How to Source Images For Content And SEO

Table of Contents

Platforms to Source Free Images For Content



Sourcing images and links properly are important for accessibility, user experience, and SEO. Search engines and those who are vision-impaired rely on these optimized textual clues to understand webpages. 

Improper image and link sourcing can make a page appear more like an ad than a useful resource.

Imagine you could only find your desired search engine result using images or link details instead of an article and words. If that were the case, what would you type in? 

Keep the 5 W’s in mind: 


Selecting and sourcing the right images for content will help your overall article rank better for keywords related to your subject matter within Search Engines and may even help those specific images to rank better as well.

Images are also a great way to add additional context to the written content, as well as breaking up pages that otherwise may appear as a wall of text, possibly dissuading the reader from continuing to digest the content.

Complementary in nature, Inserting links into your content properly will make your content more credible to search engines as well as users, and might even help to create opportunities to build relationships with other reliable websites. 

Generally speaking, the more links or images you have in a content piece, the better. 

Here are some general standards you may want to shoot for depending on the article and the industry:


  • 2 Images per 500 Words
  • 3-5 Images per 750 Words
  • 5-6 Images per 1,000+ Words


  • 4 Links per 500 Words
  • 4-5 Links per 750 Words
  • 6-8 Links per 1,000+ Words

As a general rule of thumb, when you link out to a page you also want to check the page’s content to ensure there are not too many unnatural links (things like “click here” or links which do not relate to the anchor text within a particular piece); this is a sign of poorly written, untrustworthy content.

Image Sourcing Basics

When sourcing images, recall that Search Engines are similar to people with vision-impairment in that they also use file names and alternative text to better understand what is being displayed on a webpage. Thinking about the 5 W’s [WHO | WHAT | WHEN | WHERE | WHY] will help to fill in the descriptions needed so that the page ranks better. 

Image File Names should be descriptive 

    • Ex. kids-playing-in-kentucky-bluegrass-grass-front-lawn.jpg vs IMG12345.jpg

Alt Text informs Search Engines and visitors of what the image being viewed is

    • Using information from the image descriptions, provided by the Image Source (i.e. iStock, Shutterstock, Instagram), the Alt Text should be an expansion upon that you choose for the file name itself, including more details. They should contain all of the most important details about the photo, but with attention to keeping them somewhat short and sweet.

Not descriptive enough2 tires

Too long | KW stuffing 2 tires side by side, 2 tires on white 

background, 2 tire treads, 2 tread and wheels, tread and wheel on 

white background, 2 tires side by side on white background

PerfectTread and wheel of two tires side by side on a white background

Image Captions are statements that describe the image and adds context about the image (i.e. 5W’s)

Uncommon High-Definition Photos are more likely to show high in Google image search, potentially drawing traffic to the landing page, instead of using a common image where other pages will likely outrank another iteration of the same image already available on Google Image Search.

Additional Considerations

If sourcing for a more localized presence, be sure to use location-specific words when adding details:

    • Alt Tags [New home construction on  Ambler Rd, PA]
    • Image File Name [Front-Of-New-Home-Construction.jpeg] 

It’s important to ensure the images selected don’t add an Ad-like appearance, 

they should reflect the surrounding content and overall theme.

Steps to Image Sourcing

Sourcing images is an assignment that can be done throughout the week, with a set amount of time allowed for each week for all available pieces of content. 

In instances when the writing is not ready when you’re ready to source images, using just a associated Spec Sheet will provide details about the overall theme, concepts, and keywords (KW). 

Begin by reviewing the Spec Sheet and the writing to get an understanding of what the

piece is about while keeping in mind the 5 W’s, the overall theme & title, the

headers, and KW. As you start to think about potential image search terms [the 

words you’ll enter into the search box] search them in Google Images so you get a general idea of what is already ranking.

Using one of the open-souce image platforms, you’ll search for 

images that are relevant but that are less popular. It’s hard to rank for an image 

that is already ranking and taking over for an already ranking image is difficult.

Search for potential images, using available filters, searching for Fresh Content or 

 Newest, by overall color, or even image size and shape.

For work you’ll be providing clients, specific information is needed before downloading and purchasing the image. See the page below and use it to document the images you’ve selected will need to be filled out with the following:

  • Title of Writing
  • The Image’s URL
  • Placement Details
  • Image File Name
  • Image Alt Tags
  • Image Caption

Image Sourcing Spec Sheet

Title of Writing

[title here]

File Name
Alt tags
Caption & Descriptions
Before the Conclusion/Summary H2 Header
Browser window of a search box engine for images
Browser window showing a search box engine for images, mimicking a popular search engine

Drive consistent traffic from high search volume

Many business owners put all of their focus into optimizing their website and content without taking the time to build a solid technical foundation.

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