Does Image Metadata Affect Local SEO?
Whether you're trying to rank your images in Google Image Search or you want to give your page content as much boost as possible, you might be wondering if image metadata affects SEO. This could be a great way to add an extra boost, but it could also cause some problems... so what should you do???
So, does image metadata affect SEO? The answer is yes. Strategically adding metadata to some important images on your site can have a positive effect on Local SEO. However, adding metadata to every single image on your site can have a negative effect on your site speed and in return, on your SEO.
What are the best practices for using metadata on your images to have a positive impact on your local SEO? Let's break it down.
Optimizing Images for Local SEO
Back in 2014, the former head of web spam at Google, Matt Cutts, posted a video regarding the use of EXIF data in pictures being used as a ranking factor. As you can imagine, things change over time - especially in the tech world, so there really is no telling if this video is still relevant to Google search today.
However, the way I like to look at it is, give it a try! Test out a few images and see what happens. If it works, then go for some more. If it doesn't work then don't bother wasting your time.
Here is that video:
What is EXIF?
Before we get into how it should be used, let's first cover what EXIF is, as it relates to images. According to Wikipedia, the metadata tags defined in the Exif standard cover a broad spectrum, including:
Date and time information. Helpful if you are trying to optimize for a time and date-specific event
Location information. For photos taken at a specific location - great for local SEO
Title and description. Descriptive texts are attached to the file.
You can use these three areas to try and optimize your images for search. However, do not do this on every single image of your website. I would pick the most important image (closest to the top of the page since Google reads top to bottom) and optimize the EXIF for that single picture. You can still do things to optimize the rest of the images on the page, but only add EXIF data to one.
It's important to note that the more EXIF metadata you have on the image, the longer it takes for that image to load because the file size is actually larger. This is why you don't want to put this metadata on every single image.
You can view the image EXIF from the Properties panel of your file.
Best Practices for Local Image Optimization
Regardless of whether you put EXIF metadata on all your images or not, there are a few other very important things you should always be doing to optimize your site images for local SEO.
One thing that I love about images is you can use them for more than just adding imagery to your site. They have a secret purpose that isn't noticeable to the site visitor.
Here are a few things that you should ALWAYS do when optimizing your images.
Optimize the File Name
Whenever you save an image to your computer, you can rename that image to be whatever you would like, so you might as well use this to your advantage!
According to Google Search Central,
Likewise, the filename can give Google clues about the subject matter of the image. For example, my-new-black-kitten.jpg is better than IMG00023.JPG.
When it comes to local SEO on your images, you should always include your keyword AND the location that you are trying to optimize for.
Optimizing ALT and Title Tags
Whenever you upload an image to a website, you are given the opportunity to optimize the title and ALT tag. These are elements of an image that are not always seen by the site visitor.
The title can be seen when a person hovers their mouse over an image. The image title will pop up as a tooltip to give more information about the image they are seeing. The ALT tag is used for vision-impaired visitors who might be using a screen reader. It's also the text that displays if the image is unable to load on the page. The great thing about these both is they display in the site source code, which is exactly what Google is reading when they crawl your site. Therefore, Google will see your keywords and location in another area that doesn't appear spammy on the live site.
Fill your Captions with Keywords
Unlike the title and alt tag discussed above, the caption is visible and will be read by your site visitors. If you are using captions, you should be sure to add your keyword and location details to the caption.
I'll be honest that I wasn't using captions on my images, but Google Search Central clearly states that they are looking at the caption, so it's a good thing to start doing to get that extra boost I might need to beat out the competition.