How Images Affect the Search Traffic to Your Website

For every website, some amount of the visitors who arrive via organic search arrive by doing image searches.

This can be as low as 10% for social media sites up to 90% for websites with very visual topics (bathroom remodeling, jewelry, etc).

But exactly how do images within WordPress affect your organic search traffic (I’m an unashamed WordPress promoter)?

Last night I realized I didn’t know the details, so this morning I checked them out. What I found surprised me.

The Finding of Images

Images themselves are not searchable. What is searchable are the text attributes of images, of which there are four (at least in WordPress).

They are:

  • Title
  • Caption
  • Alt Text
  • Description


This is the actual name of the file that sits in the directory structure on your WordPress web server. I found the title in the HTML of the blog post in which the image was used.

I therefore conclude it DOES have an effect on your SEO.

As such you should name your image files with very long names and use words and phrases you think people are likely to search for.

I generally name the image file of the main image in a post to be the same as the name of the post title.

I also saw a video a few years ago in which Matt Cutts instructed us to use the dash (“-“) character between words instead of the underscore character (“_”) as the Googlebot has been coded to recognized the dash character as a separator between words. So using the dash character makes it easier for the Googlebot to know what words you’re using.


The Caption does not appear in the blog post HTML at all, nor does it appear in the Attachment Page (and more on that later).

I therefore conclude your image caption has zero effect on your SEO.

Alt Text

The Alt Text appears in the blog post HTML adjacent to the Title. There it is available to the search engine spiders and does have an impact on your SEO.

For the record, the Alt Text is the text that is displayed when the image can’t be and that is the origin of the name “Alt Text”.


The description was the most interesting of the four. The image description does not show in the blog post HTML.

Where it does show is in the Attachment Page.

The attachment page is a webpage devoted to the image. The URL of the attachment page ends with the image title and the “body” of this attachment page is the image description.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Blog posts that are too short (shorter than about 200 words) sometimes don’t get indexed. Image descriptions are typically short. I did verify that the attachment page shown below has not been indexed by Google.  I’m going to start using image descriptions longer than 200 words and I’ll let you know if they are then indexed by Google.

See Below for Examples

If you’re familiar with WordPress you know what a blog post with an image looks like, from both the “outside” face of the website (as seen by any website visitor) as well as what it looks like with the post editor. So I won’t show you images of them.

But I do wish to draw your attention to the two images below as they better illustrate the idea of the “attachment page”.

The image immediately below shows the image detail within the WordPress Media Library.

Description is the image description.

Uploaded to is the post in which the image is displayed, and in the event the image is used in more than one post, it’s the original one into which the image was uploaded into WordPress.

View attachment page loads the attachment page.

Double click inside the image to enlarge it.

An image in a WordPress website as viewed within the Media Library
Image within Media Library







And below is the image of the attachment page of this image.

Notice that it looks just like a blog post where the post title is the image title and the body of the post is the image description.

The image attachment page where the title and the description are clearly seen
Image Attachment Page

To Learn More

SEO Needs Link Building



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