6 Ways to Generate More Traffic out of Your Images

image seo marketing

There is nothing worse than waiting for a page to load. As a user, you probably get impatient waiting any length of time. And if it’s your site that is taking long to download, understand that for every additional second of download time, you lose 7% of your conversions!

Naturally, you would want to strip anything from your website that isn’t necessary…such as images, right?

But here’s the issue: images are very important these days, especially for blog posts. Images explain complex information; they are easier to consume; and they generate more social media shares than posts without images.

In addition to that, images can drive a lot of traffic to your site from search engines. And, according to this Poynter eyetracking study, when people are at your site, they will look at the images before the text.

The question is…are your images optimized for search, speed and social media? In other words, are they helping your site or hurting it?

Download this cheat sheet of 6 ways to generate more traffic out of your images.

The following 6 tactics will help you optimize your images so they can bring more traffic to your site…and keep that traffic there.

Tactic #1 – Optimize your images for people

First things first. You should always optimize images for people because they are the ones who really matter.

Let’s look at a few rules:

Keep them relevant

The first rule of thumb when it comes to putting images on your site is to keep them relevant. The content of the image should match the content of the article.

Use super-sized images

The bigger, the better! Take advantage of the technology in web design and monitors and use big and bold images. Look at how Fast Company uses images in their header (it stretches across the screen):

image optimization

And then look at how The Verge uses them:

image optimization

It’s a really great way to combine lots of text with great images. This is also one of the reasons that Google updated Google+ to host super-sized photos.

Optimize for the RSS feed

People who use RSS feed readers will be blazing through these to scan all the content you have. Use a relevant, great image to attract their attention and get them to click through to your site!

Use faces

When you use faces that are looking at the reader, mimicking an eye contact, you will get more views.

Let’s now get a little specific and talk about the difference between how men and women process images. I’ll even tell you why this is important.

men women image optimization

According to a recent eye mapping study, women process images differently than guys do. Here are some of those differences:

Why is this distinction important? Well, it goes back to knowing your audience…and giving them what they want.

Tactic #2 – Optimize your images for search engines

Okay, now that we have our images optimized for people…let’s optimize them for search engines. Follow these rules:

  • Compress images – Although you want to use larger images than smaller ones, file sizes should be as small as possible. Make sure you compress your image file size. If you are unsure how to do it, don’t worry as I cover that later in the post.
  • Limit the number of images per page – You don’t want to clog the page with unnecessary images. So, just select a few very relevant images.
  • Use keywords – There are a number of strategic places where you need to use keywords when it comes to images. Use them in the alt text, in the image name, the page title and in the text around the image.
  • Long descriptions – One of the most common elements most people miss when using images on their sites is long descriptions. Long descriptions are like alt tags, but more detailed. Here is an example of both:
    • Alt tag – Black 1998 Honda Civic.
    • Long description – Black 1998 2-door Honda Civic speeding through a red light.

Implement these strategies, and you will help search engines correctly index your images so that they are served up for highly-qualified searches.

Tactic #3 – Optimize your images for social media

Photos and images are one of the most shared pieces of content on the social web (with video being a close second).

But just because you have a few images doesn’t mean they will get shared. Here’s how to optimize your images so they spread quickly over the social web and drive a ton of traffic to your site:

  • Use gorgeous photos – This probably seems obvious, but what most people don’t understand is what makes something gorgeous and inspiring. Check out the 45 most powerful images from 2011 for some inspiration!
  • Use standard image formats – As you can see, there are dozens of ways you can format an image…
    image optimization
    You should use the most common image types: .jpg, .gif and .png. These formats are easily displayed on any device…thus lowering the barrier of viewing and sharing.
  • Publish your photos on social media sharing sites – If you use a really great image in a blog post, go ahead and share that image in Google+ and Facebook. Plus, host the photo on sites like Flickr, Photobucket, Pinterest, Picassa, Instagram and TwitPic. This will make it easy for people to share.
  • Optimize for Digg submission – If you use Digg, use the .jpg format and make sure your image is 160×120 or 160×160 pixels. Otherwise, no image will be presented, and you will lose clicks.

Tactic #4 – Optimize alt tag and title text of images

I mentioned above that you need to add keywords to your alt text and image title. Now, I want to go into more detail about the topic and introduce you to a wonderful WordPress plugin.

