Visual Marketing In 2021 & Beyond

Blog cover visual marketin in 2021 and beyond image SEO

If you’ve ever looked for information online and felt cheated that nothing shows you how to do it, I can empathize with you.

I was looking for guidance on how to change setting on my Facebook page the other day. If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, you’ll know that they have changed how you view your business page and have now also removed the option to revert to the older version to change the settings.

Going through the first page of Google search left me feeling meh.

Since I am a visual creature, I wanted to SEE how to do it. The moment I clicked on images and looked at a couple of them, I knew exactly what I needed to do, where to go to do it and what it will look like after.

Images are there for a reason – to help those of us better able to learn with visual aids. No learning impairment here, I just learn better with visuals.

Let me ask you a question:

How often have you felt disappointed with the articles on Google?

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the article are shyte. I’m merely suggesting that with all the online noise we want easier ways of being shown what to do and how to do it.

2021 is about visual marketing.

I would go so far as to say that beyond 2021 we would need to be marketing more visually than just with text.

Visuals give us a powerful advantage of standing out amongst our peers, giving us the opportunity to reach new audiences.

Enter image SEO.

What is image SEO?

Image SEO refers to the searchability of visuals saved on the internet. It refers to alt text, captions, quality images on websites and more.

Because Google cannot identify visuals, we need to tell it what the image is.

THIS makes the image readable to Google, thus making your visual content discoverable by search engine crawlers.

In turn this gives your site an SEO boost for search page results as well as image page results.

Images describe more complicated topics.

My example is definitely not complicated by any means, it’s but a simple example of the importance of a well described visual posted on a random website that I would not have clicked on.

Are images important for SEO?

Short answer: YES!

Imagine a webpage without visuals.

Yawn, right?! And I know it’s not just for me.

Images are how we experience webpages.

This matters for Google’s algorithm because it pays attention to our browsing behaviour. A webpage without visual content appears (not only boring) but without credibility or memorability.

A webpage without visual content appears (not only boring) but without credibility or memorability.

Research shows that our audiences are 80% more likely to read content that includes a visual and 64% more likely to remember it afterward.

Google also states on its developer’s page that you can aid this discovery process by making sure that your images and your site is optimized for Google Images. This will increase the likelihood that your content will appear in Google Image search results.

How to optimize images for SEO

Image optimisation is important as part of your visual strategy, especially if you have an ecommerce store selling products.

brown billfold in high res also showing pixelated example

Have you ever asked yourself why your images never show up in Google searches?

Here are 10 ways to optimize your visuals for the web:

Appropriately name your images for the web

For image SEO it is important to use relevant keywords to help web crawlers identify your page to rank on search engines.

I’ll use this as an example.

pink bougainvillea partly in shadow

My camera default name for this was 20200910_120223

To optimize for this blog, I have named it pink-bougainvillea-party-in-shadow.jpg

Anybody now searching for pink bougainvillea or bougainvillea in shadow or even pink bougainvillea shadow may see this photo I took on the 10th September 2020.

You can become quite data-driven in finding out what your audience uses to search for or you can use relevant, helpful keywords when naming images.

Optimizing alt text

Depending on your browser settings, when you hover over a visual, you may be able to see alt text.

Alt text are the text alternatives to our posted visuals when a browser can’t properly render them. Alt text also adds SEO value to our websites. By adding alt txt with relevant keywords, we rank better with search engines.

Simple rules for alt text:

  • Describe your visuals in plain language
  • Use model/serial numbers for products
  • Don’t stuff it full of keywords
  • Don’t use alt text for decorative visuals

Angle optimization

When you’re selling a product it’s common practice to show angles of the product.

Let’s take earrings as an example.

Laying flat they’re pretty and we can see some detail, but they’re “flat”. Place them on a model’s earlobes gives an indication of size as well as a visualisation of what it would look like on my earlobes.

Compressing visuals

Image size affects load time of your webpage. A larger file will slow down the load, therefore encouraging your searching to close and move on.

Close on 50% of consumers won’t even wait for the 3 seconds it will take for your visual to load.

By making the image smaller and possibly providing the option to view in a larger image in a pop-up or on a separate webpage encourages searchers to spend more time on your site,

Amazon found that if their pages slow down by just ONE second, they will lose $1.6bn a year.

Google also uses page load time as a ranking factor in their algorithm.

Choosing file type

3 common file types for visuals are JPEG, GIF and PNG.

JPEGs are the de facto standard image used on the internet. They can be compressed considerably. This format allows decent quality at a low file size.

GIFs are lower quality than JPEGs and can be used for more simple images. As you know, they can also be animated.

PNGs are becoming more popular. They don’t degrade over time with many reshares as JPEGs do. A downside to PNGs is that they can still be larger than JPEGs.

Optimising thumbnails

These are great, but they can be a silent killer of page load speed. To counter this, you should make the thumbnail file size as small as possible.

Also, make your alt text for the thumbnails used completely different to that of the main image. You’d rather have the larger image indexed than the thumbnail.

Using image sitemaps

If your site uses Javascript galleries using image sitemaps will help Google identify your images.

Using sitemaps do not automatically ensure that your images will be indexed by Google. It does help improve image SEO though.

What about decorative images?

Background images, borders and buttons are decorative. They add aesthetic appeal to your website, nothing else.

Keyword loading decorative images affect your site negatively, so don’t think that you’d be doing your searchability a favour, you’re actually shooting yourself in the foot.

Use original images

Stock photos have their place, but they do not belong on your website. Unless you’ve repurposed it in Canva.

Google prioritises original content. This means that if you want your image to rank on the image result page, it needs to be original.

Use responsive images

Responsive images simply mean that your searcher will be able to view the image on any type of device.

Non-responsive images won’t appear as clear as it does on desktop. This affects SEO negatively. To say nothing of your searcher’s perception of your brand.


Hopefully, you can use these guidelines to level up and earn new traffic through search result pages.

Image optimisation is complex. Start with implementing these guidelines and allow your pictures to speak a thousand words.

The designs that I create for you for your website will not be appropriately named, please make sure that you name as well as compress them for the website.

To help you along with the creation of original content for your website, I’ve put together this program of bite-sized Canva video tutorials showing you how to optimize stock images that you find within Canva or any of the images you will find here.

Stephanie xx

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