Optimising Images & Videos for Search

Rachel Costello
Rachel Costello

On 30th October 2018 • 7 min read

Whether it be an informative infographic or a simple how-to video, non-text content like images and videos can provide engaging ways to help satisfy user intent alongside text content within a page. However, it is important to appreciate that search engines aren’t as sophisticated in extracting information from non-text content like they are with text content, and aren’t (yet) able to extract the same meaning from them that humans can.

With this in mind, you need to know exactly what search engines understand about images and videos so you can optimise them for search.


How do search engines understand images?

Images can be a very useful and important type of content, but most search engine bots don’t yet analyse the visual properties of an image when crawling a page. Instead, alt and title tags can be attached to images to inform search engines of the topic that an image is relevant to.

An alt attribute provides a text alternative for non-text web page content, such as images. Alt text is especially important for site accessibility as it can be read by screen readers to help people with visual impairments understand images.

An example of an image on a DeepCrawl blog post

An example of an image's alt tag on a DeepCrawl blog post

Search engines use alt attributes as a way of determining the content of images. Title attributes can also be added to images and are shown in a small pop-up which appears when you mouse over the image. The title attribute is mainly for the user’s benefit, but search engines do use them to better understand images.

An alt text pop-up that reads


How to optimise images for search engines

Now that you’ve got an understanding of how search engines process images, let’s take a look at some best practice recommendations for optimising them for organic search:


How do search engines understand videos?

Videos have become an increasingly common feature within Google’s search results over the past few years. As with images, videos are crawled by search engines but there is a limited amount of information that they are able to extract from them.

Provided that videos are encoded in formats that are crawlable for search engines, like Google, they can extract some limited information from videos that can be exposed in search results. Google has two different ways of featuring videos in their search results: a basic and an enhanced appearance.

The basic appearance simply shows a thumbnail and a link to the video, whereas the enhanced appearance shows the upload date, author, video length and a video preview as well.

An example of a basic video appearence in a Google SERP

An example of an enhances appearence video in a Google SERP


Optimising videos for search engines

Even though there is a limited amount of information that search engines can extract from videos, there are a number of steps you can take to give your videos the best chance of being shown in organic search:

A further problem with flash is that Google is unable to provide users with a unique URL for flash videos, and is, therefore, unable to correctly surface those types of videos in Google search.


Where should you host videos?

There are a number of options when it comes to choosing where to host your videos, including:

While you can self-host videos, this isn’t often the best option due to:

Instead, third-party video hosting services are often a better option offering varied facilities. The most suitable video hosting service will likely be determined by your specific requirements and available budget.


Rachel Costello
Rachel Costello

Rachel Costello is a Former Technical SEO & Content Manager at Deepcrawl. You'll most often find her writing and speaking about all things SEO.

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