Search industry practitioners have been talking a lot about visual storytelling recently, and for good reason: visual content speaks the language of our age. Within just a few years, Instagram has amassed 700 million monthly users, and 92 percent of online consumers use emojis.

Businesses are responding to this reality by incorporating visual storytelling into their location marketing strategies, as I share in Search Engine Land, and visual storytelling has taken hold in some surprising ways in healthcare, as my colleague Brian Westrick discussed recently here. And now, as if to underscore the critical nature of visual storytelling, Rand Fishkin of Moz has created a true gift to the industry in the form of his presentation, “How to Rank in Google Image Search.” Once you have gotten familiar with visual storytelling through resources such as ours, I urge you to understand Rand’s tips for making your visual content more findable if you want to stand out in a world where Google calls many of the shots.

Rand’s presentation, in the form of a Moz Whiteboard Friday discussion, is packed with gems that will open your eyes to the dramatic impact that the right visual can have on your findability. For example:

  • One third of all Google searches are for images.
  • Google looks at a host of factors to determine whether an image is relevant for search results – and not all of them have to do with the image itself. For instance, the image caption you write, the page title, page URL, and even the image file name affect the rankability of your visual content. Minding the details matters.
  • Image dimension and size make a difference. Google favors common dimensions such as 16×9 and 4×3 square images. Unusual dimensions don’t show up well in Google searches. And Google favors larger images, not tiny thumbnail shots embedded deep in a blog post. Generally speaking, the bigger the better.
  • Most importantly, though, Google rewards high-quality visual content.

As Rand writes, “We have seen results where folks have done tests. They’ve shown that if you do a search on Google Images and you click the 12th image down and a lot of people start doing that, Google will move it up, just like in the web results, but sometimes even more so with images. We think engagement and popularity, what people scroll to, what they click on, what they click through to, matters quite a bit. That’s why you should have a very high-quality, highly interesting, highly relevant image, as well as you also want to serve visitor demand.”
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Rand provides many recommendations for rebooting your approach to image SEO, such as auditing your keyword research list for image visibility and creating visual guidelines for your content creators. To his tips, I would stress the importance of finding great visual content that tells your story. Don’t use images that simply look nice. Find images that:

  • Best reflect what your brand stands for.
  • Showcase your products and services most effectively, whether you are a restaurant or a retailer.
  • Depict information effectively, such as infographics or how-to content (which is where videos are especially helpful).

Understand your visual storytelling strategy by talking with SIM Partners. And then dive in. Contact us to understand how to build your brand with visual storytelling.