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Google’s Web Search Algorithm doesn’t Care What’s in an Image.

2 min read

In SEO as of 2023, the intricate details you invest in crafting your visual graphics, the hues, and the artistic elements you infuse are of little consequence to Google’s algorithms. Google’s primary concern lies solely in structured data markup.
Whether it’s an impeccably captured high-resolution photograph or a spontaneous image of an animal, the SEO contribution it lends to a webpage remains uniform.
This principle finds its roots in a Search Central SEO hangout featuring Google’s John Mueller, dated October 22. The session welcomed Andrew Sychev, a website owner, who participated in the Q&A segment to inquire about using placeholder images in conjunction with the concept of lazy loading.
Sychev’s website employs a strategy where images are initially displayed as gray squares further down the page, transforming into actual images as visitors begin scrolling. This approach aims to enhance page speed and prevent unsettling shifts in a visitor’s browser when many images load simultaneously.
Sychev’s query pertains to the potential repercussions of this setup, considering Googlebot’s lack of interaction with web pages, rendering it incapable of viewing these images.
Although Sychev’s question revolves around using lazy loading for optimizing cumulative layout shift (CLS), Mueller’s response resonates with broader SEO principles.
Does utilizing custom images have a more substantial impact on a page’s SEO value than employing generic stock images?
Moreover, can Google discern whether an image encapsulates valuable information, such as graphs or infographics?

All of these are common questions about images and web search—and here’s the answer.

“I don’t think we care, to be quite honest. I don’t think for web search we look at the specific images on the page and say oh this is a nice image and this is a boring image.

We basically use those images in image search and that’s where we care what the content of the images care. But within web search we don’t really care if it’s a gray square or if it’s a picture of a beach.”

Source- Search engine journal

Google’s concern isn’t directed towards the content within your images; this aspect primarily applies to web searches rather than image searches.
For Google, what holds significance are signals like structured data and alt text, serving as vital indicators for better comprehension of web pages. This is pivotal in enhancing Google’s understanding of a page’s content.
Mueller underscores the pivotal role of structured data in conveying comprehensive information to Google’s algorithm, especially about Core Web Vitals and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) considerations. The effectiveness of different approaches to lazy loading can be tested, yet it’s crucial to ensure Google receives information about the images through structured data on the actual pages.
However, this pertains specifically to Google’s search algorithm, not the Google image search algorithm. Recognizing that visuals are indispensable assets for engaging and impacting your audience is essential. Thus, it’s vital to refrain from misconstruing the advice as a reason to avoid images on your web pages. Instead, augment them with alt text and structured data markup.
Images play multifaceted roles that extend beyond SEO, and their importance resonates strongly. Incorporating relevant visuals elevates the visual appeal of your content, provided they align with your message. For instance, in a food blog post, food-related images enhance comprehension, evoke cravings, and facilitate sharing.
Moreover, images demonstrate your dedication to offering value, showcasing the meticulous integration of text and graphics. Custom illustrations, infographics, and diagrams amplify your content’s professionalism, conveying the effort invested in getting information in a visually compelling manner.