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SEO Image Optimization: How To Build Visibility with a Visual Marketing Strategy

Written by: Ann Smarty

Oct 31, 2019

How To Build Visibility with a Visual Marketing Strategy2

Google SERPs are becoming increasingly visual: you can see product images, brand logos, interactive images, article thumbnails, etc. right inside Google’s search engine result pages.

Long gone are the days of Google’s ten blue links: these days you need to embrace powerful visual marketing strategy to build organic search engine visibility.

But before we talk about the overall strategy, here’s what we are optimizing for…here are all Google’s search elements that include images and how to optimize images for each of them:

1. Image Search Results in Organic Search

Image Boxes and Carousels (Mobile and Desktop)

Whenever Google thinks visualization is going to be helpful, it will blend some image search results into generic search, either inside a box…


…or as an interactive image carousel:


In both cases, clicking the image in the box or in the carousel won’t take you to the publisher’s site.

Instead, it will take you to the image search results with the clicked image in the spotlight. So sadly, these images don’t generate direct clicks from search results to the publishers’ site but they can bring some brand recognizability (as well as some traffic too).

Both boxes and carousels are generated from top image search results for the given query, so you will need to optimize your images for to appear there. Besides, make sure you have a good amount of relevant content (i.e. at least 300 words) surrounding your image.

To ensure your brand visibility in image boxes and carousels, create well-branded images for your content and landing pages and use SEO image optimization best practices to rank in Google’s image carousels.

Images Inside Featured Snippets (Mobile and Desktop)

Featured snippets are selected search results that appear in Google and Bing on top of all organic results to provide a quick answer to the query. In many cases, that featured result will have an SEO optimized image next to it:


To rank your image in the featured snippet, you need to first grab each featured snippet opportunity (here’s how).

In a nutshell, here’s how to get a featured snippet on Google:

  • Research current featured snippets for your important queries
  • Structure your content with H2-H3 subheadings that address questions behind queries triggering featured snippets
  • Add an SEO optimized image directly next to each subheading that includes the target query in the alt text and file name
  • Provide quick, concise answers (no longer than 90 characters) below each subhead for Google to grab and feature.

Any time you are working on a new article, keep an eye on “People Also Ask” results and cover those questions in your content (using the format above)

Images Inside Rich Snippets (Mobile and Desktop)

For certain queries, Google tries to generate “rich results” containing more detailed information including star ratings, price, and an image thumbnail. 

Currently, there are a few search rich snippet types Google supports that trigger images in them:

  • Recipes
  • Top stories
  • Videos


To optimize images for rich snippets, use a few of these structured markup generators.

Logos Next to Each Organic Listing (Mobile)

Mobile search results tend to be even more visual than desktop search results. For example, Google shows a logo next to each search listing on a mobile device:


There are no specific guidelines to follow here and Google can find your logo with no trouble in most cases. However, using Schema markup won’t hurt. You do need a memorable and clear logo to benefit from this feature: Namify helps you to generate a business name and create a matching logo which both come handy when you are starting your project.

Images Inside Organic Listings (Mobile)

In an effort to make mobile search results more visual, Google also shows an image thumbnail right inside a search listing:


Again, there are no specific guidelines here but you may want to specify image thumbnail to increase your chances. Also, read this for more ideas in case you are stuck.

2. Images Inside Knowledge Graph

Google’s Knowledge Graph is what you often see to the top-right of search results. It contains a short concise summary of the topic behind the query. More often than not, navigational queries trigger a knowledge graph. But it can also show up for quite generic searches. In either case, it usually contains an image (or several images), both on mobile and desktop:

Images in Generic (vs. Brand-Driven) Knowledge Graph

Google shows informational boxes to the top-right of search results defining a concept.


Images that appear inside the box are generated from Google’s image search results, so use Image SEO best practices to rank your images in a generic knowledge graph (more on that below).

Images in the Brand-Driven Knowledge Graph

Any time Google recognizes a brand behind a search query, its algorithm tries to generate a so-called brand-driven knowledge graph containing all the information Google knows about the entity:


The brand-driven knowledge graph often contains an image (a logo or a photo) that represents the entity.

To add or change your business’s official image, claim and update your brand’s knowledge graph.

Images in Local Business Knowledge Graph

For local searches, Google relies on its map information to generate a local business knowledge graph which would include an address, a phone number, customer reviews, Q&A, images and more:


Google uses a variety of information sources to know more about local businesses, but the best way to create a more appealing local business listing is to use Google My Business dashboard where you can also upload more images to appear in the box.

3. Build Search Visibility with Visual Marketing Strategy

As you can see, there are lots of places inside Google search result pages where Google could show images. Images in Google’s SERPs can distract attention and steal clicks from your hard-earned organic positions.

