Image SEO: Keep Those Photos Above the Fold

Filed in SEO by Matt McGee on March 12, 2009 9 Comments

smx logo“Tapping Into Image Search” was one of the sessions I moderated last month at SMX West. We had a couple marketers on the panel, along with reps from Google and Yahoo. It was on day two of the conference, and several times later that day and on day three, I had people tell me it was their favorite session of the show. The information presented both from the search engines and the marketers was really good — lots of actionable tips about taking advantage of image search.

I just put one of those tips into action and want to share this with you. Peter Linsley of Google specifically suggested that images should be above the fold on your page.

On the U2 site that I manage, our news system places photos at the bottom of stories. So, unless it’s a really short article, the image will always be below the fold. Last night, one of our staffers covered a private U2 gig in Boston. We posted the story today, along with a great photo of the band on stage. Here’s the article. (link will open in a new window)

Since our system also doesn’t create thumbnails, I used the cheesy, bad-webmaster method of just resizing the photo and placing the smaller version above the fold at the top of the story. Have a look at how Google News treated our story:


We never get the extra thumbnail when we just have our images at the end of the stories we publish, but by putting a picture above the fold as Peter suggested, our listing on Google News and in Google News Alerts (email) looks much more attractive and eye-catching than listings from more well-known publications.

This isn’t exactly what Peter was talking about — he was referring to Google Image Search. But this shows that the same rule applies on other Google properties, too. Images above the fold can be a great way to get your listings to stand out on Google News and Alerts.

By the way, Peter recently made a video version of his presentation. You can watch it on YouTube.

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  1. SearchCap: The Day In Search, March 12, 2009 | March 12, 2009
  1. That’s a great case study example of optimization- Now I noticed that that image was hosted on your own site, but Chris Silver Smith at that same panel suggested using Flickr or other hosting for images… What are your thoughts and why didn’t you do that with your article?

  2. Matt McGee says:

    Well, we do use Flickr, too:

    We have 41 photos in that set. So, in this case, I could’ve done the same thing with one of the Flickr thumbnails. But I’m not sure if the result would’ve been the same. I think Google would prefer to embed a thumbnail stored on the same domain. Might be something worth investigating.

  3. Karl Foxley says:

    This is a great insightful article.

    Why is it recommended that you use Flickr for hosting your images?



  4. Matt McGee says:

    Flickr has an enormous traffic base, so you can get traffic. And the photo pages are very SEO-friendly if you pay attention to the details — Flickr photos often rank well in search engine results.

  5. Karl Foxley says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer. I guessed that would be the answer but wondered if I had missed something… 😉

    Keep the great info coming.


  6. I think you always want to get the best quality information above the fold that you want your audience to see. if they enjoy your site and want to see more they will scroll.

  7. Matt McGee says:

    An SEO company posting screenshots of Google rankings on Flickr? Sounds like a good way to get an account banned. If you actually read the article, you’d know it’s about joining the community and becoming a valuable contributor to the community. I don’t see how posting Google ranking screenshots does that.

  8. Jason says:

    Would you want to host all of your pictures on Flickr. What about the Google image search is that good for SEO?

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