December 2014

I, Image Search. | SEO Updates for Images

Google is well known for breaking barriers in machine learning. The example of programming every single possible driving encounter into their self-driving cars is a testament to their level of expertise in this area. Now, Google is expected to introduce an update to revamp the way it approaches image content in websites.

This might not be a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s worth knowing about.


The alternative to Alt-Text

Alt-Text, or alternative text is what you see when an image doesn’t load, is what Google currently uses to gauge the relevance of an image in relation to the content of the host website, or for image search queries.

Essentially, Google’s artificial intelligence has evolved to where it can see what the images are without having to be told by the alt text.

1006_cognitiveSEO_03-760x320Screenshot taken from


Consider the above as an example of what will happen in google when you search for those image contents. Detected image elements will link to a keyword, or series of keywords, which will influence rankings.

SEO is about rankings, after all.

How this impacts us as marketers is that if we happen to have a website selling the most amazing red tables in the world, we won’t have to label each image any more. More images of our red tables will mean a greater contribution to rankings for ‘red tables’.


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Black Hat Picture SEO

Unlike keyword oriented SEO, and backlink building, which have both been abused and penalised in the past, it does seem rather hard to stuff your website full of targeted images without detracting from the quality of your website. It also seems hard to pass off a picture as something that it is not. Essentially, Google has gotten better at determining if this content is relevant to what people are searching for.

I’ll keep this short, there’s not much to this. This update, when it rolls out, won’t cause any major ripples, it’s simply something useful to keep in mind when designing content for your website. Fewer stock photos, more intentional image design.