The plugin is called SEO-Friendly Images, and it can do a number of very powerful things for you:

  • Add alt tag and title texts – You’ll be able to optimize all your images since this plugin automatically adds a title text and alt tag for every image you have.
  • Changes title text and alt tag– This plugin will create different title and alt tag by blending these four variables:
    • %title – replaces post title
    • %name – replaces image file name (without extension)
    • %category – replaces post category
    • %tags – replaces post tags

By the way, if you are confused about the difference between the alt attribute and the title attribute, here’s a handy little chart to help you out:

image meanings

Tactic #5 – Optimize image file names

The file name of an image matters when it comes to SEO. So, it’s essential that you optimize the file name of your images too.

The tool to help you do this is a plugin called Media File Renamer. It’s pretty straightforward:

image renamer

Or you can change the image name manually. Either way, keep these elements in mind when naming an image:

  • The file name should be short.
  • The file name should describe the image and include keywords.
  • Make sure there are no spaces in your image names. If you want, you can use dashes, but avoid underscores.

Tactic #6 – Optimize for image load speed

As you probably know by now, page speed is essential for success on Google. So, the final tactic I want to teach you is how to optimize your images for load speed.

It doesn’t help if you start using huge, killer images to get attention that take forever to load. So, what should you do?

Smush it!

Well, that’s the name of a WordPress plugin that will do three things for your images:

  • Compress the images.
  • Strip unnecessary colors from indexed images.
  • Convert certain .gifs to PNGs for better performance.

WP Smush.it is really easy to use, and it will optimize images when you upload them. In addition, you can optimize all of your old images in the “Media Library”:

image media library

How many images you have and how big they are will determine how long it takes for the plugin to finish its job. I ran Smush.it on a new site that had only 43 images in the library, and it took less than 30 seconds to complete the task.


With the web becoming faster and the technology to view it getting so much better, images are playing an increasingly important role in SEO strategies. They get the attention of search engines and keep the attention of users when they arrive at your site. You have to do everything in your power to keep that edge.

When you invest some time in implementing these tactics to optimize your images, you should start seeing more traffic to your site… you just have to give a few months for the changes to kick in.

What other techniques do you use to get more traffic out of your images?

P.S. If you want help with traffic generation click here.


  1. that’s great image guide.. didn’t know that so much can be done with images to increase traffic.
    thanks for the tips

  2. Ken Hammond @MarketingMaverick.com :

    Hey Neil…

    How timely this is when our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter!

    I especially know a captivating picture will either attract me to read more or bail.

    Thanks for the tip for the Media Renamer Plugin, that’s going to help a lot.

    You rock my friend, thanks for sharing your wisdom, I officially pronounce you a Marketing Maverick! 🙂

    – Ken

  3. Dr Kavita Shaikh :

    Thanks a bunch for the wonderful tips Neil. I already knew about alt tags, but did not know that long description was essential as well. Thanks again for the descriptive explanation.

  4. Bharat Mandava :

    Using ALT and TITLE tags for images really helps to get some organic clicks, thanks for other useful tips Neil 🙂

  5. Webcredible has a good article on how to write effective alt text for images: http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-accessibility/image-alt-text.shtml

  6. Aligning right image is one of the most important aspect of Image Optimization. The major issue is to search and choose best image.

    Best way to search image is Google image search. Another important resources from my end might be Tumblr and Pinterest.

  7. found the gender based optimization especially interesting. More to do with marketing than optimization though.

  8. Man you really look at those atomic elements so well. And great that you noticed “The Verge”, its staff did some good research .

    And Neil, one short thing, don’t ever stop posting on this blog, or we might end up on IM s**t.


  9. Aliosha Kasin :

    Good tips Neil. Haven’t come across a post about image optimisation before.

  10. Amir @ Blue Mile Media :

    Nice article. From experience, I noticed adding just a few images makes a site look 100x more professional.


  11. Great tips, Neil. It’s amazing how much traffic can be referred by GIS – and now that Pinterest is blowing up images are more important than ever.

  12. Vlad Blagojevic @ Grant Snap :

    Hi Neil

    I don’t know how you do it, but your posts are one of the rare ones I actually read every single word in. Never stopped to think about how much is there to be done about images. Very valuable post.

