A picture paints: why you need images for SEO

January 15, 2019  |  Polly Logan-Banks

No matter how carefully you craft your digital content, you’ll struggle to captivate your audience with text alone in 2019. In today’s competitive environment, images and video aren’t just nice add-ons; they’re absolutely critical for engaging your audience and driving traffic to your site.

As a bare minimum, each page of your site should have at least one image. Not only does this improve the user experience, it’s also essential for social media. According to BuzzSumo, Facebook posts with images generate 2.3 times as much engagement as those without, while tweets with images outperform plain text by 150%.

Including visuals can help improve your content’s sticking power, too. Some research suggests that we tend to remember only about 10% of what we hear; but once an image is added, that could rise to a phenomenal 65%!

As if the above reasons weren’t enough, images and video also benefit your SEO. As Google algorithms become increasingly sophisticated, pages that give people what they want are much more likely to claim that coveted top spot in search engine results pages (SERPs). And with the rise of mobile, what people want is content that grabs their attention with stunning visuals and bite-sized video.

In fact, working with our client BabyCentre UK, Thrive has found that simply adding a single image to a page can increase traffic from search by up to 20%! This is particularly the case where images convey additional information, such as how-to diagrams, or photos of medical conditions.

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Image and video accessibility

UK law requires that all websites make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that all content is accessible to people with disabilities. This has several implications for your website, but for images and video, the main considerations are:

Alt text

Every image should have associated alt text that describes the image as accurately as possible (the only exceptions are purely decorative images, such as borders). This makes the image accessible to the visually-impaired, who can use a screen reader to hear the description and get a sense of the image.

Alt text is also essential for helping Google and other search engines to understand your image. If the keyword you’re targeting appears in the image, including it in the alt text is also an excellent way to highlight it. Be sure to avoid keyword stuffing, though; this won’t help your SEO, and is bad for accessibility.

Captions or transcripts

Just as images need interpretation for visually impaired users, videos with any kind of dialogue or voice-over need interpretation for hearing impaired users. Captions and transcripts not only fulfil this requirement, but also help with SEO, as they allow search engines to crawl the text and get a better sense of what the video is about.

The benefits of structured data

Using structured data is another way to tell search engines more about your image or video asset. It’s not usually necessary for images, but can prove an excellent boost for videos. This is because it helps search engines to understand things like the duration and thumbnail of the video, increasing your chance of getting a rich snippet and standing out in SERPs. Visit to learn more about structured data.

See the next blog in our SEO series: 3 ways to create mobile-friendly content

Check out our SEO series from the beginning: Google snippets: what you need to know.