Visual SEO Basics for Web Design

SEO is an ever-evolving beast, with all the Google algorithm changes happening all the time. Keywords and search results are on everyone’s radar as they build and maintain websites for themselves or clients. There is one aspect of SEO that tends to get forgotten but is as essential as ever. I am referring to visual SEO for images, graphics, and videos.

There are a few things to consider when doing visual SEO. From the size and quality of the visuals to how the metadata is input. Nowadays, images are given as results for text search, visual search, and voice search. You might think that visuals are good enough just added into the content, when in fact they can help with your overall SEO success.

Let’s look at the basics of good visual SEO, which every website should follow.

seo elements


First things first, the owner of the website or the web designer must have the rights to use every single image or visual. For example, if the photos were taken by a hired photographer, there must be a written contract stating that the client owns the rights to the images. If the pictures are from a stock photo site, they must be legally sourced. Every stock site is different, some charge a subscription with unlimited use of visuals and others charge per image or video.

If a designer has created graphics of any kind for the owner of the site, there needs to be a contract similar to the photography contract. These contracts don’t need to be added to the website, but they must exist for any eventuality in the future. Public domain images and personal images are free to use without a problem. Embedding videos from YouTube and Vimeo is generally ok, but it’s always good to contact the creator to let them know you will be using their video.


All visuals need to be of high quality. A blurry image or video will diminish a site’s credibility very quickly. Another reason for quality is when the results show up on searches, people will only click only on the ones that look good. Quality does not only apply to blurriness, but it also means that images should be visually appealing. For example, not too dark, not oversaturated, or with a strange crop.

For designed visuals, designers should follow the brand’s style guidelines for color, font, and background textures. When a graphic looks out of place, it makes readers do a double take. On search results, people will recognize the brand style faster.

search engine illustration


Optimization doesn‘t do much for image search results, but boy does it affect a website’s ranking! When visuals are inserted into a website unoptimized, loading times are slow. There is nothing worse these days than a slow site. Large images and videos are the most significant culprits for slow loading times, but that can be fixed with the right amount of optimization.

To optimize images, use TinyPNG or plugins like WP Rocket. Image optimization is so important that now some hosting companies offer it in their packages. For videos, there are is software available online to shrink and optimize without losing quality. The best way to include video on a website is to upload it to Youtube or Vimeo and then embed it.

Large infographics can be optimized as well, just like images and photographs. Another option is to include a small version of an infographic in the content and add a link to the full-scale high definition version hosted on its own page. Some online graphics editors like Visme offer to publish infographics created on their platform. This is particularly helpful for interactive infographics.


Visuals shouldn’t be added to a website without metadata. The metadata is the information which helps search engines (text, visual, and voice) find and offer your images to users. Metadata includes the following things:

  • The file name. Before uploading an image to a site, the file name needs to be changed to reflect what the image actually is. Never upload a picture with a file name like this, yau45.jpg.
  • The title. After uploading an image on a website, you need to add a title. This is what will show up in search results along with the alt-text.
  • The alt-text. The alt text has two purposes. The first is to provide information about images to people visually impaired. The second is to help search engines understand precisely what the image is. The alt-text is a lot more important than you might think!search engine illustration

Over to You

If you work creating websites or have a website yourself, are you following these image SEO tactics? Many people ignore image SEO thinking that it’s just not worth it when, in reality, it is. It helps with SEO and also with accessibility. For up to date information on SEO, check out the Yoast and Moz websites.