    I like how you have substantiated your claim with faces, and made a light joke about men. I still did not really get the point about segmentation. Do you simply mean if for our product men or women are more represented amongst the customer base that we should take that into account when choosing images?

    Thanks for taking the time to share!


  13. Very useful tips, Neil!
    Do you know if any SE also looks at the Meta-data in an image?
    And, in that case, how important they are?
    Will, for example, an URL in the IPTC, be counted as a link?

    • Neil Patel :

      They do look at meta data in an image. They are quite important, so its best to have them optimized.

  14. Shahzad Hassan :

    now a days Niel don’t pay attention to comments to the readers like me.

    It was a great post regarding image optimization. I will keep it as reference.

    You didn’t right till today about the “Over Optimization”. I personally request you to please write on it.

  15. hansel praise :

    this is an eye opener. thanks neil. i will be honoured if you check my blog.

    • Thank you Hansel,

      I wish I could check out your site, but due to the amount of request I get I do not have the time to do so. You might be interested in checking out my Quick Sprout Traffic system, with it you receive a 30min call with me and can have me answer any questions you have as well as review your site.


  16. Eleazar Acampado :

    I’ve just used WP Smush.it to compressed my blog’s images. It really lessens my site’s loading time. Though, I also deactivated the plugin after compressing all the images uploaded for used in my posts.

  17. Love this blog. This is the one blog I try to read when I get a chance. All the best.

  18. Namita Patel :

    Thanks for the helpful tips Neil! I especially appreciate the info on WP plugins that help – definitely plan to install them on my site.

  19. Shaun @ Money Cactus :

    Great post Neil, really enjoyed it. Little worried to see that the guys seemed to be looking at that baseball players junk though! Haha 😉

  20. we have been trying several picture compression plug ins and have not had good luck with them working with IE8. have you used smush it on several sites so that you feel it is solid? Will I be bale to test the results prior to “smushing” the photos? If i have done a bunch of compression work on photos already will this alter the results?

    Your the man. Look forward to your response.

    • Neil Patel :

      I have not used smush it but I know that other compression software may do the trick. Let me know if smush it works for you!

  21. John @ Supply Self Storage :

    The info on losing 7% of your potential conversions for each additional second of download time was great. I knew it was an issue but had never seen any data. Thanks for that.

    • Web Design Resource :

      Slow loading time of the web always frustrate the visitors because they will have to wait at the time of page loading, which will be responsible for less traffic on the site and as a result, the decrease in the conversation will be happened.

    • Neil Patel :

      Thanks John,

      With technology today time is everything, and if you waste people’s time even by a few seconds you can lose them.

  22. David @Complete Collective :

    Hi Neil,

    I have a lot of images in my posts, but I never really acknowledged how I could optimize them to get traffic through image searches.

    Thanks for the link for the WP Smush.it plugin as well, it will certainly help load times with so many images.

  23. Walt Goshert :

    Thanks Neil, great tips.

    Your posts are some of the most detailed, easy to understand, and helpful SEO Tips I’ve found online.

    Thank you for creating and sharing this valuable content.


  24. Thanks dude very useful article I will review all my images again

  25. Great tips Neil. Any thoughts on how to optimize externally hosted images (for e.g. S2?)

  26. Josh Caleb Mayorga :

    Hey Neil! Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I always enjoy reading all the free tips you share. Much success to you!

  27. You said “Make sure there are no spaces in your image names. And if you want, you can uses dashes, but avoid underscores.”

    Do you have any evidence to support this statement?
    Why is dash required?

  28. Craig @ computerlearnhow.com :

    Some great tips as usual. I use the alt tags but never thought of the other tips really. I love how detailed your posts are.

    Thanks Neil

  29. Mihai @ Celebrity Wallpapers :

    Thanks for tips Neil! I use alt tag and title tag but I didn’t give too much attention to long descriptions 🙁 I will do starting now!

  30. Hi Patel,
    Great Post! I followed all your links to dive deep into it. May be took 1 hour to complete this post.

    But I think this post is heavily targeted towards WordPress blogs only.
    Anyways thanks
    Regards 🙂

  31. Hope to try the smush.it plugin for optimizing images on my site. Thanks Niel for mentioning it here.

  32. The Frosty :

    That’s awesome, I’ve been doing some SEO optimization on my Dodgers photo blog.

