Why Stripping Image Metadata is Essential for SEO

Many businesses must pay more attention to the power of metadata in terms of search engine page ranking. While keyword research and link building are at the forefront of many SEO strategies, image metadata can also play a critical role in search engine rankings.

Image metadata refers to information embedded in an image file, providing details such as date, time, geolocation, image description, and more. Metadata plays a critical role in identifying and describing images, and it’s usually generated automatically without user input. However, too much metadata may damage search result rankings.

This blog explores how image metadata impacts your page ranking, how to remove metadata from images, and other related topics. Let’s dive in!

The Problem with Image Metadata

While image metadata is useful for understanding an image and its source, it increases the overall file size. Excessive metadata increases the amount of data to be loaded, resulting in slower page speeds. As slower page speed results in reduced performance and increased bounce rates, search engines penalise it.

Unfortunately, many website owners are unaware their image files contain metadata. For websites with limited images, the impact of the metadata is often negligible. However, for image-heavy websites, this oversight drastically reduces page speed, resulting in a lower page ranking in search results.

Can Metadata Ever Improve SEO?

While it’s critical to maintain fast page speed if you want your website to rank well, this isn’t to say metadata doesn’t have benefits. When search engines scour the web for information, they use metadata to understand the context of an image. For this reason, using alt text and descriptive file names can help search engines prioritise your website.

Search engines will struggle to identify your image if you don’t use any metadata, such as descriptive file names. However, geolocations and other non-descriptive types of metadata are often surplus to requirements.

How to Remove Metadata on a PC

Removing metadata on a Windows PC is easy. Below, let’s explore the quickest way to remove data on a Windows PC without involving any third-party applications:

  • Step 1: Right-click on the file (image) and select “Properties”
  • Step 2: Select the “Details” tab
  • Step 3: At the bottom of the “Details” window, select “Remove Properties and Personal Information”
  • Step 4: Select “Create a Copy with All Possible Properties Removed” to remove all metadata from the image
  • Step 5: Alternatively, select “Remove the Following Properties From This File” and select the type of metadata for removal below
  • Step 6: Select “OK” at the bottom of the window to finalise metadata removal

How to Remove Metadata on a Mac

Unfortunately, removing metadata is more complex if you’re using a Mac. While you can remove location information directly from an image on a Mac, removing other types of metadata will require a third-party application. One of the most popular metadata apps is ImageOptim — it’s free and open source. Below, let’s explore how to remove image metadata on a Mac using ImageOptim:

  • Step 1: Head to https://imageoptim.com/ and select the “Download for Free” button
  • Step 2: After the application downloads, install it on your Mac
  • Step 3: Open the ImageOptim app and select the “Preferences” tab from the ImageOptim dropdown menu at the top of your screen
  • Step 4: Once the Preferences opens, you can customise the type of metadata you want to remove from your images
  • Step 5: Next, drag and drop images into the ImageOptim app to strip the metadata

PRO TIP: Always back up your images before you remove metadata. It’s best to have backups with the relevant metadata in case you require it in the future.

Verdict: Don’t Let Your Website’s Images Drag Down Your Ranking

While there are individual circumstances where metadata can help improve SEO, in many cases, using images with larger file sizes hurts your page ranking. Google and other search engines place significant emphasis on page speed and bounce rate, so image-heavy websites must ensure files are small enough to load quickly.

Regardless, the best way to improve your page ranking is to hire SEO experts to manage your website and its content. At TradeBoost Media, our UK SEO team is dedicated to helping home and commercial services businesses access world-class search engine results. If you’re ready to upgrade your lead generation platform and fill your schedule with new projects, contact us today!