jpg” alt=”What does Image-SEO mean”>
  • <img src=”/bilder/icon.gif” alt=””>
  • <img src=”/pictures/background.jpg” alt=””>


Now is a good time to improve the SEO visibility of your own products or services. For those who have difficulty with text, Image SEO offers a simple and effective way for optimization.

The statement by John Mueller (Google) to rethink image search should be used as an impulse to think beyond purely technical SEO image optimization. The way Google compiles search results in increasingly fragmented, contextual blocks of information offers a variety of exciting ways to boost one’s own offering.

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