    I tried Media Fie Renamer but didn’t like how it worked, so I created a fork that was a bit more clean on GitHub. My version will remove the old files (including all generated sizes & regenerate) plus will look through the DB and update links.

    I’ll have to check out WP Smush.it though.

  33. I thought one should use underscores and not dashes, now you say the opposite?

  34. I receive nearly 10% of traffic from google images and I really love to optimize ally my images in my blog post
    by the way Nice post….

  35. Carl Brown :

    A good post Neil, with some useful information. I notice that no one has pointed out that alt text for images shouldn’t always be used. The HTML spec says that alt text should only be used when the image conveys information, or more specifically, that the alt text should be blank if the image is purely presentational.


    So if it is required that the website contains valid, accessible markup, then you shouldn’t just add in alt text willy-nilly.

  36. Hey Neil,

    thanks for this advise. I don’t think often at images. This guide makes many things clear!

  37. Tarun@freshtightdesigns.com :

    Hi Neil,

    Great post, as always. Optimizing your images is an important task, as you’ve outlined here. File name, alt text and image description (using relevant keywords) are good places to start. I was wondering, though, your take on using these various plugins versus manually making the changes. Wouldn’t using many plugins also slow down your website?


    • It is possible for plugins to slow down your sites, so you have to be careful about which ones you choose to use.

  38. Erin Read Ruddick :

    Neil, great post! As you pointed out in the comments, knowing how to market will help you optimize better. Photos are especially important for marketing to older online users (a large group that only grows larger as Baby Boomers get older) because the brain shifts to the right/visual side as we age.

    I was excited to see your emphasis on showing faces. When Creating Results surveyed mature (40+) consumers about marketing photography, lifestyle pictures showing whole faces proved most motivating. 65% preferred pictures with faces over those tightly cropped images young web designers seem to love.

    Thanks for all the links and tips.

  39. rakesh kumar :

    This is as usual Great writeup to optimize our images hosted on our web-server. What is your opinion if we host all our images on image hosting service like flicker / picasa and link them from our article. I am little bit confused about this, whether this method will bring more traffic to our site as i think it will surely enhance the speed of our site.
    ~rakesh kumar

    • Neil Patel :

      It will definitely allow you to have your photos indexed better. It also will give your photos some site authority.

  40. Ferman Aziz :

    thanks Neil for a detailed article, I also tried to write on this topic but don’t you think generating Image Sitemap File is an essential part ?

  41. Angela Brown :

    This way is really good. using image with alt tag to bring more traffic with this 6 ways is really working.

  42. terrenos a venda :

    Very good article! I knew that it was important to choose good pictures to catch your visitors attention but i didn’t know how important they were for actually driving traffic to your website. I have installed on my wordpress sites a plugin called SEO All In one. I recommend it, it helps you put titles, tags and descriptions on your images.

  43. Stocks on Wall Street :

    Thanks a lot Neil, great advice will help me a lot as I optimize http://stocksonwallstreet.net/ to be the best site possible!

  44. Get good grades :

    Very good advice Neil, thanks. Can you please offer an opinion on whether the file name of the image makes any positive impact on its ability or likelihood to come up as a result in “G” “Image Search”. Thanks.

  45. As images appear attractive, they can be handy in driving traffic to your blog.

  46. vinoj sagar :

    nice tip…
    currently my site omg-gadgets.com is loading normally
    but i think it will cause problem in future as for now my site is quite new with only 5 posts..
    as i use atleast 3 images per post in my site..this will be useful..

  47. I really agree with you, for me image is the primary focus in your blog, i always try to put myself in everybodys shoes, and i feel more attracted to blogs that give me a fresh image where this image capture my attention and in this way i can get inside in what is about the post…

  48. Faria @ Picturesmess :

    I think a very nice and detailed article.

    Compressing the images also increase website speed and its stability.

    good job

  49. solicitors Manchester :

    Make sure you have a good resource box taking people to your website. Newsletter editors and website owners then take your articles and put them on their site with your link on it and hey, presto. Traffic.

