SEO for Images: Are Images As Important As Keywords?

June 8, 2015

Marketplaces Laura Lane By Laura Lane

The online world is becoming more and more image-centric. For retailers, images are an essential way to stand out from the crowd and attract shoppers across online channels. Good pictures are now a prerequisite on many marketplaces, and failing to comply with image requirements could lead to a drop in visibility or even suppressed listings.

Images are also an essential way to increase conversions. Potential buyers like to see your items in detail before they buy, since having an accurate idea of the product builds trust and credibility. According to eBay, using a high-quality picture improves your chances of a sale by 5%. If you use two images, your items are 7% more likely to sell, and additional photos increase conversion rates incrementally. A recent Norman Nielson study indicated that people tend to click through to larger images if they’re available, and when people are engaged with your products, they’re more likely to buy.

Mobile is further driving the need for great images, and pictures are an easy way for shoppers to interact with a smaller screen. According to Bigcommerce, Google is soon set to receive more search traffic via mobile than desktop, and Amazon already sees 60% of traffic coming in this way. So it’s essential to provide shoppers with a good image experience on mobile platforms.

Amazon, eBay and Google each have their own marketplace requirements, which are worth getting to know.

Amazon Will Suppress Listings Without Images

Amazon requires you to include an image with your listing, otherwise the listing will be suppressed from search and browse bars (which would make it very difficult to find). Shoppers would have to search using the product’s actual code rather than via search terms or browse nodes.

To meet Amazon’s image requirements, your products must appear as close to reality as possible, meaning no props or accessories that don’t come with the product. Text, inset images, watermarks and logos are all no-go’s, too. Items must be pictured on a white background, with the product taking up most of the background space (ideally 85%). Pictures must be at least 500 pixels on one side to enable users to zoom in. We suggest going a step further and making your images at least 1600 pixels on the longest side for optimum quality. If you need help creating images with white backgrounds, try apps like Remove the Background.

EBay Requires You to Have at Least One Image Per Listing

EBay requires images to be at least 500 pixels on the longest side (again, 1600 is better). Like Amazon, eBay asks for clean images without any text or artwork. Unlike Amazon, however, eBay does allow you to add watermarks, but only for distribution – not marketing – purposes. Watermarks should be no bigger than 5% of the total image area, have an opacity of no more than 50% and never obscure the item. Links from watermarks are also prohibited. You can no longer use stock images for your listings so as not to confuse buyers about the quality of the items.

Every listing now requires a photo, and all pictures must now comply with image requirements. If they don’t, eBay will block them or remove them from the site. If you fail to meet image requirements consistently, your seller privileges may be restricted.

You can use eBay picture hosting to optimize your listing for mobile buyers. With eBay picture hosting, you can include up to 12 pictures in your listing, which will be visible on a variety of mobile platforms. EBay picture hosting can handle images of up to 7MB. Just remember not to compress your images before uploading.

Google Shopping Campaigns Are Heavily Image-Focused

Google Shopping adverts rely heavily on product images, so making your photos great is essential for differentiating your items from the competition. Take images on a white, grey or light-color background and use images that are a minimum of 800 pixels so they look clear on high-resolution displays.

There are various software solutions out there that can help you increase image size, but watch out for anything that affects quality. It may be better to retake images with a higher resolution.

Images are vitally important to your conversion success, so take the time to get them right. Follow the guidelines to make sure your images are optimized for each platform, and test them regularly. For example, use different lighting and angles, or vary the number of images you use. Take note of which appear to be working best by tracking traffic and conversions.

To keep up with other tips for selling on marketplaces, why not download a copy of our ‘10 Marketplaces Habits to Break’ tip sheet today?