On the other hand, ensuring you dominate all Google’s visual search elements will help your organic search engine visibility in many ways:

  • You can attract higher click-through, even if you fail to rank #1. Users’ eyes will skip over your higher-ranking competitor’s listing and jump to a more visually appealing result
  • If you use consistent well-branded images, your current customers or people who saw your brand on social media will recognize you in search (and will feel more willing to click-through and buy)
  • You can achieve more brand visibility through more search result elements, beyond organic results, and generate traffic from image carousels and featured snippets

There’s a lot of pieces to that puzzle, though. You cannot hope to succeed by chasing each individual opportunity.

To achieve better organic search engine visibility through visual content, you will need to take a strategic approach.

Use Images on Every Page

This is the main change you need to embrace from now own: Use images a lot. There should be a high-quality unique image on each old and new landing page of your site.

Use images a lot (screenshots, flowcharts, photos, etc.) everywhere, from content to product pages and About us page. The more images you use, the more your chance to rank higher on google.

Venngage is a comprehensive visual marketing platform that can turn your whole strategy around helping you embrace visual marketing. Use the vast library of templates to create infographics, presentations, diagrams, mind maps, etc.


Make it a mandatory step before publishing any new page: Login to Venngage and come up with visual asset ideas to be published together with your text content, for example:

Furthermore, create a lot of visual assets by repurposing text content and make your marketing more visual across the board.

Use Best SEO Practices

SEO image optimization is essential for both organic rankings and visual content accessibility.

Here are some image SEO fundamentals that are pretty easy to follow:

  • Compress images for better load time (without sacrificing on image quality). Here are WordPress plugins to speed up your site, including those that compress images.
  • Use keywords in image alt text and file name
  • Use image captions to ensure the immediate context of the image is meaningful. Descriptive image captions help people with visual difficulties to better understand what the image is about.

Use Text Optimizer to create image captions and ensure your images are surrounded by search-optimized context. Text Optimizer is the semantic analysis tool that extracts related concepts from Google’s search results to help you create a copy to meet Google’s and its users’ expectations:


Text Optimizer’s sentence builder allows you to build relevant and varied image context to broaden your ranking opportunities.

Market Your Logo a Lot

The power of visual marketing lies in its recognizability: It can actually help your conversion rate optimization efforts by making your brand look familiar.

In order to achieve that, you need to add your official logo everywhere you can:

  • Use it as a watermark
  • Link to it through your brand kit on your site to encourage others to use it when talking about your brand)
  • Use structured markup for search engines to know that’s your official logo, etc.

Venngage’s logo maker can help you create a professional logo if you don’t have one.


Use Consistent Image Branding

To improve brand recognizability across Google’s search result pages, use consistent image branding (watermarks, consistent color patterns for arrows or frames, etc.). This will make your images easy to associate with your brand, even if it’s a tiny thumbnail.

Venngage can help you create your own brand kit for all your visual marketing efforts to follow your established style:


Avoid overused stock photography: It will not help the recognizability of your brand and may even irritate your site user.

Re-Use Images Consistently to Create #Beeverywhere Strategy

Re-use images from your content across all your social media channels to increase their recognizability. This will help you create an effective #beeverywhere strategy for your leads and customers to think you are all around the web.

To be everywhere, re-use images from your blog posts on social media consistently. Social media love natively uploaded images and visual content makes much more shareable social media updates.

Using a collaborative editorial calendar app can help you create a diverse, yet consistent social media schedule and re-use your blog visual assets on social media channels.

Planable is a social media tool that can help you connect your social media team and streamline their content creation efforts. It allows you to create a workflow using custom approval levels and get an overview of the posts using their new Filter&Sort experience. This way you get a clear picture of your marketing campaigns while making sure all your team members are aligned and up to date.


Finally, use both on- and off-site (Facebook) retargeting campaigns to serve your site users related products or CTAs based on visual assets that have brought them to your site initially.

Finteza is an advanced on-site analytics platform allowing you to create advanced on-site advertising campaigns to promote your products and special offers. You can set up Finteza to personalize ads based on a variety of triggers, including their previous interactions with the site and initial landing pages they entered:


Achieving organic search engine visibility through visual marketing takes a lot of work but if you go about the task strategically, you’ll create better brand recognizability and improve your conversion rate in the long run.

To create a visual strategy to dominate Google search result pages:

  • Use images a lot, on every page
  • Use best image SEO practices
  • Market your logo a lot to ensure your brand is recognizable through those images
  • Use consistent image branding
  • Re-use images consistently to create #Beeverywhere strategy

How To Build Visibility with a Visual Marketing Strategy1 copy

Good luck!

About Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the co-founder of Smarty Marketing as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been into Internet Marketing for over a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of a regular Twitter chat #vcbuzz.