  50. this is really a great information about image optimization… i really loved it..
    thanks for sharing…
    Mann Patel

  51. Sandeep Dahiya :

    I am following your moves from quite some days and notices you are focusing more on Images. These days you are more active on pinterest than anytime.

  52. I did more then 600 photos with smush it…Thanks for this tip..

  53. hey neil i try using smush it to reduce the size of images in bulk … but after reducing the images on first page the plugin stop doing forward work …? any issues in that …

  54. Thanks for the tips Neil! I just started using Luminate on one site that I have. Have you heard of this?

  55. Quatreleaves :

    I think it is awesome to drag more traffic from image.also theses tatics are great.thanks for sharing.

  56. Wade@Sermons That Work :

    I have used the ALT in my images with the WordPress plugin, that always helps too.

  57. Great tips, images are often overlooked as a seo strategy. Will definitely try tumblr!

  58. If I wasn’t hooked by any of your other posts this one tipped the scales. I’ve been a bit lax on my images and love these tips. All images now have higher status in my posts. Also looking forward to Smushit as we’ve got over 100 posts.

    Thanks SO much!

    • Thanks Sheevaun,

      I appreciate the kind words. Happy to hear you have found some new and useful tips here.

  59. Rainmeter skins :

    Tumblr is great if you source your images, otherwise I find it’s just people stealing and rehashing other people’s content.

  60. Trung Nguyen :

    This is great post for increasing traffic by blog images. Thanks for share it, I’ll do SEO for my each blog post image and hope it will help me to improve ranking too.

  61. Its cool process Neil to make the readers much more viewable with your image stuffs.

  62. Ali Macaluso :

    Hi Neil, I love your blog. I wanted to let you know that I tried the WP Smush.it plugin but I am having some trouble and keep getting an error message when I attempt to smush images. I was wondering if you had any other recommendations. I take a lot of up-close food pics and my images are huge – not sure what to do. Any suggestions?

    • Hmm not quite sure what the problem is there, you may want to try another plugin as it may not be compatible with your WP theme.

  63. Neil, i enjoyed this piece and especially the other one about backlinks. Thanks

  64. Reagan McClellan :

    Thanks some more for the information, the bit about peoples eye movement and how they process images differently was pretty interesting.

  65. Hi neil, thanks for this traffic improvement idea, i will re-arrange my all images with alt tags in my web sites. thanks Neil.

  66. Executive Programs :

    Hey Neil. Thanks for sharing these images and information so that one can get more traffic with the help of images. You try to cover everything in these images.

  67. emobile_developer :

    Thanks Neil for showing the right guide of image optimization. Really properly optimized image can help website in both ranking and conversion. This guide has helped me to improve my skill of image optimization. Thanks a lot for this useful article.

  68. So far i haven’t been optimizing my images with Seo info like title, description and keywords. Last week i started doing it..and got much more traffic!

  69. Images can be a key traffic booster than many webmasters miss out on or unfortaunately don’t focus on altogether, great post, bookmarked and saved 🙂

  70. After starting optimizing my images i noticed a small increase of traffic that came directly from google images…so well worth doing it!

  71. Neil,

    We are trying optimize the images in our blog page using these techniques.

    Thank you so much

  72. Arlene Aranzamendez :

    Great tips Neil! There are many website owners out there doesn’t really know the importance of a well seo’ed images for their website. Thanks!

  73. hey neil,
    good work man. all the tactics related to optimization of images are too much impressive.



  74. Hi! Neil,,,,,

    Great tips or tactics you have share Neil,it helps every one more.The tactics are so very nice,,This post is really great,,

    Thanks for sharing,,.

  75. Neil,
    This a great site please keep up the great work, there is so much helpful info on this site.

    Thanks for the great info!


  76. Hello Neil,
    Good Work Bro I am Very Impressed with your image optimization tactics keep it up

  77. I found EWWW Image Optimizer much better than Smush it. I mean, at least for me it’s better

  78. Neil Sir. I want to know how to get traffic on image hosting website from google image search. how to rank images on google images .. Thanks

  79. HD Wallpaeprs Images :

    Great Thanks for including it in your post Mohammad.
    Very nice sharing at all.

  80. Thank you for the info. Your Free Course: “Double Your Traffic
    in 30 Days” + Secret Bonus
    (Valued at $300) link is not working

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