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Ask The Experts: How Do Search Engines Recognize Pictures?

on December 12, 2016

Our team of digital marketing experts has implemented a weekly series, Ask the Experts, dedicated to answering dealers’ questions regarding L2TMedia’s solutions and best practices. The success of our dealerships is our number one priority and we know that many of our clients have questions when it comes to what we do. So ask away!


Content is the most important item that one can digitally present to an audience online. Content can take on many forms such as this blog post, news articles, videos, or even pictures. Pictures are a powerful tool to use for your marketing efforts and SEO.

Images are not like words and cannot be read the same way. So how does a search engine recognize pictures? There are several ways this is captured:

  • File Name – This one is important because it’s one of the first things read by web crawlers as they look at code, so naming the picture to closely resemble what it conveys helps to add relevancy.
  • Description – A description will help to explain what the picture is about. This is extremely helpful to the visually impaired who need to use screen readers to read everything for them online.
  • Alt Tag – An alt tag is text that describes what the picture is and can be written similar to a file name. For instance, if you have a picture of a new car, you might have the alt tag read “new red 2017 [make] [model].” This would describe what someone should be seeing in that space.


Example of an SEO alt tag from a photo in a Chicago Tribune article.

Image from Chicago Tribune


The importance of recognizing pictures helps the crawlers to understand why there is a massive block of something in middle of your text since they cannot see images. It also assists the visually impaired to understand what is presented on your site. Finally, it is important for SEO because search engines can use the file name and alt tags to index the photo for the public. Indexing photos is another way for someone to reach your content.

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Ask The Experts: How Do Search Engines Recognize Pictures?