Optimizing images for search can be a very important element in your SEO-strategies. Not the least if you sell products with a strong visual element such as fashion, art or household items. Google often show images in search results. If your images are well optimized it could be yours.

Image optimization in Shopify is fundamentally not different from all other aspects of SEO. The better you optimize them the more likely it is that they turn up in Google for relevant searches.

Why optimize images in Shopify?

The default search in Google show a mix of the kind of content Google algorithmically think is most relevant for the users.

Sometimes is just plain links to websites but very often it also include map results (for local business relevant searches), videos or images.

You can also search specifically for many of these objects but even if you don’t they often show up in the mixed – so-called “universal” results in Google.

Below is a typical example for a search result for fashion. Google knows most users want to get visuals for this kind of search, so beside the shopping ads at the top the first row of results is actually pure images. Only AFTER that comes the normal web-links.

Goggle Universal Search

But how much traffic can you expect to get from image search?

Well, it depends on the kind of products you sell. If it is products – such as fashion, where your buyers naturally want to see what they buy the share of image search could be very high.

Here is an example data set – pulled from Google Search Console, from a fashion shop.

Product Alt Text Shopify Google Search Console

As you can see in this example image search actually add almost 28% traffic to the web-link traffic! In other words, if this site had not done proper image optimization they may have ended up with that much less visitors. That is a lot!

The conversion rate from image search is usually also great. Not so surprising, because when people search for a “summer dress” and click an image they like it’s probably want they where looking for.

How to optimize images for search

Google do not actually “see” images. They just see a reference to them – a link to the image file. So in order to understand what an image is about and which search queries it is relevant for Google look at:

  • The file name
  • The ALT-text
  • The content on the page with the image

Google may also judge your image on file size. Fast loading images is easier to access for all users and Google generally value speed.

Optimizing the content of your pages is outside the scope of this article, so for now we just assume that you already did that.

But the other two elements require some attention: The file name and ALT-text.

You should name your images files before uploading them to Shopify. Even though you can change them later with some apps it is easier to do it before the first upload.

You can manually write ALT-texts for each of the images you upload to Shopify. Here is an example.

Image Alt Tex 2t

But if you are like us – to be honest, we often forget to add ALT-texts for all images.

The good news is that besides the apps that can automate and optimize ALT-texts for you, there is also a really simple hack you can implement.

Lets take a look at that.

You have to go to the code editor in Shopify and look for the template(s) that present products and look for where the ALT-tag is printet.

Most often it will look something like this

alt="{{ media.alt | escape }}"

You can change this to the code below to check if there is a manually written ALT-text and if not simply insert the product TITLE.

This may not be the perfect ALT-text for all your images. You may want to include some other details but it’s MUCH better than leaving it blank. So its a good back-up strategy.

{% if media.alt == blank %}
	alt="{{ product.title | escape }}"
{% else %}
	alt="{{ media.alt | escape }}"
{% endif %}

We usually implement this hack on all Shopify shops. If you spend the time optimizing your ALT-tags manually or with an App that is probably better but just to be sure no image is ever left with empty ALT-tags this works really well.

As the last little thing we also recommend you create and submit an image XML sitemap. You can see the specs for image XML Sitemaps here.

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