Your April 2020 Search Engine Bytes Digest
 by Kristi Hagen

What's the best way to optimize for Google Image search on a site that supports multiple languages?

  • We are managing a multilingual site that supports five languages. Assuming we want to be found in a Google image search, do you recommend loading images for every language separately on the website. This would mean 50 images for German, 50 for English, 50 for French, etc.

    I'm thinking this is the best way to get found in image search for different languages, but our developer thinks it isn't necessary. What are your thoughts on this?

Answer:

Google's John Mueller addressed this in a recent webmaster hangout where he was asked about image file names in alternate languages. He said "it's far more important that the text is on the page where the image is embedded than in the file name, which is only a very minor signal."

We agree, that makes sense — but what about the image alt text? If you embed the image using WordPress's Media Tool, it's going to use the alt text assigned to it in the media library which, by default, can be only one version. However, you can insert the image manually and then assign your own unique alt text using regular HTML instead of the WordPress media tool.

In practicality, it really depends on your available resources. If time/money is unlimited, then you could use different unique images with different variations of file names and different image alt text in each of the different languages – each of them optimized for their targeted language. In theory, that would be the best strategy you could apply.

However, if resources are limited, then we'd suggest that you use the same image for each language, also use the same file name (perhaps focused on most important language), and then use language-specific alt text when you embed the image. Doing so would be a LOT easier and effective.SEN article end


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